What is a Water UV Sterilizer?

The inadequacy of freshwater has forced millions of people across the globe into consuming unhygienic water. The World Health Organization projects that over 2 billion individuals rely on water supplies considered unsafe due to feces contamination. The aftermath has been fatal with annual deaths resulting from diarrhea, which is mainly a waterborne illness, hitting 485,000.

Water infested by microbiological pathogens such as bacteria and viruses facilitates the transmission of diseases like typhoid, warm infections, cholera, and amebiasis. Well water and water extracted from rivers, lakes or ponds is prone to contamination from waste disposal or microorganisms residing in the soil. Over 435 million people consume water from contaminated groundwater while 144 million risk contracting waterborne diseases from polluted surface water.

Without access to fresh potable water, human existence is threatened. To avert further loss of lives, health organizations have called for adequate water treatment and instituted regulations on drinking water quality. Disinfection of water is a reliable solution to waterborne diseases given key processes like ultraviolet sterilization eradicates up to 99.9% of the disease-causing microbes.

Apart from the generation of safe drinking water, disinfection of raw water is essential in industrial and commercial applications like pharmaceuticals, food processing, and laboratories. To mitigate the repercussions of contaminated water on public health and industrial processes, industries like NEWater have developed highly effective UV sterilizer devices.

NEWater has for the past 2 decades, cemented its position as a global leader in the water treatment systems industry. With over 9,000 standard water treatment plants and 2000 customized units manufactured and shipped locally and overseas, NEWater continues to spearhead the fight against water contamination and scarcity.

Figure 1 Industrial water UV sterilizer.

What is a UV Sterilizer?

A UV sterilizer is simply a device that utilizes germicidal ultraviolet rays to eradicate viruses, bacteria, and other illness-causing microorganisms from raw water. Ultraviolet light sterilization is the most proficient water disinfection technology with a 99.9% impurity rejection score. Particularly, ultraviolet light is utilized in water treatment to target and destroy pathogens present in raw water.

Ultraviolet sterilization was first deployed as a water disinfection technology in the 1900s. However, chlorination was the preferred water treatment mechanism then and this harbored the adoption of ultraviolet sterilization. Recent technological advancements in ultraviolet radiation have nonetheless driven up the use of UV sterilization.

Unlike chlorination, UV sterilization does not alter the taste, smell, or concentration of the water given no chemicals are utilized in the process.  The operational costs have significantly lessened and advancements on key equipment have elevated the effectiveness of UV sterilizers.

At present, UV sterilizers are widely utilized in homes, business enterprises, and industries. In Europe alone, there are over 2000 enormous UV sterilization systems supplying safe water to millions of individuals. UV sterilizers are particularly effective in eradicating microbial contaminants hence they are more suited for post-treating filtered water.

Classification of UV sterilizers.

UV sterilizers are categorized based on their effectiveness in eradicating undesired microorganisms. A key point to note is that the different classes of ultraviolet sterilization systems do not reflect their ratings. The categorization of UV sterilizers is mainly rooted on their suitability for specific applications.

Class A Ultraviolet Sterilizers.

Class A UV sterilizers are specifically designed to disinfect clean water that is visually visible. They destroy viruses, bacteria, Giardia cysts, and Cryptosporidium oocyst from raw water and are unsuitable for sewage treatment. In addition, the threshold for class A ultraviolet sterilizers is an intensity and saturation score of over 40,000 uwsec/cm2.

Class B Ultraviolet Sterilizers.

Class B UV sterilizers are primarily deployed as secondary disinfection solutions to already treated water. They are designed to kill bacteria in water with minimal levels of E. coli and function at a minimum dosage. Class B UV sterilizers’ intensity and radiation threshold is a minimum of 16,000 UW-sec/cm2.

Components of a UV sterilizer.

Typical UV sterilizers are made of four primary components. Each component plays a different but equally vital role in ensuring your UV sterilization system functions properly. Underneath, we explore the chief components of a UV sterilizer and their roles in water disinfection.

Ultraviolet lamp.

The UV lamp is the primary component in ultraviolet sterilizers. UV lamps disinfect water by diffusing the germicidal wavelength. There are numerous types of ultraviolet lamps fitted on UV sterilization units.

  • Standard UV
  • Amalgam UV
  • High output UV

Figure 2 Ultraviolet lump.

Quartz sleeve.

This is simply a glass tubing covering the UV lamp to shield it from the water. A quartz sleeve is characterized by its elongated and cylindrical shape.

