Ultraviolet pool cleaning systems use UV rays to alter the chemistry of viruses, bacteria and algae. These rays damage an organism's DNA, halting its ability to reproduce, keeping pool water sanitized and safe for swimming.
UV Cleaners Part of Larger System
UV cleaners neutralize contaminants, but they are not standalone systems. Other parts of a UV system typically includes filtering, chemical (and sometimes ozone) components. The result is cleaner water and a possible reduction in chlorine usage.
The basic mechanics behind UV systems is the same across all brands. Water directed past a UV light is purified by the rays. The main differences in brands is the amount of water processed and durability of the unit. Processing ability comes down to flow rate and bulb size. Housing is the key durability issue. If the housing is not strong, the UV bulb is more vulnerable.
Paramount Ultraviolet Water Sanitizer
From its 1964 beginning, Paramount focused on research, design and manufacturing of pool and spa cleaning systems, with an emphasis on an automated approach. They also created a product advisory board of pool builders to give them real-world knowledge of pool and spa industry needs.
Unique features: The Paramount unit is a compact system. It can be installed using 110 or 220 electric current with either two-inch or 63 mm inlet/outlet unions.
Size: 13 inches x 13 inches x 32 inches
Pros and cons: The unit comes with a 2-year warranty (a 1-year warranty is more common). It can be used on indoor or outdoor systems and can be paired with the Clear 03 Ozone system to further enhance water quality. In 2014, after acquiring this technology, there was a small recall on an old version of the product.
Online review: Online reviews are difficult to find. But, it is sold by Pool Supply Unlimited, a Google Trusted Store, with a over 4 star ratings out of 5 stars.
In business since 1975, this California-based company offers four models based on bulb wattage. Each of these four models has several options, including a standard inlet/outlet cleaning system and a wiper system. The company also sells a system designed for commercial pools.
Unique features: They offer a wide range of systems accommodating any pool size. Each each bulb size has at least four options base on cleaning system desired (wiper or standard) and the type of housing preferred - plastic or stainless steel. A wiper system 'wipes' clean the quartz cylinder that houses the UV light.
Size: Eleven models ranging from 8 to 200 watts. They can handle 6,000 to 50,000 gallon system. The commercial Viper system purifies 50,000 to 150,000 gallons of water using 400 to 1,200 Watt bulbs.
Price: $200-$2200; Viper system costs $2,100-$8,400
Pros and cons: The Company's strength is in its ability to handle a wide range of pool sizes as well as the capability to treat fresh or saltwater. Manuals and instructions can be downloaded directly from their website, making understanding their product easier. Although wiper systems are used extensively in the industry, not all experts feel they do much. Some say if sediment or minerals are clogging up the quartz sleeve, a better approach is to filter out the sediment or remove the minerals, instead of wiping it away.
Online review: Customer reviews on the vendor site MarineDepot.com gives the 57-watt unit a very strong rating (4.5 stars out of 5). One customer, pleased with the unit's compact size, praised its effectiveness, calling it a "high-quality product."
Founded in 1999, Delta UV focuses on UV-C technology, the heart of all UV cleaning systems. Their parent company, Bio UV, is a leading manufacturer of UV products for spas and swimming pools. Products from both companies are used worldwide.
Unique features: Delta UV offers several options for each model. The E and ES models are designed for home installation while the D and DS line are for professional installation.
Size: Both the E and ES series have four models, ranging in size from 30W to 90W bulbs. The 30W system can handle a 26 GPM flow rate. The upper end of the series, the EP-40 model, has a 90W bulb that processes 80 GPM.
Pros and cons: The only difference between the E and ES series is the stainless steel housing. This adds about $100 to the cost. One potential weakness, depending on existing piping, is the UV light must be vertically mounted.
Online review: One pool service professional (and self-proclaimed pool nerd) rated the Delta UV system as the best for the money. As he put it, since the company only makes one product, "they either get this right, or they don't eat."
Nuvo Ultraviolet Water Sterilizer
Nuvo is the UV product line for Solaxx, a company with 30 years experience in the spa and pool industry. The company's mission is to create eco-friendly, user-friendly and reliable products.
Unique features: Several companies zero on a claim that a UV will significantly reduce chlorine usage, but this company takes the opposite approach, stating they make 'no extravagant claims' about reduction in chlorine use. Instead they focus on how effectively their system kills what chlorine cannot destroy.
Size: They have two models. The UV1500, designed for 15,000 gallon systems with a 35 GPM flow rate. The UV3000 model is for 30,000 gallon systems. It can handle a 55 GPM flow rate.
Price: $350 or $550
Pros and cons: Units are compact by design. The company states a "smaller chamber was found to be much more efficient than a wider chamber." This sets them apart from the competition, but not all companies agree with this approach.
Online review: Although online reviews are scarce, two Amazon reviews by verified buyers give the product a 5 out of 5 stars. These reviewers state the system is easy to install and it simplifies pool maintenance.
Founded in 2007, the company's mission: to reduce the dependency of pool maintenance on chemicals. They market themselves as an agent of change inside an industry that has used the same approach to pool maintenance for 50 years.
Unique features: The system is installed inline directly after the filtering system. This way the unit can deal with pre-cleaned water and clean up the water even more by 'blasting the stream with high-intensity germicidal ultraviolet rays.'
Size: The Company sells nine standard models and a custom size. Standard units start with a 6 to 12 GPM flow rate (35W bulb). The upper end model has a 300W bulb with a 187-374 GPM flow rate. It is designed for large residential pools.
Price: $900 and up
Pros and cons: The UV lamp is protected by graphite housing and is designed to handle higher flow rates. The lamp is further protected by a quartz glass sleeve.
Online review: Reviews, hosted by the company's website, includes of a video of satisfied customers praising the system of its ability to improve air quality of indoor pools (due to reduction of chlorine needed to treat water).
Take a look at the table for an at-a-glance comparison of the five options discussed above.
|Brand||Cost||Flow rate||Models||Bulb size||Bulb life||Warranty|
|Aqua Ultraviolet||$200-$2000||20 to 100 Gallons Per Minute||4||25W to 200W||14 months||1 year|
|Delta UV||$500-$575||7 to 110 GPM||5||30W to 90W||16,000 hours||2 years|
|Nuvo Ultraviolet||$350-$550||35 to 55 GPM||2||25W to 57W||14,000 hours||1 year|
|Paramount Ultraviolet||$550||46 to 164 GPM||1||Not Listed||13,000 hours||2 years|
|SpectraLight Ultraviolet||$899 and up||6 to 374 GPM||9 plus custom||35W to 300W||12 months||1 year|
Periodic Sanitation Still Required
Despite the effectiveness of UV system, they cannot achieve 100 percent elimination of bacteria, algae or bacteria in the water. The system is only able to sanitize the water in the moment of time it passes in front of the light. So, should bacteria get past the light, it could attach itself to the piping and replicate itself. For this reason, it is necessary to sanitize the piping on a regular basis with a chemical product. The efficiency of the light is also reduced over time, especially is the system is turn on or off more than once in an 8-hour period.