What is Mold?
Mold is a generic term covering many different types of fungi that can be found indoors and outdoors. There are thousands of different types and they grow best in damp, warm conditions. Mold reproduces by making spores which can survive environmental conditions that don’t normally support mold growth.
Why (and Where) is Mold a Problem?
Exposure to mold spores is unavoidable without living or working in rooms that have stringent air filtration such as clean rooms. Some people- 10 percent of the world population or 40 percent of asthma sufferers- can be sensitive to mold and experience short term or immediate risks to their health. While short term exposure is concerning, the long-term effects on health can be very dangerous.
In addition to health concerns, mold can also affect household and industrial equipment. For example, the coils and drain pans which are found in condensers of air conditioners and refrigerators provide ideal conditions for mold growth. This allows spores to spread in air circulation systems and it can block air flow and water drainage systems. Smaller air conditioning units in home windows or hotels are particularly susceptible to these issues.
Common Methods for Mold Treatment
The most common solution for treating mold is to physically clean the mold-covered surface. When mold shows up in air and heating systems, a service person will typically visit to clean the system. While equipment servicing will always be needed, mold grows rapidly and can visibly cover a surface within weeks. Condensing coils that are covered in mold puts stress on equipment and causes premature wear, requiring earlier replacement. Not surprisingly, repeated service visits and equipment replacements become very expensive to homeowners and businesses alike.
While some condenser and water drainage systems have incorporated UVC lamps- showing that UVC can effectively prevent mold in such systems- there are several important drawbacks with lamp technology. One of the problems with mercury-based UVC lamps is that they consume a lot of power because they are always running. Another problem is the footprint of lamps which take up a relatively large amount of space inside the unit. As a result, lamps are typically limited to being used in products that have a lot of extra space available. This makes it challenging to use lamps in compact cooling systems and drainage pans, where space is limited. A third problem is the lifetime of lamps. Specifically, lamps tend to last one to three years, and often their lifetime is not reliable. In turn, additional service and maintenance visits are required which increases cost of ownership.
UVC LEDs: A Better Solution for Mold Prevention
UVC LEDs are an effective solution for preventing mold in condensers, drain pans, and many other areas where mold typically grows. Testing has been done to confirm the dosing required to prevent mold.
Compared to UVC lamps, UVC LEDs offer several important benefits for manufacturers of ventilation systems and other appliances where mold growth may occur. First, unlike UVC lamps, LEDs do not have to be constantly on and typically only need to operate from a few minutes to less than an hour each day. This can result in a noteworthy decrease in annual electrical costs.
Second, LEDs have a more reliable lifetime than that of older lamp technology. This means repeatable, long-term service schedules- and in some cases no replacement- may be required during the life of the equipment.
Finally, for product designers, footprint is an important consideration when adding new technology to existing products. LEDs have a compact design which makes it easy to integrate these devices into tight spaces.
Contact Klaran to Learn More
We have performed tests to verify the effectiveness of Klaran UVC LEDs for preventing mold in order to understand the requirements that provide real world performance. Klaran’s international team of Application Engineers works closely with leading manufacturers to help design mold prevention solutions for ventilation systems.
If you want to learn more about using UVC LEDs for preventing mold in your product, contact us today.