FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Learn How to Shift Away from Chemicals for a Safer Pool

SpectraLight Ultraviolet Pool Systems harness the power of ultraviolet light to lower chemical levels, eliminate chlorine by-products, and to make pools safe, healthy, and easier to manage. We are finding out that less is more when it comes to pool chemicals.

SpectraLight UV Ultraviolet Disenfection System

UV in General

UV in General

What is ultraviolet (UV) light?

Ultraviolet (UV) light represents one portion of the sun's electromagnetic spectrum.  It is the wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than x-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV. It is so named because the spectrum consists of electromagnetic waves with frequencies higher than those that humans identify as the color violet. Most people are aware of the effects of UV through sunburn, but the UV spectrum has many other practical uses in business, government, and industry.

How is UV light used to sterilize water?

An electric arc, struck the length of the lamp, travels through an inert gas.  The UV light passes through a special quartz glass which is placed in the water current.  The water flows around the UV lamp exposing any microorganisms, viruses, bacteria and/or algae to a lethal dose of UV light. Ultraviolet light penetrates the cell wall of a microorganism and reacts with the microorganisms DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).  The C=C carbon bond in the molecules of the microorganism is broken causing cellular death.  The microorganism is rendered incapable of growing and multiplying.  UV is very effective, destroying 99.9% of harmful organisms. After UV light exposure, a strong oxidative effect occurs on any organism that passes through the media, converting algae, pathogens, and viruses into harmless inert byproducts. After UV light exposure, a strong oxidative effect occurs on any organism that passes through the media, converting algae, pathogens, and viruses into harmless inert byproducts. 

How is UV used in industry?

UV is commonly used in drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment, air purification, food processing, lasers, and sanitary compliance. Many bottlers of spring water use UV disinfection to sterilize their water.  New York City has approved the construction of a 2 billion gallon per day ultraviolet water disinfection facility. Utraviolet is finding an increased usage in swimming pool treatment. 

Why is UV especially well suited for swimming pool sterilization?

UV has two very impressive effects on swimming pool water.  First, UV destroys 99.9% of harmful organisms as they pass through the SpectraLight sterilizer chamber.  This germicidal benefits of UV has been known for decades.  The scientific community recently discovered a second benefit which is equally impressive as the first.  UV almost perfectly unlinks the hypochorous acid from ammonia, destroying unwanted combined chlorine, also known as chloramines.  Chloramines are known to cause a host of problems in swimming pools, from the foul odor to burning eyes, and skin irritation.  In apition, they have been linked to much more serious conditions such as "swimmers asthma" and blaper cancer.

Who advocates UV and who is using UV technology for swimming pools?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes UV as a proven technology: "Ultraviolet (UV) radiation has been found to be an effective disinfectant….Simplicity of installation, ease of operation and maintenance, and low costs relative  to chemical disinfection, make UV a useful small systems disinfection technology option." EPA, August 1997The World Health Organization recommended for swimming pool sanitization. The State of New York requires UV sterilizers on all water parks. The Olympic Games in Athens, Sydney, and Beijing utilized UV lights for their swimming pools. Texas A&M University, University of Texas and Yale University use UV to purify their swimming pools. The World Health Organization has stated that 0.5 ppm free chlorine is effective when UV is used.

Does a UV lamp us a lot of energy?

No, UV lights are highly efficient.  Residential SpectraLight sterilizers use about the same electricity as a low wattage light bulb.  It's a very cost effective method of pool sterilization, often saving hundreds or even thousands in annual maintenance costs.

Moving From a Chlorine Pool or Spa World

Why not just use chlorine in my swimming pool or spa?

When chlorine combines with perspiration, urine, oils and organic matter, harmful by-products called Trihalomethanes (THMs) are formed.  These nasty by-products have been linked to cancer, asthma, and other diseases.  Scientists are just beginning to discover how harmful these chemical compounds are to human health.  For more information, visit our risks of chlorine page. UV destroys nearly 100% of chlorine byproducts and chloramines.    In apition, UV has been proven to deliver the lowest cost of ownership by lowering dependence on chlorine and chemicals.

What are the common problems in high chlorine pools that indicate a pool is not safe?

