You never can be too cautious or careful with your family’s health. This is especially true if you have asthmatic, young, elderly, or people with respiratory problems living in the home. If this is the case, you’ve likely looked into indoor air quality products. At the very least, you’ve heard talk about them from your local San Diego HVAC tech
. One such indoor air quality (IAQ) product is the UV lamp
. It’s a rather popular one as of late and gaining more attention the longer it stays on the market.
These lamps are usually installed in conjunction with filtration systems but can work as standalone units. They are specifically designed to kill indoor air germs, particulates, and allergens. They do this by deactivating the DNA of the organisms they come into contact with. When they do this, it virtually renders the organism harmless by eliminating its ability to replicate. This is what causes the organisms to die out. A standalone unit might be best for you or an entire HEPA filtration system with UV lamps might be the better option. Work with your local HVAC contractor to find out what is most suitable for your application.
Understanding Ultraviolet Light
Even if you haven’t been recently looking into UV lights
and IAQ products, you’ve likely heard the term ultraviolet light. You might even already know that ultraviolet light is light that cannot be seen by the human eye. It’s also light that doesn’t produce any known heat. So, what exactly is it good for? Well, UV light operates on shorter than normal wavelengths and higher frequencies. Since it has shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies, it generates more energy. As a matter of fact, it generates so much energy that it can potentially be dangerous under certain circumstances.
On an interesting side note, scientists claim some animals can see this type of light. Supposedly bumblebees are one such animal. Another important thing to note is, UV light cannot be sensed or felt, but it can be lethal with prolonged exposure. Just think about sitting in the sun for long periods without proper sunscreen. You’ll no doubt end up with a nasty sunburn, right? This much is a given.
Well, it is the UV light portion of the sun’s rays that causes this inflammation and redness. UV light
can eradicate your skin cells just as it could eradicate the earth’s atmosphere. It is just a good thing that only right around 5 percent of the sun’s UV rays penetrate through the atmosphere. Everything else is luckily blocked out.
Know The Different Classifications Of UV Light
When all said and done, UV light
can be broken down into three separate categories. This would e the UV-A, UV-B, and UV.
UV-A – In terms of wavelengths, it is the UV-A that has anywhere from 315 to 400 nanometers. This type is abundantly present in the earth’s atmosphere. The good thing about exposure to this type of light is, it doesn’t cause sunburn or cancer development. It will, however, penetrate through the skin and exacerbate the signs of aging along with the formation of wrinkles. This is still not a good thing.
UV-B – The wavelength of UV-B light is rated at right around 280 to 315 nanometers. This type of spectrum is responsible for sunburn and skin cancers. The only upside to dealing with this type of light is, the earth naturally blocks out 95 percent of the light. Only the remaining 5 percent can do damage, but this is enough to cause major problems after prolonged exposure.
UV – Of the three classifications, it is the UV light that has the shortest wavelength. It measures about 100 to 280 nanometers. Just because it has the shortest wavelength, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything good. As a matter of fact, it’s a bad thing because it makes it the most potent form. It contains the highest amount of energy. Luckily, the earth blocks out most of the rays. That being said, it is this energy that UV lights harness.
The Installation Of Germicidal Lights
Speaking of UV light
and installation, this is something that’ll need to be handled by a highly qualified individual. As you’ve already learned, these rays are harmful to humans and animals and improper handling or installation could result in severe injuries. That being said, most safety precautions are taken by the manufacturers when these lights are developed. They’ll virtually come in a save form and be ready for installation. Now, this doesn’t mean that improper installation can’t lead to problems or injuries.
As was mentioned several times, UV light
can be installed as standalone units or they can be installed in conjunction with filtration systems. While these units are effective as standalone applications, they are much more so when installed with HEPA filters. This is because the filters catch and hold the particulates so that the UV light can eradicate them. When installed as a standalone application, these devices will need to be installed where they’ll have the biggest impact on the system.
There are two ideal locations for installations. This would be near the filter in the return duct or neat the evaporator coil. These coils are responsible for cooling and dehumidifying the home or building so they’ll constantly be exposed to moist conditions. Moist conditions are an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and harmful organisms. The UV lamp will disinfect the coils while also cleaning the air that passes by it at the same time. It’s a win-win when you sit down and think about it.
