Pros and Cons of UV Light in HVAC

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Written By Jamila W.

You’ve probably heard about the efficiency of using UV air purifiers that use HEPA filters – the key to removing air pollutants without causing harmful byproducts.

Also called germicidal air purifiers, UV HVAC light systems improve indoor air quality by sterilizing the harmful bacteria and microorganisms that pass through your air purification system.

UV HVAC systems represent a turning point in cleaning your indoor air. A majority of households that do not already have this system are contemplating installing it.

Considering that this is a serious investment and a step towards an improved indoor environment, you should take into account both the good and bad things that come with it.

In this short guide, we’ll go through the two main types, the pros and cons of UV Light in HVAC systems, and how to install them on your own.

2 Types of HVAC UV Light Systems

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

Coil Sterilization

These is the most common UV HVAC lights. It is a “stick type” of light that’s installed in the HVAC system. It’s placed inside the air ducts near the air handler coil. This UV light runs 24/7.

As for the price, these UV C lights can cost anywhere from $60 to $280.

Air Sterilization

This is a complete UV light unit. Its purpose is to sterilize the moving air. It’s installed in the return air duct and cycles, together with the air handler blower.

It’s important to mention that this UV light unit can also sterilize the HVAC equipment to prevent mold and fungi buildup.

Regarding the price, because it’s more complex than the previous one, it can cost between $40 and $800.

UV Sterilization Lights Application

UV sterilization lights are most commonly found in:

  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Residential homes
  • Public and commercial places
  • Industrial manufacturing
  • Laboratories
  • Colleges and schools
  • Restaurants

Do UV Air Purifiers Emit Ozone?

No, they don’t.

Installing UV lamps in your HVAC system will not result in increased ozone concentrations in your environment.

The Pros of UV Light in HVAC Systems

UV light
Installing UV lights in your HVAC system will certainly help you with poor indoor air quality. These lights will purify the air that passes through your AC unit and help you in killing harmful bacteria and other airborne contaminants.

However, there are two sides to installing HVAC UV lights. Before you’re 100% certain that this is the right move to improve indoor air quality, here is a list of pros and cons:

(Make sure to go through each point carefully)

  1. Improved Indoor Air Quality

Probably the most obvious advantage of an HVAC UV light system is that it contributes to improving indoor air quality. These ultraviolet lights will improve air quality and airflow by effectively removing harmful particles like mold and mildew.

Installing UV-C lights in your HVAC system is the strongest form of air purification. According to information, this purification method is 99% effective.

  1. Reduced Energy Costs for Heating and Air Conditioning

Another advantage of installing a UV bulb in your HVAC system is reduced costs. The ultraviolet light prevents problem-causing compounds from forming in your air filtration system, enabling it to work more efficiently and use less power overall.

If you’re looking for real-life numbers, installing UV lights have helped homeowners save 60-80% on their energy costs on a yearly basis. This is because, unlike traditional disinfection systems that take up all the energy, UV lights are based on HVAC usage.

  1. Allergy and Disease Prevention

Allergies are the sixth leading chronic illness in the United States, and almost 100 million people experience mild to severe symptoms each year.

UV lamps have proven to be successful in significantly minimizing allergies and diseases. A number of health studies have proven the beneficial effect of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in fighting symptoms of asthma, bacteria, mold spores, and so on.

  1. Less Drain Clogging

As we’ve already hinted, your UV HVAC system produces moisture from within the unit. If neglected, this moisture can build up in your HVAC unit, clogging the drain line. If you install UV lights, this will help you reduce moisture and keep your drain lines clean.

  1. Low Maintenance

If properly installed, UV lights within your HVAC system will require very little maintenance on your part. Although the installation costs of some residential HVAC systems might knock a few extra dollars from your pocket, you’ll only need to replace and clean them from time to time.

