Ultraviolet disinfection systems, like the Viqua/Sterilight systems we are discussing, have become a popular choice for home owners and cottagers that are not on serviced by municipal water sources. These are whole house systems that ensure all of the water flowing into your home or cottage is bacteria free and safe for your family. If you do not take these pre cautions about your water no one else well.
The Viqua/Sterilight S5Q-PA Ultraviolet (UV) water sterilizer is a popular and economical choice for small cottages requiring flow rates of up to a maximum of 6 gpm while the S8Q-PA is far better suited to smaller homes where the maximum flow rate is limited to 9. For larger homes Viqua's new VH410 provides 18 gpm.
These UV’s (part of Sterilights' Silver Series) include many popular convenience features including a visual "lamp on" light, and an audible lamp failure alarm. They feature stainless steel reactor chambers, fire-polished domed quartz sleeves, and Viquas’ popular Sterilume™-EX coated low pressure germicidal UV lamps. They use Viqua's ICE controller which automatically senses line voltage between 100 and 240 volts for consistent UV output and performance in varying electrical operating conditions and has an LED countdown timer which displays days remaining to Lamp replacement.
So how do these Viqua Ultraviolet Disinfection systems compare?
Performance - 10/10 A consistent and proven bacteria kill in both lake and well water. Viqua/Sterilight UV's are NSF and WQA certified to ensure their consistent performance.
Capacity - 10/10 The capacity in this case is the UV's ability to kill bacteria which is limited to the flow rate. Since these three models cover up to 18 gpm you just invest in the one whose maximum flow rate is higher than your pumps' flow rate.
Cost to Operate - 9/10 Low 30 Watt (46 Watt for larger S8Q-PA and 60W for the VH410) power consumption to operate. These replacement lamps, although readily available at a variety of sources, are at the higher end of the price scale for this size UV.
Ease of Installation/use - 9/10 Viqua’s relatively small size and ability to be mounted vertically as well as horizontally make them very easy to install for do it your selfers. They come with an installation kit as well as easy to follow directions. The VH410 has the inlet and outlet arranged ports in an S configuration for easier in line plumbing. Minirack UV systems, which include the pre filters in one manifold with the UV are easier and quicker to install compared to these units.
Features - 10/10 - These Ultraviolet Disinfection systems have a countdown timer showing the lamp life in days remaining, which is very useful especially for cottage applications, they are straight forward and easy to understand.
Parts Availability - 9/10 Although parts are readily available from the manufacturer and any number of distributors, any water treatment dealer can get replacement lamps and parts. Since this is a non proprietary product parts are readily available from any water treatment dealer.
Longevity - 7/10 The ballasts in these UV's have been somewhat problematic, occasionally lasting only a few years before requiring replacement. Due to the short life of ballasts customers have been disappointed with them suddenly quitting rendering the whole system inoperable without notice.
Reliability and Build Quality - 8/10 Due to the frequency of the ballasts having a short life span, customers have been disappointed with them suddenly quitting rendering the whole system inoperable.
Initial Investment - 9/10 These Viqua UV's are quite well priced, although the replacement lamps are a little on the expensive side. The difference in cost between these 3 models is relatively small so that depending on your installation configuration, if you need to mount this in line with your plumbing you may be better off going to the largest model, the VH410.
Styling/Aesthetics - 9/10 These Ultraviolet Disinfection systems are very well built and look great when installed. Due to the placement of the serial and model number label it is often difficult for the customer to find in the future when needing access to make sure they are purchasing correct replacement lamp etc.
Gary the Water Guy Overall Score 90/100
Pros: Low initial investment, very accessible replacement parts, easy DIY install
Cons: Some past longevity and reliability issues.
So what's the Verdict?
I rate this as a good choice for any family that needs an Ultraviolet system that, due to the space that is available, can only be mounted horizontally.