How to Get the Best Results from a UV Water Sterilizer
Before purchasing a UV light water filter system, make sure the unit is sized correctly for your application and make sure you have the right prefiltration in place for UV disinfection to work properly.
How to Correctly Size the UV Sterilizer System
First, it’s important to know that the UV water filtration system you install has right flow rates for your household. The flow rate of the water is a measurement to determine the system size and ultraviolet water disinfection units are sized by how many gallons per minute (gpm) the system can effectively treat.
If you’re installing a UV drinking water system under your kitchen sink, then a typical flow rate for this type of UV system is 1-9 gallons per minute, such as the Viqua VH200).
But if you’re considering a whole-house UV water sterilizer system, a typical system can treat 8-10 gallons of water per minute. The system’s flow rate impacts the amount of UV light treating your household water, and you’ll want a system that can treat the minimum dosage rating to protect your household.
For proper protection from 99.99% of waterborne microbiological contaminants, most whole-house UV systems will have a UV dosage rating of 30 millijoules of UV per square centimeter (mj/cm2). This dosage will protect against a wide array of dangerous microbes.
Suggested Reading: UV Buyer's Guide
Number of Bathrooms in Home Can Determine Needed Flow Rate for UV Light Disinfection System
For whole-home applications, a simple way to determine what size UV system is needed, is by assessing the number of bathrooms in the house. Here's a flowrate guide for whole-home UV sterilizers.
- 1 Bathroom
- 2 Bathrooms
- 3 Bathrooms
- 4 Bathrooms
- 5 Bathrooms
6 gallons per minute flow rate.
If you have one bathroom in your home, you'll need a UV water sterilizer with at least 6 gpm flow rate, such as the Luminor Blackcomb 4.1 LB4-061 UV system.
9 gallons per minute flow rate.
If you have two bathrooms in your home, you'll need a UV water sterilizer with at least 9 gpm flow rate, such as the Viqua VH200 UV System.
12 gallons per minute flow rate.
If you have three bathrooms in your home, you'll need a UV water sterilizer with at least 12 gpm flow rate, such as the Viqua 650694-R D4 UV System.
15 gallons per minute flow rate.
If you have four bathrooms in your home, you'll need a UV water sterilizer with at least 15 gpm flow rate, such as the Luminor Blackcomb 6.1 LB6-151 UV System with Sensor.
18 gallons per minute flow rate.
If you have five bathrooms in your home, you'll need a UV water sterilizer with at least 18 gpm flow rate, such as the Viqua VH410 UV System.
If the system you install is under flow-rate capacity, your home’s water may not be treated effectively by the system’s UV lights. For this reason, we encourage customers to “oversize” the UV system flow rate capacity to ensure it can properly treat the water. This way, if multiple appliances and showers are running at the same time, your system can handle all incoming water needs.
Do I Need Other Filtration with My UV System?
Yes, we generally recommend that water go through a sediment pre-filter before entering the UV light chamber. This makes sure that your water is clear enough for effective UV disinfection. If your water is cloudy, UV light may not be able to contact and destroy dangerous microbes in the water.
If you have “hard water” (water that is high in magnesium and calcium), you’ll most likely want to install a water softener in front of the UV water treatment system. If left untreated, hard water can cause scale build up on the UV lamp, thus decreasing the UV process effectiveness.
After pretreatment has been installed, the incoming water to the UV system meet the following parameters:
Turbidity < 1 NTU
Manganese < 0.05 parts per million
Hardness < 7 grains per gallon
Iron < 0.3 parts per million
Tannins < 0.1 parts per million
UV Transmittance > 75%
If your water does not meet the above parameters before entering the UV chamber, then pre-treatment equipment may be necessary. Again, pretreatment is important because high levels of sediment, iron and water hardness may degrade the performance of your UV system and not allow it to properly treat the water.
If you’re on a private well, it’s especially important to know what contaminants are in your water. Because private well water is not regulated by municipalities, we highly recommend that you find a water testing lab that can provide you with a water analysis that includes testing for E.coli bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.
Plumbing Considerations When Installing a UV Water Filter
Plumbing is also an important consideration when selecting a whole-house UV water disinfection system. Make sure if your household has 1-inch plumbing that you install a system with 1-inch plumbing connections and not 3/4-inch.
Options Available with Your UV Water Treatment System
One last consideration when selecting a UV system is the options available for system operation.
A countdown timer indicating when the UV lamp needs to be replaced comes standard on most UV systems. But you may wish to upgrade to a system with a touch-screen display or a system with LED lights that indicate the status of various system components.
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Powerful 12 gpm UV Water Sterilizer