How Do UV Lights for HVAC Systems Work?

When you think of ultraviolet light, you might picture getting sunburned after a long day at the pool. And yet, UV light is also something you can use for enhancing indoor air quality. Sunscreen defends against UVA and UVB rays, but UVC is the kind of light used in air purification. If you deal with allergies or asthma or want to limit the spread of illnesses throughout your home, a UV light within the HVAC system just might be the air quality solution you’ve been looking for!

How Does a UV Light Operate?

The germicidal influences of ultraviolet light have been known for over a century. UVC rays were originally employed to treat tuberculosis. These days, germicidal lamps are implemented in hospitals, food processing centers, water treatment plants and air purification systems.

A UV lamp placed inside your HVAC system improves the air quality in your home by wiping out microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, mold and more. It generally needs 10 seconds of contact to affect these germs’ DNA, killing them or preventing them from replicating.

UV lights also address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in cleaners and repellents alongside airborne bioaerosols like pollen and pet dander. Still, UV lights don’t actually 'trap' contaminants, so you still require an air filtration system to capture dust, fibers and other particles from the air.

How Powerful Are UV Lights?

Provided they are installed correctly and use the right wavelength of UV light, germicidal lamps are highly effective at increasing indoor air quality. One study from Duke University illustrated that UV light deactivated more than 97 percent of drug-resistant bacteria from the air in hospital rooms. Another study noted “significantly lower” fungal levels inside a commercial property's HVAC equipment after four months of operating a UV light.

Benefits of UV Lights

Install an ultraviolet lamp in your HVAC system to make the most of these benefits:

  • Cleaner indoor air: UV light technology disinfects the air 24 hours a day without introducing chemicals into the environment. Unlike other air purifiers, ultraviolet lamps don’t generate ozone, an infamous lung irritant that can be hazardous to those with asthma, allergies or chronic lung illnesses.
  • Decreased chance of getting sick: When used in tandem with good personal hygiene, germ-killing UV lights can lower the chance of contracting viral and bacterial infections.
  • Stronger protection for your HVAC system: Mold, fungi and bacteria can clog 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 minimal need for emergency repairs. These savings can help recoup the cost of running a UV light and replacing the bulb.

Where Do UV Lights Get Installed?

If you decide on an air-sanitizing UV light, your installer will position it inside your ductwork near the HVAC system. There, the lamp affects the air before it circulates throughout your home.

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

Are UV Lights Safe?

The sun constantly emits invisible UV radiation. As you know, UVA and UVB rays can harm your skin, so it’s important to apply a high SPF sunscreen when spending time outdoors. The sun also gives off UVC rays, the most destructive type of solar radiation capable of killing microorganisms and irritating other living tissue, such as the skin and eyes.

Thankfully, the atmosphere filters out these rays altogether, so they don’t get through to the earth’s surface.

Knowing that UVC rays are hazardous, why should you feel alright with installing a UVC light in your home? It’s simple—the light is restricted to the inside of the ductwork where you can't come in contact with it, so it presents no risk to you and your family. When the time comes to clean the lamp or replace the bulb, your HVAC technician will turn off the system briefly to prevent exposure to the damaging light.

How Long Do UV Lights Last?

UV lights are used around the clock and generally last nine to 14 months. Yearly HVAC maintenance (once in the spring for your air conditioner and again in the fall for your furnace) is the perfect time to have these bulbs checked and changed out as needed.

Request UV Light Installation

McElroy Service Experts offers a range of air quality solutions, including UV lights for HVAC systems. We would be delighted to assess your home and your family’s needs to suggest the solutions that will perform best for you. Rest easy knowing that all work we complete is backed by a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. Get in touch with your local McElroy Service Experts office to schedule UV light installation or request a free home health consultation today.

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