  1. No Harmful Chemicals

Another upside of UV lights in your HVAC system is that you won’t have to deal with harmful chemicals. The entire purpose of these UV lights is to help you get rid of mildew spores, mold, and bacteria so that you don’t have to come in contact with them.

The Cons of UV Light in HVAC Systems

blowing of nose

Although they bring numerous benefits, UV lights in air filters can have some disadvantages as well. Here are the most note-worthy red flags:

Expensive Installation Costs

Installing UV lights in your HVAC system can be quite expensive.

On a general note, you should set aside anywhere from $200 to $1,000, including the lights and their installation. The total cost you will have to pay will depend mainly on the type of lights you go for, as their price range can be anywhere from $60 to $400.

Cleaner air obviously comes with a hefty price tag.

100% Elimination of Symptoms Not Guaranteed

Although UV sanitizing lights for HVAC systems will contribute to minimizing your allergy symptoms and fighting viruses and bacteria, they will not cure your health issues 100%. Their essence is not curing asthma but providing clean air.

Safety Requirements

Whether you’re a professional or not, it’s crucial that you’re familiar with safety tips regarding UV radiation. For instance, you should always wear protective gear such as gloves and glasses, and of course, avoid looking directly into the UV light while installing it.

Choosing to avoid safety considerations when dealing with UV lights can leave you with severe skin burns, vision impairment, and even skin cancer.

6 Steps To Install HVAC UV Lights

installing lights
While some homeowners might call a professional to install a UV light into their HVAC system, others lean toward DIY.

For proper installation, make sure to follow these 6 steps:

1. Prepare Tools and Materials

First things first – you need to prepare the required tools and materials before going forward with the installation. For this particular job, you’ll need a hole saw, a drill bit, and a drill. The rest of the equipment comes with the HVAC system.

Most hardware stores sell them as kits.

2. Decide Where You Want To Install the UV Light

The second step is deciding where in the HVAC system you want to install your UV sanitizing lights. The best place to install your UV light system is your AC unit’s return air duct.

3. Drill a Hole for the UV Light

If your HVAC system can be mounted, you will probably just have to drill one hole. Before you start drilling, though, make sure to go through the instructions that came with the air sanitizing lights.

4. Screw and Secure the UV Light Housing to the Air Conditioner

Next, you should carefully screw and secure the UV light to the air conditioner. This is done by using mounted screws that allow the UV lights to scrub the air from your central HVAC system (if you have one) and your furnace.

5. Power the System

Once you’ve secured the UV light, it’s time to power the system to see how it works.

When your central HVAC system or furnace blows air, the UV lights should turn on. The moment it shuts down, the lights should turn off as well.

Bonus tip:

If you have experience with electrical work, you should hardwire your UV lamp to your HVAC system.

6. Clean and Change the Light Bulb Regularly

Finally, you’re left with regular maintenance of the light bulb. Regarding the lifespan of these UV C lights, they will generally last around one year.

Since dust can accumulate on these lamps, you should turn off your HVAC system every three months and clean the light bulbs. Again, make sure to adhere to the necessary safety tips.

The Final Verdict on UV HVAC Lights

That’s a wrap on the pros and cons of UV light in HVAC systems. We’ve mentioned quite a bit, so let’s just briefly go over the key takeaways.

UV sterilization lights are common for hospitals, restaurants, public places, schools, and many more facilities that deal with a great number of people on a daily basis.

Are UV lights in HVAC systems worth it?

Installing HVAC UV lights is definitely an energy-saving and power move for the entire household. These air sanitizing lights will contribute to improving indoor air quality, reducing allergy symptoms, and cooling and heating costs. These lights will destroy 99% of harmful chemicals while helping you save up to 80% on energy costs at the same time.

The downsides imply high installation costs and the danger of getting in touch with UV radiation. Also, these lights are not responsible for curing your health issues.

Although you can hire a professional to install the UV lights for you, you can do this yourself in 6 easy steps. The most important thing is to follow through the instructions carefully.