“Quicker than a ray of light,” sang Madonna, in her 1997 smash hit Ray of Light. To our knowledge, she has never confirmed nor denied that this song was written as an ode to one of nature’s most powerful purifiers - the ultraviolet ray.
Ultraviolet, or UV for short, exists at the shortest wavelength end of the light spectrum, and whilst it’s invisible to the human eye, it has some impressive water purification properties.
If you’re worried about the bugs and bacteria swimming around in your water, this could be a solution.
For off-grid living or global traveling, it could even come with you, pocket-sized purity.
In a world increasingly consumed by anxiety about water quality, a UV water purification system can put your mind at ease. These simple, natural and effective purifiers receive truly glowing reviews.
So let’s shine a little light on UV water purifiers!
The Best UV Water Purifiers of 2021
With so many great UV purifiers on the market, for your home, RV, or even water bottle it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, we’ve picked out the best of the best. Here’s the top rated UV water purifiers of 2021 for your perusal.
This system is installed under your sink, to provide you with a fresh supply of purified water, right from the faucet.
It consists of a whopping 11-stage filtering set-up, including UV filtration, and a 4-gallon water tank where your filtered water sits waiting for use.
The benefits of this under sink system are evident - you have instant access to filtered water exactly where you need it - since the water is pre-filtered, there’s no need to wait. The 4-gallon tank won’t last forever, but if your UV-purified water needs are sporadic, you’ll never run out of freshly filtered water.
Although this is a powerful under sink filtering system, the installation couldn’t be easier. Everything you need for installation is included in the kit - including a chic stainless steel faucet and two sizes of brass adaptors to hook the system up to your water supply.
As well as UV filtering, there’s activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and several remineralization and alkaline-adding stages to give you nutritious and tasty drinking water.
However, if you’re just looking for a UV filter for your water supply then 11-stage filtering might be overkill. In fact, the remineralization is counteracting previous stages which eliminate dissolved solids from your water supply, so you might be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and then be going looking for the baby!
Not to mention that these filters don’t last forever. Whilst the UV filter may be good for several years, other filters within this system will need to be swapped out every six months or so. That’s another cost you don’t need.
This is a top-tier unit that comes with a top-tier price tag. To make sure you’re getting the best value for money, ensure that you're concerned about every contaminant this filter system is targeting otherwise it’s overkill.
A top-tier under sink system with a price tag to boot. But for UV filtering and far beyond, look no further.
2. Rhino® Well Water with UV - Best for Well Water
Off-grid living is the ultimate in freedom. But unfortunately, bacteria are also out there, reveling in that freedom. A well water UV purifier can give you peace of mind about the water you’re drinking.
Let’s say this right off the bat - this doesn’t come cheap. But given that you’ve likely built your own home to live the off-grid dream and draw your own water from a local well, it should be within the budget of any grand design.
The Rhino filter system is robustly constructed for a long life and all the tanks are built with food-grade material so no additional contaminants are seeping into your water. Whilst these heavy-duty filters look big, they’re built to be lightweight to make maintenance and filter changing less of a drag.
It’s a huge unit - close to 5’ tall - so you’ll need to think about where you put it. The industrial look means it’s an unaesthetic addition to a stylish kitchen, but it’ll be right at home in the garage or even installed on the outside of your home.
Installation requires plumbing and piping but at least the gravity-fed system is electricity-free. If you’re building your dream home in the backwoods you might relish the challenge - otherwise, call in the professionals. Rhino charges extra for the Pro-Grade installation kit which, given the base unit price, seems a little rich.
As well as UV filtering to eliminate bacteria and cysts, a carbon-activated stage will remove chlorine and, perhaps more importantly for well-water, herbicides, and pesticides that might have infiltrated from local farm run-off.
A serious piece of kit for the off-grid lifestyle. Price tag and installation are off-putting but if you’re drawing on well water at home then you need to dream big.
HQUA’s stainless steel chamber actually looks pretty stylish once it’s plumbed in and affixed to your wall, a rarity for these kinds of industrial filters. But this chic, branded water filter is equally at home in an art gallery as it is in your garage.
It benefits from a simple design. The 37.5” stainless chamber houses a long UV lamp. Water flows into this lengthy chamber and is purified by the UV process before flowing out towards your home water supply - for showers, faucets and beyond.
The UV lamp itself is contained within a quartz glass safety chamber, protecting it from the water. Quartz glass is a premium material, so you know HQUA have gone the distance in building a stylish and robust water purifier.
Installation is easy with a bit of DIY-knowhow. However, because the UV lamp is powered by mains supply, you’re going to need to make sure you have plumbing and power supply close at hand. Easy installation will quickly go awry if you have to reroute either of these things.