What Causes UV Lights To Kill Microbes?
UV lights are no doubt complex applications, but the theory in which they operate and kill microbes is fairly straightforward. The light’s energy causes specific molecules to absorb its energy. When the DNA of bacteria, viruses, or mold absorbs this light’s energy, it can render them harmless by denaturing them. It does this by eliminating the substance’s ability to replicate.
Given the unique properties and distinct abilities, UV lights
are applicable in industries that need disinfected surfaces. Just about any doctor’s office would be the prime example. That being said, this light can also be used to eliminate potential threats from food surfaces.
As you can likely imagine, the healthcare and horticulture industries are two that would greatly benefit from this type of application.
Just How Safe Are UV Lamps?
Under the right circumstances in the right hands, UV lamps
can be fairly safe. And, this is because the manufacturers have already taken most of the proper precautions. They’ve coated these lights with thick coatings to ensure that they do not emit UV where it is not needed. Without this thick coating, this light would not be viable for use in homes or buildings. It is this very coating that has made UV lamps applicable for over two decades now.
Throughout these decades, they have proven to be effective at killing viruses, fungi, bacteria, along with other unwanted microorganisms. While this type of light has been studied and research for over a century, the lights have only been utilized in home applications for about two decades now. The EPA has discovered that the lights produce a wavelength of anywhere from 230 to 250 nanometers, which makes it potent enough to cause damage to human beings and animals.
Despite all of this, it is the formation of ozone that is the major concern with these lights. UV light
is capable of splitting free oxygen molecules. When it does this, it causes two oxygen molecules to form. One of these will combine with the free oxygen in the air and form ozone.
This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that ozone is a dangerous gas that interferes with the transportation of oxygen in the body. That being said, ozone is only dangerous in high amounts. Just a little ozone exposure will have little to no effect on the human body. This in combination with the thick manufacturer’s coating and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Understanding The Types Of UV Lamps
Just like there are different types of UV light
, there are also different types of UV lamps. These can all vary depending on the emitter.
Pulsed Xenon Lights – These are amongst the most common light available on the open market today and work by discharging gas. The gas produced from these applications is safe for the environment and can be used to effectively disinfect surfaces. The real downside of these styles of UV lamps comes with the installation. They require dedicated hardware for proper operation, which can sometimes be a major problem.
Low-Pressure Mercury Lamps – These are another common type of lamp available, although they are not as common as the Xenon light. What’s unique about these lights is, they produce radiation. It’s only a small amount and it’s only at a narrow spectrum, but it can still be a cause for concern. The mercury utilized in these lamps can also be another cause for concern. Despite this, these lights have proven to be effective and do not even require dedicated hardware. This is probably one of the reasons they are still used today. That being said, their major downside is their energy consumption. They have to be warmed up and cooled down before and after the operation. This doesn’t make the lights very energy-friendly.
LED Lamps – Give that most lights are going LED these days, you’d think that that LED UV light would be the most popular. This is not the case at all. Maybe they just haven’t caught on yet. Whatever the situation, these lights are more eco-friendly than either of the two mentioned above and operate at much lower costs. They also have a long, long lifespan and can disinfect heat-sensitive surfaces. The only real problem with these lamps is, they take much longer to disinfect surfaces as compared to other models available today.
– UV lamps come attached with several distinct advantages. The first is, they sterilize the air in the home by removing bacteria and viruses. This in turn improves the overall indoor air quality in a given space while also keeping it comfortable. Another major upside is, these units prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Any HVAC tech
will tell you that this can do wonders for your HVAC system. It’ll even prolong its life by years.
Reach Out To You Local HVAC Contractor
Your local San Diego heating and cooling contractor
can also help you with your home’s indoor air quality needs. Whether this is a first-time concern or you are looking to simply replace some old equipment, there are tons of providers standing by ready to assist you. It will just be up to you to make sure you take the time to find the right provider. One that will put the well-being of your home and family first.