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Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design

5 applications for UV-C light disinfection

Posted by Luis Espino on



As our country fights the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of attention is shifting toward a tool utilized only in small pockets before: germicidal ultraviolet technology.

Germicidal UV, also called UV-C, can be very effective and beneficial when it's used correctly. UV-C light can kill up to 99.9% of pathogens. Preliminary tests show it can inactivate SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

But since this is a relatively new solution for many businesses like hotels, restaurants, and retail stores, we're going to explain several uses for UV-C light disinfection.

If you need to get caught up on UV and how it inactivates viruses and bacteria, click here.

Here are five different uses for germicidal UV in commercial buildings:

  1. Upper-room UV fixtures
  2. Germicidal UV for HVAC units
  3. UV-C fixtures
  4. Mobile UV units
  5. Handheld UV units

1. Upper-room UV fixtures

Upper-room germicidal UV is considered the most effective way to reduce transmission of viruses and bacteria by lighting industry experts.


Upper-air units continuously disinfect air in a room by emitting UV-C  above people's heads. Because the UV-C rays are not pointed directly at people, upper-room UV devices are safe for occupied areas.

UV-Upper-Air-TB-Series Upper-air-UV-CM-Series Upper-air-UV-RAM-Series
American Ultraviolet®
TB Series
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American Ultraviolet®
CM Series
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American Ultraviolet® RAM Series
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American Ultraviolet offers a variety of upper-room UV-C fixtures that can work in almost any room, as long as the ceiling is at least seven feet high.

For more information on how upper-air units work and how much they cost, click here.

2. UV light for HVAC systems

You can also clean the air before it enters a space with germicidal UV products for HVAC equipment.

Adding UV-C products to industrial HVAC systems will help disinfect air before it reaches people inside the building.

The type of UV light product you need will vary based on the type of your system. There are two main options: on-coil or in-duct.

hvac-gifOn-coil UV systems target the cooling coils and drain pans. In-duct UV systems are installed inside the ducts to disinfect air as it moves through the system.

We go more in depth on how both of these options work in this article.

UV-light-for-HVAC hvac-uv-light-dc
On-coil Fixture
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In-duct Fixture
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Since the UV fixture is either outside the building, in ductwork, or in a secure maintenance area, the UV radiation should not be harmful to humans. Safety measures should be used for anyone who maintains the fixtures or the HVAC system.

While these products don't sanitize surfaces, they are helpful in providing a safer, cleaner environment.

Germicidal UV HVAC fixtures are configured specifically for different systems. If you'd like more specifics on how you can use them, contact us for a free consultation

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3. UV-C fixture installation

Germicidal UV fixtures offer disinfection from above. Most fixtures can be installed or mounted on ceilings and walls. Once they're in place, they cause little disruption since they operate on a timer or switch. Rooms or areas should still be empty if you use a fixture that disinfects with UV-C.

UV fixtures are beneficial for schools, banks, restaurants, grocery stores, and any business that typically sees a lot of traffic on a daily basis.

There are several different types of UV light fixtures.

UV-C light fixtures

UV-light-fixture-Puro-F1 UV-light-fixture-Puro-F2
PURO Helo F1
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PURO Helo F2
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PURO Helo products, powered by Violet Defense Technology, can be mounted to the wall or the ceiling. The Helo F2 is three times more powerful than the Helo F1.

PURO products use broad-spectrum UV (including UV-C) that can penetrate skin and damage eyes. The fixtures should only run when no one is in the room. The Helo F1 and Helo F2 both shut off automatically if motion is detected.

Click here to see a complete comparison of PURO™ products.

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The OSRAM AirZing Pro uses 254 nm UV light technology to disinfect air and surfaces. It also has an occupancy sensor that will shut the unit off if motion is detected, but it does not have a built-in timer. OSRAM recommends using additional safety measures, like safety switches, when you install the product.

Far-UVC fixtures

Scientists developed new technology, called far-UVC, that disinfects air and surfaces but is believed to be safe for humans. Many of these fixtures are still being researched by manufacturers.

Tabletop UV fixtures

Tabletop UV fixtures are perfect if you have a smaller area to cover. They are easily portable from one room to another, but keep in mind you may need to run multiple cycles to disinfect a wider area.

Watch the video below to see how they work.


iUVC1 by Archipelago
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The iUVC1 by Archipelago uses 254 nm UV-C to disinfect surfaces. Like other fixtures, it has a shut off feature if motion is detected while the device is running.

Other disinfectant fixtures

Manufacturers are continuing to innovate ways to provide cleaner spaces through a creative use of light. Some are using materials like titanium oxide and others are using 405nm near-UV light.

The 405nm light falls just outside of the UV spectrum, but still contains disinfectant qualities against bacteria (but not viruses like COVID-19).

Kenall uses Indigo-Clean technology to kill bacteria with 405 nanometer light. That wavelength is technically visible light, so it is safe for humans, but can still fight secondary bacterial infections.

The product below was developed to fight bacteria in temporary medical tents.

Kenall Temporary Work Lights
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We compare the different types of UV-C fixtures and how much they cost in this article.

4. Germicidal UV mobile units

UV-C mobile units offer more flexibility because they are portable. Instead of installing a fixture in one location, you're able to move the unit from one space to another.

Portable UV units are already used in a wide range of applications, from hotels to disinfecting personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals that are short on supplies.

UV-mobile-units-Puro-M1-2 UVC-mobile-unit-Puro-M2-T UVC-mobile-unit-Puro-M2-C UVC-mobile-unit-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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PURO mobile UV units emit broad-spectrum UV (a combination of UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C), so the operator should leave the room or area while they are in operation.

PURO portable units vary based on the type of base and the power of the lamp attached. We compare the products and the area they cover in this article.

UVC-mobile-unit-artz uv-mobile-unit-mrs45-12 uvc-mobile-unit-mrs33-8
American Ultraviolet®
ARTZ 2.0
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American Ultraviolet®
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American Ultraviolet®
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American Ultraviolet® mobile UV units emit UV-C rays (254 nm),
so the operator will have to leave the room when the devices are running.

If you want to know more about the pros, cons, and applications for mobile UV units, we dive into more detail here.

5. Handheld UV units

Handheld UV-C units are ideal for hard-to-clean surfaces, like handrails, keyboards, elevator buttons, doorknobs, chairs, and more.

If you search for handheld UV devices, you will likely get hundreds of results for products with low price points. We want to warn you: not all of these products are the same. If you want to be sure you're getting a product that delivers real disinfection, buy from a trusted manufacturer.

American Ultraviolet Blade
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American Ultraviolet developed a handheld unit called the Blade. It's easy to operate. You plug it in and turn it on. Click here to see how it works. The product includes safety goggles.

Plus, it's easy to change out and replace the lamp when needed. Other products don't have replacement parts, so you have to throw it away when it stops working.

Questions about UV applications

UV-C light is a new concept to a lot of industries. We understand it can be hard to pinpoint the best options for your building.

Our team of lighting specialists is here to help you sift through the options and find the optimal disinfection solution.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free lighting consultation.

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