The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed discussions on the efficiency of UV light as a killer of bacteria.
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation that emits more energy than visible light but less energy than gamma or X-rays. Solar ultraviolet that comes from sunlight is the most common form. Artificial sources such as arc welding and tanning beds may also produce this type of electromagnetic radiation. Radiation from sunlight can be classified into three categories based on its wavelengths:
- and UV-C.
Of these three, UV-C has the shortest wavelength. It is best known for its germicidal capabilities to destroy contaminants on surfaces and air. It can even be in liquid. This radiation coming from the sun no longer reaches the Earth’s surface as the ozone layer blocks it. As a result, we can only get exposed to it through artificial sources. This is where these lamps come into play, particularly in killing micropollutants and preventing them from growing back.
It is widely used to sanitize and disinfect workspaces and medical facilities. This radiation penetrates the airflow. It produces strong rays to create an inhospitable environment for biological contaminants and viruses, and molds. The method of disinfecting the air and surfaces is called ultraviolet germicidal irrigation systems or UVGI.
These lamps integrated into an HVAC system are just one of the many applications of UV-C. Suppose you often experience asthma attacks and allergies due to your indoor air quality. It may be worth investing in a nice sanitizer for your HVAC system, which is highly vulnerable to the formation of bacteria and mold. Before purchasing this addition for your HVAC or furnace systems, you should be well informed.
Because UV-C produces the most energy, being directly exposed to it is extremely harmful. It can cause severe skin burns and eye injuries. Studies also show that improper use of these lamps may contribute to skin cancer and cataracts. Nevertheless, it has many applications that can be very beneficial if done properly. This article will give you 10 of the best UV light sanitizer for your HVAC and furnace systems. We’ll include their main features, as well as pros and cons. We will also give tips on choosing the right one for your needs, as well as a pricing benchmark for installation.
10 Best UV Light for HVAC and Furnace Systems
Retailing for less than $100, this Reko model needs to be hooked up to a 24-volt transformer. It uses a 14-inch germicidal bulb, which requires replacement every six months. Of course, it depends on usage. You can easily find bulb replacements for this particular brand. It leaves you with no hassle of having to scour different online stores to look for a fit light. It is designed to clean coils but can also do a pretty decent job of getting rid of bacteria.
Pros: This model has a magnetic bracket, so it can easily be installed without the need for any professional contractor. It is also very affordable.
Cons: You may need to buy a dedicated transformer to install this unit.
If you are looking for an affordable option that does its job, you may consider Bio Shield’s 50-BUVAS-E. Retailing for a little more than $120, it features a 17-inch lamp developed by Philips and runs on 25 watts. A 12-inch variant is also available. This is a straightforward model that promises to destroy asthma- and flu-causing contaminants, as well as boost the performance of your system. It likewise removes biofilms found on AC coils to make them more efficient. It is best for killing molds found on coils, but it can also be installed close to the return duct to help clean the airflow. This unit comes with a two-year warranty.
Pros: It is easy to install and is energy-efficient. It works best for coil sterilization.
Cons: If you are looking for extra features such as an LED indicator or added sensors, it may not be for you.
Another budget-friendly option is the Honeywell UV100A1059, which promises to destroy 99.9% of molds on coils as well as bacteria. It is also effective in reducing mildew and getting rid of that unwanted smell coming from your AC. The lamp would not work unless the base was properly mounted on the duct. It is a mechanism that can be considered one of its built-in safety features. Running on 36 watts, Honeywell UV100A1059 has a pipe to let you see the lamp operation. It does not emit ozone and instead produces uninterrupted ultraviolet energy. One of the best things about this is its ease of installation, requiring only two screw holes and a larger hole for the bulb. It comes with a five-year limited warranty.
Pros: Installing it is easy and takes about 10 minutes on average. Lamp replacement can also be done quickly. It is recommended you replace the lamp once a year.
Cons: It does not have any airflow sensor.
