UV lamps emit UV light with short wavelengths. These wavelengths destroy the DNA of microorganisms. The DNA of these organisms absorb the energy from the UV light and are then inactivated. In homes, the light is used to purify air and rid it of microbes. In other industries, the light is used to disinfect surfaces.
In most cases, the UV lamp complements the HEPA-filtration systems in most homes instead of working as a standalone unit. There are also standalone units that feature a HEPA filter in them, allowing them to trap the particulates in the air and also destroy the microbes.
What Is UV Light, and How Does It Kill Microorganisms?
You can’t see or feel UV light, but you can experience its effects. If you sit outside on a sunny day with your skin exposed and without sunscreen, your skin turns reddish. It may also get inflamed. This is called a sunburn and is the effect of UV rays from the sun.
Ultraviolet light is short-wavelength light. It has a wavelength shorter than that of visible light and shorter than infrared. This makes it more potent than other forms of light.
The particles of light are known as photons. These photons vibrate to form waves as they travel. The distance between one wave and the other is known as wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the more energy the light has. Because UV light has a short wavelength, it has more energy and is able to destroy the DNA of microorganisms.
The effects of UV light that you experience when you walk out with no sunscreen are proof that UV light is so potent. However, the Earth’s atmosphere blocks up to 95% of the UV rays from the sun to protect us. What we experience is only 5%, and it causes all the damage.
There are three categories of UV light:
UV-A is the long-wavelength UV light with a wavelength of between 315 and 400 nanometers. This is the most abundant category of UV light in the earth’s atmosphere. It doesn’t cause sunburn, but it can still exacerbate the signs of aging.
UV-B is less abundant in the atmosphere as the earth blocks about 95% of the light from reaching us. This is the light that causes sunburn. It can also cause cancer. It has a wavelength that ranges from 280 to 315.
UV-C is the most potent and has the shortest wavelength. Although the wavelength is still longer than that of an x-ray wavelength, it’s potent enough to damage the DNA of organisms. The earth blocks all UV-C from reaching us as it is more dangerous than other forms of UV light. This is the light that UV lamps use to purify the air and disinfect surfaces.
You can use the UV lamp to disinfect to inactivate bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.
How Safe Are UV Lamps?
UV lamps are safe. Manufacturers have taken the necessary precautions to ensure that the lamps do not cause any harm to people. Each lamp comes with a coating that ensures users do not come in contact with the rays that may cause them harm.
If that coating is missing, there may be challenges. However, most systems install inside your central air conditioning system where it is protected by several units. It may also install in your ducts, and the ducts protect your AC from mechanical damage.
The main concern with these lamps is the formation of ozone. However, that can only happen if the lamp doesn’t have the right coating to protect you. With the coat, the UV-C light splits the free oxygen in the air to form two atoms. If one of these atoms combines with the free oxygen in the air, it forms ozone, which is a dangerous gas.
Ozone is only dangerous in high amounts. In low amounts, the gas will cause no harm. Better still, the manufacturers have ensured that the gas doesn’t get to you.
The Basics of UV Lamps
Most UV lamps today use mercury and quartz to produce UV light. They feature a quartz body with a little mercury. The mercury can be free within the lamp’s tube, or it can be embedded on the surface of the lamp.
When you apply voltage at the electrodes of the lamp, the gas inside the lamp is ionized. There is also an increase in temperature, and this excites the mercury in the system. The excited mercury creates a plasma arc that emits UV light. Although most lamps emit UV-C, there are some that emit the less potent UV-A and UV-B. If you have a UV-A or UV-B lamp, the air will need to stay in the lamp chambers for longer to kill the microorganisms.
The optimum temperature for the operation of the lamps is between 1292 and 1472 degrees. If the temperature goes beyond that, the lamp may swell due to overheating. Swollen lamps are not effective.
These mercury lamps need time to warm up to at least 1272 degrees to start functioning. Once they purify the air, you’ll need to switch them off, and they’ll need time to cool down. As such, the lamps are almost always connected, and they are the least energy efficient.
Although most lamps use mercury, there are others that use xenon gas. The pulsed xenon lights will give off UV light that is visible. The light has a longer wavelength than that of UV-C and approaches that of infrared light. The good thing with these lamps is that they produce safe xenon gas. However, the installation process is more challenging than with mercury lamps. If you choose these lamps, We Care Plumbing, Heating, and Air, can help you install it. You only need dedicated hardware for the installation process.
Lastly, there are LED UV lamps. These are the most energy-efficient and eco-friendly lamps. If you’re looking at low operation costs and need a lamp that will last long, this lamp will serve you. The lamp is also ideal when you need to use it to disinfect delicate surfaces. Unlike other types of UV lamps, LED lamps are less effective and need more contact time to kill microorganisms.
Installing the UV Lamps
You can install UV lamps in your ducts or in your evaporator coils. The evaporator coils are responsible for cooling your home. Bacteria and viruses can propagate in your evaporator coil, and you need to get rid of them.
You can remove the bacteria, mold, fungi, and virus that propagate in your evaporator coils using the UV lamps. The UV lamp will clean the air that passes through the AC and the bacteria that grows on your coils.
Before the air gets to the coils, it should go through a HEPA filter to remove particulates and allergens.
You can also install the UV lamp in your ducts. This is the final place the air passes before it circulates in your home after being cooled. It’s an ideal place as the air gets into circulation immediately.
Call Us Today
At We Care Plumbing, Heating, and Air, we offer installation, replacement, maintenance and repair services for HVAC systems. We also offer plumbing and indoor air quality services in Orange County. We offer financing to our new and existing customers, too. Call We Care Plumbing, Heating, and Air to see how we can help improve your indoor air quality.