Do I Need a UV Light For My Air Conditioner?

ByAllen Czermak


With the coronavirus global pandemic going on, it’s important to adhere to all of the CDC guidelines for protecting your and your family. This includes cleaning, disinfecting, and keeping up with hand hygiene. When you use the bathroom, make sure to wash your hands well with soap and warm water. The idea is not to panic but to be smart about avoiding the spread of bacteria and germs. Hand sanitizers are great if you have them around, but antibacterial soap should be fine as well. What’s most important, is that you become sanitary conscious and keep your hands off your face. If we wouldn’t be always touching our faces and rubbing our noses the risk for contraction would be greatly reduced.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces, depending on the material type. This means that we need to be concerned of how the air in our homes, schools, and public places may play host to the coronavirus. The last thing we need to worry about, is what viruses and bacteria are circulating in our dwellings.

The good news is that the warmer weather is coming, and homeowners will begin turning on their central air conditioning systems. This means that the stationary air in your home will now begin to circulate by being drawn in via the return vent. The warm air then passes through the air handler and gets cooled down by the evaporator coils. The process continues until the room is cooled down according to the set temperature on the thermostat.

During the air-cooling process, the air passes through a filter which removes dust, danders, and allergens. The clean air flows through the cooling coils and then passes through a grill to remove any remaining unwanted elements. After years of HVAC use, the evaporator coils tend to build up dust and residue from the system. In addition to getting your air vents cleaned, it’s recommended to clean this part of the system as well. Only a licensed professional should be hired as doing it yourself may potentially damage your system.

Unfortunately, not all elements get filtered out. Even when using a high efficiency HEPA filter, particles less than 0.3 microns will still pass through. Viruses and bacteria are generally between 0.2 and 2.0 um, and those are definitely not getting filtered. As per coronavirus, if it’s floating around the home chances are it will pass through the filter and grill at the coiling coils.

Using UV light to keep HVAC interior surfaces free of mold and pathogens

Ultraviolet light or black light is outside the physical spectrum of light and can only give off light when reflecting off other colored surfaces. For example, shining a UV light on colors of orange or white will give them a pretty glow. UVA rays are produced by the sun and account for up to 95% of UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface. UVA radiation is harmful to humans and damages skin and plays a major role in wrinkling. At the same time, UV light can be used to combat bacteria and viruses like COVID-19. When the pathogens pass through the UV light they break up and turn into a harmless moisture.

The size of the HVAC system will determine where to place the UV lights to kill the mold and bacteria. In most residential homes, the germicidal UV light bulb will be placed within the evaporator coils. This is the area where the bacteria tends to build up and the intergalactic warfare will take place. At this point the strong ultraviolet light will blast apart the pathogens that were passing through your air ducts.

Sounds like something supernatural, but does it really work?

For HVAC systems this has been tried and tested. In fact, there are many types of UV lights being sold by air conditioner installers like the REKO Lighting R2000 air purifier. Each brand claims to be the best UV light for HVAC but no one will ever really know how one outperforms the next. UV light technology has become so popular that health care providers are beginning to adopt it for keeping a facility germ and virus free.

David J. Brenner, Ph.D, is a Professor of Radiation Biophysics at Columbia University. In 2018, he and his team tested a specific type of ultraviolet light which can kill the flu virus in the air. LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping™ Robots are already being used in many hospitals across the globe. It can disinfect an entire patient room in as little as 20 minutes. It’s truly a revolutionary way to keep hospitals and health care facilities free of dangerous pathogens.

Isn’t UV light dangerous?

Conventional UV light can penetrate and damage the skin and cause cataracts. The technology being used by the robot cleaners uses Far-UVC which does not penetrate the skin. For UV light placed in an air handler there is little chance that you will even see it let alone penetrate your skin. The HVAC UV light kit is placed deep inside the evaporator coils, far from any skin exposure. During the HVAC UV light installation, technicians make it their priority to make sure there is absolutely no exposure to the ultraviolet rays. Only the air, which circulates your home will be under UV exposure. This will allow your air handler to function as an air purifier, keeping out mold, bacteria, and viruses from circulating throughout your home.

Are there any other HVAC UV light benefits?

Ultraviolet light for air conditioners is safe and brings many other added benefits. Some of these benefits include, keeping your evaporator coils super clean. Very often the grille covering the coils gets clogged with dust and mold that will cause your air-cooling system to not perform as well as it should. This means that the HVAC efficiency will be lower, and your system will need to work harder and use more energy. This means higher electric bills, especially during the summer months when temperatures in a home are at the highest. Installing UV light for ac units increases efficiency and can significantly lower energy bills. Keep in mind that when your cooling system uses less energy, not only does it save you money, it helps the environment as well.

Another added benefit is that you won’t have to clean your evaporator coils with harsh chemicals. When the grille and the coils get filthy, they are cleaned by using a foam agent. Some of these cleaning agents contain many harmful chemicals like diethylene glycol monoethyl ether, 2-butoxyethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas. Avoiding such chemicals would be highly beneficial to the inhabitants of the home. No one really knows how long it takes for these chemicals to completely exit the cooling system. The UV light will function as an air purifier for the air circulating in your home and keep your system clean and running efficiently for many years to come.

What is the cost of a UV light for air conditioners?

There are two parts to this question. The actual cost of the UV lights ranges from $70 to $500 on Amazon. We are going to review three UV lights on Amazon. The LSE Lighting UVC 36 is priced at $72 and comes with a 36W High Power UVC bulb. The pros are its low price and the cons are that it comes with poor installation instructions. The RGF Reme Halo is priced at $449.97 on Amazon. The pros are that it received close to a five-star rating and the cons are that it’s expensive. The Reko Lighting R2000 comes in at a pretty competitive price of $99.95. It gets rid of mold, mildew, and other bacteria and uses very little electricity. The installation for R2000 takes just 15 minutes. Keep in mind, that if you’re, handy these can be easily installed by yourself. However, if you’re unfamiliar with cooling systems, hire an HVAC UV light installation expert. The last thing you would want is to install incorrectly or perhaps even worse damage your central air conditioner. If you choose to hire someone, make sure they are trustworthy and have experience with UV light for duct-work.

Final Words

Having UV lights installed in your HVAC system may seem at first unnecessary. Who needs the added expense, and does it really work? Relatively speaking it depends on who is occupying the facility or home. Take for example someone who is highly sensitive to seasonal allergies and especially mold. If installing UV lights into your air handler can help them breathe or sleep better, then it’s worth it. If you’re the administrator of a nursing home and your residents are at the greatest risk for the coronavirus it would be wise to entertain the idea of having multiple UV lights installed into the facilities duct work. It does not cost anything to have an HVAC UV light installer come down and give you a quote. UV lights cannot only help keep germs, bacteria, mold, mildew, and viruses out of your ducts, they allow your system to perform at its best and keep energy bills low too.

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