UV Light for Air Conditioning Systems
The Basic of UV lights
When your air conditioning is on it is constantly filtering your indoor air. During this process moisture can collect in your air conditioning system causing mold or mildew. These contaminants can lead to bacteria, viruses, and mold residing in your home.
Luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel. UV lights and UV lamps installed into your heating and air system can combat these unwanted guests. When ultraviolet light is shined at the correct frequency it destroys viruses and bacteria, leaving your home safe and pure.
The process is actually quite scientific. UV light is able to destroy bacteria and viruses because of its wavelength. When the wavelength range is set between 200-280nm (that’s nanometers) the light becomes what is known as UVC (as opposed to UVA & UVB). When the wavelength is within the UVC light spectrum it has the ability to break down DNA. This destroys bacteria’s cellular process including its ability to reproduce.
The Reasons for Having UV Lights in Your HVAC
As previously stated UV lights are needed to destroy mold, mildew, and other undesirables from within your HVAC system. The power of ultraviolet light damages the organism and causes it to “forget” how to build proteins or reproduce itself. This is important because these types of organisms thrive in places that are damp and dark. Your air conditioner is the perfect hiding spot for them to grow unnoticed. UV lights make your air systems almost uninhabitable for these bad guys.
UV lights protect your home and your health. Studies have shown that ultraviolet light, when set to the correct wavelength, efficiently reduces the air germ contamination by over 93%. Ultimately reducing the chances of seasonal allergies and asthma. The system also transforms odor, smoke, and gases from cleaning products into harmless, odorless water vapor and carbon dioxide.
Top Things to Consider about UV Lights for HVAC
All UV lights are not made equal; they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Before purchasing your own be sure to call a professional from Bill Howe; we would be happy to perform an inspection and explain all the options you have for your home. In the meantime, consider the following factors when looking for UV lights:
- UV-C Output Power
As expected, UV lights range in strength. Efficiency is important but strength should not be sacrificed haphazardly. Larger homes, larger ducts, or aggressive mold require a more powerful light. Remember that air and moisture travel from all areas of the home and can grow in any location within your air conditioning system. Your UV lights should be strong enough to wipe out every microbe regardless of how widespread it is. Self-inspections are doable but without the proper training you may be selling yourself short.
- Power Consumption
We discussed how important strength is for a UV light because it is the foundation of destroying bacteria and viruses. Efficiency is an important balance to strength. No, you do not want a UV light that is weak and ineffective. However, a UV light that runs your electricity bill so high that you shut it off does not help you either; it gives the mold a chance to regroup.. Finding a balance is key. Be sure to pay attention to how the lights are designed. Some important parts to take note of are the wattage of the bulb and what kind of reflector technology is used. These are crucial indicators of how much energy you will be spending on the system. With this information you can find a system that fits your budget.
- Light Bulb Replacement
With all the amazing features UV lights perform it can be easy to forget they are still simple light bulbs and therefore will eventually burn out. That is why it is important to consider their bulbs before purchase. You do not want to buy a build that is difficult to install or one that is difficult to find on the market.
What Type of UV Light Should You Choose?
UV lights for your HVAC system come in two main options:
- Air Sterilization
This UV light sterilizes moving air. It is installed inside the return air duct and the cycle will go on at the same time as the air blower. This will only go for as long as you have the air conditioner turned on.
- Coil Sterilization
This UV light is the more common type and it works non-stop. It is a “stick type” of light bulb that you install inside the return air duct. It is also the more reasonably priced option and may be your best bet if you are working with a tighter budget.
Benefits & Considerations of UV Lights
- They help reduce illness
Plain and simple UV lights have the ability to exterminate bacteria and viruses from the air, improving overall air quality and reducing your risk of getting sick. Even if someone in your home is coughing or sneezing your UV light combined with your air conditioning will cycle the air through and destroy any of the bacteria. Less bacteria means there is a less of a chance you catch what your guest is spreading.
- They help with allergy management
Cleaning the air with UV lights will remove irritating pathogens and help alleviate you from the allergens that may be floating around your home, thereby improving the overall, indoor air quality.
- They eliminate odors
Ever smell something awful in your home but can’t figure out where it is coming from? Chances are it is coming from your HVAC system and the circulation is only making it worse. Microbes, pathogens, and all the other bacteria we have discussed so far leave unwanted odors in your ducts. By eliminating them with UV lights you are eliminating the associated smells. Don’t waste money masking the smell with plugins and perfumes. Destroy it at the source with UV lights.
- They are low maintenance
Other than a bulb to change once in a while UV lights are a set and forget type of commodity. Not a bad price to pay for clean air.
- They may Age your AC system
Some materials found in ductwork or within your air conditioning unit may be sensitive to UV lights and will be damaged as time passes. Check your flex ducts and rain pans to see whether they are susceptible to being damaged. Any non-UV stabilized plastic items are at higher risk. Don’t know what any of this means? Don’t worry, your Bill Howe specialist will be happy to explain everything during your free estimate
- They need to run 24/7
Depending on which model you went with your UV light bulb will be running constantly. For example, UV lights fitted in the air handler will be on all the time. In contrast, those placed inside the ductwork will only need to be on when the AC is running. The problem is that not too many of these models come with the option to be turned on and off.
- I have children and pets. Will a UV light pose any danger to them?
UV lights are only dangerous to pets and children if they come in direct contact with the bulb. Luckily, the lights go inside your air conditioning systems and won’t be accessible to your loved ones unless they are really looking for trouble. UV lights are more dangerous to the germs and bacteria located in your home and air ducts.
- Can I purify the air even if the air conditioner is off?
Depending on which model you chose your UV lights will be either running constantly or in sync with your air conditioner. You may also purchase a model that is equipped with a switch.
- How often do I have to replace the UV lights?
UV light bulbs typically last around one to two years. Consult with your Bill Howe HVAC professional for more information.
Your home is where you should feel safe and secure. Bacteria and viruses threaten that. Give yourself the best security against bacteria and viruses with its kryptonite: a UV light. Call or visit billhowe.com to find out more about our UV lights. Ask about our virtual estimates.