Retailing for under $100, REKO R2000 Air Purifier produces deadly rays to obliterate mildew and fungi. It also gets rid of mold and prevents it from coming back. It suits systems with a capacity of 1 to 5 tons. It comes with two high-efficiency and UV-C-enabled bulbs that last 9,000 hours each. It comes with a 9-foot-long power cord. This REKO Purifier has an easy installation process that will take about 15 minutes on average. You only need to drill two tiny holes in the duct and plug it into the wall. When you’ve done that, you are done. This product is recommended if you are looking for an option for your HVAC system minus the complicated installation requirements.
Pros: It is energy-saving and easy to install.
Cons: It does not have built-in features on more expensive options.
Like the OS36PRO, the OS14412PRO1 UV Air Purifier from OdorStop has a sensor that activates the unit only when airflow is detected. Ensure to install it with sufficient airflow to ensure that the sensor is working. The OS36PRO also has LED indicators for the bulbs and produces energy at the 254nm wavelength. It comes with a choice of four 12-inch or 16-inch bulbs that run at 36 watts. The 16-inch bulbs fit ducts that are more than 17 inches in depth.
The bulbs can be used all at once or just one at a time, depending on your preference. It can cover up to 20,000 square feet if all four bulbs operate. Consider hiring a contractor to install it. If you plan on doing it yourself, you must prepare a drill, and a metal hole saw. You’ll also need a nut driver and a drill bit.
Pros: This unit is flexible for the bulb’s length. You can use 8-inch bulbs or the 16-inch variants that already come with the unit.
Cons: This may be a relatively higher operational cost than its counterparts.
This Pure UV model combines light and activated carbon to trap particles, effectively cleaning and purifying the airflow. It works well in eliminating molds or mildew and getting rid of bad kitchen odors.
It features a magnetic bracket that allows for a smooth installation, helping you save up on any installer fees. The unit itself needs to be installed inside the air handler. Its wire needs to be plugged into a 110-volt outlet.
Pros: It is easy to install and is affordable.
Cons: It requires a single lamp or bulb with a relatively short lifespan of six months.
OdorStop OS36PRO has various built-in features to make purification a little more convenient. One standout is the airflow sensor that only turns on the unit when the system is running. It makes saving on energy consumption easy. OS36PRO also comes with LED indicators to know whether the bulb and other components are working properly. Its 16-inch bulb runs on 36 watts at the 254nm wavelength. The unit is ABS plastic, and it comes with a six-foot power cord. It can purify areas spanning up to 5,000 square feet, making it great for even big homes.
One thing to appreciate about this product is its easy installation. It comes with a manual and foam tape. You’ll also get mounting screws and a cut-out template to make the job easy to do. To install, cut out the sheet metal and drill the holes. Insert the unit, and plug it in. This product has a two-year limited warranty.
Pros: It is energy-efficient and easy to install. The bulb can also be replaced easily without the aid of a contractor.
Cons: An outlet is required close to where the unit is installed.
Another entry from RGF, this product does a fantastic job cleaning the airflow within an average-sized house. It needs to be installed below the air handler, preferably with the help of a professional contractor. It is effective in eliminating contaminants, as well as in minimizing bad odor within the household. It comes with a transformer and a power cord.
Pros: It both cleans the air and minimizes unwanted odor.
Cons: You need to hire a certified installer if the warranty is valid.
If you have some extra budget, you may want to consider Honeywell’s UV2400U500 for your property’s HVAC system. This model adopts the same quality lights used in hospitals and establishments to fight off micropollutants. It boasts Honeywell’s AirBRIGHT odor absorption technology to get rid of mold spores and maintain the HVAC system’s efficiency. On average, the model’s bulbs need to be changed once a year. It makes it a more cost-efficient option than counterparts that require replacement at least every six months. This model can treat the air in areas spanning approximately 2,500 square feet. It is highly recommended if you want to get rid of pathogens that an ordinary purifier cannot eliminate.
Pros: This model is very efficient in cleaning the air and eliminating unwanted smells, thanks to its odor absorption technology. It is a recommended buy for this reason alone.
Cons: You may need an electrician or a contractor to install this.
