Germicidal Lamps Overview

Germicidal lamps are specially designed lamps that disinfect surfaces with ultraviolet C (UV-C) light. They are used in ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) technology, which creates high-intensity electromagnetic radiation capable of destroying microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, and protozoans without the need for harsh chemicals.

There are three main types of germicidal lamps: amalgam, low-pressure, and medium-pressure mercury-arc. Other key components of these lamps include quartz sleeves and o-rings. Learn more about these components, as well as their most common industrial applications.

Amalgam Lamps, Low-Pressure, and Medium-Pressure Mercury-Arc Lamps

There are three different types of UV light technologies that make ultraviolet germicidal irradiation possible. Because different microorganisms absorb unique wavelengths of UV light, different types of microorganisms succumb to different frequencies of UV light. The right UV germicidal lamp thus depends on which types of contaminants must be eliminated.

Amalgam Lamps

  • Mercury and other elements are blended together to produce UV light
  • Results in a more consistent, stable output of UV light
  • Most widely used for water and air treatment

Low-Pressure Mercury-Arc Lamps

  • Generates UV light using mercury vapor
  • Produces higher-intensity UV light than amalgam lamps
  • Relied on by the healthcare and food and beverage industries

Medium-Pressure Mercury-Arc Lamps

  • Generates UV light using mercury vapor at higher operating pressures
  • Creates the highest-intensity UV light
  • Kills particularly resilient microorganisms

UV Quartz Sleeves

Quartz sleeves are transparent quartz-glass tubes that function as a barrier for the UV lamp, shielding it from hazards such as water, cracking, leaks, external electrical current, temperature changes, and air pressure fluctuation. Quartz sleeves must be kept as clean and transparent as possible so that the UV light can penetrate the glass and perform effective sterilization. All three types of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation lamps use quartz sleeves for proper maintenance.


O-rings create a watertight seal around the lamp inside the sleeve to prevent contact with water. Over time, o-rings can be degraded by UV light, so they must be replaced about once per year. Their low cost makes them affordable to replace regularly, an easy way to invest in the long-term reliability of your ultraviolet germicidal irradiation lamps.

Industries That Commonly Use Germicidal Lamps and Quartz Sleeves

The healthcare industry has embraced ultraviolet germicidal irradiation as a non-invasive method of disease prevention. Due to their high effectiveness and low cost, UV germicidal lamps are a preferred way to sterilize and disinfect medical equipment and facilities.

Many food and beverage industries also use ultraviolet germicidal lamps to destroy bacteria on food processing equipment, purify water, and sterilize potable pathways. For this same reason, water treatment facilities and manufacturers of drinking water often rely on ultraviolet germicidal lights.

The air purification industry also uses UV disinfection lamps, due to their ability to destroy contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—hazards commonly implicated in poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and higher rates of respiratory disease.

Germicidal Lamps From Southern Lamps

Germicidal lamps, quartz sleeves, and o-rings are essential components for filtering contaminants, maintaining product quality, and safeguarding human health. Southern Lamps specializes in supplying high-quality infrared (IR) and ultraviolet lamps and related components. We apply over 70 years of combined experience in UV and IR lamp technologies, including field service and custom UV/IR drying equipment installations, to meet our customers’ exact specifications.

Our extensive line of UV and IR lamps and accessories can address even the most specific client needs. For more information or to request a quote, contact Southern Lamps today.