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UV Germicidal Lights: Are They Worth Installing in Your Central Air Conditioner?


There are plenty of add-ons and upgrades you can make to your central air conditioner that can improve its performance, as well as your home’s overall comfort. Among these are UV germicidal lights, which offer a highly effective way of controlling the spread of mold, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms throughout your air conditioning unit. The following looks at the benefits and drawbacks of adding germicidal lights to your air conditioner.

How They Work

UV germicidal lights work by emitting ultraviolet radiation that’s similar to the radiation given off by the sun’s rays. Specifically, germicidal lights produce shortwave UV-C radiation at a specific wavelength that enhances its germicidal qualities. This radiation disrupts the DNA bonds within organisms and pathogens exposed to it, preventing those organisms from multiplying and surviving.

UV-C rays are notable not just for their ability to deactivate and neutralize a broad range of microorganisms. They’re also notable because the vast majority of UV-C rays are absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere before they’re able to reach the ground.

UV germicidal lights are typically installed in close proximity to the cooling coils inside your air conditioning unit. They can also be installed inside your air conditioning ductwork to combat mold and bacteria growth elsewhere within the unit.

How They Can Help Your Home

Adding a set of UV lights to your air conditioning system can offer a broad range of benefits in the following areas:

  • Mold prevention. UV lights have proven to be effective at neutralizing mold and algae growth in air conditioning systems. However, this is highly dependent on the intensity as well as the duration of exposure.
  • Bacteria prevention. UV lights are also effective at neutralizing disease-causing bacteria and viral aerosols found in indoor air.
  • Air purification. While most UV lights are geared towards disinfecting stationary surfaces, other UV lights are capable of sterilizing potentially harmful organisms in moving air. These lights usually emit UV light at higher intensities to significantly reduce the amount of time needed to neutralize passing organisms.
  • Energy reduction. Since UV lights prevent mold and other bacteria from growing on and near the cooling coils, you won’t have to worry about coil blockages dragging down your air conditioner’s cooling performance. As a result, you’ll use less energy over the long run.

The ability to deactivate bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms can be a tremendous help if you’re struggling with sick building syndrome or if you have loved ones who suffer from severe allergies or asthma symptoms.

What It May Not Help With

UV germicidal lights are extraordinarily helpful when dealing with viruses, bacteria and mold. However, they may not be enough to tackle the following:

  • Dust prevention. Even the best UV germicidal lighting can be stymied by excess dust buildup, which can block the bulb and keep UV rays from reaching nearby surfaces.
  • Smoke and gas filtration. Although UV light is capable of oxidizing certain compounds found in cigarette smoke into harmless ash, photocatalytic oxidation cleaners and HEPA filters may prove more effective at dealing with these and other similar pollutants.
  • Volatile organic compounds. As with cigarette smoke and most gases, a UV germicidal light system may have a difficult time tackling VOCs on its own.

When dealing with the above issues, it’s usually best to pair your UV germicidal lights with improved filtration or other forms of air purification. For instance, you can combine UV lights with carbon-activated filtration to effectively deal with odors and other potentially harmful gases.

If you’re concerned about your home’s indoor air quality and your overall health, it may be worth your while to add UV germicidal lights to your air conditioner. Don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you’re ready to begin the installation process.

Posted in: Health & Safety Issues, Indoor Air Quality

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