Under certain circumstances, ultra-violet (UV) lights in an HVAC system can reduce or prevent microorganisms circulating through a home or office. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists UV lights as “a known disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UVC radiation has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria, such as tuberculosis.”
The popularity and curiosity around UV lights has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA also mentions UV lights as a possible way to inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
On their website, the FDA says, “UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-Coronavirus, which is a different virus from the current SARS-CoV-2 virus. The destruction ultimately leads to inactivation of the virus...UVC radiation may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
As an HVAC professional, you’ll need to know when UV lights are the best solution for the system and what the right UV lights are for the situation. For residential and business use, the two types of UV systems are those that clean the air itself and those that clean an HVAC system.
UV Lights to Sanitize the Air
UV air sanitizers use stick-shaped or curved ultraviolet lights installed in ductwork to kill germs. These lights are easy to install and service, though they can be expensive depending on the style you choose. Some of the most popular UV lights for HVAC systems include:
Bio Shield Antimicrobial Protection UV-C Sanitizer System - The manufacturer says, “Bio-Shield kills the air contaminants that can cause colds, flu, sinus infections, allergies, asthma and other serious illnesses. Bio-Shield uses germicidal lamps to provide healthy and clean air. The UV-C rays also keep and eventually removes the bio-film collecting on the air conditioning coils and other a/c parts, greatly increasing the efficiency of the A/C unit. It also eliminates the need for costly duct work cleaning. [It] uses less electricity than a 20 watt light bulb.”
Honeywell UV Air Purifier (24V) - The manufacturer says, “Similar to UV lights used by hospitals and restaurants to help disinfect and prevent the spread of germs, the Honeywell Home UV Air Purifier with AirBRIGHT® Odor Absorption can eliminate the majority of mold spores on the air conditioning coil, helping to maintain system efficiency and airflow.”
OdorStop 144PRO 144 Watt UV Air Purifier - The manufacturer says, “Ultraviolet light is a proven solution for killing all airborne bacteria that is present in HVAC duct work. The OS144PRO system is specifically designed to make indoor environments safer and help people with compromised immune systems, allergies, school-aged children, and more.”
UV Lights to Sanitize the HVAC System
The coil area of an HVAC system is damp and makes an ideal breeding ground for mold and bacteria. The Air and Movement Control Association says, “HVAC coil/surface irradiation continuously targets bacteria, viruses, mold, and biofilm that proliferate on coils, air filters, duct walls, and drain pans, preventing them from becoming reservoirs for pathogen growth.” Depending on the pan placement in the HVAC system, these systems may not be as easy to install as duct-mounted UV systems. Some of the more popular UV lights for HVAC coil cleaning include:
PURO Lighting Helo F1 - The manufacturer says, “The first known high intensity, full spectrum UV disinfection fixture to be installed in the ceiling. With proper layout, Helo fixtures, powered by Violet Defense® technology, give you whole room protection no matter the size of the space, and the ability to disinfect on demand in one cycle.”
American Ultraviolet High-output CC Series - The manufacturer says, “They can be mounted in various configurations for optimum pass-by air decontamination and/or to irradiate cooling coils and drain pans. Individual fixtures can be mounted to plenum walls or multiple fixtures can mount to frame assemblies that span supply ducts or cooling coils.”
Fresh-Aire UV Blue-Tube XL - The manufacturer says, “BTXL is designed to sterilize airborne viruses, bacteria, and allergens as well as reducing energy and maintenance costs associated with commercial HVAC coil disinfection.”
While some of these options can be done by homeowners, it’s always best to hire a trained and licensed professional for HVAC work. For those interested in taking the next step from DIY to HVAC professional, connect with a school near you with HVAC training programs.