How Do UV Lights for HVAC Systems Work?

When you hear the phrase ultraviolet light, you probably imagine getting sunburned after spending a day at the pool. However, UV light is also a strategy for increasing indoor air quality. Sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays, but UVC is the kind of light used in air purification. If you suffer from allergies or asthma or want to reduce the distribution of illnesses around your home, a UV light within the HVAC system could be the air quality solution you’ve been hoping for!

How Does a UV Light Function?

The germicidal effects of ultraviolet light have been understood for over a century. UVC rays were originally applied to treat tuberculosis. Nowadays, germicidal lamps are common in hospitals, food processing plants, water treatment plants and air purification products.

A UV lamp placed inside your HVAC system helps the air quality in your home by eliminating microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, mold and more. It generally requires 10 seconds of contact to affect these germs’ DNA, killing them or stopping them from replicating.

UV lights also address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in cleaners and repellents on top of airborne bioaerosols such as pollen and pet dander. However, UV lights don’t physically 'trap' contaminants, so you still require an air filtration system to extract dust, fibers and other particles from your indoor air.

How Effective Are UV Lights?

Assuming they are installed properly and use the right wavelength of UV light, germicidal lamps are highly effective at improving indoor air quality. One study out of Duke University illustrated that UV light removed more than 97 percent of drug-resistant bacteria from the air in hospital rooms. Another analysis measured “significantly lower” fungal levels inside a commercial business' HVAC unit after four months of using 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 disinfects the air around the clock without introducing chemicals into the environment. As opposed to some air purifiers, ultraviolet lamps don’t create ozone, a recognized lung irritant that can be toxic to those with asthma, allergies or chronic lung conditions.
  • Decreased chance of getting sick: When combined with good personal hygiene, germ-killing UV lights can lower the likelihood of contracting viral and bacterial infections.
  • A layer of protection for your HVAC system: Mold, fungi and bacteria can gunk up your heating and cooling equipment. Keep the system working smoothly and efficiently with a hard-working UV light.
  • Smaller HVAC maintenance and repair costs: With an inherently cleaner central HVAC system, you enjoy simpler 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 decide on an air-sanitizing UV light, your installer should position it in your ductwork near the HVAC system. There, the lamp helps clean the air before it flows throughout your home.

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

Are UV Lights Safe?

The sun continuously emits invisible UV radiation. As you probably know, UVA and UVB rays can harm your skin, so it’s essential to apply an effective sunscreen when hanging out outdoors. The sun also gives off UVC rays, the most destructive variant of solar radiation capable of killing microorganisms and irritating other living tissue, like the skin and eyes.

Fortunately, the atmosphere eliminates these rays entirely, so they don’t make it to the earth’s surface.

Knowing that UVC rays are harmful, why should you feel alright with installing a UVC light in your HVAC system? It’s simple—the light is confined to the inside of the ductwork where you never come in contact with it, so it creates no risk to you and your family. When the time comes to maintain the lamp or replace the bulb, your HVAC technician will shut off the system briefly to avoid exposure to the damaging light.

How Long Do UV Lights Last?

UV lights are on around the clock and generally 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.

Request UV Light Installation

Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning offers a number of air quality solutions, including UV lights for HVAC systems. We would be happy to analyze your home and your family’s needs to advise the equipment that are best for you. Enjoy the peace of mind that that all work we produce is backed by a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. Get in touch with your local Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office to schedule UV light installation or request a free home health consultation today.

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