8 UV Water Purification Disadvantages

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UV water purifiers are a cost-effective, environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine disinfection, using a natural, chemical-free process to scramble the DNA of harmful, chlorine-resistant microorganisms in water.

You probably know all about the benefits of the UV purification process – but to make an informed buying decision, it’s important to also know about the setbacks of UV water treatment.

Read on to learn about the biggest disadvantages of installing a UV system.

🚫 8 Disadvantages of UV Water Purifiers

UV Purification Is Less Effective on Contaminated Water

The more contaminated your water, the less effective the UV system will be at purifying your water.

That’s because of something called shadowing. When water contains lots of sediment particles, these particles block the UV rays from reaching the microorganisms. This allows some microorganisms to slip through into your water supply without being treated.

The only way to prevent this problem is to install a pre-filter to treat your murky or muddy water. The majority of manufacturers of UV systems recommend installing a 5-micron sediment pre-filter upstream of the UV water purifier. This will remove the sediment that could prevent the UV light from treating the entire water supply.

Water appears cloudy

A UV Water Purifier Only Targets Living Organisms

If your water contains harmful chemicals, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, or sediment, a UV water treatment system can’t be used to remove these contaminants. That’s because ultraviolet light is only effective in treating living organisms.

For water that contains microorganisms and non-living dissolved impurities, you’ll need additional whole-house water filters alongside a UV light, such as carbon filters, air injection iron filters, and water softeners. This adds extra costs onto your overall water treatment plan.

UV Doesn’t Improve Water’s Taste

Microorganisms like bacteria and viruses might be dangerous to drink, but they don’t affect water’s taste. Preventing these pathogens from reproducing and causing illness will have no impact on the taste of your water.

If you’re dealing with contaminants that affect your water’s taste, like chlorine, iron, or sulfur, using a UV light to disinfect water won’t make a difference. You’ll need to install a separate water filtration system to make your water safe to drink and improve its taste.

UV Doesn’t Physically Remove Microorganisms

The UV water purification process doesn’t physically remove microorganisms from water. Instead, the ultraviolet rays penetrate the pathogens’ cells and scramble their DNA, preventing them from reproducing.

While this is an effective way to purify water, some people feel more reassured with other filtration methods that physically remove these microorganisms from water, such as reverse osmosis technology.

UV disrupts dna of microorganisms

UV Water Filtration Requires Electricity

A UV water purifier works by emitting UV light, and the UV lamp needs to be powered by an electricity supply. Although UV filtration has low operating costs and doesn’t use more electricity than a standard light bulb, installing a UV water filter will increase your energy bill slightly.

You might also have to install your UV treatment system in a specific location near a power outlet, which might limit where you can install the system at your water line.

UV Water Purification Is Reliant on Electricity

UV filters don’t only require electricity – they’re also reliant on it. Without electricity, the UV-C light would switch off, and the UV filtration process couldn’t happen.

Most UV systems don’t come with a backup generator or battery in the case of emergencies. This means that if your home ever has a power cut, you’ll have to drink untreated water or buy bottled water until your power returns.

UV Systems Heat Water & Don’t Store Water Before Use

UV filtration systems don’t have a storage tank for storing water that has been treated with ultraviolet radiation. This means that when you turn on your tap, your drinking water needs to flow through the UV system before it can leave the faucet.

Another issue with this is that when your water isn’t in use, a small amount of water will sit inside the UV chamber. This water will be heated up by the UV light, so when you turn on the faucet, it’ll first deliver a small batch of warm water.

Hot water in glass

UV Treatment Doesn’t Last Forever – And It’s Hard To Know When to Change the Lamp

UV radiation is invisible to the human eye, which means it’s hard to know when your UV lamp is effectively disinfecting water. You’ll also struggle to know for sure when the UV technology has diminished in power and the lamp needs to be replaced.

Even if the lamp is stitched on and looks like it’s working, the ultraviolet technology might be ineffective if the lamp has reached the end of its lifespan. All you can do is follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and replace the lamp as advised in the user manual.

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🤔 Are UV Water Purifiers Worth It?

Now you know the setbacks of UV systems, you’re probably wondering whether they’re worth the money.

In our opinion, yes, UV water purifiers are worth it. Despite their setbacks, they’re still cheaper, lower maintenance, and safer to use than chlorination systems.

However, if you do prefer a form of water treatment that works regardless of your water quality, it’s worth considering chemical disinfection instead.

There isn’t one option that’s clearly better than the other, although UV disinfection tends to suit the majority of people. Consider your options and decide whether this method is most appropriate for you.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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