Reactor chamber.

The reactor chamber is a structure that houses the other components of a UV sterilizer i.e UV lamp, user interface and the quartz sleeve. Primarily, the reactor chamber is made of stainless steel and can have different sizes and shapes.

Control interface.

The control interface is also known as the ballast. It is a command center from where you can modify the electrical output of the UV lamp. It contains automatic power on and off functions and essentially determines the UV rays’ intensity, ultimately influencing the system’s disinfection rate.

How Do UV Sterilizers Function?

First, it is worth noting that UV sterilization does not eradicate microorganisms from contaminated water, it renders them inactive. Ultraviolet sterilization functions by targeting and annihilating the DNA cells of microorganisms present in contaminated water. Specifically, UV sterilizers inactivate microbial contaminants by destroying the nucleic acids found in the microorganisms’ DNA. The amount of time the water is exposed to UV light (exposure time) and the intensity of the wavelength, significantly influence the disinfection score of ultraviolet water sterilization units.

Regulatory bodies have set different thresholds for UV sterilizers’ exposure time but typically, the minimum exposure time in most regions is approximately 16,000 µwatt-sec/cm^2. At NEWater, our ultraviolet light sterilizers are endowed with sufficient lamp intensities ranging from 30,000 to 50,000µwatt-sec/cm^2. Additionally, we attach warning alarms on our systems to alert users of depreciating lamp intensity.

Ultraviolet dosage is the chief determinant of the UV sterilizer’s pathogen inactivation rate. Higher doses enhance optimum inactivation of pathogens while lower doses result in low inactivation rates. When treating high-grade water, a UV sterilizer with a low-pressure mercury lamp can potentially inactivate disease-causing microorganisms at radiation doses ranging from 50-150 mJ/cm2.

Figure 3 How UV sterilizers function.

Hindrances to the optimum functioning of UV sterilizers.

Without adequate pretreatment of the feed water, the lamp intensity can deteriorate quickly prompting premature replacements. Once the light intensity does not meet the germicidal threshold, the effectiveness of the UV sterilization device deteriorates.

Disinfection of untreated water might result in low inactivation scores given dissolved elements absorb the UV rays consequently sheltering the microorganisms against the UV light.  Additionally, constituents might accumulate on the glass sleeve thereby decreasing the productivity of your UV sterilizer.

Benefits of Using UV Sterilizers.

The application of ultraviolet sterilization systems in water treatment has massively boosted efforts geared at preventing waterborne diseases. The use of household UV sterilizers and the incorporation of UV disinfection in municipal water provide billions of people across the world with safe, uncontaminated drinking water. Underneath, we expound on the various advantages of UV sterilizers.

Figure 4 Small UV sterilizer.

High disinfection rates.

Ultraviolet sterilization units are without a doubt the most effective disinfection tool in water treatment. Under the appropriate light intensity and UV dosage, UV sterilizers can inactivate virtually all microorganisms present in raw water. The average disinfection rate of ultraviolet sterilizers is 99%.

With adequate customizations, UV sterilizers can effectively destroy Giardia and Cryptosporidium cysts. For optimal operation of UV sterilizers, it is necessary that the feed water meet the following specifications:

  • Suspended solids: Below 10mg/L.
  • Iron: 0.3 mg/L.
  • Manganese: 0.05mg/L.
  • PH: 6.5 to 9.5.
  • Color: None.
  • Water hardness: Below 7 GPG.

Easy to maintain.

Operating and maintaining a UV sterilization system is very easy and straightforward. Adequate quality maintenance is mandatory for optimum disinfection. The structure housing the UV light lamps is easy and affordable to clean given you only need a solution with 0.15 sodium hydrosulfite. Alternatively, the cleaning can be done using citric acid. NEWater’s UV systems have fitted wipers, which massively ease the cleaning process.

After servicing the plumbing unit, it is recommended that you sterilize the entire system using chemicals like chlorine. This eliminates the risk of having foreign contaminants alter your water sterilization process and results.

Additionally, the continuous use of UV lamps results in gradual depreciation in intensity levels. As a matter of fact, the light intensity might drop by 20% inside the 100 hours. However, they can maintain high intensities for the succeeding 1000 hours. Replacement of UV lamps is mandated once the intensity fails to meet the germicidal range. This is especially made easy by the presence of emission detectors, which alert you of the decreasing lamp intensity.

Does not alter the taste or smell of water.

