Last Updated on
The best UV light for HVAC systems can help you limit fungi, mold, dust mite and bacteria growth in your system and therefore improve the overall quality of the air in your home.
This makes UV light units the ideal solution for those of you suffering from allergies triggered by these common allergens, as well as those with rhinitis and asthma. Or simply for anyone who wants to improve the purity of their home air.
The best air purifying systems not only help to limit microbial growth with UV, but can also help you address other common issues including bad odors, chemical vapors and deal with other common allergens such as pollen and dust.
*All links above will take you to the latest prices on Amazon.com or you can read our Best UV Light for HVAC reviews below.
What is a HVAC UV Light?
Ultraviolet (UV) light is essentially electromagnetic radiation capable of killing many common microbes and pathogens (disease causing microbes) and/or allergens including fungi, bacteria and viruses.
For decades, UV has been put to good use in the form of sterilizing hospitals and even water and today you can even utilize UV light to sterilize your home HVAC system or keep your AC coils clean and improve your indoor air quality.
There are a variety of commercial HVAC UV lights available that are relatively easy to install and maintain. However, there are a number of factors to consider before making a decision.
#1 Pure UV Light AIR Purifier for AC
One of the best UV light for HVAC systems by Pure UV has a handy design as it’s attached above or below the conditioning cooler coil using a magnet attached to a bracket.
This makes it quick and easy for you or for an HVAC technician to install without there being too much work involved or concerns about compatibility with your system.
Once installed, it’s designed as such that you can remove the light fitting without having to dismantle the bracket again, so changing the bulb is trouble free. The seller on Amazon even points you in the right direction of where to get replacement bulbs that are compatible.
Just how it easy this is to install can depend on your current HVAC set up, as older units are usually not designed to be as serviceable as newer ones and so your experience with this bulb may vary.
All you have to do after the install is plug it in and it’s kept running indefinitely. You shouldn’t have much of an issue finding a place to plug it in, the 9ft cable is ample reach but you could always use an extender if you need to.
#2 D200 Dual lamp Air Purifier
It may be trickier to install than other similar products but that’s just because it’s larger in size but its size does also mean the air will have a greater exposure to the UV rays emitted by this light.
This product does have one significant advantage over similar UV light air purifiers though, which is that it combines the use Titanium Dioxide with the UV light which further increases its efficacy; killing volatile organic compounds too!
#3 Bio-Shield UV-C Air Sanitizer System
It’s a very energy efficient choice too; consuming less energy than a 35 Watt light bulb which will save you money, especially if you plant to have multiples of these fitted throughout your ductwork.
Like the others, this one also needs to be plugged in and is switched on continuously. It comes with an 8 foot power chord to make it easier for you to get it plugged into the nearest outlet.
#4 D200 Air Purifier Whole House UV Light
The D200 UV air purifier is designed to be mounted within your AC ducts and kills moulds, microbes and mildew as the air is passed over it.
It’s a dual bulb system which is increases its efficacy and it works by killing “99%” of moulds, microbes, viruses and mildew that passes in the air within the light’s range.
The light is mounted by you cutting two 1 inch holes into the duct and the lights are just inserted. You then screw the back panel into place. If you are handy with DIY this would be no problem but some of you may require a technician or a handy friend to get this job done for you.
Either way, a template for the hole required is provided with this product.
An added benefit to this product is that not only do you get two UV bulbs for use straight away but an extra pair are supplied making this a great value for money choice!
How Do HVAC UV Lights Work?
The best UV lights for HVAC units are the ones that are able to effectively kill living opportunistic pathogens such as fungi, bacteria and viruses which are suspended in the air and potentially spread throughout your home via your air conditioning system.
However, it’s worth noting that UV light alone will not deal with other common causes of respiratory irritation and allergies, such as dust, dander and other non-living allergens.
The reason UV light has this effect on microorganisms is all to do with its wavelength. In the specific range of 260-270nm the light interrupts and breaks down their DNA. This completely destroys their ability to replicate and perform vital cellular functions.
Historically UV light was known to have these properties and it was Niels Finsen back in 1903 who used UV light as an effective treatment for Lupus Vulgaris and Tuberculosis of the skin earning himself a Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Since then, the application of the best UV light for HVAC in various industries for has exploded. The method has also found use in hospitals, water purification, food production and many other industries, including air purification.
UV Light in HVAC Effectiveness
The effectiveness of UV light in killing pathogens such as bacteria, fungi and viruses has been well studied in a range of different environments. For obvious reasons, the majority of these studies have been carried out in clinical settings such as hospitals.
In the context of HVAC, one notable study in particular found that fungal levels within an office space were significantly lower than control environments following 4 months of UV operation.
Types of UV Lights
There are new HVAC lights released all the time, however, there remains two major types of UV lights that operate slightly differently. It’s useful to be aware of these differences as the one that’s right for you and your home will greatly depend on your main area of concern.
Coil Purification – The interior of your HVAC system is typically cold and damp, making the air handler coil a prime location for mold growth. This mold can then very easily be circulated back into your home via the blower and as it makes its way through the air vents can spread spores throughout your living space.
Coil UV lights are bulb style systems that are relatively inexpensive and a great solution for those wanting to reduce mold in their homes by sterlizing internal AC coils.
