How Much Does It Cost to Install a UV Light for My HVAC System?
June 07, 2018
Installing an HVAC UV light is an easy, cost-effective way for you to improve the air quality in your Denver home.
Aside from sterilizing bacteria/viruses/mildew/mold spores, UV lights can also help cut energy costs (less microbial/organic buildup in the HVAC system means less energy is needed to push air into your home).
But, we get it—if you’re thinking about installing a UV light inside your HVAC system, your first question is probably, “Is this within my budget?”.
Well, the cost to install a UV light for an HVAC system can cost anywhere from $450 to $700+ in the Denver area.
The main factors that will affect your overall cost include:
The specific wavelength the UV light emits
The type of UV light system you choose
Features of the UV light system
Professional vs. DIY installation
We’ll explain how those 4 factors affect the cost to install a UV light in your HVAC system.
Live in the Denver area and want an accurate install price for your HVAC UV light?
Cost factor #1: The specific wavelength the UV light emits
UV lights that emit a higher output of UV-C light (at the 253.7 wavelength) are more expensive.
We know, that probably sounds like gibberish. We’ll explain…
Ultraviolet light exists within the spectrum of light with wavelengths between 100–400 nanometers (nm). But only a small portion of that spectrum actually sterilizes DNA microbial contaminants: wavelengths from 220 to 290 nm.
This range is called “UV-C” or “germicidal” light. Of all UV light, UV-C light is the most effective when it comes to destroying microbes because their shorter, stronger light waves can penetrate deep into the microbe’s DNA/RNA.
Within the UV-C range, the strongest microbial-sterilizing wavelength is 253.7 nm.
Keep in mind, though, all germicidal light produces “secondary emissions”. In other words, no HVAC UV light can produce 100% of its light energy at that critical 253.7 wavelength.
So, when choosing an HVAC UV light, check that:
The system actually produces light at the 253.7 wavelength
At least 80% to 90% of the system’s energy is generated at 253.7nm
If the system meets the 2 requirements above, it will likely cost more than systems that can only generate low amounts of the 253.7 wavelength. But keep in mind that if the system doesn’t meet those 2 requirements, you’re basically wasting money on an ineffective product.
Cost factor #2: The type of UV light you choose
Now that we know how UV lights sterilize contaminants, let’s look at the 2 different ways they can be used inside the HVAC system.
There are 2 different types of HVAC UV lights, each named for what they clean:
1. “Air-sterilizing lights” clean the air.
Air-sterilizing lights are typically more expensive than coil-sterilizing lights (the other type of HVAC UV light).
Why? Well, air-sterilizing lights are more powerful—the bulbs typically have a higher wattage and generate a higher percentage of energy at the 253.7 wavelength. You see, air-sterilizing UV lights have to be more powerful because they’re designed to sterilize contaminants in the airstream (which move at up to thousands of feet/minute). That said, these systems need to be strong enough to render enough damage to the contaminants within the fraction of a second that they pass under the UV light.
Consider this type of HVAC UV light if…
...you have someone in your family with serious allergies or asthma. These systems prevent mold spores from producing in the HVAC system but they also get rid of odors, chemical vapors and toxins in the air.
2. “Coil-sterilizing lights” clean the evaporator coil and drain pan.
Coil-sterilizing UV lights are designed to sterilize contaminants on the evaporator coil and drain pan inside your HVAC system. These systems are typically less expensive than air-sterilizing UV lights.
Here’s why: The evaporator coil and drain pan are stationary, meaning there’s no limit to the microbe-to-UV-light exposure. That said, these systems don’t have to be quite as powerful as air-sterilizing systems in order to sterilize contaminants.
Consider this type of HVAC UV light if…
...you primarily want to prevent mold/mildew growth within the HVAC system.
Keep in mind that both systems have similar operational costs. Even though air-sterilizing lights are typically higher-wattage, most are designed to turn on only during cooling cycles (when air is actually moving through the ductwork). Coil-sterilizing lights are usually on 24/7 but are lower-wattage systems and require less energy.
Cost factor #3: Features of the UV light system
The more features a UV light system provides, the more it typically costs.
Additional features that HVAC UV light systems might offer include:
Remote wireless LED status displays that alert users when maintenance is needed, bulbs need replacing, etc.
Auto-sensing smart ballasts that provide LED troubleshooting displays to let you know where the problem lies should the light stop working properly.
A “sight glass” that allows you to peer in to see if the light is on and working properly without risking damage to your skin or eyes. Note: UV lights installed in the HVAC system can cause short-term eye irritation if you look at the light directly (while it’s on) for long periods. However, because they are installed in an enclosed space far away from human contact, UV-C lights do not cause any other adverse health effects and only improve the air quality.
An odor production unit that oxidizes odors (instead of just masking them) to reduce unpleasant smells in the house.
Cost factor #4: Professional vs DIY installation
Opting for professional installation will raise the overall cost of your HVAC UV light installation by $100–$300.
But be warned: You risk losing a lot more money in the long term if you try a DIY UV light installation.
Why? Well, placement and sizing of a UV light in your HVAC system requires extensive knowledge of how UV-C light works and how the HVAC system works. If you don’t place or size the UV light properly, you could cause harm to your HVAC system (especially the evaporator coil) or the light might not even work properly.
For example, if you’ve chosen a coil-sterilizing UV light, the light must be placed on the cold air side of the evaporator coil and the bulb must be within a very specific distance of the face of the coils. Not sure what any of that means? Then you should probably have your UV light professionally installed.
Another reason to avoid DIY installation? Depending on the manufacturer, not having a professional HVAC technician install the UV light could automatically void its warranty.
Need a quote for your HVAC UV light installation?
If you live in the Denver area, we can help. We offer fair, upfront pricing on all of our indoor air quality products.
Plus, if you choose us, we can typically install your HVAC UV light on the same day.