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Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design

Mobile UV disinfection units [Pros and cons]

Posted by Luis Espino on



If you're responsible for maintaining a business or commercial building, this can be a very uncertain time. COVID-19 has changed the way all of us operate. Your building may either be closed, reopening, or overrun with people. Regardless, there is one thing that's top of mind: the health of everyone who uses your building.

Germicidal ultraviolet disinfection (also called UV-C) products can kill up to 99.9% of viruses and bacteria on surfaces without the use of harsh chemicals.

These UV-C disinfecting products are not just for hospitals. Any commercial building like hotels, banks, and offices can benefit from UV-C disinfection.

Modes of transportation like airplanes, trains, subways, and buses can also benefit. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is currently using them to keep the transit system as safe as possible.

There are multiple ways you can use the disinfecting power of UV-C. One of those options is a mobile UV unit. Before you get started with any new system, we recommend you consider the following factors:

  • Disinfection time – How quickly do you need the product to work? If you're thinking of using a mobile disinfection unit in a hospital, you may have less cleaning time available than if you're using it in a hotel.
  • Labor – Do you have the staff available to move UV disinfection products to different areas or rooms? Even if they are robotic, mobile UV disinfection units require someone to operate them.
  • Space – How big is the space you need to disinfect? Do you need more than one disinfecting unit to operate efficiently? How much area do UV-C products cover? Your space will determine the best option for you. 

Keep reading for the pros and cons of mobile UV disinfection units, the best places to use them, and products available for you.

It's important to note these products contain germicidal UV, which can be harmful to humans. If used incorrectly, UV-C radiation can hurt the skin and eyes. The Illuminating Engineering Society recently released a report with safety guidelines that should be followed along with manufacturer guidelines. You can also read more about safety here.

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Pros of mobile UV disinfection units

  1. Mobility – The biggest perk of mobile UV disinfection is the fact that you can move them to the threat, or the area you want to disinfect. All you have to do is plug the unit in one room, allow it to run its cycle, then unplug and move it to another area. If you have multiple rooms to disinfect at different times of the day, moving the UV-C disinfection unit between spaces is easy.
  2. Operate on any schedule – Instead of using ceiling or wall mounted UV disinfecting products that operate on a schedule, mobile UV units can be used when it's convenient for you. This is especially beneficial in areas that are used frequently, like hospital rooms, hotel rooms, or airplanes. When you know the room is empty, you can run the germicidal UV unit.
  3. Adjustable equipment – There are several different variations of mobile UV disinfection units. Some are robotic, some are pushcarts, and some are built on stands like the products mentioned below. Most involve adjustable equipment to make sure you are hitting the areas you want to hit with germicidal UV light. That leaves little room for hiding spots for germs.
  4. Easy to use – With proper training, it's easy to operate mobile UV units. Most also come with occupancy sensors that will shut off if motion is detected.

Cons of mobile UV disinfection units

  1. Move room to room – Mobility may be a big advantage for mobile UV disinfection units, but it can also be a con. If you have multiple rooms you want cleaned at the same time, it might be better to buy UV-C disinfection products that are either wall mounted or ceiling mounted and can run on a timer or with controls. Plus, if you have an extremely large building, relying on one mobile UV disinfection unit may not be a reality to clean all of the areas you need. Some customers have ordered multiple units to give them more flexibility.
  2. Labor requirement – This is linked to the con listed above. Someone has to man the system, and move it from room to room. You should think about your staffing and whether or not this is a reality for your current staff or crew.
  3. Time constraints – While some mobile UV disinfection products operate on a timer, you may want to use your unit in an area that's frequently occupied. The room should be empty while the system is running to limit exposure.
  4. Multiple cycles – UV rays disinfect by line of sight, meaning any area that UV energy does not hit will not be disinfect. Also, UV does not penetrate through furniture or other objects. You will probably need to run multiple cycles in a room to make sure all areas are disinfected. Finding the right dose is also key in this process.New call-to-action

How to tell if mobile units are working

Since you may have to run mobile UV units multiple times in a single space, you probably want to know if they're hitting the surfaces you need with the right dosage.

One option is called the UVC Dosimeter


Shop UVC Dosimeters

You can place the dosimeter on different surfaces before you run a cycle. The yellow dot or spot in the middle of a card will change color based on the UV dose that hits the surface.

The dose needed to inactivate coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is between 10 and 20 mJ/cm² in laboratory settings.

The dosimeter provides a good benchmark to follow and will help you decide the best placement of mobile UV units. Following this standard can help decrease exposure time while increasing disinfection rate.

Where to use mobile UV disinfection units

The first place you probably thinking of using mobile UV disinfection units is a hospital. Yes, they can help fight against healthcare-associated infections and protect patients. Hospitals have used mobile UV units for many years.

But mobile UV disinfection units can also work for other commercial buildings.

