There are a variety of ways you can sanitize things in your home. Ultraviolet lights have been known to kill certain bacteria. They are used in hospitals and even come in air purifiers to improve indoor air quality. Similarly, these lights can be placed within your heating and cooling system to keep your air and unit safe from bacteria, mold, mildew, and other allergens and toxins.
The thought of mold and bacteria multiplying in the HVAC system and being circulated through ductwork is troubling to anyone who wants a sanitary home. It can be a serious threat to those with breathing issues such as asthma and C.O.P.D.
While most homeowners assume an HVAC UV light is too expensive or difficult to maintain, but that isn’t the case at all. In our guide, we’ll explain the benefits of using a UV light in your HVAC system while providing you with a brief review of some of the top options currently available.
How a UV Light Works
If you don’t know how UV light functions, hearing that a simple “light” will destroy bacteria or microorganisms can sound ridiculous. Modern UV lighting for HVAC systems resembles fluorescent lamps typically found in commercial office buildings. Both types of lamps have similar forms and operate using identical electrochemical processes: an electric discharge through argon gas strikes mercury vapor to generate a photon with a wavelength of 253.7 nm (typically called UV-C), which is invisible.
Unlike fluorescent lamps, however, UV-C lamps’ glass envelope is a highly engineered, transparent glass, allowing the 253.7 nm wavelength to transmit unfiltered (fluorescent lamps use ordinary glass that is coated with phosphors on its interior surface).
A typical germicidal ultraviolet light for heating and cooling systems produces about 90 percent of its energy in the UV-C wavelength. About four percent of its energy is given up as heat, and the rest (~5 percent) is in the visible light range that is medium blue in color, which results from the argon gas in the envelope.
A UV light at a certain wavelength can react with and damage the DNA or RNA of a pathogen. The light disrupts things, so those nasty viruses cannot reproduce, which makes it lethal against things like the Flu or even the E.coli virus.
In order for a UV-C lamp to be powerful enough to kill viruses and bacteria, it has to meet certain criteria. The lethal dosage is calculated by light intensity and exposure time (9,000-hour period), although there is a range for different types of microorganisms and pathogens. Everything from the position of the lamp to wind chill can affect the kill range.
Benefits of using a UV light in your HVAC system
Installing ultraviolet lights in your HVAC system can disinfect the air we breathe and at the same time reduces energy consumption.
These two primary benefits expand into many reasons why HVAC UV light is so wonderful:
- Kills bacteria, viruses and germs
- Controls mold and other allergens
- Removes Volatile Organic Compounds
- Reduces smells and odors
- Maintains a cleaner HVAC unit
- Reduces maintenance requirements
- Lowers monthly expenses
UV light for HVAC promotes healthier living and operational efficiency.
The Best HVAC UV Light Systems
If you’ve wanted to install a UV device in your home to combat microorganisms, you might be surprised. Only a few versions are available, and the majority have a very similar design. To say the range is limited is an understatement; but, you’ll have a better chance searching for these systems in physical shops.
Finding the best HVAC UV light isn’t easy, however, even if there aren’t many options available.
In our research, we only found a handful of reputable companies currently producing UV-C systems. There’s not much variance between systems, so things like the build quality and features will have a significant impact on the price.
1. Bio Shield Antimicrobial Protection UV-C Air Sanitizer
The Bio Shield Antimicrobial Protection UV-C light is the simplest system on our list. It can’t remove odors, but it is extremely easy to install. You’ll need a drill and hole saw, but once you have those two items, installation should take less than 15 minutes. When the bracket is installed, you just need to insert the UV-C bulb.
As for that bulb, it’s a 17” UV-C lamp designed and manufactured by Philips. That means the quality is top-notch, and the company estimates that you can save between 10 to 25% by using their system. That’s a nice perk of this UV-C air sanitizer, although the real draw is its ability to destroy bacteria, viruses, and allergens.
If you need an affordable UV-C air filter and aren’t quite ready for a dual-bulb system, this is an excellent entry-level unit. It’s received high marks from consumers on a number of sites, and it’s hard to ignore the attractive price point.
