Are UV Air Purifiers Safe?

When I decided to buy myself an air purifier, I was surprised at the sheer number of different air purifiers available on the market.

But one type of air purifier that stood out from the pack when I was shopping was the UV air purifier.

I was familiar with using UV light to disinfect and cleanse the air.

Still, I had no idea that the technology was also being added to everyday air purifiers.

That said, I was concerned about the safety of these air purifiers.

I was already familiar with the fact that some ionic air purifiers can produce ozone, which is why it’s best to stay away from them.

So, I wondered if UV air purifiers had a similar effect and if I was better off not spending any money on such an appliance.

That’s when I researched and found out a fair amount about UV air purifiers.

And in this article, I’ll go over everything I know about the safety of using UV air purifiers in your home.

What Are UV Air Purifiers?

As the name suggests, UV air purifiers are air purifiers that also use UV light to clean the air.

Some air purifiers rely solely on UV lights for purification, like in-duct models.

In contrast, others use UV light as an additional cleanser on top of their existing filtration system.

Regardless of which one you go for, they all work the same.

These air purifiers use UV lights to clean the air, which is excellent for disinfecting and removing harmful particles from the air.

These air purifiers are popular because they target particles that other air purifiers might miss.

For example, most portable air purifiers that don’t have UV lights only use HEPA or carbon filtration to clean the air.

The filters on most air purifiers are great for capturing small particles like dust and pollen while absorbing harmful VOCs and other gaseous particles in the air.

While this is great and makes a huge difference in air quality, these air purifiers don’t target or eliminate viruses and bacteria.

So, UV air purifiers are ideal for people who want to breathe in safer air at home that doesn’t contain viruses and bacteria that can cause disease.

But how do UV lights eliminate bacteria in the first place?

Well, I’ll explain that in full detail in the next section so you can wrap your head around how these air purifiers work.

How Does UV Light Cleanse the Air?

UV lights clean the air in the same way sunlight does.

If you’ve ever sunned your pillows to clean them, you’re already familiar with how UV lights.

When you use UV-light air purifiers, the device emits a UV-C light, which doesn’t naturally enter our atmosphere.

Since these lights aren’t naturally present on Earth, most organisms have no natural defenses against them.

As a result, exposure to UV light can successfully eliminate many viruses and bacteria in the air.

UV-C lights are such effective cleansers that we aren’t just using them for the air.

In fact, people use UVC lights to clean water and even eliminate harmful pathogens from specific surfaces that have been exposed.

There are different types of UV-C air purifiers on the market, and each works slightly differently when cleaning the air.

To start, let’s look at the in-duct UV air purifiers.

These air purifiers are installed into an HVAC system and emit a UV light that the air has to pass through before being released back into your room.

This causes airborne pathogens and bacteria to die before they float around the air and enter our lungs.

Portable UV-C air purifiers work in a very similar fashion.

However, instead of shining the light inside the vents, these air purifiers shine a UV-C light in the room.

Typically, these air purifiers have multiple filtration systems working simultaneously.

For example, while the HEPA and carbon filter deal with solid and gaseous particles, UV-C light takes care of viruses and bacteria in the air.

Are UV Air Purifiers Safe?

I wrongfully equated UV air purifiers as the same thing as ionizer air purifiers, which I recommend staying away from at all costs.

This is because ionizers, while they are excellent at eliminating particles from the air, create ozone as a by-product of the cleansing process.

This can be very dangerous as ozone can cause many problems if you breathe in too much.

And even if ionizers produce small amounts of ozone, it’s best to stay on the safe side and avoid them in general.

But can I say the same about UV air purifiers?

Luckily, UV air purifiers don’t produce as much ozone as ionizers, which makes them inherently safer than ionizers right away.

However, consider that UV lights can still produce ozone when reacting with particles.

That said, you don’t have to worry about exposure to the light itself doing any harm.

Humans usually don’t react negatively to UV light, though I don’t recommend looking directly at the light.

But since these air purifiers produce small amounts of ozone, you might want to turn off the UV light occasionally, especially when in the room.

That said, UV air purifiers are generally very safe appliances for people looking to cleanse the air at home.

You can use these air purifiers to effectively clean the air in an indoor space, keeping your respiratory system safe from harmful viruses and bacteria.

