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UV Lights

Technology is an incredible thing. One of the unstoppable forces of time is the ongoing march of technology as it progresses forward. The better technology that humanity develops, the greater our quality of life gets, in all sorts of areas, including the quality of the air in our homes. Air conditioning in Austin is a changing business. Technology has evolved a lot over the past few decades and with better air conditioning technology comes greater comfort, improved energy efficiency, and higher quality air in our homes.

We all want our air to be as high quality as possible. And that means reducing the things in our air that makes it impure such as pollen, mold, and other allergens. We want healthy respiratory systems for ourselves and our families and the best way to get that is to use the technology available today to improve air quality in our homes. One new technology that does just that is ultraviolet light. If you’ve never heard of UV lights being used in air conditioning systems then you’re not alone. But you may be surprised by just how effective UV lights can be at improving air quality and just how readily available this exciting new air handling technology can be. To learn more about UV lights and what they have to do with air purifying, read on.

What is UV Light

Ultraviolet light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum is the spectrum on which all light falls, of which visible light is only a section. Just past violet on that spectrum is ultraviolet, which is invisible to humans but has a wide range of effects. Ultraviolet light can cause a wide range of chemical reactions and is especially reactive with organic matter. For example, it is present in the rays of the sun and that’s why sunburns and tans and freckles happen.

Ultraviolet light can affect organic matter in ways that go beyond just heating and because of that it can be used as a method for killing organic matter in the air and in your home that may be harmful. Ultraviolet light has been used in a very wide variety of scientific purposes from forensics and chemistry to sanitation. It also has benefits when it comes to air purification and because of that, over the years a number of products have been developed which allow you to take advantage of the power of UV lights in your own home.

UV Lights and Air Purification

UV lights can cause a chemical reaction that oxidizes organic matter such as pathogens, pollens, and mold spores and this oxidization converts this organic material into harmless, inert byproducts. This is the mechanisms through which UV light can be used to purify air. It’s a photochemical process, meaning nothing more than pointing UV light at the surfaces you want clean is necessary for the cleansing process to take place.

Contaminants such as pollens and mold in the indoor environment are almost entirely organic carbon-based compounds, which break down when exposed to high-intensity UV at 240 to 280 nm. Short-wave ultraviolet radiation can destroy DNA in living microorganisms. UVC's effectiveness is directly related to intensity and exposure time of the light.

There are two types of UV light air purification products. Coil sterilization UV light is a stick like light that is installed in the return air duct. It stays on 24/7 and continually sterilizes the coils in the air handler. This is the most common and most inexpensive type of UV light air purifier. The second type is air sterilization UV lights. These types of air purification products are bigger and more robust UV light units that are also installed in the return air duct. The cycle on and off with the air handler blower and have a wider range of impact.

Coil sterilization lights work well for preventing the growth and subsequent spread of contaminants on the area around the coils of your air handler. This is a very effective method of reducing air contamination and improving the quality of the air in your home. Some of the benefits of UV light treatment systems include:

  • They are effective at killing mold and mildew on air conditioning coils, drain pans and other exposed surfaces inside the air handler
  • They can reduce or eliminate the “smelly gym sock” odor caused by mold
  • Depending on the product they may be effective at killing airborne microorganisms
  • They can lead to a less frequent need for evaporator coil and drain pan cleanings
  • They can be used as a 2nd or maybe 3rd line of defense for keeping your air handler clean

Proof of Effectiveness

There have been a number of studies done on the power of UV lights in their ability to purify air in both residential and commercial uses. Over and over again it has been proven that UV light is an effective method for reducing the growth of potentially damaging organic material on air handlers.

One study reported a ninety-nine percent reduction in microbial contaminants growing on exposed air handling surfaces. The reduction in airborne bacteria was of only 25 to 30 percent. One reason that the surface disinfection application provides only a slightly noticeable reduction in airborne microbial concentrations may be that microorganisms in the airstream are exposed to the UV light for a shorter time. Conversely, microorganisms growing on exposed HVAC surfaces are given 24/7 direct UV light exposure. Another study found that UV lamps yielded somewhat lower levels of mold in the fiberglass insulation lining the air-handling unit.

Another study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that fungal levels on air handling units in office buildings were significantly reduced after four months of UV light usage as compared to the control units. This study found statistically significant reductions of fungal levels both on the air handling units themselves and in the air.

Then in 2012, researchers at Duke University Medical Center used ultraviolet radiation to nearly eliminate drug-resistant bacteria in 50 hospital rooms, reducing the number of bacteria by more than 97 percent.

What all of these studies show is there has been sufficient scientific research done to prove within a believable range that UV lights are extremely effective at stopping and preventing the growth of harmful organic matter on air handlers, thereby directly improving the purity of your air and the quality of your home’s air.

What to Look For in a UV Light Product

There are a number of factors that can determine the effectiveness of UV lights placed in your home. The first and most important thing to do is to find a trusted HVAC contractor to perform the job. Correct installation of the right product is paramount to ensuring that the UV light gets the job done.

Some of the factors that can affect air purifying UV light’s effectiveness include the placement of the UV light, the direction that it’s facing, the intensity and number of UV lights, the temperature and humidity levels in the home, and the reflectivity of the surrounding surfaces. The UV light has to be mounted in such a way that the light of is no more than a foot away from both the evaporator coil of the air handler and the drainage pan as this is the place where mold is most likely to grow.

Not all air purification UV light products are made the same. Some features to look for when you’re shopping for UV light treatment systems include ease installation, as you don’t want to be paying a lot out of pocket just to put the UV lights in place. You also want to look for easy to replace bulbs as the UV bulb won’t last forever. You should look for products that have solid guarantees and warranties. The wavelengths the UV light produces should be between 240 and 280 nm. And you should look for a product with sufficient output power of at least 120VAC.

UV Lights and Austin AC Repair

UV light, it’s a state of the art technology that can be used to purify the air in your home by destroying things like mold spores, pollens, and other contaminants right at their source on your air handler. Some studies have found that these products can kill ninety-nine percent of the unwanted organic matter that is normally found growing on air handlers. That’s a significant reduction of potentially harmful material that would otherwise be floating throughout your home.

If you’re curious about UV light in relation to home air purification, consider calling us at AC Express. We can give you the rundown on UV light treatment systems that we can install in your home and what they can do for your air. AC Express is an Austin air conditioning company dedicated to the complete and quality service of the air conditioners in Austin, from Cedar Park and Georgetown to Buda and Kyle. If you need air conditioning repair in Austin don’t hesitate to give us a call. For same day AC repair that can’t be beat, call AC Express today!


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