Do I Need a UV Water Filter?
It depends on the source of the water you are treating as to whether it’s worth getting a UV filter or not. It probably isn’t necessary if you’re looking to purify your tap water—especially in a first-world country such as the US, where drinking water is already pre-treated. However, installing a UV water filter is strongly recommended if you collect water from a lake, well, or another private source.
What Is a UV Water Filter?
A UV water filter is typically used in tandem with another method of water filtration, such as a carbon filter or a reverse osmosis system. It uses ultraviolet light to kill microbes like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, the most common causes of waterborne illness in the USA.
The ultraviolet light waves work by attacking the DNA of the microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing, which results in their almost total elimination. It is one of the most effective tools in removing bacteria and viruses from water.
This video shows how water treatment with UV light works:
Where Can It Be Used?
Purifying water by UV light is nothing new: this system has been around for over a century. It is a staple for many large cities worldwide (including New York and Paris), where it’s used to clean municipal drinking water supplies.
Nowadays, the technology is readily available for residential purposes and can easily be installed in your home.
What Are the Benefits?
Not only is a UV water filter low maintenance (change the bulb once a year), it is also very effective: it destroys 99.99% of the harmful microorganisms lurking in your water.
Importantly, treating your water with UV light doesn’t add any smell or taste, unlike many alternative chemical methods. The lack of chemicals in a UV filter means you won’t end up consuming any toxic byproducts, so it’s healthy and eco-friendly, too.
Limitations of UV Water Purification
Used alone, ultraviolet water purification is not enough to produce drinking-quality water. Only bacteria and viruses are susceptible to UV radiation so that other contaminants may remain in your supply. You’ll also need an electricity supply. Whilst this may not be a problem for most locations, it’s still a factor to consider—especially as UV filters are recommended for people accessing groundwater via wells or other natural water sources. This is common practice in countryside and farmland areas, the perfect bacteria breeding ground for water contamination by animal waste.
Using a UV water filter to process your water is far more natural and healthy than using chemicals like chlorine (the main alternative). However, as it cannot remove sediment or other harmful compounds, it is necessary to combine it with another filtering system for the quality of the final product and your health and safety.
Although you could use it to clean any water, UV treatment may be considered excessive when applied to tap water, which is already treated and should be free of any disease-causing bacteria and viruses. A UV water filter is only necessary when drawing water from a private source, typically rural.