Types of UV Air Purifiers

As I mentioned earlier, shopping for UV air purifiers can be difficult because there are many types to pick from.

And while it might seem complicated at first, I quickly learned that most UV air purifiers fall into one of two categories.

So, let’s look at these different categories to better understand which UV air purifier would be the best option for your needs.

In-Duct UV Air Purifiers

The first type of UV air purifier is an in-duct system.

As you might guess, you have to hire professionals to install these air purifiers in your HVAC system.

These air purifiers emit a UVC light in the vents of your HVAC system, so all the air that comes out of the vents is clean and free of harmful pathogens.

On top of that, these air purifiers are built into your HVAC system, so it cleanses all the indoor air right away.

While these air purifiers might be more expensive, remember that you’ll only need one air purifier for the entire house.

This can be way more convenient than portable air purifiers that you have to move from room to room.

So, these air purifiers may offer significantly more value than your typical portable air purifier.

That said, portable air purifiers with UV lights can still be helpful and could be just what you need.

But to give you a better idea if they’re for you, I’ll discuss these air purifiers in more detail in the next section.

Portable Air Purifiers

As the name suggests, these are air purifiers that you’re supposed to move around the house on demand.

When you think of modern air purifiers, these are probably the ones that come to mind, as they are way more common than an HVAC air purifier.

These air purifiers use both filtration and UVC lights to cleanse the air.

So, aside from emitting a UVC light to eliminate specific pathogens and viruses, the machine uses various filters to capture different particles floating around the air.

This is why portable air purifiers might be the more practical option for many people.

The downside to portable air purifiers is that they are designed for smaller spaces.

You won’t be able to find a portable air purifier that can handle an entire home.

Instead, you’ll have to move the air purifier around or buy multiple models to clean the air at home.

Even if you get a bit more protection from portable air purifiers, they can only protect you in the room where they are in.

With that said, both types of UV air purifiers can significantly protect your respiratory system.

However, deciding on an air purifier that best fits your needs is essential before going on the market and checking out the different options available to you.

How to Find the Best UV Air Purifiers

The first thing you need to do when considering a UV air purifier is to determine if you want an in-duct system or a portable air purifier.

Each comes with its own benefits, and it’s up to you to figure out which one better suits your needs.

But even if you choose a specific type of UV air purifier, you’ll still be faced with many options when shopping.

So, here are other things to keep in mind when buying a UV air purifier to make the entire shopping process much more manageable.

Consider the CADR

When buying an air purifier, it’s essential to consider the CADR or clean air delivery rate.

This basically refers to the air purifier’s ability to clean the air.

Ideally, you want an air purifier with a CADR that’s at least 2/3s of the total room size.

For example, if you have a room that’s 300 square feet, you will need an air purifier with a CADR of at least 200.

If you buy an in-duct purifier, you won’t have to worry about CADR.

Still, it’s essential when buying a portable air purifier.

With that in mind, you should measure the area of the room where you plan on placing the air purifier before buying one.

That way, finding the right air purifier for your needs will be much easier.

Look for a Good Filtration System

The next thing to consider is the filtration system.

As I mentioned earlier, most portable UV air purifiers have a filtration system that works with UVC light.

For the best results, I recommend getting an air purifier with a carbon filter and HEPA filter.

These air purifiers use HEPA filters to capture solid particles in the air, like dust, pollen, and similarly-sized pollutants.

On the other hand, the carbon filter absorbs harmful gases like smoke, VOCs, and even strong odors that may be annoying to deal with.

Consider the Unit’s Efficiency

If you want to make the most out of your air purifier, keep it on as much as possible.

Ideally, your air purifier should be on 24/7.

But if you want to always leave your air purifier on, you need to get an energy-efficient model.

So, check out the air purifier’s power consumption and ensure the machine doesn’t use more power than it needs to clean the air.

Are UV Air Purifiers Safe? Conclusion

If you’re considering buying a UV air purifier, I wouldn’t tell you not to because they’re great.

Despite a widespread belief that UV air purifiers can be dangerous, they aren’t.

I’ve owned mine for over 5+ years and have had zero complaints.

However, there is one concern you would want to keep in mind, and that’s the fact that UV air purifiers produce small amounts of ozone.

But besides that, you can’t go wrong with either if you buy a unit with only a UV light or one that uses UV on top of an existing filtration system.