Indoor Air Quality
How UV Lighting Helps Improve Indoor Air Quality
The idea that UV lighting in your ductwork will improve air quality sounds like something from an old sci-fi movie. In reality, though, ultraviolet light as a disinfectant is science fact, not science fiction, and has been for over 80 years. Germicidal ultraviolet lighting helps reduce – and even eliminate – a variety of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other pathogens.
The Proof Is in the Pudding
If further reading isn’t your jam, the above link describes a study conducted by researchers on a four-story building in Oklahoma with a documented mold problem. Each story had its own air handling units (AHU).
Scientists chose two floors for testing. They activated germicidal UV lamps in the AHUs on one floor but not the other, then took samples for their before and after tests. The samples revealed nearly identical levels of contamination on both floors, including mold in the air handlers, drain pans, and insulation. The researchers waited four months and then tested their samples again. The floor with the UV lights had almost no fungal contamination. On the control floor, though, mold levels were 10 times higher than in the baseline samples.
UV Lighting and Airborne Disease
Your HVAC system draws in air from both inside and outside your home, cooling or heating it as needed. The blower then forces the air through your ductwork and out through vents in the ceilings, floors, or walls.
In addition to distributing hot or cold air, your HVAC system also circulates microscopic particulate matter within the air. This includes bacteria, viruses, and mold, which seriously impacts indoor air quality. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that quality of the air inside your home is often worse than the air outside. It’s also why people tend to get sick when they spend a lot of time indoors. The air in their homes literally makes them sick.
How Does UV Lighting Work?
Nearly everyone knows what ultraviolet (UV) light is, thanks to our knowledge of the sun and its effects on the skin. UV lighting emits the same type of radiation, just at a greater intensity. The same way UV rays damage your skin, they also damage the microorganisms riding along with the air through your ductwork.
UV lighting attacks living organisms. This includes mold, bacteria, and viruses. Hospitals and water treatment plants also rely on ultraviolet lighting for its disinfectant properties. Installing UV lighting in your ductwork helps protect everyone in your home from a variety of viruses, including the common cold and flu, as well as bacterial infections like streptococcus and staphylococcus.
Please note, though, that UV lighting does not remove non-living organisms from the air. This includes allergens like pet dander, pollen, and dust, but also volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To control these pollutants, you need an air purification system.
Benefits of UV Lighting
There are four main benefits to installing ultraviolet lighting in your HVAC system:
- Disease prevention: The greatest benefit to installing UV lighting in your HVAC system is to your health. Improving indoor air quality reduces your risk of many common health issues, including coming down with a cold or the flu.
- Improved airflow: UV lighting reduces contaminants in the air, which means it reduces buildup on your HVAC’s components. This improves airflow dramatically, ensuring your HVAC system runs at max efficiency, extending its life.
- Improved energy efficiency: When your HVAC system runs at optimum levels, it’s more energy efficient. That means it uses less power, saving you money on your utility bills.
- Return on investment: In addition to extending the life of your HVAC system and saving money on your power bills, a UV lighting system usually counts as a plus when it comes time to sell your home.
Installing UV Lighting
Unfortunately, effective UV lighting requires more than just sticking a UV lamp in the duct and calling it a day. Numerous factors impact the system’s efficacy in improving indoor air quality, including the number of lamps you use, where and how you position them, lamp wavelength and intensity, and the reflectivity of your ducts.
You also need to consider the type of UV light system: air or coil:
- Air sterilization systems: are usually installed in the return air duct and they run when your HVAC system runs. In addition to cleaning the air as it passes through the system, it helps reduce buildup on your HVAC system’s components. This includes the air ducts, air filter, drain pan, and evaporator coil.
- Coil sterilization systems: attach at the evaporator coil and shine 24/7, not just when the system runs. They prevent buildup on the coil itself. Since all conditioned air passes around the coil, this reduces the number of airborne contaminants.
Installing UV lighting truly calls for an experienced HVAC tech, someone who can evaluate your home to determine whether it’s the right solution for you. If you’re ready to learn more about UV lighting and how it can improve the air quality inside your home, call Eagle Air today at 480-748-1781.
Are you ready to learn more about the value of UV light installation?
Call Eagle Air today.