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The Importance of UV in HVAC Systems.
By Kaitlin Krull

Ultraviolet light is used for a wide variety of processes across the fields of science, medicine, and even home improvement. While the application of UV lighting in HVAC systems is not as widespread as its use in laboratories and hospitals, the science behind it remains the same: ultraviolet light has the potential to eliminate the spread of bacteria and mildew. At Home Improvement Leads, we believe that technology and home improvement should go hand in hand, and that HVAC professionals can use science to improve their practices. This article highlights the importance of UV lighting in HVAC systems.

The science behind UV light
Ultraviolet light, or light that cannot be seen by the naked eye, is traditionally used in both scientific and medicinal fields for a variety of reasons. UV-Cs, the third type of ultraviolet rays, are used for ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, or the removal of bacteria, mold, and other pathogens in order to increase the air quality of a particular space.

A scientific study undertaken by members of the Faculty of Biological Science and the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2000, shows its importance. Researchers demonstrated that fungal levels both in the insulation of HVAC office building air-handling units and in the office environment as airborne bacteria decreased significantly after the repeated and long term use of germicidal UV light. This practice has been adopted by HVAC professionals in both commercial and residential areas in order to increase the air quality of both HVAC units and homes.


Why use UV lights in a home HVAC system?
While HVAC professionals advocate the use of UV lights in HVAC systems, many homeowners want to know the benefits of UV lighting for both their units and their homes. Primarily, this technology is used to eliminate mold and mildew in both the HVAC unit (including the insulation and the wider unit) and the home, decreasing the amount of stationary and airborne bacteria traveling through the system and into the home. Research suggests that repeated and continued use of UV lighting in HVAC units decreases the risk of air contamination and possible illness due to exposure of mold, bacteria, and other airborne pathogens that are often present inside HVAC systems.

Factors to take into consideration before choosing UV in your unit
Before homeowners make the decision to choose an HVAC unit with UV germicidal irradiation, there are several factors to consider.

First, the placement of UV lamps can affect the effectiveness of germicidal irradiation. If placed incorrectly, these lamps will not function properly and will offer little in the way of bacterial and germicidal prevention. Similarly, the intensity and number of lamps will affect the optimum function of the UV lighting inside the HVAC unit.

The temperature and humidity of the HVAC unit itself will affect the performance of UV lighting, so making sure the atmosphere is between 72 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit and not too damp is essential for optimum performance.

Another concern homeowners may have about UV lighting in HVAC systems is energy use, since high pressure lamps will consume more energy than low or medium pressure lamps. Choosing the correct lamp for each individual unit is essential for energy savings and best practice.

Regular maintenance and a limited lifespan of UV lighting in HVAC units is yet another issue that homeowners need to be made aware of. Most UV lamps will need to be regularly checked and cleaned, and will need to be replaced every one to three years.

In short, itís essential that homeowners are made aware of both the benefits and potential drawbacks of UV lighting in HVAC systems. Choosing HVAC professionals who understand the intricacies of this particular technology and who are capable of performing regular checkups on the products in potentially dangerous situations (burns from UV rays and mercury exposure from the lamps are serious and complex risks) is paramount. If you and your HVAC business choose to stock and sell UV lighting for HVAC units, make sure you are properly educated and trained in this area in order to provide the best possible service in the safest way possible.


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