RGF Reme Halo boasts the next-generation indoor air quality technology and produces higher ionized hydroperoxide output. This allows the product to eliminate chemical odors and the build-up of viruses and mold. Say “goodbye” to bacteria as well. It also has new zinc ions that effectively destroy viruses found on surfaces. It also adopts two quick-release features that allow users to replace the cell or lights without any tools. Unlike other options, Reme Halo performs its tasks whether or not the blower motor is running. It allows you to save up on energy consumption. It can be used virtually anywhere that uses a ducted system, including hospitals and residential areas. It’s also great for office buildings. It has a five-year warranty for the system and two years for the bulb. But note that a professional technician must install it for you to use the warranty.
Pros: It works with or without the blower motor running. Its light bulbs are easily replaceable.
Cons: You may need to hire a professional technician to install this product, which in turn may jack up the cost.
Do HVAC UV light purifiers really work?
There are tons of research and studies that prove the efficacy of UV light as a disinfectant. It is widely used for medical and household sanitation to destroy bacteria and fungi exposed to light with short wavelengths. Given the vulnerability of an HVAC system to the build-up of bacteria and other biological pollutants, it is highly recommended. Use them to get rid of these contaminants. A purifier for your HVAC system must be installed properly and use the correct UV band to guarantee efficacy. The best wavelength spectrum to achieve germicidal efficiency is UV-C, which runs on the C bandwidth. The efficacy will also depend on the type of its application and installation. There are two types of installation: Air sterilization and coil sterilization.
Air sterilization uses to treat the airflow as it moves around the return ducts. This method is recommended if you want to maximize the use of UV-C light and allow it to cover all directions. It requires more energy and therefore uses bulbs with higher wattage. On the other hand, coil sterilization targets hard-to-reach but stationary areas and sensitive components. This method prevents microbial growth on coils and filters. Condensation pans and other surfaces vulnerable to the build-up of pollutants will also be safe.
Does it kill mold?
Molds are a common household problem that should be taken seriously. If any of your appliances or parts of your home are vulnerable to moisture, it’s especially important. While molds help decompose dead plants, they can be harmful once their spores enter the air and are inhaled by someone. Thankfully, this can now be remedied through tools showcased on this page.
If designed properly and under the right conditions, these tools can kill bacteria and fungus found on moist surfaces. These pollutants will no longer be an issue. UV light produces electromagnetic radiation that enters microorganisms and kills them with shorter wavelengths than visible light. Once ultraviolet rays penetrate mold cells, they attack the nucleic acids. They target their DNA and inactivate them so that they will no longer be able to reproduce. UV light that runs on the C bandwidth is best known for disinfecting air and other nonporous surfaces. If you see a purifier or a sanitation tool based on UV-C, this is the most effective type when getting rid of molds.
What do they do?
UV light targets contaminants such as airborne microbes and bacteria. These are common problems within the HVAC system. It produces rays similar to those that cause sunburn but at a more concentrated rate. They primarily kill bacteria and oxidize the air for a fresher and cleaner circulation. To facilitate this, it zaps all harmful contaminants that pass through the ducts while the AC is running. Aside from cleaning, it also helps lengthen the lifespan of an air conditioning system. Buying one is a great investment regardless of whether you have a health condition that makes you sensitive to contaminants. The same way you want the right product for your HVAC, you’ll also want the right extension cords and lawn tractors. We even have a guide for extension cords of different lengths. Make sure you get the extension cords with the right gauge wire, even for high-current appliances.
Air purifier versus UV light
The difference between a UV sanitizer and an air purifier might be blurred for a beginner. Some people might even think it is just another marketing ploy. They believe it’s aimed at milking money from unknowing germaphobes. But quick research will make you realize why one is better than the other. In this section, we will discuss the main features of each. How they differ from each other and their advantages and disadvantages are things we’ll go over. Which is the most beneficial? You’ll soon know.
As mentioned in the previous sections, they use ultraviolet light to destroy contaminants in the air and on surfaces. It also targets those contaminants to prevent their growth. On the other hand, a purifier adopts a series of ions or filters to get rid of microorganisms.