Ultraviolet sterilizers treat water by inactivating the organic microbes in water. They do not utilize chemicals that may change the smell or taste of your drinking water. Similarly, UV sterilizers do not improve the taste or smell of your drinking water.

Minimal wastage of water.

UV sterilizers have no wastewater. Their working principle is founded on inactivating microorganisms meaning there is no emission of waste products. Furthermore, the process of ultraviolet disinfection hardly involves the use of chemicals thereby eliminating the possibility of waste generation.

Application fields of Ultraviolet sterilizers.

Figure 5 Large-scale UV sterilizer.

The application scales of ultraviolet sterilizers cut across all industries that necessitate high-quality purified water. Microbial contaminants in water are not only a nuisance to human health, they can negatively alter vital industrial processes and products.

To generate high-grade potable water suitable for human consumption as well as diverse industrial applications, UV sterilizers are incorporated as point-of-entry and point-of-use water treatment systems. Underneath, we explore the various industries utilizing UV sterilizers to generate microbial-free potable water.

Pharmaceutical firms.

The quality of water needed in various pharmaceutical applications is of the highest quality. This is because most pharmaceutical products are meant for human consumption and the intake of contaminated products could have adverse effects on human health. To attain the high-grade pharmaceutical water necessitated for delicate activities like drug formulation and dilution of solutions, pharmaceuticals utilize UV sterilizers to inactivate microbes found in ordinary tap water.


The World Health Organization and respective public health institutions have laid down requirements for safe drinking water. Point-of-entry UV sterilizers are pretty common in homes nowadays as families covet to combat waterborne illnesses. Households sourcing their drinking and cooking water from wells, rivers, or municipal supply systems can make certain they have safe drinking water by integrating UV sterilizers into the distribution system.

Figure 6 UV sterilizer for drinking water.

Food processing industries.

Water is an essential ingredient in most food products and is also the primary cleaning agent. However, ordinary tap water rarely qualifies for use in most food processing applications given it contains varying amounts of microorganisms. Therein, food-processing industries have adopted ultraviolet radiation systems to generate high-quality product water.

Wastewater reclamation.

With the prevalent water scarcity, various industries have incorporated wastewater treatment technologies to facilitate the reuse and recycling of wastewater. Effective wastewater treatment involves the use of several water treatment systems with UV sterilizers being deployed in tertiary treatment. Ideally, ultraviolet sterilizers are utilized to polish treated water from reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, or ion exchange systems.


Water with the slightest concentration of microbial, dissolved, and suspended contaminants can massively alter laboratory results. To ensure laboratory experiments are accurate, UV sterilizers are integrated into laboratory water treatment systems to mitigate the threat of microbial contamination.

Other applications of ultraviolet sterilizers include cosmetic manufacturing, marine water purification, and treatment of mining water.

Figure 7 UV sterilizer for lab water treatment.

The cost of UV Sterilizers.

Over the years, the investment and operational costs of UV sterilization systems have immensely lessened. Although this can be attributed to numerous factors, the primary cause has been advancement in ultraviolet radiation technology. Presently, there are varying UV sterilizers with distinct specifications hence the variation in investment capital.

In your quest to procure a UV sterilizer, you will encounter differently priced devices. The basic explanation for this is that manufacturers price their equipment differently. Moreover, the size and capabilities of the UV sterilizer will be reflected in the price tag. The operational costs of UV sterilizers encompass key areas such as labor, power consumption, upkeep, and depreciation costs.

Power consumption.

The power consumption in UV sterilization systems depends on the system’s design and UV lump deployed. Periodic cleansing of the UV lumps is mandatory as it mitigates the growth of algae. Disinfecting contaminated water using low-pressure ultraviolet lumps consumes approximately 100 -250 kWh per million gallons. Medium-pressure UV lumps on the other hand use 460 to 560 kWh to sterilize a million gallons of feed water.

Power Voltage and frequency options vary in different regions and so do billing systems. This accounts for the differences in power expenses in different regions. To approximate your system’s expected power consumption, multiply your region’s power rates per kWh by the above-mentioned consumption rates.

Maintenance and replacements.

The UV lumps are subject to burnout and they do necessitate periodic replacements. Replacement costs of UV lumps vary significantly with low-pressure lumps commanding low prices compared to medium UV lumps. The average lifespan of UV lumps is one year but under great maintenance, they can last longer. NEWater’s UV lamps are designed to last longer and to continually disinfect water.

