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Why You Should Install a UV Light for Your HVAC System

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your HVAC system and its role in your indoor air quality. However, your HVAC system is a key part of keeping your home’s air clean and healthy. Beyond air purifiers, another way to boost your indoor air quality is to install UV lights in your HVAC system. Since you spend up to 90% of your time indoors, it’s important to consider the impact pollutants can have on your long-term health and how UV lights for your HVAC can help.

What is a UV Light for an HVAC System?

An HVAC UV light is a light that helps to clean and purify the air in your home. These lights are installed in the air handler or ductwork of your HVAC system. As air circulates through your home it carries with it germs and allergens which eventually pass through the UV light which sanitizes the air as it recirculates through the home.

What are the Types of UV Light?

Ultraviolet light is one of several types of light that exist within the entire light spectrum. UV-C light, also known as short wave, is the type used in most HVAC systems. With the power to kill some nasty contaminants, UV-C light is the sweet spot for HVAC systems.

How Does a UV Light Work?

Germicidal UV lights for HVAC systems are special ultraviolet lights that kill or deactivate viruses, bacteria, mold, and other airborne pathogens. They are commonly utilized in both residential and commercial settings. UV lights aren’t a new technology and have been used for almost a century to treat issues like tuberculosis in hospitals.

The light produced by the systems is similar to that of sunshine but at a greater intensity. Such intense illumination is capable of destroying the nucleic acids of bacteria. The bacteria’s DNA is destroyed as a result, leaving the germs unable to replicate (some die right away).

How Effective are UV Lights?

UV lights have been found very effective in reducing microbial growth inside your HVAC system. In fact, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was given to Niels Ryberg Finsen in 1903 for his work using UV light radiation to cure skin infections. UV lights are so effective that many hospitals, restaurants, stores, and other businesses use them to sterilize equipment.

Studies of UV lights in HVAC systems have also shown significant results. One study found that UV lights were able to reduce the amount of mold and bacteria in a test home by 97%. Another study showed that UV light air purifiers were able to reduce the amount of airborne flu virus by 90%.

Where Do UV Lights Get Installed?

There are two main types of UV lights for HVAC systems:

Coil sanitizing lights are designed for AC units that sit near your evaporator coil which holds the refrigerant that cools your home. This is also a moist area for mold and bacteria to breed while dirt, debris, and pet dander accumulate.

Air sanitizing lights are placed in your supply vents, which are part of the ductwork of your central HVAC system. These UV lights sanitize the air before it is circulated throughout the home.

UV Light for Air Conditioner

Airborne viruses, mold spores, and bacteria are all around us but they thrive in sensitive areas deep within your AC system that tends to get moist. By installing UV lights in your HVAC system to disinfect the vulnerable edges and grooves, you can help eliminate contaminants from circulating throughout your home.

UV Light for Furnace

When installing UV lights for a furnace it is important to check and clean your air ducts. If your ductwork is leaking, the efficacy of your UV light will be reduced. Through the holes in the ductwork, a significant amount of pollutants could be drawn in, limiting the impact.

UV Lights and Air Filters

An HVAC air filter prevents dust, pollutants, allergens, and large particles from passing through the cooling coil when the air conditioner is on. But even if you use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filter, particles less than 0.3 microns will be able to pass through. UV lights for AC systems supplement your air filtration system and provide an extra layer of protection.

Are UV Lights Safe?

UV lights are safe when properly handled and installed. A qualified professional will take the proper installation precautions and follow these safety tips:

  • Using the correct spectrum of UV light
  • Installing the light according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wearing gloves and eye protection when handling or installing the light.
  • Installing properly so no UV light will ever reach a home occupant’s eyes.

Benefits of UV Lights

It may surprise you but the air pollution in your home can be worse than outdoor pollutants. The main benefits of HVAC UV lights are:

  • Improved efficiency and airflow
  • Reduced energy costs
  • Elimination of mold and mildew
  • Reduced allergies, asthma, and respiratory symptoms
  • Kills viruses and bacteria
  • Reduces odors
  • Improves indoor air quality

If you are concerned about the quality of your indoor air, upgrading to a UV light system will improve the energy efficiency of your HVAC system while also reducing your energy costs.

