ORLANDO, Fla. — UV-C technology is surging as more consumers turn to it as a solution to eradicate harsh airborne contaminants and deliver fresh, clean air. Additionally, a recent position paper from ASHRAE validates the technology’s effectiveness, further strengthening its usefulness in industry circles.
CLEANER, FRESHER AIR
Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, is an established means of disinfection and can be used to prevent the spread of certain infectious diseases. UV-C radiation kills or inactivates microbes by damaging their deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
“In the past, contractors typically only offered filtration products or electronic air cleaners for particulate filtration. Today, we know that only about one-third of indoor air pollution is caused by particulates. Airborne biological contaminants, such as mold, bacteria, viruses, and odor-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are responsible for the other two-thirds,” said Chris Willette, president of Fresh-Aire UV. “Germicidal UV light has emerged as an ideal solution for the control of microbial contaminates, and photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) technologies are being utilized for the removal of odors and VOC contaminates, which allows contractors to address the whole range of IAQ concerns.
Fresh-Aire’s UV Control Panel with PLC automates the monitoring of UV-C wavelength feedback, safety, and efficacy for new air-handling unit (AHU) FAUV Commercial Series UV light systems. The electromechanical, 16-by-12-by-8-inch, transparent ABS plastic control box features a front panel hour meter that displays real-time UV lamp life. A programmed logic controller makes the unit compatible with most building automation systems. It can send an alarm when replacement lamps are needed or a default is detected. The clear-view front panel also features a red light indicating the UV system’s operational status, an optional radiometer, and a LED readout display separately tracks each lamp’s microwatt degradation. If a lamp malfunctions, the control box automatically informs the user.
Ron Fink, president and CEO of RGF Environmental Group Inc., said a contractor gains instant credibility when an IAQ installation solves a consumer’s total home or business comfort problems. Additionally, the contractor benefits through increased sales and profitability.
One such solution includes RGF’s QUAD-DM™ Ion Generator, which was designed with the contractor in mind. The QUAD-DM was developed to produce bi-polar ions in an air conditioned space. This system features quad ion emitters and is designed to treat up to a 6-ton a/c unit. The unit uses separated polarized ion emitters and the Bernoulli Effect for efficient ion dispersion and mixing. This technology has proven effective in reducing particulates, allergens, smoke, bacteria, mold spores, and odors. The system is designed to mount to the inside of an air handler via magnetic feet, which are flexible and may be mounted to a curved surface, such as a blower housing.
“This latest product is in response to our budget-minded customers, who have higher particulate issues in their homes or facilities and are seeking a more economical solution to clean the air,” said Fink. “As a result, our engineers developed a highly effective quad polar ionizer, which we believe is the most advanced product of its kind on the market today.”
Walter Ellis, vice president and general manager, RGF, said the company has always focused on providing and improving its products based on contractor feedback. “We’re continually educating contractors and consumers alike to bring awareness to the importance of air purification. Our products are affordable, and, through RGF’s Vertical Integration, are available with minimal lead time.”
As ductless HVAC systems grow in popularity, UV installers are met with yet another challenge.
“New split air conditioners no longer use air ducts and are made very compact, which makes installing a UV lamp very difficult,” said Meredith C. Stines, president and CEO, American Ultraviolet. “Additionally, contractors are often most concerned with how quickly they can get the job done, rapidly returning consumers’ comfort levels.”
American Ultraviolet’s PEK and CK Series are designed to fit very tight spaces.
“We’ve designed an ICR rack system that slides into the air-handling unit in one piece and the electrical connections are outside of the air-handling unit. Installation can be done in 15 minutes. This is critical for hospitals and other installations where installation time is critical.”
According to Jeff Scheir, marketing manager, Steril-Aire, customers are seeking valuable, affordable solutions that actually work.
“Steril-Aire focuses on how much UV-C intensity is required to eradicate the biological issue inside the HVAC system rather than how many lamps are necessary to cover the space. To that end, Steril-Aire has a comprehensive package of tools for identification, delivery, and validation of the solution the end user seeks.”
Steril-Aire’s Rapid Install Kit (RIK) simplifies the contractor’s role in the installation of the company’s line of high-performance UV-C solutions.
Sturdy brackets and adjustable columns install in air-handling units (AHUs) with coil plenums up to 180 inches in height. RIK utilizes Steril-Aire Enhanced Single Ended Emitters® with moisture-resistant, IP67-compliant connectors to minimize the potential of water damage over time. Emitter cables plug in to the power supply enclosure. Each enclosure is prewired and mounted. Any configuration of the RIK requires only one single external electrical connection, which reduces the installation cost and system downtime.
