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uv light for hvac

UV Light for HVAC: What Should You Know?

Ultraviolet (UV) light was first used for human benefit in the early 1900s to treat tuberculosis. In the years that followed, scientists found it increasingly useful in situations where they needed to eliminate as much contamination as possible. These days, you’ll find UV light used in a wide variety of settings for sterilization. UV light is used to sterilize surfaces in hospitals. It is used in water treatment facilities and restaurants to remove germs. You’ll even find it in nail parlors or perhaps in your own home where you might possess a small UV light to cure gel nail polish.

It stands to reason that ultraviolet light for HVAC would be equally as effective at removing germs, mold, mildew, bacteria, and other such pollutants, creating cleaner air in your home. UV light for HVAC will kill any such pollutants within its reach, keeping the inner surfaces free of contaminants that can otherwise build up there and be sent back out into the air of your home. Those who use UV lights in their AC system experience vastly improved air quality.

Types of HVAC UV Lights

There are two kinds of UV lights for HVAC systems that you should understand in order to decide which is right for you.

  • Coil sterilization is accomplished by installing a UV light shaped like a stick inside your air ducts in close proximity to the air handler coil. This fairly inexpensive light will run continuously, keeping the coil clean and reducing germs on the surface your air flows across so that they aren’t carried back out into your home.
  • Air sterilization is a larger UV light structure that cleans the air which flows through your ducts rather than the surfaces of its components. This UV lighting system is placed in the air return duct and clicks on and off in sync with the blower on your air handler. Rather than cleaning the surfaces, it cleans the air itself.

UV light has been proven to eliminate more than 97% of the bacteria in certain commercial settings. You’ll see similar results in your cooling system with the installation of a UV light for your HVAC system. 

Though no precise percentages have yet been established due to the many variables from one HVAC system to the next and the vastly different circumstances in individual homes; studies do show that bacterial levels in HVAC systems with an added UV light system are significantly lower than those units without the addition of UV light.

UV Light System Costs

The initial cost of purchase and installation of a UV light system will vary depending on your HVAC system and which type of UV lights you select. You can request an evaluation and estimate for adding UV lights to your HVAC system from an American Home Water and Air professional.

Additional considerations will include the following:

  • Maintenance – The bulb for most UV stick lights will last around a year. Replacement bulbs usually run around $60-70 each if purchased at retail. You can save on the cost by having the bulb replaced as part of your annual HVAC maintenance, saving you money and effort.
  • Energy – While UV lights in your AC system may add a bit to your overall utility costs, the amount is not significant. These bulbs are energy efficient. A UV stick light running 24/7 will only raise your yearly electrical costs by around $25.

Getting the Most from Your HVAC UV Light System

An HVAC UV light system can work wonders for improving the air quality in your home, but it can’t do the job alone. If you want the cleanest air possible, you’ll want to address some other areas affecting your air quality, as well.

  • Protect air ducts while undergoing renovation or construction to prevent debris from entering them
  • Seal air ducts so that they are air-tight to prevent excess energy consumption and the entrance of pollutants from external sources
  • Use high-quality air filters and change them regularly
  • Have regular maintenance performed on your HVAC system and all its components

Benefits of HVAC UV Lights

Hopefully, you now understand what a UV light system for your HVAC does, but how does it truly benefit you? Many improvements can be seen from the addition of a UV light system.

  • Mold and bacteria are controlled, keeping them from building up between cleanings
  • Germs do not cycle through the ducts, reducing colds and cases of flu
  • Odors from grime, mold, and mildew are eliminated
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) such as those found in cleaning chemicals and certain paints are removed rather than being circulated throughout the house
  • Condensate drains lines experience less clogging from the growth of algae
  • The cleaner coil maintained by an HVAC UV light promotes better energy efficiency, thus reducing the cost of utilities 

What are the Cons?

  • An HVAC UV light won’t clean the air flowing through ducts unless the larger UV light system designed to sterilize air flow is installed
  • Can damage any non-UV stabilized plastic components within the air handler if they are within range
  • Drain pans will need to be replaced every 3-5 years due to the effects of the UV light
  • Flex duct will have to be replaced every second year due to effects of the UV light

As you can see, there are many benefits to installing an HVAC UV light. A UV light is only going to be as good as your overall system allows it to be, however. You should first make sure you have taken all of the other measures mentioned to create quality indoor air before adding UV light to your system. 

Those who experience excessive airborne pollutants in their home will find their health adversely affected over time. If you want to experience the cleanest air possible in your home, your HVAC system is a great place to start. You can give the experienced professionals at AHWA a call to evaluate your system and suggest which UV system for HVAC is best for your needs.

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