Enhance Your HVAC System With UV Lights

Although your HVAC system’s primary purpose is to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, it can also play a key role in maintaining your home’s indoor air quality. Along with physical filters, UV lights can work with your HVAC system to neutralize mould, viruses, some allergens and other air contaminants.

What Is UV Light and What Is It Used for?

UV, which stands for “ultraviolet,” refers to light with a wavelength of 10 to 400 nanometres. It’s produced by the sun but can also be created artificially.

UV light is invisible to the human eye, so it’s not useful as a source of illumination. It is useful for a range of applications including observing fluorescence, diagnosing and treating certain illnesses, detecting counterfeit money, curing plastic resins and identifying refrigerant leaks.

How Is UV Light in HVAC Systems Different From Other UV Lights?

UV light is generally divided into three types: A, B and C. UV-A rays have the longest wavelengths and are the most effective at passing through the ozone layer. They, along with the slightly shorter UV-B rays, are responsible for producing the melanin changes that lead to sun tans and burns.

UV-C light has the shortest wavelengths and can sterilize . Although this makes it potentially dangerous, it also makes it effective as an air purifier when added to an HVAC system. UV light with a wavelength of around 265 nanometres has been found to be the most effective at neutralizing microorganisms, so UV lights in HVAC systems are generally in this range.

What Are the Benefits of UV Light in HVAC Systems?

There are two main benefits of UV light air purifiers in HVAC systems.

First, they help improve indoor air quality by neutralizing up to 90% of microorganisms on ducts and evaporator coils, depending on intensity, placement and lamp life cycle. This helps restrict the growth of mould and mildew, eliminate odours from volatile organic compounds, and sterilizes germs so your air is cleaner and safer.

Second, by reducing buildup of organic material on surfaces inside your HVAC system, it improves airflow so the system runs more efficiently and requires less maintenance and repair. In some cases, installed UV lights have been found to decrease energy use by 10–25%.

How Does UV Light in an HVAC System Work?

UV-C light interferes with the production of proteins microorganisms need to live and reproduce. While this doesn’t kill microorganisms immediately, it does render them harmless and shorten their lifespan.

If you want to include UV light in your HVAC system, there are two options:

  • Coil-sterilizing UV lights are mounted near the evaporator coil and are designed to prevent microbial growth on the coil itself. In this setup, the light is on 24/7 and helps sterilize the air as it passes through the system.
  • Air-sterilizing UV lights are installed in the return air duct and sterilize the air before it gets pulled into your HVAC system. This type is usually wired directly to your air handling unit, so it only turns on when the unit is on and pulling air.

No matter which type you get, it’s important to know that UV light only works with full exposure. That means you need to ensure the area is clean before you install the UV light, because dust, grease and other particulate matter could prevent the UV rays from reaching the microorganisms you’re trying to sterilize. Particularly for air-sterilizing types, any leaks in your system will also reduce the UV light’s effectiveness by pulling air in downstream of the purifier, where it won’t get treated.

How Much Does It Cost to Add a UV Light?

Parts and installation could cost up to $1,696 + HST depending on your system, the type of device you choose, how many units you need and other factors unique to your home. You’ll also need to replace the bulbs periodically (usually about once a year). Each bulb is likely to cost at least $200.

Can I Install UV Lights Myself?

If your system already has UV lights installed, it’s possible to change the bulbs yourself. But be careful: high doses of UV-C light can be harmful, and many installations involve electrical wiring. Please refer to the manufacturers instructions as there may be other safety considerations when replacing the UV lights. Ultimately, it’s best to leave the initial installation in the hands of a licensed technician.

Rent a UV-Enhanced Air Conditioner Today

If you rent an air conditioner from Enercare, you’ll get the option of having UV lights installed right from the beginning. Give yourself peace of mind with cost-effective rental options– get your equipment installed and never worry about the cost of repair or maintenance again.1 This way you can enjoy benefits of UV light for your home through the equipment’s entire lifespan.

  1. Terms and conditions apply. See rental agreement for full details.