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I don’t know about you, but every time I turn on my central air, I sniff the air to make sure there are no strange, musty odors. Maybe I am a bit paranoid, but I always wonder what may be lurking inside my HVAC system.
Sometimes, what we don’t see, may very well hurt us. Mold- and bacteria- lurking in your HVAC system is worrisome since it gets circulated throughout your entire home. UV lights for an HVAC system are the best way to prevent mold and bacteria in the first place. There are a lot of different types on the market, and I am going to help you to choose the best UV light for your HVAC system.
HVAC systems are a paradise for mold and bacteria. Think about it. The right temperature and level of humidity and a dark cozy place is the perfect recipe. Mold and bacteria form in the HVAC system and then circulate throughout your home through the air ducts. Yuck! You don’t want your family to breathe this contaminated air.
UV lights emit radiation to kill mold, viruses, and bacteria. They have been used for many years in various settings, from hospitals to manicure salons, to sterilize and kill mold, viruses, and bacteria. One type of UV light called UVC light has the most intense level of radiation. This is the type of UV light used for HVAC systems. It can even help kill bacteria that are drug-resistant.
Is anyone thinking of COVID-19 now?
There is a ton of research out there proving the effectiveness of UV lights on airborne contaminants. A two-year study by Duke University found that using a UVC light in an empty hospital room can reduce drug-resistant bacteria by up to 30%! There is even research underway to test their effectiveness on COVID-19. In fact, several studies have already shown that UV lights do kill COVID-19.
Again, the key here is the type of UV light. It must be a UVC light. Besides the type of light, the other factor is duration. You want these lights shining on the mold and bacteria for as long as possible. So, intensity + duration = effectiveness.
As a bonus, a UV light in your HVAC system will also keep your HVAC system working efficiently. It prevents clogs in the drain which can cause leaking, higher energy costs, and bad odors.
The number of products on the market can be daunting. But don’t worry, I have done all the research for you. Before we jump into it, there are a few things about UV lights you need to understand. First, there are two types.
Two Types: Coil and Air UV Lights
In a coil system, warm air enters the HVAC system and moisture is removed by the evaporator coils. The water then drips down into the drain pan. These types of UV lights are placed in a direct line of sight of this humid area. That is why they are sometimes called surface UVs.
Another option is to place a UV light system in the air ducts to kill germs and mold already in the air. This type of light is generally installed in the return plenum. The return plenum is where the used air is sucked in and from there, it is sent to the main part of the HVAC system where it is recycled.
Generally speaking, air systems cost a bit more. The actual cost of the product, the installation cost, and the replacement bulbs are all more expensive for air systems than for coil systems.
Continuous vs non-continuous use
In some products, the UV light is meant to stay on all the time. Other systems provide the option of sensors or hardwiring into the HVAC system. This feature enables the lights to be turned on and off when the HVAC system is turned on and off.
This can extend bulb life and save energy costs. On the other hand, some manufacturers claim that turning the bulbs on and off actually shortens the life of the bulb. Also, they claim that the bulbs should be on all the time for maximum efficiency. Remember what I said about duration. The longer the lamp is on, the more effective it will be.
In any case, you should know that hardwiring a device into your HVAC system always costs more since you need to call in a professional. Also, if you decide that you do want the ability to turn the light on together with the HVAC system there are solutions. There are switches you can buy separately, for a reasonable price, and they connect to your UV light system.
Now, let’s go through these products together.
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BioShield 50-BUVAS-E 25W UV-C Light
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This is an easy-to-install and effective coil UV system from Reko Lighting. It comes with two, 9-watt bulbs and a 120v, 9-foot power cord. There is a template to follow for a DIY installation that takes about 15 minutes. That can save you a lot of money on a professional installation.
It also comes with a one-year warranty. Users really love the easy installation and value for money. Others complained about bulbs burning out sooner than expected and a strange smell. This light system is meant for continuous use.
Check out the Reko R2000 here!
