You may have only recently become more familiar with the use of UV lights used for their germicidal effects due to our recent pandemic, but UV lights have been around for almost a century. In the 1930s, hospitals used them to treat conditions like tuberculosis. You may not be familiar with the concept of using UV lights for HVAC systems because they aren’t all that common in residential systems yet. But they are used in both commercial and residential systems for air purification.
As always, we want to help you decide what’s best for you and your home. We’ll explain the use of UV lights, the benefits, the limitations, and more so you can make an informed decision. Our expert technicians can check for microbial growth & unsanitary conditions inside your air conditioning system and recommend solutions that would best fit your needs.
How UV Lights Work
Germicidal UV HVAC lights are designed to purify the air in your home. It is a method of disinfection that uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light (UV-C) to inactivate or kill microorganisms and pathogens.
A lot of UV-C light is generated by the sun, but none of it makes it to the Earth’s surface. It’s all absorbed by the ozone layer in the stratosphere. As a result, life here on Earth, meaning all bacteria, fungi, and viruses, have evolved without exposure to UVC and that makes all kinds of life forms vulnerable to it if exposed. UV air purifiers use UV-C light that is absorbed by the DNA of microorganisms. This prevents the production of the proteins they need to survive and reproduce.
Viruses are very susceptible to UV-C lighting, bacteria are less susceptible, and fungal spores are the least susceptible. What that means is you have to apply the right dose of UVC to kill all of the organisms you want to kill in order to purify your air. That’s where UV lights for HVAC systems come in. They are designed to do the job without you having to give it another thought.
Types of UV Light Systems
We provide two types of UV lights for HVAC systems that you can choose from.
Coil sterilization units create pure air naturally and add to a standard filtration system as an additional cleaning element. These types of UV air purifiers are mounted near the evaporator coil, inside the air handler. The UV-C light is on 24/7 and works constantly to prevent microbial growth on the evaporator coil and sterilize contaminants as they pass through your HVAC system day and night.
Air sterilization systems are Installed in the return air duct. This kind of HVAC air purifier turns on only when your system is running and sterilizes air before it gets pulled into your system. It uses low-level, airborne hydrogen peroxide produced by the unit to reduce airborne and surface bacteria, viruses, and odors. Since it purifies all air passing through your system, the UV air purifier also helps sterilize HVAC components near the purifier.
Benefits of a HVAC UV Light System
Indoor air quality is strongly connected to the health and well-being of you and your family. We spend the majority of our time indoors these days and studies show that our indoor air has high levels of pollutants than outdoor air. This happens because we have less fresh air and sunlight inside of our homes. The sun naturally disinfects and kills many bacteria, fungi, and viruses and fresh air sweep them away.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants:
- Biological Pollutants
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
- Lead (Pb)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Radon (Rn)
- Indoor Particulate Matter
- Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
- Wood Smoke
Household products, including:
- paints, paint strippers, and other solvents
- wood preservatives
- aerosol sprays
- cleansers and disinfectants
- moth repellents and air fresheners
- stored fuels and automotive products
- hobby supplies
- dry-cleaned clothing
Other products, including:
- building materials and furnishings
- office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids, and carbonless copy paper
- graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.
When you have a germicidal air purifier installed, it’s like installing sunshine in your HVAC system. As your UV light system cleanses the air, your air filter catches the remains and your air is cleaner and healthier for you to breathe. Using a UV light in your HVAC system has many benefits.
Reduce or Eliminate Bacteria and Viruses
HVAC UV lights sterilize viruses and most bacteria before they can be recirculated back into your home. This helps reduce airborne germs that can infect you and your family members. This is especially important if you have someone with poor health living in your home.
Prevent Mold and Mildew Growth
Air conditioning units create a very damp environment where mold and mildew thrive. Left un-prevented, this can cause breathing problems in healthy family members and create an even more dangerous environment for those in poor health. Installing a UV air purifier will prevent mold and bacteria from growing in and spreading throughout your HVAC system.
Remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds are organic chemicals that have strong vapors at room temperature. Paints, solvents, aerosols, cleaners, disinfectants, repellants, and even air freshers produce VOCs that are harmful to your health. HVAC UV light systems neutralize these compounds and provide clean and healthy air to circulate throughout your home instead.