Pools that use traditional levels of chlorine can become sort of a chemical soup of chlorine by-products when chlorine combines with perspiration, oils, and organic debris.  The unwanted chemical compounds cause: - the "pool smell" that people usually associate with chlorine - red, burning eyes - burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs - dry, itchy skin, and dry hair - breathing difficulty leading to "swimmers asthma", particularly in young children - breathing difficulty leading to "swimmers asthma", particularly in young children - milky colored water - green water due to high combined chlorine levels

Do I still need a residual sanitizer for my pool with SpectraLight installed?

SpectraLight does not recommend using UV technology as the sole method of pool or spa santization. UV is designed to become the primary sanitizer. UV works in conjunction with an ultra-low concentration of a secondary sanitizer. You may use a low 0.5 chlorine residual (that's the level found in good tap water) or hydrogen peroxide as the secondary. Why do you need a secondary sanitizer? UV is non-chemical. It does not enter the pool water.   A low sanitizer residual will ensure that any bacteria or pathogen that does not pass though the sterilization chamber is inactivated (killed). The good news is when UV is deployed, a low residual sanitizer behaves as if it is "on steroids". This magical effect happens because UV oxidizes all the contaminants and organic matter in pool water, so the residual sanitizer is not consumed, and has very little work to do.

How much can I lower the use of chlorine in my pool?

SpectraLight UV has the ability to eliminate up to 80 - 90% of chlorine used in traditional chlorinated pools (commercial pools may require slightly higher residuals).  A low 0.5 residual level of Free Available is recommended.  The World Health Organization supports using UV with a low chlorine residual of 0.5 or lower. This is about the level found in most tap water.  If you must eliminate all chlorine, Hydrogen Peroxide may be used with SpectraLight. Most experts agree that a low 0.5 ppm level of Free Available Chlorine is safe and does not pose a health risk.  Chlorine side effects are eliminated at this low chlorine level.

Is my existing salt water pool system (chlorine generator) compatible with SpectraLight?

Yes, because salt water pools simply make chlorine, SpectraLight is compatible with salt systems and chlorine generators.  SpectraLight will allow you to dial down the amount of chlorine the salt system manufactures. However, there are pool owners who successfully use SpectraLight with no chlorine by choosing other residual sanitizers such as hydrogen peroxide.  Again, we recommend a low level of chlorine for safety and simplicity.

How do I maintain a low chlorine residual in my pool?

A .5 chlorine residual can be maintained using a number of methods such as chlorine generators, salt water pool equipment, or automatic chlorinators.  However, the very best way to ap chlorine to any pool is with a pool automation system. Most pools do require very little chlorine to maintain a 0.5 ppm chlorine residual.  Pool automation is the better choice as advanced controllers automatically test the water every minute, and release precise amounts of the appropriate solution into your pool water.  In the end, most any method of aping chlorine will work, as the quantities of chlorine required are much lower than typical.

Do I still need to test the pH and alkalinity?

Yes, but it becomes much easier.  Maintaining proper pH is very important to maintaining neutral water that does not burn your eyes.  High chlorine levels and high combined chlorine can cause a high variation in pH.  A pool which has UV in use will tend to have a very stable pH and alkalinity, so adjustments will be less frequent. 

How much is 1/2 ppm Free Available Chlorine (FAC)?

1/2 part per million (PPM) is a very, very low amount of chlorine.  1/2 PPM is equivalent to: - one drop of dye in 36 gallons of water.  - one second in 24 days - one penny out of $20,000.

What Combined Available Chlorine (CAC) level do you recommend?

SpectraLight recommends a Combined Available Chlorine level of 0.  

How can I obtain a Combined Available Chlorine level of 0 ppm, and a Free Available Chlorine (FAC) level of 1/2 ppm.

SpectraLight is designed to automatically and continuously lower CAC to 0 or near 0.  SpectraLight destroys ammonia and the organic compounds that form CAC, or chloramines.  A FAC level of 1/2 PPM may be maintained with a small amount of chlorine tablets, released with a floater or automatic feeder.

I'm allergic to chlorine.  I want to eliminate all chlorine in my pool.  Is that possible?

You may consider converting to hydrogen peroxide.  Hydrogen peroxide is preferred by some pool and spa owners that are allergic to even very low levels of chlorine.  SpectraLight recommends trying a low chlorine residual of .5 ppm for individuals that are sensitive to traditional chlorine levels.  Please remember, .5 PPM is equivalent to one drop in 36 gallons of water, a chlorine levels found in some drinking water.