2. Pure Air UV
This is a coil UV system. It comes with a template for easy installation. Reviews confirm that people had a pretty easy time installing this device. It comes with two, 9-watt bulbs, operated continuously, for more effective sanitizing. Pure Air claims that its UV light kills 99% of mold, mildew, and viruses.
It costs around the same as the Reko system ($98 on amazon). Costs for replacement bulbs are also pretty standard (about $50 each). On the upside, the manufacturer offers a 3-year warranty on their system.
Check out the Pure Air UV here!
There are quite a few great features in this coil UV light. Because there are 4 bulbs instead of only 1 or 2, it is more effective at killing what is lurking inside your HVAC system. Remember what I said about the longer and stronger your UV light is, the better it is at doing its job.
Another feature is that it only turns on when your HVAC system is on. This can save you energy costs and replacement bulb costs. Installation is easy with a DIY template and mounting screws included.
Measure your space before ordering this one. Bulbs come in two lengths-16″ and 12″. Make sure you have room in your duct and get the longest possible for maximum effect!
Check out the OdorStop OS144 PRO1 here!
This is a coil system that comes with two, 9W bulbs. The manufacturer claims that the bulbs have a lifespan of 8000 hours. The bulbs are meant for continuous use. This is one of those cases where the manufacturer says that turning the bulbs on and off will reduce their lifespan.
There is an LED indicator so you can tell if the lights are working without removing the bulbs from the system. Users really like the easy installation. There is a DIY template and mounting screws included. This product has a safety certification and comes with a one-year warranty.
Check out the Bioshield 18W UV system here!
5. BioShield 50-BUVAS-E 25W UV-C Light
Another coil system from BioShield. All Bioshield systems are made for easy, DIY installations and come with a template and mounting screws. There is even a drill bit included in the 25 W system. This one is more expensive at $112 but comes with a two-year warranty.
Bulbs are available in 17″ or 12″ lengths depending on the space in your air duct. You are going to want to measure this before you buy your product! There is an LED display on the system to indicate when the lights need to be changed. Bioshield recommends keeping the lights on continuously and not switching them on and off with the HVAC system. Some users complain of a burning smell from the system.
Check out the Bioshield 50-BUVAS-E 25W system here!
So far I have been talking mainly about coil lights. The D200 is an air UV light. This means that it will be installed in the air plenum. This actually got great user reviews.
Many people said that their allergies or odors in the house significantly decreased. Installation is DIY with a template and mounting screws included. Works 24/7 which is best according to this manufacturer as well. This system comes with two, 9W bulbs and a one-year warranty. Not a bad price either at $109.
Check out the Best Deal UV D200 here!
Honeywell, a leader in air purification systems has several products for HVAC systems. The higher wattage in this product (36W) is only about $20 more expensive than its 18W predecessor. I would go for the extra wattage since the higher the wattage, the more effective it will be.
What is great about this product is that it can be used either as a surface treatment or an air treatment. That means it can be installed directly over the coils. Or it can be used as air treatment and installed into the air return plenum. This system got great reviews on Amazon. One guy even bought an extra one for his hot tub system and is totally satisfied. It comes with a template for a DIY, easy installation.
Check out the Honeywell UV100A here!
This unit is meant to be installed in the air handler. The unit cannot really be installed DIY. This is because it doesn’t come with a power cord that can be used in a standard electrical outlet. You will have to purchase and install a 24V transformer. You will need a licensed electrician for this part even though there is a template for installing the other parts of the system.
According to user reviews, the bulb needs to be replaced each year and costs about $75.
There are excellent reviews about a bonus feature called Airbrite Odor Absorption. Carbon filters absorb odors keeping your home free of nasty smells.
Check out the Honeywell system here!
RGF has a few products in air purification systems. This product is an air treatment system. What is really great about this product is that it is more than just a UV light system. It uses something called Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) to make the air even cleaner. This is how it works. The UV light shines on a titanium dioxide-coated filter. This causes air-purifying electrons to be released. These electrons work to break down harmful air pollutants and turn them into harmless elements. If you are interested in the science behind it you can read about it here.
