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UV Light for HVAC: How It Works and the Pros and Cons

UV Light for HVAC: How It Works and the Pros and Cons

Now, more than ever, people are aware of the impact that air quality has on health. We fully understand that harmful particles are constantly passing through the air. When they reach us, these particles can cause sickness or lead to other health issues. 

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What if there was a way to eliminate these particles from the air? Could this be a way to prevent illnesses? 

This is one of the purported benefits of UV lights for HVAC systems. So, does this system actually work? If so, how does it do what it does? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and several more. 

What Is an HVAC UV Light?

HVAC units circulate warm and cool air through a home. While this is usually a good thing, it can also create a problem. If the air being circulated has bacteria and other germs in it, then the HVAC system is actively harming the people within the building rather than helping them. 

This situation sounds dramatic but is actually more common than you might think. HVAC systems contain dark vents that are hard to clean and prone to gathering moisture. This is the ideal environment for substances like mold and mildew to grow. If the system turns on while these substances are growing inside, they will spread the spores from these substances around your home. 

An HVAC UV light is a UV light found within an HVAC system. It shines powerful UV light into the system as air passes through it. This is done to disinfect the air and, thus, eliminate potential germs and bacteria from it. This prevents these harmful elements from entering the air found within a property. 

How Do UV HVAC Lights Work?

Light comes in all sorts of different wavelengths. In general, the smaller the wavelength, the more harm it does by passing through something. This is why light with extremely large wavelengths, like infrared light, causes no harm, while light with extremely short wavelengths, like gamma waves, causes a lot of harm.  

Ultraviolet light falls on the shorter side when it comes to wavelengths. This is why your skin will burn if you are exposed to too much UV light. 

The good news is that this light hurts bacteria and other germs. The light zaps through them and destroys their DNA. This kills them. 

UV HVAC lights take advantage of this basic function of UV light. In most cases, UV lights used in HVAC systems utilize UV-C, a form of UV light with an even shorter wavelength. This makes these lights even more effective at killing germs and bacteria. 

Types of HVAC UV Light Systems

There are two main types of HVAC UV light systems. These include coil sterilization and air sterilization. 

  • Coil Sterilization: This type of HVAC UV light system starts with a UV light that is aimed at the AC system’s evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is a place where air moves over constantly and is a place where harmful elements have a habit of accumulating. The UV light shining on this system eliminates these harmful elements as they gather and allows the air passing by to remain clean. This type of system is on at all times, even when the AC is switched off so that it can eliminate anything on the coil as soon as it appears. 
  • Air Sterilization: This type of HVAC UV light system aims at sterilizing the air itself rather than any physical element of the system. It shines UV light directly into the air ducts, disinfecting the air as it passes by. In most systems like this, the UV lights are only turned on as air circulates since disinfecting this circulating air is the main purpose. In general, air sterilization systems are more expensive than coil systems because they take more work to install. 

UV Light HVAC Pros and Cons

While UV light definitely has a positive impact on the way an HVAC system functions, it also has some drawbacks. Chief among these is the price tag. This leaves many people wondering if the benefits provided by an HVAC UV light are worth the costs. 

UV Light HVAC Pros: 

  • Prevent Illnesses: The main purpose of a UV light like this is to kill germs and bacteria. It does an effective job with this. So, by using a UV light system, you will contend with fewer things trying to make you sick. This results in fewer illnesses overall. 
  • Improve Air Quality: By killing the harmful elements within your HVAC system, a UV light can improve how the system functions. It will have fewer issues building up inside it and, thus, will not spread these issues around. In this way, a UV light can improve the overall air quality within the house. 
  • Increased Efficiency: Harmful elements like mold and mildew cause an HVAC system to run poorly. By eliminating these elements, a UV light allows the system to become more efficient. This may result in reduced energy bills and increased satisfaction with the way the system is working. 
  • Eliminate Odors: The harmful elements in an HVAC system cause illness and make the system run poorly. However, they also create unpleasant smells. These smells are then circulated through the house by the HVAC system. Eliminating the problem also eliminates these smells and prevents them from circulating. 

UV Light HVAC Cons: 

  • Maintenance: UV light HVAC systems require more maintenance than other systems. This is because the bulbs need to be cleaned and changed regularly. If they aren’t cleaned or changed every so often, they become less effective and end up failing to do what they were put there to do. 
  • Cost: These systems cost money to install. This raises the prices of the HVAC system as a whole. On top of this, they add to regular expenses, as you will have to pay for the cost of light bulb replacements and any other maintenance that is conducted. 
  • They Don’t Solve All Issues: While UV lights are great for killing bacteria, they don’t eliminate all harmful substances. They essentially have no effect on things like dust and dander. So, if you’re dealing with allergies from dust and dander, just know that a UV light system will not improve your situation. 
  • They Don’t Replace Other Systems: Some people are interested in UV lights for their HVAC system because they think it means they won’t have to deal with filters or other things going forward. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Filters and other HVAC systems are still necessary because dust and other particles are still flying through the system. Put simply, you can’t replace filters with UV light. 

Schedule AC Maintenance With Eanes

UV light systems can absolutely be worth it for many people. They are effective at removing harmful elements from the air in a way that can keep you and the people around you healthier. This is a major benefit for anyone who can afford it. 

If you’re interested in a UV light system for your home or have any other HVAC needs, make sure you contact Eanes Comfort Systems. We can help you install this or other systems, depending on your needs. All you have to do is schedule an appointment, and we’ll take care of the rest.