A UV Lamp? In My Air Conditioner? It's More Helpful Than You'd Think
When someone mentions the words "ultraviolet light," chances are your first thoughts are of the importance of sunscreen. But it's not just beachgoers who abhor prolonged exposure to UV light – germs, fungi and bacteria hate it, too.
And what better place to put a UV lamp than in the dark, damp confines of your central air-conditioning unit? The following explains exactly why it's a good place to install a UV lamp and how it can benefit your home in terms of indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
The Wonders of Ultraviolet Light
Ever hear the old saying "sunlight is the best disinfectant?" That's because sunlight actually contains a natural sanitizer in the form of ultraviolet radiation. Of the three main types of UV radiation, UV-C or shortwave ultraviolet radiation is the most interesting thanks to its germicidal properties. UV-C radiation works by breaking the molecular bonds in the DNA of the microbial organisms it reaches. This mutagenic effect eventually renders the organisms unable to grow and reproduce.
Unlike UV-A or UV-B, UV-C is largely absorbed within the atmosphere and ozone layer before it hits the ground. Fortunately, the same effect can be reproduced and brought closer to Earth in the form of a handy UV lamp.
The Trouble with Mold
The evaporator coil is the perfect place for mold and bacteria to flourish. Not only is it constantly damp from the condensation generated through the air conditioning process, but it's also enclosed within the dark confines of the A/C plenum. With cool temperatures, excess moisture and no natural sunlight, it's no wonder that it's a common place for mold to take hold.
When mold grows on the evaporator coil, it blocks normal airflow to the coils. This interrupts the heat transfer process that's essential to removing heat and creating cool, conditioned air. It also puts the coils at risk of freezing over. You also run the risk of spreading mold spores all throughout your home via the ducts.
What a UV Lamp Does for Your A/C System
UV lamps are surprisingly effective when it comes to neutralizing mold spores, along with most types of airborne bacteria. According to a recent study performed by researchers at Duke University, the UV-C radiation provided by UV lamps reduced bacteria under their test conditions by as much as 97 percent.
When installed over the evaporator coil, a UV lamp helps nip mold and bacteria growth in the bud before it has a chance to get started. It also offers long-term insurance against reoccurring growth. When a single mold spore is capable of growing under ideal conditions, neutralizing it before it has a chance to grow is the best policy.
Not only does the UV-C light provided by UV lamps help neutralize mold and bacteria, it's also capable of doing many other things:
- It breaks down certain types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) commonly found in many household products.
- It also eliminates the need to clean your evaporator coil on a regular basis. Microorganisms simply can't grow or thrive under the exposure of a UV lamp.
- UV lamps can also boost your central A/C system's energy efficiency. A cleaner A/C system not only runs better, but it also runs more affordably.
- It'll give your home's indoor air quality a tremendous boost. Whatever your A/C system's air filter doesn't pick up will be neutralized by your UV lamps. It's a big boon to those who suffer from chronic allergy symptoms, especially those that can be exacerbated by mold.
Mold is a common problem in many central A/C systems and it can easily be a problem for your entire home, if you're not careful. A UV lamp helps put an end to mold problems in a unique and effective way.
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