If you’re a homeowner and your home has recently suffered water damage, smoke damage, mold infestation, or the dreaded “smell of death” from an expired rodent in a crawl space, then you’ve probably read that an ozone generator might just be the answer to your problems. However, with so many different types of ozone machines on the market, how is one to decipher between fact, fiction, and pure unadulterated BS? I have a few tips that will help you avoid getting ripped off and help you make a wise ozone generator buying decision.
The first thing you have to realize is that the ozone generator industry as a whole is not regulated by any government agency. More than half of the so called ozone generator manufacturers are nothing but Internet opportunists trying to cash in on a high priced, somewhat in demand product. These unscrupulous vendors make their overpriced ozone machines in their own garages, set-up a website that makes all kinds of outrageous claims as to the output capabilities of their ozone machines, then advertise their website in the Search Engines. A sure fire way to weed out a few of these vendors is to do a Google search of their business address then use the “street view” feature by dragging and dropping the “little man icon” onto the street right in front of their business address. If you see a residential home, you might want to steer clear of that vendor. Why? It’s easy to shut down your operations when you’re doing business from home. When you invest in a business location, it shows you’re in it for the long haul and it’s harder to walk away from a “brink and mortar” location than it is from a home run business. Why should you care that the vendor is in business for the long haul? Because ozone generators are prone to fail due to the very corrosive nature of ozone and the damaging effects it has on the metal components within switches, timers, relays, etc. Same goes for eBay vendors who buy a lot of ozone machines without also investing in replacement parts. When their supply runs out, they’re out of the ozone business, and you’re left with an expensive door stop when your machine fails in due time.
Once you find an ozone machine that tickles your fancy and you’re ready to invest your hard earned money, the next question one must ask themselves is “How do I know if this machine really puts out as much ozone as the vendor claims? Ozone generator manufacturers don’t have to validate the ozone machines they sell to ensure they are producing the amount of ozone being claimed. I’ve seen some vendors claim 16,000 to 20,000 milligrams per hour yet when we tested those machines in our shop with our ozone meter, they produced 3000-5000 mg/h. That’s quite a big difference between what is actually being produced and what is being claimed. How then can you make sure the ozone generator you purchase is actually producing the amount of ozone being advertised? Simple! Ask the vendor the following questions in an e-mail (future fodder for a 100% money back should you test the machine and find the information provided was incorrect)
QUESTION #1. How Many Volts is the Power Supply! An ozone generator creates ozone by creating an electrical spark that splits oxygen in the air. In order to accomplish this feat, you have to create a high voltage electrical spark. A simple rule I’ve observed in the lab and well recognized in the ozone industry is that a 3000 volt transformer can produce around 3000 mg/h of ozone per hour when attached to a high voltage ozone element or six or more MICA plates at 40% humidity or less. Each Mica plate can produce a maximum of about 400 milligrams of ozone per hour IF it is properly installed due to the weak electrical spark it is capable of generating from the wire mesh. If you own a MICA plate ozone generator, view the plate in the dark. It won’t light up very bright, very dimly as a matter of fact. The types of ozone plates that turn bright purple in the dark are called “High Voltage Ozone Elements” and they can produce around 3000-4000 mgh per plate when fed with a 3000-4000 volt power transformer. These types of plates glow purple, almost like UV lamp, in the dark. They create a very strong electrical spark that is much more efficient at producing ozone vs the old fashioned MICA plates. As a matter of fact a 4000 volt transformer and ozone element only uses about 35 watts of electricity, now that’s efficient! Therefore, Tip #1 is to ask the vendor to e-mail you in writing the exact voltage, amps, and watts used by their power transformers and how many and which type of ozone plates their machines use. If a vendor claims for instance their machine produces 16 to 20 thousand milligrams of ozone per hour but their machine only uses one 5000 volt transformer, then you’ll things just don’t add up.
QUESTION #2. What type of ozone element does the ozone machine use? Believe it or not, some vendors will try and convince you that the ozone elements in their machines are “permanent” and will last forever. Folks, there’s no such thing as a permanent ozone plate! If used in 90-100% humidity, even the expensive high voltage ozone plates will only last 20-40 hours. Ozone generators are not made to be used in 90% plus humidity! In humid areas, you must run the air conditioning or a dehumidifier in order to perform a shock treatment. Tip #2 therefore is to think twice before buying an ozone generator from a vendor who doesn’t offer replacement ozone plates or makes a machine that utilizes “MICA” plates.
Once you have those answers in writing, save the e-mail in case you need to use it to obtain a refund in the future. When you receive your ozone generator, have a local electrician friend of the family (or hire someone) to open your ozone generator and give it the once over and test the strength (in volts) of the power transformer. If you discover the stated voltage doesn’t match the advertised voltage, ask for a refund. After all, what you’re buying when you buy an ozone generator are high voltage power transformers, not a slick sales pitch! The honest vendors will clearly state their machines specifications on their websites and via e-mail if asked. They’ll also provide you with a picture of the inside of their units and disclose the amount of plates, type used, etc. You should be weary of vendors who hold this information close to the vest or refuse to go on the record with this information.
Now you know what questions to ask an ozone machine vendor before making a purchase. I want to close out this “Ozone Generator Buying Guide” by giving you a few tips on how to save money on your purchase:
Tip #1. Ask the vendor if they sell any used units or any “bare bones” ozone generators. