Buyer Beware: This LED Bulb Sold As Germicidal Doesn’t Emit UV-C

Germicidal lamps are designed to destroy viruses and bacteria using ultraviolet light. But not just any UV light will work, and I came across an example of a lamp that was advertised as germicidal but a few things just weren’t right about it.

This is an actual UV-C LED made by CEL (PDF) that emits 275nm. Note the clear glass that covers the LED.

I ordered the UV-C germicidal LED lamp on Amazon, and received it a few days ago. It felt the suspicion from the first moment: playing around with a lot of different UV LEDs, I’ve learnt how the parasitic visible light from different UV ranges should look like to human eye. Also, proper UV-C LED lenses like the one shown here are made of quartz glass. Compare that to the image at the top of the article of the bulb I received that has a soft plastic lens, which is possibly opaque and degradable in the far UV range. The most important clue that something was wrong was the price. It’s hard to imagine that a UV-C LED lamp with the 253.7nm wavelength, made of more than 200 LEDs and in such a robust metal case, can cost only $62.99.

Although there was the risk of being unjust, I decided to return the product. In my message I bluffed that I measured the spectra of the lamp with a spectral emission meter, and that its output was not in the UV-C range. The next day I received confirmation that the bluff paid off: the seller replied that they advertised the product according to information from the supplier, and that the incorrect information was caused by their lack of understanding of product information. They also attached the official datasheet with the measured wavelength: it was not 253.7 nm, as advertised, but with the peak at 394.3 nm, and the dominant wavelength at 413.9 nm. It was not in the far UV-C, but in the near UV-A range and not at all useful for destroying germs! The seller promised that the product would be removed from their store, and kept the promise.

If you are thinking about buying a UV-C LED lamp, maybe you should get the good old CFL germicidal lamp. I don’t think that viruses care too much about the new technology.

Disinfect PPE On The Cheap With This Hardware Store UV-C Cabinet

The current situation has given closet germaphobes the world over a chance to get out there and clean the hell out of everything. Some of it may be overdone; we ourselves can cop to a certain excess as we wipe down cans and boxes when returning from a run to the grocery store. But sometimes disinfection is clearly indicated, and having an easy way to kill the bugs on things like face masks can make a big difference by extending the life of something that would normally be disposable. That’s where this quick and easy UV-C germicidal cabinet really shines.

The idea behind [Deeplocal]’s “YouVee” is to be something that can be quickly cobbled together from parts that can be picked up at any big-box home store, thereby limiting the number of trips out. You might even have everything needed already, which would make this a super simple build. The business end is a UV-C germicidal fluorescent lamp, of the kind used in clarifiers for backyard ponds. A fluorescent droplight is modified to accept the lamp by snipping off a bit of plastic, and the lamp is attached to the inside of the lid of a sturdy black plastic tote. The interior of the tote is lined with aluminum tape and a stand for items to be disinfected is made from a paint roller screen. The clever bit is the safety interlock; to prevent exposure to UV, the lamp needs to be unplugged before removing the lid. Check out the full build tutorial for details.

We can’t vouch for YouVee’s germicidal efficacy, but it seems like a solid design. If you have doubts, you could always measure the UV-C flux easily, or you could build a smaller version of this peroxide vapor PPE sterilizer, just to be sure.

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