This unit contains no other filtering mechanisms besides UV, so you’ll need to make sure it’s appropriate for your home. But because there are no other elements, it enables a fast-paced filtering and flow rate at 12 gallons per minute (GPM) - enough for five simultaneous showers!
It must be noted that this isn’t a maintenance-free unit. The UV filter needs to be replaced around once a year, and the quartz glass framework should be scrubbed every six months to ensure premium purification.
Pure UV purification for your whole house, with a fantastic flow rate to boot. Just be ready for the upkeep.
This is a neat and compact unit, suitable for under sink use. The Philips UV lamp slides inside a solid, watertight stainless steel chamber. The presence of reputable electronics and robust materials makes this a reliable UV purification filter in the long term.
Everything you need for installation is included in the kit, from the housing to wall-mounting brackets. The handiest amongst us should have no problem installing it themselves - but remember that the UV bulb is mains powered, whilst the unit is plumbed into your home water supply. That means you’ll need a power outlet within reach of the under sink cabinets.
A flow sensor switch is a smart inclusion - this turns on the UV light when it detects water flowing into the unit. It ensures the bulb is switched off when not in use and preserves the filter’s lifespan.
With around 8,000 hours of light - and purification - this is a fantastically long-lasting choice. The bulb should be purifying effectively under your faucet for years.
Whilst the unit is UV only, it is compatible with add-on filter stages including osmosis for thorough purification. However, these add-ons don’t come cheap and may compromise value for money. It’s best if UV purification is your primary need.
A long-lasting UV filter at a competitive price - this is the best UV water purifier for those on a budget.
One thing about the water bottle is that it comes with you everywhere you go. So no matter its purification properties, it needs to look good as well as stand up to some knocks.
CrazyCap describes their flask as "virtually indestructible’"- if they do say so themselves. But the double-walled vacuum insulation and stainless steel outer chamber should survive some hard use, although it may take a dent or two.
The UV light is powered by a compact battery in the cap, rechargeable through USB. The battery life should extend to seven days - enough for an extended camping trip, but worth remembering if you’re hitting the trail long term.
As well as effective water purification, the bottle also doubles as a flask - keeping warm beverages heated for up to 12 hours.
The UV bulb should purify 62,500 gallons - that’s a lifetime’s worth of water. But with just 14oz capacity, you’ll be refilling multiple times each day to stay hydrated.
Great value for money thanks to a long filter lifespan, and a lifetime warranty.
6. Pelican Premium Ultra Violet (UV) Disinfection System - Best Low Maintenance Home Filter
Pelican have produced a home water filtering system with all the bells and whistles.
The stainless steel bulb chamber is durable, whilst the quartz housing for the bulb itself is top of the range. It’s a big unit, so make sure you’ve got plenty of wall space for installation.
As well as the usual light and chamber, Pelican’s Premium system stands out because of its electronic display panel. This takes much of the strain out of maintaining your UV system - a warning light system notifies you whenever you need to maintain your system or change your filter.
Installing this heavy-duty system might take time, but a step-by-step manual, included in the kit, makes it a manageable task.
The lamp is the latest in UV technology, operating on a low-pressure and high-output system that emits a higher intensity UV than standard designs. In theory, this should lead to greater purification and a longer lifespan.
The bulb should be replaced once a year, adding an upkeep cost to an already significant price tag. And remember - this is only UV filtering. Sediment capturing and other forms of filtering are recommended as pre-stages by the manufacturer - but not included.
A premium water filtering system with a price tag to match, but the digital display and high-output bulb justify the price.
The UV Water Purifier Buying Guide
Whether you’re heading to the hills or looking to purify the water in your home, it’s clear there’s more to UV water purification than meets the eye.
Luckily, we’re here to show you the light. Here’s everything you should know about before you go shopping for UV water purifiers!
How Do UV Water Purifiers Work?
You might be asking - can light alone really purify my water? If you’re used to fancy filters working with sciencey-sounding mediums such as reverse osmosis or carbon activation, you’re in for a surprise. Yes - UV light really can purify water.
UV stands for ultraviolet, and it refers to light at a specific wavelength. Some of the light from our sun is UV - but not enough to target those pesky germs.
When UV light is concentrated, however, it can have a powerful effect on microbes and bacteria. The UV hits these shady contaminants and breaks up their DNA. Without DNA, they die off.
Let there be light!
Putting The “You” In UV
UV can make light work of water purification - but is this something you need for your home or hiking kit?
Here’s why UV is essential in any setting.
UV light is simple, yet effective. In fact, it’s commonly used in hospital and surgical settings to disinfect surfaces and kill bacteria.
Hospitals use industrial bulbs to purify large spaces, but smaller bulbs work brilliantly in home water supplies - and UV purifying water bottles even have removable caps that you can use on surfaces in your home.
