UV Water Filters Pros and Cons

UV Water Filters Pros and Cons: Everything You Need to Know

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

There are dozens of water treatment systems on the market, but ultraviolet (UV) light water filtration systems are one of the more effective tools to make water safe for drinking. Since this system relies on mimicking the UV light exposure of the sun to remove harmful bacteria from the water, it is a chemical-free, low-effort method to treat water. However, before purchasing the filtration method, it is essential to know it is costly, requires regular maintenance, and depends on electricity for it works properly.

Whether you are a camper, homesteader, or simply looking to install a UV water purification system in your home, a UV water treatment solution can disinfect rainwater, groundwater, and even river water. This article will cover the pros and cons of using UV light to purify water.

at home UV water treatment system

What is UV Water Purification?

UV Water Purification is a method of water treatment that uses germicidal UV light that mimics the ultraviolet rays of the sun to disrupt the DNA of harmful microorganisms found in water, making them ineffective and unable to reproduce.

The commercial use of UV light to treat water has been around since the 1960s. However, only in recent years has UV light been used in homes and as portable UV disinfection systems. Now, you can find UV water treatment systems for whole homes in water bottles and rain barrels.

How Does UV Light Purify Water?

A UV water filter purifies water by exposing viruses, bacteria, and other waterborne microorganisms to a specific UV light wavelength. It does this by allowing water to pass through a chamber that contains a UV lamp that emits a light that impacts the organisms in the water.

UV light disrupts the DNA of the harmful organisms in the water. These organisms are then unable to reproduce or harm humans.

Once the water is exposed to UV light, the water is then ready for use and consumption.

What Are the Different Types of UV Water Filters?

uv light water treatment

The way your water system is set up may not be the same as the way other people set up their water systems. With that said, you’ll need to choose a UV water filter that suits your situation. Luckily, many types of UV water filters function differently, and they work in various circumstances.

Here are a few of the most common types of UV water filtration systems:

  • Industrial UV water filtration
  • Commercial UV water filtration
  • Whole house’s UV system
  • Single-faucet UV water filtration
  • UV light purifying water pitcher
  • Self-Cleaning UV water bottle
  • Portable UV water purifiers

Portable UV sanitizer

Your water needs and situation will determine the type of UV water filter you’ll need to install. If you’re simply installing a water filter for an average-sized home, you won’t need anything too fancy.

Another thing you should consider is whether you want to install a class A or a class B UV water filtration system.

  • Class AClass A UV water filtration systems are ideal if you make use of well water in your water system. Well water includes water from rivers, streams, lakes, and other bodies of water. This type of water usually carries viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Class A UV water filtration systems work best for treating clear water.
  • Class BClass B UV water systems work well for water that comes from municipal water or treated water facilities. Class B UV purification systems act as a supplement to further disinfect bacterial-treated water that’s generally considered safe for public consumption.

What Are the Pros of Using UV Filters?

  • Chemical-Free: One of the main advantages of using a UV water filter is that it doesn’t make use of chemicals to purify your water. Instead, it uses ultraviolet light – as opposed to chemicals like chlorine — to kill microbes.
  • Taste and Odor-Free: If you’ve used chlorine or other chemicals to filter your water in the past, you may have noticed an unpleasant scent or taste in the water. If the taste or smell of chemicals in your water bothers you, you should use UV water filters.
  • Energy Efficient: If you’re conscious about your carbon footprint or you’re simply looking for ways to filter your water without spending too much money, you should consider UV water filters. In addition to UV water filters being extremely effective at killing bacteria, they use a measly amount of electricity. You could compare the amount of energy a UV water filter uses to that of a 60-watt lightbulb.
  • Low EffortAnother upside to using a UV water filter is that it’s basically effort-free. Aside from turning on the UV light and replacing the UV lightbulb as needed, there isn’t much else you need to do to keep the filter running smoothly.
  • Flexible: If you’re worried that a UV water filtration system might get in the way of your existing system, you can rest easy. You can use a UV water filter in tandem with any other current filter. In fact, it’s best to combine a UV water filter with a different filtration system to cleanse your water better.

What Are the Cons of Using UV Filters?

  • Only Eliminates MicroorganismsThere are a couple of downsides to using a UV water filtration system. The first of which is that UV light only eliminates bacteria and other microorganisms. For salts, heavy metals, and other contaminants, you’ll need to make use of another water filtration method.
  • Only Works for Clear WaterIf the water you want to treat is cloudy, murky, or has a lot of floating particles, UV water filters won’t get the job done. This is because UV light has difficulty penetrating and filtering water that isn’t clear. As mentioned earlier, however, you can pair a UV water filter with another filtration system.
  • Needs Electricity to WorkAlthough a UV water filtration system is energy efficient, it still does need some amount of electricity to work. So, if the power goes out at home, you won’t be able to use your UV water filter at all. If you’re camping or are out in the wilderness for an extended period of time, a UV water filter will not be the best option.
  • You Need a Pre-Filtering System: As mentioned earlier, UV water filters only remove certain microorganisms. You’ll need a pre-filter for sediments, metals, chemicals, and other pollutants.


Since a UV water filter effectively removes contaminants in one cycle, water treated by it is safe for drinking. Moreover, unlike other purification systems, it doesn’t make use of any chemicals. However, since UV-treated water only removes microorganisms, you will likely need an additional filter or screen to remove sediments from the water before.

No. UV water purification doesn’t cause cancer, and there aren’t any conclusive studies that state that UV water filtration increases the chances of developing cancer.

Under normal circumstances, a UV lamp can last for 12 months or 9,000 hours. After about a year, your UV water filter will still operate, but its ability to kill microorganisms diminishes. There are a few high-end UV water filters that can last up to two years, but it’s best to check your filter’s manual to be sure.

There are no known side effects to drinking UV-treated water. Side effects associated with these types of filters typically arise when the UV water purifier is malfunctioning.

UV light bulbs can kill bacteria in water within 10 seconds. However, do keep in mind it may take slightly longer if the water is cloudy.

Alternatives to UV light disinfection systems are:

Final Thoughts

If you already have a water filtration method or pre-filter in place, a UV water filter can serve as an effective supplement. UV water purifiers work quickly to kill harmful pathogens in the water, making river water, rainwater, and groundwater all safe to drink. UV filters are a low-effort water treatment method that does not use chemicals to make water safe for drinking.

However, UV water filters are dependent on a secure supply of electricity, and you will need to replace the light bulb on an annual basis to ensure the water is purified.

To learn more about water filtration and ways to purify water for drinking, check out the other articles on our website.

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