Are UV Lights for HVAC Systems Worth the Money?

June 05, 2020

If you or someone in your home has respiratory issues, then investing in a top-notch UV filtration system for your HVAC system is absolutely worth it.

UV filtration systems can inactivate a variety of viruses, bacteria and other harmful microbes like mold. This not only keeps your home’s air free of harmful airborne contaminants but can help prolong the life of your HVAC system as well.

We know you probably have a few more questions before you make a decision, so in this blog, we’ll cover:

  • How UV lights work to inactivate viruses, bacteria and other organisms
  • Additional benefits of UV lights
  • How much you can expect to pay for a UV light air purifier

Hopefully, with this information, you can get a better idea of whether UV lights are worth installing in your home.

Want a professional’s opinion instead? We can help with that. Finding the right air filtration system for your home is important, and we’ll do our best to find the right fit for you.

How do UV lights work?

Unlike other types of air filtration systems that catch particles, UV lights damage the cell structure of microorganisms, disabling them and preventing them from multiplying. So, while an air filter might physically catch bacteria and prevent it from circulating in your home’s air, UV lights sterilize the DNA of microbes, leaving them inactive.

Are UV systems effective against viruses?

The short answer is yes, UV lights can kill viruses that pass through the light's rays. However, the specific type of UV purification system will determine which kinds of viruses, bacteria and other harmful microorganisms a UV purification system can combat. Some of the microorganisms that UV purification systems can inactivate include:

  • Certain cold viruses
  • Certain flu viruses
  • Infectious bacteria like MRSA
  • Fungi
  • Mold spores
  • Microorganisms 0.01 microns and larger

Types of UV lights

There are two main types of UV light purification systems:

  • Coil-cleaning- Coil-cleaning UV light purifiers are installed near your evaporator coil. This is an ideal location for a UV light because your evaporator coil is the part of your AC system that dehumidifies your home. Because your evaporator coil constantly has condensation on or around it, it’s a perfect breeding ground for organisms like mold. A UV light that shines on your evaporator coil will help keep it free of bacteria, mold and viruses.
 evaporator coil in air handler
  • Air-cleaning- Air-cleaning UV lights are usually placed near the opening of your return ductwork, and clean the air before it makes its way to your AC system to be cooled.

Depending on your system or the type of UV purification system you install, you could have UV lights placed in one or both of these locations. Our suggestion would be to speak with an HVAC professional to help you determine which option would be best for your home.

Now that you understand the basics of how UV lights work, let’s talk about the benefits of UV lights.

What are the benefits of UV lights?

As we mentioned above, UV lights can sterilize microorganisms like mold, bacteria and viruses.

This can have an impact on the health of your household as well as the health of your HVAC system.

  1. Your health- In places like Florida, where it’s humid, mold can easily grow in and on the damp parts of your AC system like your evaporator coil and drain pan. And because air is constantly passing over your evaporator coils and then being blown into your home, you could be breathing in mold spores without even realizing it. Breathing in microbes like mold can be very detrimental to your health, especially if you have pre-existing respiratory issues like asthma.
  2. Your HVAC system’s health- Not only do UV lights disable microbes that can negatively affect your health, they can help keep your AC system running cleanly and efficiently, which saves you money in the long run. If your evaporator coil has mold growing on it, it will struggle to cool your home, which will spike your energy bills and could impact the longevity of your system. Having a UV light in place inactivates microbes like mold that can impact the efficiency of your system.

How much does it cost to install UV lights in my HVAC system?

Typically, installing UV lights costs around $1,400+.

The cost of UV lights will depend on:

  1. Air-sterilizing vs coil-sterilizing- As we mentioned above, there are two main types of UV lights: air-sterilizing and coil-sterilizing. Air-sterilizing lights are more expensive than coil-sterilizing lights because they have a higher wattage and produce a higher percentage of UV-C light (wavelength that most effectively disables microorganisms). Coil-sterilizing lights don’t have to be as “strong” because they sterilize stationary objects (coil and drain pan) rather than moving air. Keep in mind that some systems provide both types of light.
  2. DIY or professional installation- This may not come as a surprise, but a professional installation will cost more than a DIY installation. However, a DIY installation will likely take a significant amount more time and could end up being executed incorrectly, which could cost you even more time and money than hiring a professional to install your UV light or lights.

So, is installing UV lights in your HVAC system worth it?

Now that you know how UV lights work, the benefits of installing UV lights and the cost, you’re probably still wondering whether or not they are worth it for your home. Here’s a recap:

If you or someone in your home has respiratory issues...then investing in a top-notch UV filtration system for your HVAC system is absolutely worth it. A UV filtration system is different from a UV purification system because it combines a UV light with a high-MERV filter.

With a UV filtration system, the UV lights will inactivate a whole host of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and the MERV filter will catch those sterilized microbes.

So, if you have respiratory issues, a UV filtration system that will sterilize AND catch microorganisms is absolutely worth the cost.

If you do not have respiratory issues...we would suggest installing a less-expensive UV light like a coil-sterilizing light. Regardless of whether you have pre-existing respiratory issues or not, a UV light will help decrease the number of other microorganisms in your home’s air that can negatively impact you. In addition to your health, a coil-sterilizing light will also help keep your AC system healthy and running efficiently, which could save you money in the long-run.

Still unsure about UV lights? Reach out to Red Cap!

All of our techs are highly-trained, so we’ll be able to help you determine whether UV lights are a good option for your home, and if so, what combination would work best for you. Feel free to give us a call at (813) 963-3056 or schedule an appointment online!