When most of us turn on the tap, we take it for granted that the water is safe to drink. In most cases, this will be true for people on municipal water. Municipal water supplies are carefully monitored, in order to ensure that it’s not swarming with microbes. If E. coli or other nasty bugs are in the system, it’s because something went horribly wrong. But if you’re on a well system, it’s a different matter. Depending on your location, your water source might be full of germs.
An ultraviolet water purifier is designed to zap your water with powerful UV radiation. As the water flows through it, it’s sanitized, and it comes out safe and germ-free. Meanwhile, the system is all self-contained, so the radiation doesn’t pose any danger to you or your family.
Today, we’ll be reviewing four of the best ultraviolet whole house water purification systems we could find. No time to read the full reviews? Here’s the bare minimum you need to know:
- The VIQUA VH410 is a powerful 18 GPM purifier that’s only 23.5” long.
- The HQUA-OWS-12 purifies 12 GPM and sports a long-lasting UV bulb.
- The BLUONICS comes with a pair of extra bulbs, reducing down-the-road costs.
- The JTAPURE is a more affordable model that can still handle 12 GPM.
Needless to say, there’s a lot more going on with each of these devices. To find out how well they perform, we’re going to have to look a lot closer. Let’s dig in, and see how they all stack up!
VIQUA VH410 Home Stainless Steel Ultraviolet Water System
- 18 GPM flow rate.
- 30mJ/cm2 UV dose.
- Measures 23.5″L x 3.5″D
- 12-month lamp life.
The VIQUA VH410 is a stainless steel cylinder. It measures 23.5 inches long and 3.5 inches in diameter. This is both shorter and fatter than a typical UV purifier, which allows you to install it into a smaller overall area. Meanwhile, the stainless steel construction ensures that it will be very durable. It can stand up to high water pressures, as well as to a wide range of temperatures.
The VH410 is capable of handling up to 18 gallons per minute (GPM). That’s a large quantity of water, enough to supply a house with five bedrooms. Meanwhile, the UV bulb is designed to produce a higher output than the bulbs in longer purifiers. This compensates for the shorter length of the chamber, and provides comparable performance to a longer purifier. In total, the bulb produces 30 millijoules per square centimeter (mJ/cm2). mJ/cm2 is the standard measurement for UV purifiers. And 30 mJ/cm2 is the UV “dose” you should be looking for in a good quality whole house purifier.
The power cable has an in-line control block that measures 7 inches long, 3 inches tall, and 2.5 inches thick. The controller has an indicator light that lets you know when the power is connected. A small display shows the estimated remaining bulb life. Other lights let you know if the bulb has failed or simply weakened to the point where it needs a replacement.
Inside of the housing is a long cylindrical UV bulb that looks like an straight fluorescent bulb. This bulb sits inside a quartz sleeve, which has gaskets at either end to keep water out. The water then flows around the sleeve and is purified as it passes through.
You’ll have to clean the quartz sleeve every 3 months in order to keep it clear. You’ll also have to replace the bulb itself approximately once a year. Accessing the inside of the housing is perfectly safe, because the plug is built into the removable end cap. When you open the housing, you’re simultaneously disconnecting the power supply.
HQUA-OWS-12 Ultraviolet Whole House Water Purifier Sterilizer Filter
- 12 GPM flow rate.
- 30mJ/cm2 UV dose.
- Measures 37.2”L x 2.5”D
- 24-month lamp life.
The HQUA-OWS-12 is constructed from tough 304 stainless steel. The main tube measures 37.2 inches long and 2.5 inches in diameter. This is the standard size for a home UV purifier, and should work well enough in most applications. The threaded inlets and outlets have a ¾-inch diameter, enough to handle a large water flow. You also get a pair of metal mounting rings to attach the purifier to your wall.
This home water purifier is capable of handling 12 GPM. That’s enough for a house with three bathrooms. You could run all three showers at the same time as washing a load of dishes and running your sprinkler. At the same time, the sanitization performance is very good. The light puts out 30mJ/cm2 of UV radiation, enough to wipe out any microbes as they pass through the system.
The power cord measures a total of 6.2 feet in length, which should give you plenty of reach. About halfway down its length is a built-in controller with a few simple alerts. A green light means that everything is working perfectly. A blinking red light means that there’s a fault. If the purifier has failed altogether, the controller will beep to get your attention.
Inside of the housing is a quartz sleeve that surrounds the bulb. This sleeve needs to be cleaned every 6 to 12 months depending on your water’s turbidity. Meanwhile, the UV bulb will last for two years, so you don’t have to worry about changing it all that often.
BLUONICS UV Water Filter Sterilizer Purification for Whole House
- 12 GPM flow rate.
- Measures 36”L x 2.5”
- 12-month lamp life.
The BLUONICS UV Water Filter Sterilizer is also made of 304 stainless steel. It measures 36 inches long, with a 2.5-inch diameter and a ¾-inch set of inlets and outlets. The package includes a set of three mounting rings. The rings are open-ended, so you can snap the purifier in and out if you need to make repairs.
