How Do UV Germicidal Lamps Work?

Purge the germs in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with germ-destroying  UV germicidal lamps! Ultraviolet light deactivates the DNA of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Doing so destroys their ability to replicate and cause disease. Keep your home healthy with ultraviolet disinfection.

Ingram's Water & Air specializes in products that will keep your home comfortable and safe. That's why we stock the highest-quality germicidal ultraviolet lamps at a price you can afford. Read on to discover more about this impressive product and its potential for keeping you and your loved ones healthier in your home.

What Is UV Lighting?

UV light, or ultraviolet light, is part of the light spectrum humans can't see. UV lights have shorter wavelengths than visible light and exist beyond the violet end of the spectrum, which is how they get their name. While UV lights are invisible to the human eye, some animals, such as bumblebees, can see them. Like the high-pitched sounds you can't hear, but your dog can, UV lighting is a reality, and its effects can be far-reaching.

Think back to a time when you were outside for a long time and forgot to put on sunscreen. There's a good chance you finished your day with an uncomfortable bit of sunburn, and you can thank the UV light from the sun for that. To put UV light's power into perspective, the Earth's atmosphere blocks almost all of it from reaching the planet's surface — up to 95% in some instances.

Here are the three types of UV lighting.

  • UV-A: These UV rays are the most abundant and pass through the Earth's atmosphere at a rate of 500 times more than UV-B rays. They can penetrate deep into the skin and contribute to skin aging changes and wrinkle formation, a process known as photoaging.
  • UV-B: These are the rays responsible for sunburn and various types of skin cancers. The Earth's atmosphere blocks up to 95% of UV-B rays, but their effects can still be damaging.
  • UV-C: These rays are the most potent form of UV light. The atmosphere blocks almost all UV-C rays from reaching the Earth's surface. Germicidal lamps use these rays to disinfect the home and kill germs.

Where Can You Have Germicidal UV Lamps Installed?

Something as destructive as UV light demands careful handling. As you learned above, it contributes to several health conditions in humans, from sunburn and eye injuries to cancer and photoaging. With a UV light system, you can harness UV light's power to your advantage, but you have to do it safely and effectively.

You can achieve this by having a professional install them in a location that will keep ultraviolet rays from reaching your skin and eyes. The germicidal lamps also need to be in an area that can still make a difference in your family's health. You want UV rays to reach harmful organisms while staying far away from the people in your house. That's why we recommend a professional install your germicidal lamps inside your central air conditioning system or ducts.

Here's why these two locations are best for your home's UV lamps.

  • Central air coils: Your central air unit sends your air over its coils to remove heat, returning cool, dehumidified air to your living space. A clean coil helps keep your air cleaner, since all your home's air is coming in contact with it. Germs can grow on these coils, so installing a UV lamp over them is a step toward cleaner air throughout your home.
  • Air ducts: After the coils remove heat from your home's air, they distribute it throughout your home via air ducts. Air ducts are the last stop before you feel and breathe the air for yourself. That makes it a prime location for UV lamps, so they can disinfect the air before it enters your living area.

How Does UV Lighting Disinfect?

The sun's UV light is a powerful force. It's invisible, yet people can feel its effects in life-altering ways. These same qualities make ultraviolet light an appealing solution for home disinfection. Channeling UV light toward unwanted organisms in your home could help create a healthier living environment for you and your family.

When UV-C rays from your germicidal UV light flood your central air system's coils or ductwork, any harmful microorganisms present are in for a surprise. The UV-C rays penetrate these organisms' DNA, scrambling their functions. Essentially, it renders them sterile, keeping them from spreading and surviving. As you learned above, this is vital when you're dealing with air distribution throughout your home.

UV lighting can disinfect microorganisms across industries. The following areas can all enjoy the power of UV lighting in destroying harmful microorganisms.

  • Drinking and wastewater treatment: Microorganisms often breed in water, and UV lights can make water safer for human contact and filtration.
  • Food safety: The food companies produce must be safe from bacteria and other harmful organisms.
  • Health care: Sterilizing exam rooms, equipment, tools and accessories is crucial in caring for the sick and injured.
  • Horticulture: When caring for plants indoors, UV light is crucial in supplying the nutrients they need for proper growth and functioning.
  • The disinfection of various consumer products: Products pass through many hands before reaching their final destination, so companies should disinfect them. Germicidal UV lamps make this process easier and more efficient.

Are UV Germicidal Lamps Safe?

People have used UV germicidal lamps for decades to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold and other microorganisms. Despite this, some scientists have neglected its efficacy due to the health concerns over UV rays' effects on humans. In recent years, a renewed interest in UV lamps has arisen. Current wisdom says UV rays are a safe way to slow the spread of viruses and other airborne pathogens. Health professionals are now trusting this method and using it to great effect.

In the 1930s, scientists started researching how infectious diseases linger in the air, especially when cast by droplets from coughing or sneezing. Combine that with air circulation systems, and you can have a lot of germs cycling through your home, office or apartment complex. Early studies showed potential for UV lamps to reduce this risk, but scientists had split opinions on the matter.

