With the rise of technology and growing awareness for indoor air quality, the HVAC market has recently become oversaturated with products claiming to improve the performance of your unit, the quality of life in the home, and the lifespan of your unit. While there are tons of these products, it is probably the UV bulb that has garnered the most attention. This device is usually installed in conjunction with HEPA filtration systems and works to rid the indoor air of germs, particulates, and allergens. The main selling point of the lamp is that it immediately renders organisms useless upon contact. This means that such organisms are unable to replicate or reproduce.
While these lights are usually installed in conjunction with HEPA filtration systems, there are some standalone units. These units are usually installed near the coils or in the return ductwork right where the duct connects to the unit. You can speak with your local New York HVAC tech to find out the most suitable installation location for your application.
What Exactly Is An Ultraviolet Light?
UV light, although it is considered light, is light that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It also doesn’t produce heat. This is because it has a much shorter wavelength than that of other forms of visible light, like infrared light. Since the wavelength of the light is shorter, it also means that it has more intensity. Higher frequencies with more potent energy. This is how the lights are so potent and effective at rendering organisms useless.
There are some animals with the ability to see UV light. One such animal would be the bumblebee. In other cases, the light might be sensed or felt, but this is not a good thing, as the effects can be near-fatal. Just think of the consequences of sitting under the blazing sun for a long period with proper sun tanning protection. You’d not only end up with a nasty sunburn, but you’d end up with redness and inflammation as a result of exposure to the UV light from the sun. Only about 5 percent of the UV light from the sun gets through to the Earth’s surface, but this type of exposure could degrade your cells.
Different Categories Of UV Light
UV light can be broken down into three different categories based on wavelength. This would be UV-A, UV-B, and UV.
UV-A – This type of light has a wavelength between 315 and 400 nanometers. This light is more abundant in the atmosphere than most. While exposure to this type of light for prolonged periods won’t cause sunburn, it will exacerbate aging and wrinkles. Not something any sensible woman wants to hear.
UV-B – The wavelength of this light is between 280 and 315 nanometers. This wavelength is the one responsible for sunburn and the production of skin cancers. The sub usually blocks right around 95 percent of this light, but the little remaining five percent can cause more damage than you’d want, especially after prolonged exposure.
UV – The last, but the shortest wavelength of light is the UV. It is usually right around 100 and 280 nanometers, which means that it produces the highest amount of energy out of the three lights. Luckily, the Earth does block out most of all the UV-C rays, but they can be extremely effective when harnessed and utilized to kill germs and bacteria.
The Installation Of Germicidal Lamps
Due to the volatility of UV light, it is something that needs to be handled only by certified individuals. Individuals that are familiar with the light and know what potential dangers it holds. The manufacturer of the lights will note all kinds of safety precautions for individuals installing these lights.
These lights can be installed as a part of a package with HEPA filters or they can be installed alone. It depends on your application and needs. Such lights are usually more effective when installed in conjunction with filters. This is because the filters trap and secure the pollutants and organisms so that the light can kill them.
This is not to say that the standalone units are ineffective, but they will need to be installed in an area where they will make the most impact. Due to the complexity and design of most HVAC systems, two locations would be more effective for these lights than others. One would be near the central air coils and the return duct would be the other location.
Since the coils of the unit are responsible for cooling and dehumidifying the air in the home, they will develop bacteria and other germs. If the light is installed new the coils, it can kill out these germs and bacteria. The return ducts are another ideal location, as all the dust, dirt, debris, pollutant, and bacteria will pass by this area at one time. This is why filters are installed in the return ducts.
How UV Lights Kill Microbes!
By now, you already realize that UV-C is a highly potent light. Any molecules that come into contact with this light will immediately be denatured. It renders the DNA in bacteria, viruses, and mold inactive. When rendered inactive, these substances will not be able to reproduce.
UV light is also a good alternative for businesses that require disinfected surfaces. Hospitals are the prime example.
This type of light can also be used to treat water and drinking water. You’d be surprised how man microbes breed in water and UV light can make that water safe for drinking and bathing.
Are These Lamps Safe?
Given the potency and potential danger of UV-C, one would imagine that UV lights are pretty dangerous. Believe it or not, these devices are fairly safe to use at home and in the office. This is, of course, when they are installed correctly. There are some applications of these lights that can come with a thick coating that ensures the light is only emitted in safe areas where it is needed.
These lights have been safely and effectively used for the last two decades to kill viruses, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms. These lights have been researched for more than a century and throughout this time, there have been all kinds of interesting things uncovered about them. For instance, they produce a wavelength of right around 230 nanometers, which isn’t potent enough to damage humans.
So why is there so much concern with these lights if they don’t damage humans? It is the ozone that they produce. There is a concern that they’ll cause ozone build-up in the home. The UV light splits free oxygen molecules, causing them to split into two more forms of oxygen atoms. When this happens, one of the atoms usually combine with free oxygen in the air and form what is known as ozone. This is how ozone is produced.
Just in case you didn’t know, ozone is a dangerous gas responsible for the interference of oxygen in your body. The substance is only dangerous in large amounts. A little ozone exposure is okay. That being said, UV lamp manufacturers make sure that these lights have so much coating, you and your family are protected from exposure.
Different Types Of UV Lamps
Depending on the emitter available, there can be different types of UV lamps. These can include but are not limited to the Pulsed Xenon lights, Low-Pressure Mercury Lamps, LED Lamp, and UV Lamps.
Pulsed Xenon Lights – These are without a doubt the most common type of lights available today. This is because they are safer and applicable in a variety of situations. They can even be effectively used to disinfect surfaces. The only real challenge with these lights is, there is a need for dedicated hardware for proper installation.
Low-Pressure Mercury Lamps – These types are light are extremely common today as well. According to the EPA, these lights emit radiation in a narrow spectrum. Many might be concerned with these lights because they utilize mercury, but these devices have proven to be extremely effective. They don’t even require dedicated hardware for proper installation. The only downside to these lights is, they need time to warm up and cool down before and after an operation cycle. This pretty much means they are consuming energy constantly, which is a problem in today’s energy-conscious world.
LED Lamps – These lights are more eco-friendly and offer one of the lowest operating costs possible. In addition to this, they are long-lasting with the ability to be used to disinfect heat-sensitive surfaces. The one downside to these lights is, they take longer to disinfect surfaces and air within a home or building.
UV Lamps – There are several benefits of taking advantage of UV lamps, but the most notable for homeowners is, they sterilize the air in the home. They do this by effectively removing bacteria and viruses. The not only improves the overall indoor air quality, but it improves the quality of life in any home. Keep your family happy, comfortable, and healthy with the installation of a UV lamp.