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What is ultraviolet light?

Ultraviolet light represents a portion of the sun’s electromagnetic spectrum. It is the wavelength band immediately beyond the violet end of visible light. The UV range of the spectrum is characterized by wavelengths between 100 and 400 nanometers (nm). It includes the long-wave UV-A (315 to 400 nm), which causes suntan (or burn), medium-wave UV-B, (280 to 315 nm) used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, and short-wave UV-C (200 to 280 nm).

What is UVC?

Short-wave ultraviolet radiation, in the “C” band of 200 to 280 nanometers, has been used in a wide range of germicidal applications since the late 1800s to destroy bacteria, mold, yeast, and viruses. UV-C, or UVC, is often referred to as germicidal UV.

What is UVGI?

The commonly used acronym UVGI refers to ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, which is the same as UVC.

What other methods (beside UVC) are used for cleaning inside air handling units?

Coils are cleaned with various combinations of detergents, solvents, biocides, foaming cleaners, and high pressure hot-water sprayers. When cleaning is neglected, the build-up of mold inside the coils becomes very difficult to remove.

Chemical cleaning of HVAC equipment is time consuming. It must be done properly to be effective, and it must be done regularly since contamination returns as the chemicals wear off. The toxic chemicals present health issues for the workers doing the cleaning, as well as for building occupants. And some chemicals cause corrosion to the metallic surfaces, shortening the life of the equipment.

Pressure washing of the coils may force mold and particulate deeper inside, further restricting the air flow. When this happens, it becomes virtually impossible to physically clean the coil.

UVC lights by contrast effectively “zap” mold and other microbes. As the organisms disappear, UVC rays penetrate farther into the coil until all particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been vaporized.

Where should the lights be installed?

IAQ – Energy Solutions offers a wide variety of UVC devices that can be adapted for virtually any system or application. In general, though, the light is installed on the discharge side of the cooling coil and mounted so as to expose both the coil surface and the drain pan to as much light as possible. The light is normally positioned about a foot from the coil surface.

Is one light enough?

One is enough for most residential installations. Normally the number of lights can be based on one light for each 5 square feet of coil. The most important consideration is that UVC be installed so that there is a “line of sight” between the UVC lamp and the entire coil surface.

How often do the UVC lamps need to be changed?

The actual life of a UVC light is 10 – 12,000 hours. The useful life is 8-9,000 hours. UV output is measured with a radiometer. Typically the light is changed annually — ideally in spring or early summer to provide optimal output during the peak air-conditioning season.

How much energy does a UVC device use?

Each unit consumes very little energy. Normally the energy cost to power each fixture is under $.12 per day.

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