Understanding UV and LED Air Quality Products

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Understanding UV and LED Air Quality Products

Written by: Jackson Systems



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Indoor Air Quality has been a huge topic of discussion among the HVAC industry this past year and will continue to hold relevance. The question of how to keep our air clean and safe for others isn’t a simple one-stop solution for every room or building. UV and LED are two acronyms that you will constantly hear throughout the industry, but how do they relate to IAQ products?

UV Light

Most people understand UV (Ultraviolet) as the light responsible for sunburns and blacklight posters but under the right wavelength, it’s also a great form of air, water, or food purification. Ultraviolet or “beyond violet” got its name from violet being the highest frequency of visible light the eye can perceive. UV falls between visible light and X-rays on the electromagnetic spectrum based on its wavelength and frequency. The best way to understand UV is to break it into 3 different nanometer wavelengths.

  • UV-A
    • Closest to visibility and commonly seen in black lights or tanning beds
  • UV-B
    • Shorter wavelengths usually perceived as UV damage from the sun as sunburns or in extreme cases melanoma.
  • UV-C
    • Shortest wavelength with the power to eliminate bacteria and microorganisms present in air, food, or water

UV-C is what most will find in any sort of ventilation/air purification product on the market. The sun distributes UV naturally and has the power to clean our air. Unfortunately, most homes don’t have access to large amounts of sun. Indoor air pollutants can be nearly 5 times higher according to the EPA. IAQ product’s that utilize UV-C take this principle and apply it to a condensed version that is only exposed to passing conditioned air or heat in the ductwork of a home or office.

Improving Indoor Air

Several factors take place in understanding how UV light can be an effective treatment for IAQ. Simple things like the square footage of a home or building, placement of devices, the intensity of the bulb all play a part in creating properly sanitized air. A process known as ionization takes place with most UV products. This is where the UV photons break down chemical bonds of harmful pollutants like bacteria, fungi, germs, viruses, and pathogens. UV lights also help improve the quality of your HVAC efficiency and remove the need for routine duct cleaning in some cases.

LED Light

Simply put LED stands for “light-emitting diode” and emits visible light when an electrical current passes through it (the opposite of photovoltaic cells). Advancements in technology have allowed LED lights to be utilized in IAQ products for air purification. What experts are finding is LED has the capability to reach UV-C wavelengths needed to address microbial safety. The biggest benefit being LEDs last much longer than standard UV bulbs and emit zero o-zone in some cases like the REME Halo.

Coil Sterilization vs Air Sterilization

Now that we have a basic understanding of the technology at hand in the best IAQ products available, we can get into the two types of air purification on the market. When shopping for the right IAQ product for you or the homeowner, some basic needs or concerns should be considered. The homeowner/contractor must decide if coil, air, or a combination of both should be utilized in the sanitation process.

Coil Sterilization looks at improving the condition of equipment inside the home by sanitizing the air handler coil. Try using coils to condense moisture from the air to dehumidify your home during AC or heating cycles. Without a process like UV to sterilize air handler coils, things like dirt, dander, and a variety of debris can stick to these surfaces. This leads to the perfect setting for mold and bacteria to flourish.

Air Sterilization deals with installing the UV/LED bulbs in the ductwork of a home or building to sterilize the conditioned air being blown through the ducts by the unit. These need to be hardwired into the system and have the capabilities to turn on/off with the AC or Furnace.

Filters

It’s important to remember that these devices work the best in tandem with clean air filters. Remember to change your filter every month if you have pets, smoke, or heavily exposed to dust/mold. Typically, your home can go about 3 to 5 months without these conditions but it’s important to regularly check. Using a high-MERV filter can improve the removal of smaller particles in the air leading to overall better air quality. Check out our Filter Fetch service to stay on top of routine filter check-ins and replacements.

 

We’ve covered a slew of definitions, topics, and terms found in the world of IAQ. Hopefully this will help you decide on the right filter, bulb, or air purifier for your next install. If you have any questions or concerns never hesitate to reach out to our team of trained HVAC experts. Remember, our air quality impacts our daily health and wellness! Take the time to insure your home or workplace have the right tools to keep you safe.

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