Right now, businesses are trying to reassure employees and customers that their buildings are safe and as clean as possible. As our economy returns to normal, using a mobile UV disinfection unit can let your customers and employees know their health is your highest priority.

Here are some suggested application:

  • Airports – You can plug in multiple UV disinfection units, line them in the aisle of an airplane, and disinfect the plane in minutes. Germicidal UV is also a good option for airport bathrooms, but you will have to temporarily close the bathroom to make sure no one is in there at the time.
  • Restaurants – Germs can easily spread from the bathroom to the kitchen in restaurants. Some mobile UV disinfection products (like the ones listed below) are FDA approved and safe to use around food. Using germicidal UV in the kitchen and bathrooms can protect both customers and workers.
  • Grocery stores – Grocery stores generally have very large open spaces, but mobile UV disinfection units can work in areas where germs originate, like bathrooms and back-of-house areas.
  • Banks – Think about how many people touch ATMs or bank counters throughout the day. Using a mobile UV disinfection unit at the end of the day or first thing in the morning can protect your customers and your employees.
  • Hotels – You can plug in a mobile UV disinfection unit in one room while the cleaning crew focuses on changing sheets in the next room. Disinfecting hotel rooms is a great way to protect your guests and keep them coming back to your hotel.
  • Primary care centers – A lot of people are currently visiting their doctors office with COVID-19 symptoms, potentially exposing other patients. Protecting primary care centers with germicidal UV can help stop the spread of viruses and bacteria.
  • Assisted living – Caring for the at-risk is a high priority with COVID-19, and as a result, assisted living facilities and other senior care centers can benefit greatly from the added layer of protection that germicidal UV light offers. Mobile units give the greatest flexibility in these environments, but taking the step to install permanent fixtures may become the new norm.
  • Commercial offices – A lot of your employees may be working remote right now, but they will come back into commercial office buildings eventually. Using germicidal UV is a great way to ensure they are safe at work.

Click here to learn how to use UV products for specific industries.

Mobile UV disinfection units for sale

When it comes to selecting the mobile UV disinfection unit that's right for you, there are several factors to consider.

How much power do you need? What average cleaning cycle time is ideal? Are you going to use the mobile UV disinfection unit in smaller rooms or larger spaces?

There are a variety of options available, from large pushcarts to smaller units with wheels.

PURO™ Lighting, a UV disinfection company, has four mobile disinfection units available for purchase. These products use broad spectrum UV and pulsed xenon technology to disinfect.

Puro-Sentry-M1-2-T Puro-Sentry-M2-T PURO Sentry M2C Puro Sentry M4
PURO™ Sentry M1-2-T
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PURO™ Sentry M2-T
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PURO™ Sentry M2-C
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PURO™ Sentry M4
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Here's a comparison of each of these products, powered by Violet Defense technology:

  • Sentry M1-2-T – The Sentry M1-2-T gives your 360-degree with two Helo F1 units on a tripod stand.
  • Sentry M2-T – The Sentry M2-T features a tripod stand that can be easily moved. This unit involves the most labor because it must be carried, but still gives you flexibility. 
  • Sentry M2-C – The Sentry M2-C has a rolling stand, so it's easier to move around. The average cleaning cycle time is 30 minutes.
  • Sentry M4 – The Sentry M4 gives you more power and nearly 360-degree coverage.

We have a more thorough look at the pros and cons of PURO's products here.

We also have three products available from American Ultraviolet®, a company that started making UV products in 1960.

American UV Artz 2.0 American UV MRS45-12 American UV MRS33-8
Artz 2.0
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All of these mobile units can achieve the same level of disinfection. The difference is in the intensity and the amount of exposure time. Here's a comparison of each of these products:

  • ARTZ 2.0 – This is a healthcare-grade product made specifically for hospitals. It's powerful, gives 360-degrees of coverage, and can disinfect frequently touched surfaces within minutes.
  • MRS45-12 – Slightly slimmer than the ARTZ 2.0, the MRS45-12 uses 12 UV-C lamps to provide 360-degree coverage. The MRS45-12 is ideal for senior living centers.
  • MRS33-8 – The MRS33-8 is the smallest mobile unit made by American Ultraviolet®, but can still provide UV power for cleaning crews in commercial offices, restaurants, or hotels.

Another portable option to consider is American Ultraviolet®'s handheld unit called the Blade. Watch the video below to see how it works.

American UV Blade for email

This is a great solution for areas that are otherwise hard to reach, like keyboards and office equipment, elevator buttons, and other high-touch surfaces.

The Blade emits UV-C rays, so safety guidelines need to be followed. Safety glasses are included, but long sleeves and lint-free gloves are also recommended while operating.

UVC Blade
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Using a dosimeter is a great way to test how long you need to hold the Blade over a surface for full disinfection.

If you are curious about the best ways to use mobile UV disinfection units in your commercial building, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would love to find a solution that best fits your needs.

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