Additional charges pertaining to the maintenance of ultraviolet sterilizers relate to cleaning of the UV lamp housing. This is done using solutions containing 0.15 citric acid or sodium hydrosulfite, which is considerably inexpensive.


For industrial UV sterilization systems, the operation might demand one or a few technicians to oversee its operation. The quantity of human input required by a UV sterilizer depends on its size and production capacity. Labor expenses can also vary depending on the prevailing labor laws.

Depreciation of equipment.

Virtually all assets depreciate in value over time. Ultraviolet sterilizers are also prone to depreciation but this is no major reason for concern. The depreciation rate of ultraviolet sterilization equipment is extremely low. The productivity of UV sterilizers coupled with the durability of key equipment guarantees users quick returns on investment.

Examples of UV Sterilizers.

NEWater has developed numerous UV sterilizers based on the varying forms of ultraviolet radiation viable for water treatment. Our existing UV sterilizers are specifically designed to support industrial applications and personal applications.

Types of UV sterilizers.

UV sterilizers are specialized to support different applications hence the existence of distinct devices with varying specifications. The two primary types of UV sterilizers manufactured by NEWater are:

  • Industrial UV sterilizers.
  • Commercial UV sterilizers.

Industrial Ultraviolet sterilizers.

Industrial UV sterilizers are specialized water treatment systems endowed differently to accommodate a diverse range of industrial applications. Industrial UV sterilizers are commonly utilized to supplement other industrial water treatment systems like wastewater units, reverse osmosis, and ultrafiltration systems.

Various industries like pharmaceutical firms, food processing, and cosmetics industries necessitate high-quality purified water. To facilitate the smooth operation of industrial processes, industries utilize UV sterilizers to particularly eradicate the threat of microbial contamination. Key features of industrial UV sterilization units include:

  • Service flow rates: 2.5 to 310 cubic meters per hour (12-1380GPM).
  • Light intensity alert devices.
  • Automatic start and stop functions.

Commercial UV sterilizers.

The application of high-quality water in commercial enterprises may be different but its significance cannot be downplayed. The use of UV sterilizers for commercial applications has massively increased in recent years. This can be attributed to the widespread contamination of freshwater sources and the proliferation of commercial entities. Sterilized water is utilized in commercial applications as an ingredient or a product on its own i.e. bottled water.

Commercial entities such as hotels and resorts, car wash businesses, and office complexes exploit UV sterilization systems to improve the quality of their water. Underneath are some of the basic features of NEWater’s commercial UV sterilizers.

  • Automatic power-on options.
  • Light intensity alert devices.
  • Reactor chamber.
  • Service flow rate ranging from 2 GPMto 80 GPM.

NEWater’s engineers are readily available for technical consultations on UV sterilization systems. Do not hesitate to make an inquiry or place your order.

Figure 8 Commercial UV sterilizers.

Factors to consider when buying a UV sterilizer.

Prior to purchasing a UV sterilizer, it is paramount that you familiarize yourself with the different kinds of UV sterilizers on offer. Below we look at the key factors that should guide you to buying the perfect UV sterilizer.


UV sterilization units are manufactured with varying specifications such as capacities to accommodate the diverse demands of users. At NEWater, we manufacture highly proficient UV sterilizers for industrial, commercial, and personal applications.

The key attribute that distinguishes industrial UV sterilizers from commercial UV sterilizers is the capacity. From our broad array of UV sterilizers, you can select the one with a capacity that best suits your application.

Our standard UV sterilizers are available in capacities ranging from 40 GPM to 1000 GPM. In addition, we offer customized UV sterilizers to ensure our solutions perfectly synchronize with your project.

Figure 9 Ultraviolet light filtration unit.

Disinfection rate.

Different ultraviolet disinfection systems are tailored to target specific microbial contaminants. To determine the ideal UV sterilizer for your application, you need to establish the composition of your feed water. This can be achieved by having your feedwater tested and analyzed by a credible laboratory.

To effectively inactivate Giardia or Cryptosporidium microorganisms, you need a UV sterilizer with a low UV dosage of 1-10 mJ/cm2. On the flip side, inactivating water concentrated with enteric bacteria and viruses, a UV sterilizer with a high dosage ranging from 30 to 150 mJ/cm2 is essential. Additional factors to consider include the investment capital, flow rate, and type of components used.

Procuring your UV sterilizer from NEWater guarantees quality, a myriad of after-sales services, and the ultimate customer experience. To broaden your knowledge on ultraviolet light water disinfection or order UV sterilizers, do not falter to contact NEWater.


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