How Do UV Lights for HVAC Systems Work?

When you look at ultraviolet light, you might picture getting sunburned after a few hours spent relaxing at the pool. And yet, UV light is also a tool for enhancing indoor air quality. Sunscreen defends against UVA and UVB rays, but UVC is the form of light applied in air purification. If you suffer from allergies or asthma or would like to limit the distribution of illnesses across your home, a UV light within the HVAC system could be the air quality solution you’ve been looking for!

How Does a UV Light Function?

The germicidal impacts of ultraviolet light have been known for more than a century. UVC rays were initially used to treat tuberculosis. Today, germicidal lamps are used in hospitals, food processing plants, water treatment plants and air purification products.

A UV lamp added to your HVAC unit helps the air quality in your home by eliminating microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, mold and more. It generally requires 10 seconds of contact to disrupt these germs’ DNA, killing them or preventing them from replicating.

UV lights also address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in cleaners and repellents as well as airborne bioaerosols such as pollen and pet dander. Still, UV lights don’t actually ‘trap’ contaminants, so you still need an air filtration system to extract dust, fibers and other particles from the air.

How Effective Are UV Lights?

As long as they are installed like they’re supposed to and use the right wavelength of UV light, germicidal lamps are highly effective at increasing indoor air quality. One study out of Duke University found that UV light eliminated more than 97 percent of drug-resistant bacteria from the air in hospital rooms. Another analysis measured “significantly lower” fungal levels in a commercial building’s HVAC unit after four months of applying a UV light.

Benefits of UV Lights

Place an ultraviolet lamp in your HVAC system to take advantage of these benefits:

    • Cleaner indoor air: UV light technology sanitizes the air nonstop without adding chemicals into the environment. As opposed to some air purifiers, ultraviolet lamps don’t generate ozone, a known lung irritant that is hazardous to individuals with asthma, allergies or frequent lung conditions.
    • Decreased likelihood of getting sick: When combined with good personal hygiene, germ-killing UV lights can lower the likelihood of contracting viral and bacterial infections.
    • Protection for your HVAC system: Mold, fungi and bacteria can gunk up your heating and cooling equipment. Keep the system operating reliably and efficiently with a hard-working UV light.
    • Smaller HVAC maintenance and repair costs: With an inherently cleaner central HVAC system, you enjoy lower maintenance requirements and fewer emergency repairs. These savings can help offset the cost of utilizing a UV light and replacing the bulb.

Where Do UV Lights Get Installed?

If you choose an air-sanitizing UV light, your installer will position it in your ductwork near the HVAC system. There, the lamp affects the air before it flows throughout your home.

If you choose a coil-sanitizing UV light, it will sit near the AC evaporator coil. There, it deactivates mold and bacteria that collect on the damp coil, keeping your system clean and operating smoothly.

Are UV Lights Safe?

The sun constantly emits invisible UV radiation. As you probably know, UVA and UVB rays can harm your skin, so it’s important to use an effective sunscreen when enjoying time outside. The sun also gives off UVC rays, the most harming type of solar radiation capable of killing microorganisms and irritating other living tissue, like the skin and eyes.

Luckily, the atmosphere blocks out these rays entirely, so they don’t get through to the earth’s surface.

Understanding that UVC rays are dangerous, why should you feel comfortable installing a UVC light in your HVAC system? It’s simple—the light is restricted to the inside of the ductwork where you never come in contact with it, so it presents no risk to you and your family. When the time comes to maintain the lamp or swap out the bulb, your HVAC technician will turn off the system for a short time to prevent exposure to the damaging light.

How Long Do UV Lights Last?

UV lights are on constantly and usually last nine to 14 months. Annual HVAC maintenance (once in the spring for your air conditioner and again in the fall for your furnace) is the best possible time to have these bulbs looked at and changed out as needed.

Schedule UV Light Installation

Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing provides a number of air quality solutions, including UV lights for HVAC systems. We would be happy to evaluate your home and your family’s needs to recommend the equipment that will work best for you. Rest easy knowing that all work we perform is backed by a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. Reach out to your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office to schedule UV light installation or request a free home health consultation today.

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