SpectraLight Pre-Purchase Questions

  Do you have a dealer network for SpectraLight?

SpectraLight maintains a network of distributors. You may locate a dealer on our website. If we do not have a dealer in your area, we'll give you great service right here from the factory. SpectraLight sterilizers are easily shipped anywhere and can be installed in about 30 minutes by any plumber or handyman.  Installation does not require a "pool company".  Some handy homeowners choose a DIY installation.

  Is UV safe for swimming pools and spas?

Yes, the safety of UV for sterilizing swimming pools has been proven over decades.  UV began purifying drinking water over 30 years ago.  UV does not leave the sterilization chamber nor does it produce any residual in the water.  SpectraLight should be used only as directed, and the unit should not be disassembled while it is powered on.. 

I've heard of some other way of eliminating chlorine in a pool.  Does it work?

Over the years, there have been attempts to make and sell devices with the claim of replacing chlorine in swimming pools.  Some of these devices can still be found online.  The problem is that most are not based on sound scientific principles and simply do not work.  UV is the most popular non-chlorine sanitizer at municipalities and major universities.Compare UV to other sanitation methods.

What three questions should I ask before choosing an alternative pool sanitation method?

Is the technology based on proven data widely accepted by the scientific community? Has the technology been recommended by leading health and environmental groups such as the World Health Organization? Have municipalities and leading universities chosen the technology for their swimming pools?

  What is the warranty on the SpectraLight UV system?

All SpectraLight UV housings have a limited lifetime warranty against failure due to defects in materials and/or workmanship.  The complete unit is covered for one year from the date of purchase or 18 months from the date of manufacture. 

How can I try SpectraLight with no risk or obligation?

SpectraLight’s try me option allows you to try out SpectraLight (residential units qualify) for up to 30 days in your own pool or backyard.  If you’re not completely satisfied, simply return it to us and we’ll refund your investment, less shipping.  Try SpectraLight for 30 days and chances are we couldn’t get it back if we tried!

How much is shipping and how is SpectraLight shipped?

Visit our shipping page for details.

I'm a Proud SpectraLight Owner. How Do I...

Where do I install my SpectraLight UV sterilizer?

SpectraLight sterilizers are installed on the filtration pad, near your pump and filter.  The best place to install your SpectraLight is after the filter.  However, if installation after the filter is not feasible, it may be installed before the filter.

How long does it take my SpectraLight to sterilize/clarify/safeguard my pool or spa?

Your SpectraLight will begin working immediately.  Since all of the water must pass through the sterilizer, it typically takes 1-2 days to see improvement.  After 3-5 days, most owners report a level of clarity and color they have never seen before.

Do I install my SpectraLight vertically or horizontally?

For convenience and ease of installation, you can install a SpectraLight either way.

How long should I run my pool pump each day?

We recommend running the pump as long as possible, and at least 12 hours per day.  Experts agree that it is better and more cost efficient to operate a pool pump longer but to operate it at a slower speed (RPM).  Many states such as California have made 2-speed/multispeed pumps mandatory.  These new style pumps have the ability to lower electrical consumption up to 80% and will pay for the upgrade costs many times over.  The rule of thumb is a 50% reduction in pump speed uses 1/8 of the electricity. Two options to consider are the EcoPump and the Pentair Intelliflo.

How long should I run my SpectraLight each day?

We recommend running SpectraLight when your pump is operating, 12 - 24 hours per day.  Operating a pool pump 24 hours per day will always improve water quality. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria and algae. Please note that operating a pump slower, but longer (24 hours even) can save 80% in electricity use.  Consider upgrading to one of the new ultra-efficient variable speed pumps such as the Pentair Intelliflo or the new EcoPump. These ultra-efficient pool pumps can lower your utility bill by $800. - $1200. per year while circulating water 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

How often do I need to clean the unit or perform any maintenance?

The quartz sleeve should be inspected and cleaned every 3-4 months.  SpectraLight units feature intelligent design quick-release lamps so that the protective quartz sleeve can be removed and reinstalled within 60 seconds

How often does the UV lamp for my swimming pool or spa need to be replaced?

The UV lamp must be replaced once a year.  The ability to emit UV light decreases over time and replacement ensures your pool is protected well before the UV power significantly declines.

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