A Longer Lifespan
Whereas many water filters need to be replaced every six months - or more frequently if your water quality is poor to start with - UV bulbs are more durable and long-lasting. UV bulbs don’t burn out the way standard lamps do, but they do become less intense in time and, as such, lose efficacy for purifying your water.
Most UV bulbs will have a lifespan of around 9000 hours - and if they’re in constant use, that totals 375 days.
And filters with smart sensors which switch off when not in use will last significantly longer!
And small water bottle filters might never need their bub changed, no matter how much pure water you’re guzzling.
Check the manufacturer’s recommendations, but most bulbs should last around 12 months. Smaller bulbs such as those found in UV-utilizing water bottles can last even longer - decades, in fact.
Reducing Plastic Waste
We all need to do our part in saving the planet. Becoming increasingly conscious of your plastic footprint - the amount of plastic you consume and discard - can be an important component in reducing our environmental impact.
Switching your store-bought bottled water for a UV water bottle could save 500,000 water bottles from hitting the landfill. That’s a lot of plastic, and every sip tastes better knowing you’re saving the world.
UV lamps are also exceptionally energy efficient and require very little power to run. Despite the powerful light that is emitted from these bulbs, they require roughly the same energy to run as a 60-watt bulb. This makes them eco-friendly, and a cost-effective filtering choice.
No Harmful Chemicals
Unlike many water filters which fight fire with fire, UV water purifiers rely on the power of light alone to purify the water with which it comes into contact. That means that there are no harmful chemicals involved in the process, and nothing untoward comes into contact with your drinking water.
It’s an all-natural process that leaves you perfectly purified.
The Limitations Of UV Purification
UV water purifiers are specifically targeted to microbiological contaminants - bugs and beasties who disintegrate at a molecular level when these high-powered beams hit the water. For campers and those living off-grid, these common contaminants are the main worry in your drinking water.
But if you’re drinking mains water supply you might be concerned about other contaminants, from herbicides to heavy metals. UV purification isn’t a water cure-all, and you might need additional filter sources to cover your back.
Can UV Light Be Dangerous?
Hang on a second - DNA-disintegrating UV rays sound great, but these are the building blocks of all life. You might be wondering if UV can be dangerous and if you should integrate it into your home.
And we know all about the damage that the sun's rays can do to our skin, from wrinkles to skin cancers.
Whilst there are valid concerns about UV rays - especially when we’re in direct sunlight, these water filters are perfectly safe.
For one thing, they’re sealed in stainless steel tubing that amplifies the effect of the UV on your water and keeps it contained.
If you have a UV purification water bottle, the light may be contained in the cap. You should take care not to look directly into the bulb - but the same is true for any torch.
The truth is, UV water filters are completely safe if you assemble them correctly. It’s the microbes that need to watch out!
Buying A UV Water Purifier: Need To Know
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing your first UV water purifier, so here are a few things to watch out for.
Your UV Needs
The UV water filter you’re taking on your travels will look very different from something that can purify water for your whole house. Identify your UV needs before you start exploring the UV water purifier market.
When it comes to whole-house filtering, it’s important to assess both the volume of water you require as well as the flow rate output you need. Flow rates can vary from around 9 GPM to 15 - opting for maximal flow rates can allow family members to shower across the household, saving you those morning bust-ups outside the bathroom!
Built with the right components - such as a stainless steel chassis and quartz glass protective chambers - your UV water filter should be durable and long-lasting. But things do go wrong.
Some UV water purifier manufacturers pride themselves on life-long warranties and attentive customer service, whereas others cut costs by stripping warranties to the bare bones.
The choice is yours, but for peace of mind choose a longer warranty.
And remember, sometimes different components come with separate warranties. It’s common for the system to have a warranty lasting for several years, whilst the UV bulbs included in the unit are under warranty for just six months.
Unlike other filters, UV water purifiers need a power source to keep the bulb running and are either cabled to enable access to an electrical outlet or battery-powered.If you’re buying a high-powered UV water purifier, ensure you have mains power close at hand. The last thing you want during installation is to discover you need to rewire the house!
Understanding the maintenance requirements of your UV purifier will help you choose the right system for your home. Are you the kind of person who’s found cleaning the car every sunny Sunday, or someone with a growing to-do list that could challenge Tolkein’s lengthy times?
UV water bottles are effectively self-cleaning, whilst whole-house units with quartz sleeves may need to be removed and scrubbed twice a year to ensure the efficacy of your filter system.
UV water purification takes something simple and natural and turns it into a powerfully effective method for cleansing our water.
Whilst ecologists suggest that water is the source of all life on our planet, the sun’s rays are another essential ingredient in our survival. From plants opening towards the sun to vitamin D nourishing our minds and bodies, light is another source of life.
Taking this technology and packaging it for water purification tells a compelling story about humanity and the importance of building closer connections to the natural world.
From off-grid living to hiking and travel, UV water purification can take you one step closer to living the dream. Let there be light!