The kits include prewired power supplies installed inside metal enclosures (up to two per box) installed on adjustable vertical columns. Columns also have clips to hold the emitters. Configuration flexibility is provided, with the ability to use Enhanced SE Emitter lamp lengths of 24, 30, 36, 42, 50, and 61 inches.
The desire to keep HVAC systems operating at peak, as-built efficiency without costly and difficult maintenance is leading contractors toward UV-C technology, said Dan Jones, president, UV Resources.
“Many conventional maintenance options, such as a manual coil cleaning that is done on an annual basis, are labor-intensive and end up costing more than installing a UV-C fixture,” he said. “Choosing UV-C fixtures has allowed contractors to make one installation and rest assured the UV energy will continuously clean the cooling coil and airstream. Contractors have also used the sales and installation of UV-C fixtures to keep their technicians fully employed during off-peak seasons.”
One such option is UV Resources’ Remote Lamp Mount (RLM) Small Systems (S/S) ultraviolet (UV-C) lamp fixture kit. The unit may be installed on hard-to-service fan coil units, package units, and heat pump systems. The UV fixture inactivates harmful microbes, preventing coil inefficiencies, drain pan overflow, and foul odors. Stained ceiling panels and wet carpet due to overflowing and microbe-infested HVAC drain pans are a thing of the past once a RLM S/S is installed.
The system’s remotely mounted, high-efficiency RLM S/S fixture kit includes a CU2™ monitor, which provides both a visual and signal method of verifying lamp and ballast on-off operation.
“The concept of the RLM S/S was fueled by a growing demand for a UV-C system that provides the versatility to accommodate small HVAC systems that can be more susceptible to microbial growth and difficult to maintain,” said Jones. “Whether your application is coil irradiation, killing pathogenic microorganisms, or
extending HVAC system life, the RLM S/S combines the outstanding UV-C components in a simple and flexible system.”
ASHRAE Standard 62.1, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality,” defines the roles of, and minimum requirements for, mechanical and natural ventilation systems and the building envelope intended to provide acceptable IAQ in low-rise residential buildings.
Two recently released ASHRAE position papers examine the health consequences of using, or not using, filtration and air-cleaning technologies in HVAC systems.
The documents, in summary, state that UV-C wavelength inactivates microorganisms living on HVAC air ducts and evaporator coils with a kill ratio of 90 percent or higher, depending on light intensity, length of exposure, lamp placement, and lamp life cycle. The technology removes both bacterial and viral aerosols from the air. Additionally, UV-C has been found to be effective in eliminating fungus growing in HVAC systems, which can contribute to hypersensitivity pneumonitis, allergic rhinitis, and asthma.
While the use of ASHRAE’s Standard 62.1 should be an obvious trend in the industry, the approach has been largely underutilized up to this point, as the calculations necessary to prove compliance with the procedure and enable these savings are extremely complex and painstaking.
“Due to their complex nature, these calculations were performed haphazardly – or not at all – until recently. With the advent of Plasma Air’s PlasmaSoft 2.0 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Procedure Software, consulting engineers and other related professionals can now leverage a reliable program to perform these functions while storing project and individual zone data in the cloud,” said Larry Sunshine, principal and vice president of sales, Plasma Air Intl. “By performing the necessary calculations, building owners and operators are able to decrease both capital and operating expenditures — CapEx and OpEx — by eliminating unnecessary conditioning of excessive amounts of outdoor air.
“PlasmaSoft 2.0, which received the AHR Expo Innovation Award in the Software category, contains all ASHRAE Standard 62.1 mass-balance equations as well as default values for occupancy density and outdoor air rates per person and per square foot for all occupancy categories,” continued Sunshine. “This software removes the guesswork from establishing IAQ standards compliance, allowing users to save money previously spent on unnecessary energy usage and equipment.”
“UV is definitely one of the most studied technologies in IAQ and all of HVAC,” said UV Resources’ Jones. “ASHRAE deemed UV a very steady, effective technology that demonstrates positive health effects. We’re pleased to share this validation with HVAC contractors and consumers.”
Ron Saunders, vice president, Fresh-Aire UV, was also supportive of ASHRAE’s recent proclamation, stating, “ASHRAE’s position is a huge help when it comes to validating the use of UV to contractors.”
Publication date: 2/22/2016