Scientists went back and forth on their opinions of UV germicidal lamps throughout the early to mid-1900s. In more recent decades, scientists have recognized their worth in stopping the spread of germs in the air and on some surfaces. With proper safety precautions like keeping UV lamps in the right location, you can experience these lamps' germicidal benefits without any of the dangers associated with UV ray exposure.

What Are the Types of UV-C Lamps?

UV-C lamps come in three main varieties. Understanding their differences will help you choose a germicidal lamp that suits your needs and preferences.

  • Pulsed xenon lamp: This gas-discharge lamp uses a high pulse of UV radiation. The light it gives off is visible, approaching the infrared region of the spectrum. The noble gas pulsed xenon is environmentally friendly and works faster in a broader range than other UV-C lamps. It's efficient and its ultraviolet rays are intense, but it requires special, dedicated hardware for proper operation.
  • Low-pressure mercury lamp: This gas-discharge lamp emits radiation in a narrow spectrum. It contains mercury, which has led to some environmental concerns. These lamps offer continuous operation but need warm-up and cool-down periods with nonstop energy consumption. They offer the advantage of a high germ-killing success rate at an affordable purchase price.
  • LED lamp: This eco-friendly UV-C lamp emits a continuous, narrow stream of UV radiation. It needs more time to disinfect an area than the other two lamps on this list. Its advantages include a low operating cost, long lifespan and gentleness on heat-sensitive surfaces.

What Are the Benefits of UV-C Light for Air Quality and Health?

UV-C light offers several advantages to improve your quality of life and make your home safer for you and your loved ones. Read on to find out the benefits a germicidal ultraviolet lamp can offer you.

1. Sterilize Airborne Viruses and Bacteria

Slowing the spread of viruses and bacteria in the air is paramount for a healthy community. Installing a UV-C lamp in your home's HVAC system is a significant step you can take to reduce your risks of contracting and spreading illness. With this, you can stop microorganisms in their tracks.

If you do happen to become sick, you'll increase your chances of a quick recovery with the help of a UV-C lamp. Even if you cough or sneeze, your UV-C lamp will sterilize the droplets as they pass beneath its rays. That way, you can breathe fresh, clean air to help you on your road to a quick recovery.

2. Improve Indoor Air Quality

Transform your HVAC system into a disinfecting machine. You learned above that harmful droplets can stay in the air, and a central air system can send these particles throughout your building. With a UV lamp, you can terminate these dangerous microorganisms before they cause any harm to you and your family.

Your central air system is constantly cycling air throughout your home via the ducts and vents. Having a professional install UV lamps in the right locations can ensure this air is clean and safe. Your HVAC system will continuously bring in your home's air and pass it beneath the powerful rays of your germicidal lamps. All that remains will be clean air you can breathe with confidence.

3. Prevent Mold Growth

Mold growth is a significant concern for many homeowners. This is a dangerous substance that can adversely affect people's health, causing respiratory problems, fatigue and even rashes. Mold can also cause visible damage on walls, floors and ceilings. It's something you want far away from your HVAC system.

You can achieve this with proper ultraviolet disinfection. The UV radiation can break down mold spores' DNA, limiting their spread. Ultraviolet light can help you create an environment in your ducts that reduces mold's chance of survival. Your family's health and your home's well-being can improve as a result.

4. Extend the Life of HVAC Systems

A lack of UV-C lamps could let bacteria, viruses and mold run rampant throughout your HVAC system. When these harmful organisms combine with dirt and other airborne debris, they can create a substance known as biofilm. This film can reduce your system's efficiency, leading to a shorter lifespan and the need for more repairs.

Germicidal UV light can reduce biofilm. UV lamps represent an investment in protecting the lifespan of your expensive HVAC system. Keep your coils free of biofilm clogs that put a strain on their functioning and enjoy a cleaner, more efficient HVAC system.

How Often Do You Have to Replace UV-C Lamps?

You know from experience that the lightbulbs in your home need replacement. It's easy to tell when to replace them because they're in visible locations and they won't turn on if they burn out. What about ultraviolet lamps that are out of sight and give off little visible light? You want them to be successful at sterilizing your home's air, so you need to know when to replace them despite their hidden location in your HVAC unit or ductwork.

Bulb replacement varies by manufacturer, but we recommend replacing your UV-C lamp bulbs annually. This schedule may seem frequent, but consider the fact that your ultraviolet lamps will run continuously. That adds up to a lot of hours over the year. And since their function is so crucial, you should ensure they stay at peak performance to provide the highest level of functioning.

You can also consider the type of UV-C lamp in your replacement schedule. LPM and PXL lamps consume a lot of energy and emit powerful rays, so you may have to replace their bulbs more often than LED lamps. LED lamps, while being less potent, provide the longest lifespan in their bulbs.

Where Can You Shop for UV Germicidal Lamps?

Ingram's Water & Air is your destination for high-quality UV germicidal lamps you can afford. We've been selling HVAC products online since 2000, so you can order from us with confidence. And if you ever need help installing or repairing your product, our trained experts can help walk you or a professional through the process so you can get it back up and running. We're always ready to take your calls and give you the friendly service you need and expect.

Shop our full line of home products today to find all the items you need to make your home safer and more comfortable.

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