Air Purification UV Lights – These are the larger scale UV light units that are fitted into the return air duct and operate in synchronicity with the air handler blower.
They are intended to improve the overall air quality of your home and unlike UV light coil sterilizers don’t just reduce mold growth on your coils. Many can also help to improve odor and reduce chemicals in the air too.
Why is Mold & Fungi Growth an Issue?
Molds can congregate within the air handler in your AC system and along with the conditioned air be distributed throughout the household.
This is a particular problem for those who live in humid climates where moisture in the air will encourage microbial growth.
Not only is the distribution of these fungal spores an issue in that in that it can increase the risk of respiratory infections but it’s also an irritant for pre-existing allergies such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis) too.
As a result it can be really difficult for sufferers of these common conditions to stay within the premises without getting agitated and uncomfortable.
HVAC UV Light Benefits
Reducing the number of potential harmful pathogens that inhabit the air ways of your home have many rewarding benefits and so despite the drawbacks which can be nullified, the rewards are worth it:
- Help to Reduce Illness
With many bacteria and viruses being exterminated by the UV rays, it is less likely that you come in contact with pathogens in the house. Even if someone who is ill comes into the household, the spread of the diseases through coughs and sneezes is likely to be reduced.
- Help to manage allergies
Fungi spores and other allergens associated with pathogens will be greatly reduced as a result of their numbers decreasing. This is a huge benefit and makes the products well worth the asking price, particularly for those who suffer from allergies, asthma and rhinitis.
- Help to eliminate Odors
Bad smells can be circulated by the AC system in the home and they can be the result of the congregation of microbes. Therefore, the destruction of these microbes can help get rid of the unwanted smells that they are responsible for, leaving your home smelling clean and fresh.
- Low Maintenance
All of the best UV lights for HVAC mentioned in the above reviews have very low annual running costs due to their low usage of electricity. This means you can save a lot more on fuel if you are using something like a propane generator.
The cost of replacement bulbs are also reasonable too. Plus, the sterilization of AC coils can also help you save even more money on maintenance visits from a technician that would otherwise have to clean the algal growths on the coils.
HVAC UV Light Disadvantages
Although using a HVAC UV light in your system has a number of benefits, it’s worth noting that there are a few drawbacks too:
- AC System Damage
Some materials used within your AC unit or the ductwork may be UV light sensitive and become damaged over time. In particular any non-UV stabilized plastics can be especially sensitive, this typically includes components like drain pans and flex ducts.
- Need to Run 24/7
The UV stick bulbs that are fitted into the air handler of your HVAC unit should be on all the time but those that are within the ductwork only really need to be on when the system is running. Yet many models have no option to be turned off.
A skilled electrician or handyman however, may be able to route the wiring so that the UV light comes on only when the fans activate but this is something to be discussed with a skilled professional.
- UV Light Placement
Exactly where you would place the UV light will depend on your set up, but if the UV lights are not placed so that the air blows through the light that they are emitting, they will not effectively destroy all of the microbes.
This is not too much of a problem but for optimal performance, the right placement is key, which in my experience is far too easy to get wrong.
Things to Look for in a UV Light for HVAC
By now, you may have a little information overload, so to keep things simple, here is a brief checklist of the key things you should be looking for in a good quality UV light for HVAC systems.
Coil sterilizer vs. air sterilization – Do you simply want to limit microbial growth around your AC coil? Or do you want a complete UV light air purification system that will handle volatile organic compounds, bad odours, pathogens and chemical vapors?
UV-C Power Output – Ultraviolet C is a specific wavelength of UV light that is safer than other forms , such as UV-a and b. Still you need to check that the lamp is powerful enough to kill mildew, bacteria and fungi.
UV Wavelength Specification – Ideally, you want a lamp that produces UV in the 254 nM range. This is the optimum wavelength that will ensure your lamp is producing hydroxyl ions capable of destroying the widest range of allergens.
Non-Ozone Producing – Ozone is produced by UV light at 187nm as it is able to break the double covalent bond of (O2) to create (O-), which is very unstable and will bond with the closest (O2) molecule to create ozone (O3).
This is a bad thing, since ozone creates a malodorous odor that will make your home smell and it is a pollutant capable of degrading your HVAC systems components over time. Besides ozone is not required to destroy microbes and allergens and much of it will be destroyed by the UV light anyway!
- Lamp Life – You will want to secure a UV lamp able to produce adequate amounts of UV for years to come (at least three years). The best lamps are still able to emit the essential, germicidal UV-c rays at 85% after year 1 and 60% after year 3.
The Bottom Line
Using the best UV light for HVAC to purify the air that’s circulated through your home by your HVAC system is affordable, easy and effective; only requiring a small amount of work to be done that will ultimately serve you for years to come.
You may have some plastic materials within your AC unit or ductwork that can take damage from the UV lights and if this is the case it would be best to have a word with your HVAC technician and talk about ways of insulating or replacing those components with UV stabilized plastics.
Ultimately, if you are an allergy sufferer or a resident concerned about the air quality in your home, an HVAC UV light is one of the best steps to take, since the installation and running costs are relatively low and the results are long term and effective.
About the Author
Dave Miller is a HVAC technician with over 10 years in the industry. Dave created HeatTalk with the ambition for it to become a resource for individuals looking for answers, whether they be a layman, student or a professional.