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Safety First When Choosing a UV Lamp

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Posted on July 06, 2017

Our special Guest Blogger is Phil Jones, VIQUA Product Manager and resident UV lamp aficionado.

It’s Not About the Blue Glow!

Anybody familiar with ultraviolet (UV) water disinfection systems will know about the reassuring blue glow emitted by the UV lamp at the heart of the system, responsible for keeping you water free of harmful pathogens. As long as the blue glow is visible, everything is good, right? Unfortunately, that widely held view is dead wrong, and I'm here to tell you why!

                                                                                    


blue lamp.jpgA by-product of the process that produces UV light within the lamp is the familiar blue glow, which has absolutely no disinfection capabilities at all. It simply indicates that the lamp is on. Although associated with shades of blue, ultraviolet (beyond violet in the electromagnetic spectrum) light is actually completely invisible to the naked eye, and it’s light of this wavelength alone that does the damage to pathogens.
 
Because UV output from the lamp does decrease over time (regardless of the blue glow), it's important to replace the lamp according to the manufacturer's recommendations, which is typically every 12 months. This does require something of a shift in mindset. Regular fluorescent lamps that we're all familiar with don't get replaced until they burn out, because we're only interested in the visible light output. But with UV, it’s the invisible light that’s important.
 
When it comes to saving money by shopping around for UV lamps, it's a very commonly held view that so long as it lights up, the lamp must be every bit as good as the original equipment. Not so! Unless your UV water disinfection system is equipped with a UV sensor (UV intensity detector), and most are not, you have no idea how much, if any, UV light is being emitted by your replacement lamp. Extensive testing of non-VIQUA after-market UV lamps has produced examples where satisfactory initial UV output deteriorated to zero within 6 weeks of use! That means zero disinfection, zero protection! The reason you wouldn't know about this happening is that UV systems with no UV sensor only go into an alarm if there is no electrical current flowing to the lamp - the meaningless blue glow is enough to fool the system!
 
If that's not enough for you to insist on genuine manufacturer-supplied replacement lamps, bear in mind that all that UV system’s safety and performance certifications become immediately void when using any other lamp. The use of non-genuine lamps can also damage the original equipment power supply module (controller), necessitating expensive replacement. It's simply not worth the risk! Replacement lamps that are supplied by the original equipment manufacturer are thoroughly and rigorously 100% tested to meet the safety and performance criteria of your original UV disinfection system. 
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There will always be cheaper alternatives on the market but, after all, the UV lamp is by far the most important component of your UV system, so why would you compromise on safety? 

 

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