A UV air sanitizer is recommended in humid environments for killing molds. It emits almost zero ozone and can easily be attached. On the other hand, an air purifier works best in removing dust and pollen. It can also be added to an existing HVAC like UV light sanitizer. However, it is ineffective in getting rid of all biological pollutants. Mildew and mold just aren’t properly addressed. It also needs a fan that constantly runs for it to work.
Some people have a misconception about the use of UV sanitizers. They fear that being exposed to ultraviolet would pose great danger. But do not let this misinformation prevent you from considering one. This technology uses rays that are strong enough to destroy biological pollutants. The level of radiation is unlikely to cause any health concerns to humans. Additionally, you would not even be exposed to them as they are already installed inside the unit.
While they are beneficial, the latter is more effective if your home gets humid during the summer. A UV light is also more energy-efficient than an air purifier since it does not require the fan to run constantly. Some advanced sanitizers even have a sensor that turns on the bulb or lamp only when the system is operating. Lastly, you need it if you want to eliminate mold or mildew.
How much does it cost to install?
Installing one in your HVAC may not be as easy as flushing a radiator or figuring out your Thermo King alarm codes. You may even consider getting the help of a professional to help you install it instead of performing it DIY-style. On average, the installation cost starts at $100 and can go as high as $3,000. Several factors affect the installation price, such as the output and the specific purpose of installing it. The features needed can also affect the price.
One that produces energy at the 253.7nm wavelength is more expensive than one that emits energy below the said threshold. It is the ideal range for a germicidal light to work effectively. However, buying one that produces less than the recommended 253.7nm wavelength is not recommended. There is a chance that the product will be ineffective in killing pollutants and preventing their regrowth.
Another factor that affects the price is the purpose of the product and what they clean inside the system. Air-sterilizing ones are more expensive than their on-coil counterparts because they require higher wattage bulbs. It cleans pollutants found in the airstream. It needs to be powerful enough to kill those contaminants that go through the UV-C within a split second. While the two require different wattage levels, they have the same operational costs.
The features may also influence the overall cost. Some of the features that may jack up the price include an LED status display or an automatic sensor for troubleshooting. An odor oxidizer is on the list, too. Lastly, the cost of your installation will depend on whether you choose to hire a professional or do it yourself. On average, having a professional installer may add $100 to $300 to your overall cost. But while it may be tempting to do it DIY style, keep in mind the risks. Some manufacturers may also void the warranty if a professional technician does not install it.
Where do you put it?
While it does not take as much space as a wide belt sander or a portable sawmill, it is important to decide where to mount it. The air handler is the most recommended place to install it within the HVAC since this is where the air will pass through. However, you may also consider the return duct or other strategic locations within the ductwork. When deciding where to install it, remember it works best around reflective areas and in connection with high-efficiency filtration systems. You should also always consult the manufacturer’s manual to achieve the best performance and reduce health hazards.
They work great. They can be used to kill a mixture of bacteria and fungi. Germs and other things you don’t want in your home are no obstacle to this device. They’ll keep your air handler system working safely so that your family stays healthy.
1.5 years when used non-stop. A UV-C lamp has a life of more than 10,000 hours, which means the lamp will need to be replaced every 1.5 years. Make sure you get a lamp rated to last a long time.
The air handler is where you will want to install the UV light. That is how it gets to be the most effective.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to install a UV light in an HVAC system
- Figure out where to install the UV light
As you intend to get rid of germs, you’ll want the system where it does the most damage. This will be in the air handler.
- Drill the holes
You’ll need to drill through metal, so you’ll want a good drill. It may prove to be a physical challenge as drilling in a metal can be hard!
- Place the unit according to the manufacturer’s specifications
The UV light now gets placed in the air handler. Make sure not to tighten the screws to the extent that they damage anything.
- Turn on the system
Crank up those amps. It’s time to make your home safer!
- Maintenance (every so often)
The bulb should last you 1-2 years, at which point it will need replacing. Make sure you clean the bulb so that it keeps operating at its best!