Additional reading: 7 Secrets To Extending The Life Of Your HVAC System

Disadvantages of UV Lights

The main disadvantages of HVAC UV lights are:

  • They can be expensive to install
  • They require regular maintenance
  • If installed improperly they can damage your ducts or system

Are UV Lights Worth It?

If you or someone in your family has respiratory issues, such as allergies or asthma, you know how important it is to have good indoor air quality. By installing an HVAC UV light, you can eliminate mold and mildew, kill viruses and bacteria, and reduce odors, all of which will improve the quality of your indoor air.

Additionally, UV lights increase the efficiency of your HVAC. The UV lamps will clean the coils and air that passes through the HVAC system naturally. As a result, your HVAC system capacity could be restored by up to 35%. A cleaner HVAC system also means lower energy bills.

Read next: Are Air Purifiers Actually Worth It?

How Much Do UV Lights Cost?

The cost of an HVAC UV light system will depend on the size of your system and the type of UV light you choose. But, in general, you can expect to pay between $1000 and $2000 for a quality UV light system.

How Long Do UV Lights Last?

UV lights should be replaced every 1 to 5 years, depending on the model and manufacturer. For instance, a Carrier coil UV light is recommended to be replaced every 9000 run time hours or every year. For a REME HALO is is every 2 to 3 years and a REME HALO LED is 4 to 5 years. You may need to replace your UV bulb sooner if it’s not working properly or if you notice a decline in indoor air quality.

Also, during your regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance checks ask your HVAC professional to:

  • Wipe away dust on lamps that reduce the strength and effectiveness of the UV light.
  • Avoid touching UV lamp surfaces. Fingerprints contain oil that diminishes UV output and may cause the lamp to heat unevenly.

Best UV Light for HVAC System

Our recommendation for the best UV light for an HVAC system is the RGF REME-HALO. REME-HALO has a distinctive design that is able to actively reduce pollutants. Designed to combine a UV-C light on an advanced catalyst, the REME-HALO creates low concentrations of gaseous hydrogen peroxide in the air that disperses throughout your space.

RGF Reme Halo UV Light for HVAC
REME HALO® Whole Home In-Duct Air Purifier

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent natural disinfectant for reducing viruses, germs, mildew spores, smells, VOCs, and other microorganisms in the air and on surfaces in your house. REME-HALO’s ability to produce low levels of hydrogen peroxide in the air that circulates through your air conditioning system and indoor spaces means it is both actively reducing growth in your air conditioner and improving air quality throughout your home.

Can I Install a UV Light Myself?

Installing a UV light in your HVAC system is a great way to improve your indoor air quality. UV lights are safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive. But this isn’t a DIY job. In order to work its magic, the UV light has to be installed correctly into your HVAC system (and UV lights can be damaging to your eyes if you aren’t careful). Make sure to consult with a professional HVAC technician to ensure proper installation.

Jacobs UV Light Installation Services in Portland

There are many benefits to upgrading your HVAC system with UV lights. Not only will it improve your indoor air quality, but it can also help to extend the life of your HVAC system. If you’re interested in installing UV lights in your home, let Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning experts guide you.

Avoid extra costs and fewer repairs by scheduling a tune-up for your existing system before issues arise. Our professional maintenance plans keep your heating system running like clockwork without any stress or hassle. No matter what you need, we’re always just a phone call away.

About the Author

Amanda Jacobs portrait

Amanda Jacobs, Internal Project Manager

Amanda Jacobs is an Internal Projects Manager and 3rd generation member of Jacobs Heating & Air Conditioning. She received her MBA from Seattle University and has worked for a leading HVAC training and consulting firm. When not talking HVAC on the Jacobs Blog, you can find her on the golf course or whipping up her famous vegan chili.