Other particles that aren’t affected by the UV or PCO are ionized. This means that there is an ion generator that causes small particles to bind together making them easier to catch by the filter.
17-watt bulbs stay on for continuous use. A professional HVAC specialist must install this device for two reasons. One, this must be used with a 24V transformer. Two, in order for the warranty to be valid, the manufacturer states that the product must be purchased and installed by a professional.
Check out the RGF REME HALO 24V here!
The company claims that, usually, turning on and off the bulbs can shorten the lifespan of bulbs. This model was made to be cycled on and off with the HVAC system.
The manufacturer states that the incorporation of LED enables the lights to be turned on and off without damaging them. This system has all the features of the REME HALO 24V system.
Check out the RGF Reme Halo LED here!
There are many things to consider when buying a UV light for your HVAC system. The two most important are price and efficiency.
You want a UV light that works well without breaking the bank. That is why I would go for maximum wattage at a good price.
Price doesn’t include installation so you will want to consider getting an easy-to-install product. One that you can do by yourself or call in a handyman rather than a licensed electrician or HVAC contractor.
Coil systems have several advantages over air systems. The products, installation, and maintenance are less expensive. Also, there is something about killing the mold at the root that I find appealing.
Both Bioshield and Honeywell offer coil UV light systems at higher wattage for moderate prices. Plus, both of these systems come with a LED indicator light and got great user reviews. The Honeywell UV100A, while slightly more expensive than the BioShield, has 36 Watts instead of 25 Watts. Though the warranty period is shorter as well, the extra wattage makes up for it. This is definitely my pick for the best UV for your HVAC system.
Of course, you will definitely need to do your own research and consider your own needs. There are many options out there. Sometimes the easiest is to let your HVAC contractor install a UV system as part of the original installation. They also may offer a service for changing bulbs and maintenance of the UV system. You will definitely want to check that out with them before making any final decisions.
Damage from UV lights
UV light can damage your skin and especially your eyes. You should always wear protective goggles when working with UV lights. Also, you should not handle the lights while the system is plugged into the power source.
Your HVAC system parts
UV lights can damage the plastic and rubber parts of your unit. You can use tin foil tape to protect these parts. Or make sure that these parts are not in direct line of sight of the UV light.
How do I know if I need a UV light for my HVAC system?
If you have an HVAC system, you should inspect the coil and drain pans for signs of mold. Another sign could be a musty odor when you turn on your HVAC. Alternatively, you can always call in a professional to inspect your system.
Will a UV light help against bacteria and viruses, like the COVID-19?
UV light technology has been used for many years in building ventilation systems. They help to reduce the spread of disease in schools, hospitals, and office buildings. There is a lot of evidence that UV lights can kill germs. There is already growing evidence that UV lights are effective against COVID-19.
Will a UV light help with odors and allergens?
Many people report a significant decrease in their allergies once installing a UV light in their HVAC system. Of course, if the odors are caused by mold in the system, killing the mold will kill the odor.
Should I install the UV light system myself or get my HVAC specialist to do it?
This will really depend on many factors. First, which type of UV light product do you have? Check carefully for the manufacturer’s recommendations. All of them will state clearly whether their product is meant for a DIY installation or a professional installation. Be careful! Your warranty could become invalid if you attempt a DIY installation against recommendations.
DIY installation is always the cheapest option if you feel comfortable with these types of projects. If you can’t do it yourself, you can hire a handyman. Either way, this option is much cheaper than having to get a licensed electrician or HVAC specialist to come in and do it for you.
Is a more expensive UV light more effective than a cheaper one?
Not necessarily. Generally, you need to look at wattage to determine how effective the light will be. The more wattage the combined bulbs have, the more effective the system will be at killing mold and other pollutants.
That’s all you need to know about buying a UV light for your HVAC system. Good luck!