Helps Air Conditioning Unit to Run More Efficiently
When bacteria build up on the evaporator coil, it prevents adequate airflow, which can cause your air conditioner to freeze up. Your AC will run more efficiently and need fewer repairs by keeping bacterial growth from dust, VOCs, and mold growth off of your evaporator coil.
Installing HVAC UV Light Air Purifiers
Installation of an HVAC air purifier should only be done by a professional HVAC technician. The process can be unsafe for someone who is not trained to handle UV-C light and it is possible that your HVAC system’s warranty could be voided if a certified professional does not complete the installation.
At Dolphin Cooling and Heating we have expert certified HVAC technicians to install your UV Light unit:
- We will install your new air purifier unit properly and safely. Extended exposure to high doses of UV-C light can be harmful to people the same way it is harmful to bacteria, fungi, and viruses. We’ll make sure your unit is installed with care and will operate safely and effectively.
- If you opt for air sterilization, the unit will turn on and off with your HVAC system. This requires wiring the air purifier to your HVAC system. Our HVAC techs are trained to safely handle this task.
- Our HVAC technicians will thoroughly clean and inspect the air handler system so dust and debris aren’t being sucked into your HVAC system. We take air purification seriously and want our customers to safe and satisfied with their air quality.
Having an experienced and skilled technician install your UV light will ensure your HVAC air purifier system will perform as it should and can be enjoyed to the fullest extent by you and your family.
UV HVAC Air Purifier Limitations
UV lights are a great addition to your HVAC system to provide cleaner and healthier air in your home, but they are not without their limitations. Dolphin Cooling and Heating is in the business of keeping you informed and making sure you always have the facts in order to make the best decision for your household.
We highly recommend the use of UV lights for HVAC systems, but we want to be clear about their limitations.
UV Lights Do Not Remove Allergens
The job of a UV light is to sterilize allergens, bacteria, viruses, and fungi, but it does not remove them from your system. These microorganisms can still be irritating allergens if not paired with another type of filtration system. This is where your HVAC system’s existing air filter comes into play.
AC filters have a very important job to do because all of the air inside your home passes through that filter. That filter’s job is to catch those microorganisms and prevent them from being released into the air circulating throughout your home.
All air filters have a MERV rating, which is the “minimum efficiency reporting value” of the filter. This is a measure of how effectively a filter removes particles from the air as it passes through it. The higher the MERV rating, the more particles the air filter will catch.
By that logic, you are probably thinking you want the highest MERV-rated air filter you can find. But that’s usually not the case. Although the highest MERV rating may be the best option for your air quality, it’s probably not the best option for your HVAC system.
The truth about air quality is that in order for your HVAC system to work efficiently and effectively, air quality will never be perfect. The highest MERV-rated filter may prevent most particles from passing through, but it can also massively restrict air flow, causing your system to not work properly and increasing your energy costs. The highest MERV-rated filters require a very powerful system to force air through the fibers of the filter.
Make sure you consult one of our experienced HVAC technicians before installing a higher-rated filter into your system. We want to make sure that you won’t end up with unintended problems as a result. Our technicians will make sure you have the best setup for HVAC efficiency and air quality that you can possibly have.
Air Purification Requires UV Light Contact
A UV air purifier is only effective if bacteria or other microorganisms pass through the UV-C light inside of your HVAC system. If your system has holes or gaps this can create a vacuum that draws in new dust and debris. These contaminants won’t pass through the UV light and therefore will not be sterilized or even pass through the air filter to be reduced in number before entering the air inside of your home.
A thorough inspection of your entire system should be performed in order to rule out any damaged or leaky ductwork prior to the installation of a UV light.
Installation of Your UV Light
Living in Southwest Florida, we face plenty of opportunities for the growth of mold and other bacteria entering our HVAC systems and, in turn, the air we breathe in our homes. Dolphin Cooling and Heating is your local professional for UV Light installation and all things HVAC equipment related. Before you choose UV lighting for air purification, contact us about the quality of the air in your home. Our experts will do full inspections and cover all the information you need to know regarding air purification systems and how they would work with your home’s HVAC system.
At Dolphin Cooling and Heating, we do “comfort on porpoise” and we arm our customers with all the facts they need to make an informed decision regarding their HVAC units. If you decide to go with a UV light kit or air purification system, we will get you set up with the best results possible. Set up your appointment today to learn more about this effective solution for all your in-home air quality issues.