Key aspects to consider when purchasing a UVC disinfection system

Surgical Specialties
Wednesday, 01 December, 2021

Step into the UVC light (carefully)

Environmental disinfection has become the new battleground in the ongoing fight to reduce the risk of infection transmission. Evidence demonstrating the persistent contamination of environmental surfaces, despite traditional cleaning and disinfection methods, has led to a widespread acceptance that there is need for using supplementary disinfection technologies such as Ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and the recognised efficacy of UVC against this virus, have greatly accelerated the growth of the UVC disinfection market.

Power is everything with UVC

UVC is a disinfection technology that is entirely based on light. As such, it is rightly and unavoidably governed by the laws of physics whereby just like a soundwave reducing in volume the greater the distance from the source, the same thing happens with UVC light.

There is a reduction in UVC intensity over distance, and therefore the more UVC power you have to begin with, the more effective the system will be over distance. For this reason, it is critical to understand the exact UVC output of a system that you are considering purchasing, expressed as UVC watts.

Buyer’s tip

Many UVC suppliers will provide their electrical consumption in watts rather than the UVC output. Ask for clarification or the datasheet on the bulb/LED/emitter (a reputable OEM will have these on file) prior to purchase.

Log reduction

Log reduction is a mathematical term used to express the relative number of living microbes eliminated by a disinfectant and corresponds to inactivating 90% of a target microbe with the count being reduced by a factor of 10.

However, it is critical to point out that different organisms require different amounts of UVC to be destroyed. So, when manufacturers make a claim of ‘kills 99.9999%’, the question to ask is ‘99.9999% of what exactly?’

If the manufacturer is testing on an organism that requires only a relatively low dose (COVID-19 for example), then their product will achieve a higher log reduction than if used with a harder to kill organism (e.g. MRSA).

Buyer’s tips

  • Ask for details (the burden of proof lies with the manufacturer)
  • Ask for details of log reduction on which organism, (is it relevant to you?)
  • Ask for details of which material it was tested on (is it relevant to you?)

It is about time

UVC dosage is a relatively straightforward calculation, and it is entirely based upon duration, or more simply, time.

Whilst all manufacturers acknowledge that time is important as this affects availability of rooms and areas that you are seeking to disinfect with UVC, it is directly related to the power (amount of UVC) that the system can produce.

Faster is not necessarily better as to perform only a partial disinfection in order to reduce the cycle time, means only a certain number (or a certain type) of organism will be destroyed.

UVC safety

UVC is a low-risk light source, however, no personnel should be in the room at any point during the treatment (for room disinfection). As such, it is highly recommended to check that the system you are considering is safe to use. The system must have been exhaustively tested to always ensure safety and should feature the following active safety systems.

Emergency stop

There should be at least one easy to access emergency stop button mounted on the handle at waist height. These must have full authority over the entire system and if used will cause immediate shutdown.

Stable structure

The base should be supportive enough to ensure that there is no risk of toppling, and it should be able to traverse elevator thresholds and small cables easily.

Motion detection

The most important feature that must be integrated is PIR (heat and motion) sensor. Any movement when the system is operating will result in an instant shutdown (as well as the system not letting you begin a cycle if the room is not still for a set period).

Safety is paramount above all other requirements. Ask for details on active safety systems, how they work, response times, sensitivity, range, and effectiveness.


Simply, will it fit where you want to put it. Ensure that you ask for dimensions, weight etc, but the most overlooked criteria is height. Many systems are very tall, and this can cause difficulties using the system (door access, low ceilings etc). A useful yardstick is to check the size of the machine against the footprint of a wheelchair as that will allow you to take advantage of existing accessibility pathways.

Service and support

No matter whether your product is very expensive or very cheap, at some point, you will need to reach out for after-sales support and service. Here are 12 key things you should look for in the after-sales support of the product that you purchase:

  • Functionality – does the product and the service support meet your needs?
  • Convenience – is it easy for you to use the service?
  • Experience – are they experienced in their roles and with their product?
  • Performance – will the contract be delivered with suitable SLA to guarantee performance?
  • Efficiency – is the service/support delivered effectively and efficiently?
  • Compatibility – is the service/support compatible with your needs and function?
  • Empathy – does the service provider understand your needs/role/application?
  • Fairness – is the pricing/terms of service/contract length fair?
  • Transparency – are the service/support provider honest and transparent?
  • Control – are you in control of the service/support?
  • Information – will you receive full information on all contract reports?
  • Accessibility – is it easy to get hold of them?

It is vital to consider the service aspect as much as the performance and cost of the system itself.

Proof for your purchase

When you choose a UVC disinfection system, you are choosing it for a reason. You have a need to terminally disinfect an area or object. For that reason, it is fundamental to ensure that the products you are evaluating have product specific supporting data.

Why product specific? Well, that is simply down to the enormous number of variables in UVC disinfection systems that we have previously discussed. Reflector performance, type of tube, power, dosage calculation etc, all have a profound effect upon the effectiveness of the product and provide terminal disinfection.

The data should be:

  • Product specific — not a generic referral to similar products data;
  • Relevant — on a microorganism similar to one you need to eradicate, and the environment should be similar as well;
  • Published — it should be published on a recognised site;
  • Peer reviewed — reviewed by key opinion leaders within the industry;
  • Concise and clear — the objectives should be outlined at the start and results clearly defined; and
  • Use recognised methodology — using test protocols that are a standard industry practice.

This is the ultimate question: will it do what you want it to do, when you want it to do it? Ask for clarification, check for validation and do not be afraid to push for answers.

To find out more about the THOR UV-C Disinfection System, visit

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