The system handles up to 12 GPM of water, so it will have plenty of capacity for most houses. It also seems to perform reasonably well. However, there’s no information on the UV dose in any of BLUONICS’ documentation. In other words, there’s no guarantee that you’re getting a full 30mJ/cm2.
The internal quartz sleeve needs to be cleaned roughly every 3 to 6 months. The bulb itself will last for about a year, and the kit includes a set of spares. BLUONICS backs their purifier with a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty against defects in parts or labor. You also get a 30-day no-questions-asked return window. If it ends up not being what you want, you can just ship it back.
A UV water purifier will keep your drinking water safe. But what if you’re worried about microbes floating around in the air? In that case, consider a UV ozone bulb for purifying your air. Be careful only to run the bulb when you’re not in the road. The same UV rays that kill germs can also burn your skin, and can even cause cancer.
JTAPURE Ultraviolet Water Purifier Sterilizer
- 12 GPM flow rate.
- Measures 37.5”L x 2.5”D
- 12-month lamp life.
The JTAPURE Ultraviolet Water Purifier Sterilizer is a cylinder measuring 37.5 inches long and 2.5 inches in diameter. It’s constructed from 304 stainless steel, with ¾-inch threaded inlets and outlets near the ends. Along with it, you get a pair of plastic mounting rings. These rings have removable outer covers, which allows you to slip the cylinder in and out.
Despite being incredibly affordable, the JTAPURE purifier is rated to handle 12 GPM of water flow. Unfortunately, there’s no actual documentation on the UV does. This is disappointing, but we also haven’t seen any reports of people getting sick after using this purifier.
The internal quartz sleeve needs to be cleaned roughly every three months. Meanwhile, the UV bulb is rated for a year of operation. The kit includes an extra bulb, so you get your first replacement for free. You also get an extra quartz sleeve, just in case you manage to drop the original.
All of today’s purifiers are designed to sanitize your home’s entire incoming water supply. But suppose you don’t want to go through all the hassle? Instead, you could install the Acuva Arrow 5. It’s a blocky UV purifier that mounts under your sink and attaches to a small tap. It kills virtually all microbes, and is rated to last for 10 years.
Whole House UV Purifier Buying Guide
So, how do you choose the best UV whole house water purifier? Here are some things you should keep in mind while you’re shopping around.
Water Flow Rate
Like other home plumbing components, UV purifiers carry a flow rating. This flow rating is measured in gallons per minute, or GPM. It’s important that your purifier has a high enough GPM rating to meet your needs. Otherwise, the water could flow through too quickly for the sanitizer to be effective.
As a rule of thumb, you should look for a bare minimum of 6 GPM if your house only has one bathroom. For each extra bathroom, add another 3 GPM. So a 2-bathroom house needs 9 GPM, a 3-bathroom house needs 12 GPM, and so on.
In a purifier, UV exposure is expressed in millijoules per square centimeter (mJ/cm2). Technically, a dose of 10mJ/cm2 is enough to kill most bacteria. This level of exposure will kill E. coli, Giardia, and other unpleasant microbes. That said, whole-house systems are sanitizing water on the fly, so a higher rating is better. Most experts recommend a rating of 30mJ/cm2, just to be safe.
As you can see, all four of these ultraviolet whole house water purification systems are well-designed. But which one will be the right fit for your home? Here are the main takeaways we took from each one.
We started out by looking at the VIQUA VH410 Home Stainless Steel Ultraviolet Water System. This purifier is shorter and fatter than the others, and so can be installed in smaller spaces. Despite the short length, it puts out 30mJ/cm2 of UV light, more than enough to sanitize your water. We also liked the in-line controller with its indicator lights and bulb light indicator. And the design of the end cap makes it incredibly safe to service the inside of the unit. Not to mention, you can use it even in a very large house.
After that, we checked out the HQUA-OWS-12 Ultraviolet Whole House Water Purifier Sterilizer. This is a longer, slimmer purifier that can purify water at a rate of 12 GPM. It’s capable enough to supply most houses, and the 30mJ/cm2 of UV light will annihilate any microbes. In addition, the in-line controller sounds an audible alarm when there’s a failure. You’ll immediately know that something has gone wrong.
Third on our list was the BLUONICS UV Water Filter Sterilizer. This purifier comes with a pair of extra bulbs, so you won’t have to spend any more money for three years. The plastic mounting clips make it easy to set up, and simple to take down for servicing. We had some qualms about the absence of an official UV dose rating. But the 12 GPM capacity should be plenty for most people.
Last but not least, we reviewed the JTAPURE Ultraviolet Water Purifier Sterilizer. Like the BLUONICS sterilizer, it doesn’t have an official UV dose rating. That said, it’s easy to install, and it can handle up to 12 GPM. We also liked the fact that you get an extra quartz sleeve. They can be difficult to find in the right size, so it’s always good to have a spare.