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LIGHTING INSIGHTS BLOG

Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design

3 options to kill germs in the air

Posted by Luis Espino on

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The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many vulnerabilities, including how quickly germs (like viruses) can be transmitted in the air.

There are well-documented cases of bacteria and viruses spreading in enclosed spaces, in rooms where there is shouting, singing, or exercising, and in areas without proper ventilation.

So how we can cut down on airborne transmission?

One option is to use UV-C air disinfection to reduce the number of pathogens in a room. You have three primary options: UV-C air disinfection fixtures, upper-air UV-C fixtures, and UV-C systems for HVAC equipment.

1. UV-C air disinfection fixtures

UV-C air disinfection fixtures bring air into the unit, disinfect that air with UV-C light, and cycle the air through a filter. The disinfected air then returns to the room.

UV-C rays are enclosed within the fixture and never reach a surface. Meanwhile, the fixture is continuously reducing the number of pathogens in the air.

Our top recommendation is the UV FAN by Light Progress. These fixtures are ideal for high-traffic areas like commercial and industrial buildings, schools and colleges, healthcare facilities, and other properties. You have three options: a mobile unit (on wheels), a wall-mounted unit, or the XS unit that's ideal for small spaces like elevators and patient rooms.

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Light Progress UV Fan 2x2 Light Progress
Portable UV FAN
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Light Progress
Wall-Mount UV FAN
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Light Progress
UV FAN XS
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Price: $1192 Price: $3,698 Price: $2,790 Price: $1,042.50


The UV FAN brings in dirty air, disinfects it with UV-C, then runs it through a titanium dioxide (TiO2) nano-structured photocatalyst (TiOx®) filter. The filter is actually energized by the UV-C inside the fixture and it never needs to be replaced.uv-fan-diagramThe UV-C lamps are rated for 18,000 hours. They can be replaced by removing the cover of the unit. Since the titanium dioxide filter never needs replacement, maintenance on the fixture is relatively simple.

2. Upper-air UV-C disinfection

Upper-air or upper-room UV-C disinfection has been used for decades in hospital settings, specifically to reduce the transmission of bacterial infections like tuberculosis.

Now, it's possible for every industry to implement this technology and it's one option to improve ventilation recommended by the CDC.


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Upper-air units emit UV-C rays into a room. The units are mounted so the UV-C energy only hits higher areas in a room, above people's heads (as pictured above). When these fixtures are mounted and maintained properly, no one should be exposed to UV-C rays.

The entire room is eventually disinfected because the air in a room naturally moves from the lower space to the upper space and back to the lower space again. How quickly this happens is called air changes per hour (ACH). Air conditioners and fans increase the number of air changes per hour.


There are several different options for upper-air fixtures. The basic function is the same, but each product has a few different specifications.

Light Progress makes an upper-air fixture called the UV Flow. It's available in two different sizes based on the square footage and layout of the room. These fixtures use a reflector and a honeycomb filter.

UVFlow_C_1000-1 UVFlow_C_1000-1
Light Progress
UV Flow E75
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Light Progress
UV Flow E40
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Coverage: Around 300 square feet Coverage: Around 200 square feet
Price: Starting at $1,150 Price: Starting at $1,000


American Ultraviolet offers three different types of upper-air fixtures. The company has produced UV-C products since the 1960s.

The TB series is a standard upper-air unit with adjustable louvers so the UV energy is pointed in the right direction. The CM is designed to fit in corners for smaller spaces.

The RAM is an enclosed fixture that uses fans to help pull air in and out of the unit.

American UV Upper Air American UV CM American UV RAM
American Ultraviolet®
TB Series
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American Ultraviolet®
CM Series
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American Ultraviolet® RAM Series
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Coverage: Between 200 to 300 square feet Coverage: 75 to 100 square feet Coverage: 150 to 300 square feet
Price: Starting at $1,200 Price: $680 Price: Starting at $1,045

 

For a small and discreet option, consider the Purifii upper-air fixture by Luminii. The Purifii has a small form factor and is less noticeable than other upper-air UVC fixtures.

Purifii Upper-Air LED UVC
Purifii by Luminii
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It also uses 275 nm UVC LEDs to disinfect air. UVC LEDs are different than traditional UVC lamps, so this fixture uses slightly different technology to disinfect the air, but it still focuses on delivering UVC rays to the upper portion of a room.

 

Upper-air fixtures should only be used in rooms with ceilings at least seven feet high. At that height, customers, tenants, and employees will be out of direct contact with UV-C rays.

No matter which type of fixture you choose, make sure you have it properly installed and maintained. We recommend commissioning on all upper-air installs. To get started, contact us.

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3. UVC for HVAC systems

The CDC lists poor ventilation or air handling as a primary way SARS-CoV-2 can spread via airborne transmission. When there is not proper ventilation in a space, small respiratory droplets and particles can build up.

This is one reason why businesses like malls and commercial offices are adding HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) systems. Another option is to disinfect the air moving in and out of your building using UV-C systems.

UV-C for HVAC equipment does not necessarily help with person-to-person transmission. For example, if a contagious person sneezes in a waiting room the air will not be disinfected immediately.

You have two main options for UV-C on HVAC systems: on-coil and in-duct.

On-coil UV systems target the coiling coils and drain pans. With this option, you need to have enough space to install the fixtures, so it's typically used in larger commercial buildings.

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Traditional on-coil UV systems are highly specified depending on your application and your HVAC equipment. Contact us if you're interested in learning more about these products.

PURO Lighting offers a new approach to on-coil cleaning. PURO suggests mounting its Helo F1 about six feet away from the coil system. The fixture disinfects the coils by running in one to hour cycles once a day. Other fixtures typically run all the time.

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 5.33.59 PMWith in-duct systems, the fixtures are installed inside the HVAC ducts. This option can be used on almost any system.

The number of fixtures you need depends on the size of your system. With this option, you may need to add protective equipment so the UV-C rays do not cause any material degradation or discoloration.

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Both on-coil and in-duct options are safe for everyone inside your building. Aside from maintenance, there is little exposure risk.

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Other options for total room disinfection

UV-C is only one part of the game plan if you want total room disinfection. Consider adding cleaning, protecting, and disinfecting to your routine.

The right cleaning products can help your employees, customers, and tenants stay safe.

Regency Lighting is committed to protecting your entire building, from lighting challenges to new UV-C fixtures and effective cleaning processes. Please do not hesitate to contact us so we can customize a plan for you.

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