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2. Honeywell UV2400U5000 UV Air Purifier with AirBRIGHT
Our second option is from Honeywell and it is a bit different than our first. The UV2400U5000 is a system with additional technology that is often less expensive than the company’s dual-bulb system.
A function named AirBRIGHT is the appeal of this device that makes it stand out from other UV light filters. Honeywell’s odor absorption system aims to eliminate odors in your household caused by pets or cooking. Although UV lights can help eliminate odors produced by mold or bacteria, they can’t help with cooking odors, which can persist long after the food has been consumed.
The AirBRIGHT system is a bonus on the UV2400U5000, and the activated carbon system works well alongside the SnapLamp. The UV lamp can be used by itself, however, and is rated at 16 watts. Honeywell wasn’t as forthcoming with their tech specs as other brands, but it’s rated for a 99% surface mold reduction.
This device may also delete up to 90 percent of VOCs under such circumstances. The UV2400UT5000 is simple to set up thanks to their “Snap” technology. It’s built to be mounted in a return or supply, but, like many other versions in this class, it’s still on. Replacement parts are available, and bulbs are priced similarly to similar UV-C systems designed for home use.
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3. Pure Air UV Air While House Air Purifier
Although the R-18D from Pure Air does not seem to be all that different from the other systems on our chart, it would be a risk to underestimate it. This germicidal light comes at a reasonable price and is very effective in small to medium-sized households.
The R-18D is a UV-C air filter with two outlets. There are two plugs on the backside of the ballast for a pair of double tube UV-C lamps. The machine is flat on the mounting side, with a black box covering the circuits on the outside. It’s a typical style, but one that would be more appealing if it weren’t for the branding.
There are no other sensors than a tiny operating light that indicates when the UV-C light is on. It is rated for HVAC units up to 50 tons in size and will operate continuously as long as it is plugged in. The bulbs have a 253.7NM rating and are expected to last 10,000 hours before needing to be replaced. The R-18D has a 9-foot power cord that fits into every normal power socket.
4. OdorStop OS144PRO1 UV Air Purifier
OdorStop specializes in air quality products from ozone generators and air movers to UV-C light systems. With close to a dozen models, they have one of the larger collections of UV air purifiers, including the powerful OdorStop OS144PRO1.
While this UV-C air filter does not seem to be particularly unusual from the outside, it is built to house four wide UVC bulbs. It includes four 16” bulbs that are 36 watts that have a wavelength of 254NM. Ducts for this filter must be at least 17 inches deep, though 12 inch bulbs are also compatible with the OS144PRO1.
This 120-volt machine is just as simple to set up as other UV-C air purifiers, but it comes with a few exclusive features. On the outside, there are a row of running lights, a standard on/off button, and convenient access to the fuse. You shouldn’t have to take this device off unless you need to replace a lamp, and it’s energy-efficient due to a sensor that just switches on the UVC light while the machine is working.Check Price On Amazon
5. OdorStop OS144PRO1 UV Air Purifier
The Field Controls UV-18 is a UV-C purification system that utilizes a single bulb. While that may not seem as effective as dual or quad-bulb lights, it’s 18” long and can kill bacteria, mold, and airborne viruses with ease.
Two highlights of this UV-C light are its hinged cover and angle mounting bracket. This makes bulb changes a breeze, and the design is sealed to keep you safe while it’s running. It has a standard viewport on the front but no other features to speak of.
The sturdy hinged cover is certainly a reason to consider the UV-18, but we like this system for its reliability and price. It’s rated for homes up to 2,000 square feet and is virtually indestructible, considering you can buy a replacement ballast. This UV-C system has an 18-month warranty from Field Controls.Check Price On Amazon
Where Can You Install UV Lights in Your HVAC Unit?
- Coil UV Lights—Located on The Indoor Coil
Central air conditioning systems have indoor air handling units in which a coil is located. This can often be breeding for mold because condensation usually collects on the coil. You can install the lights right above the coil, so UV lights shine on it continuously to prevent the growth of mold.
- Ductwork Lights
Ductwork UV Lights or Air Germicidal HVAC lights are meant to kill airborne allergens and pollutants making their way through your return vents. These lights are wired into the system and coordinated with the blower motor, which means they turn on and off with it. These lights are on the costlier side.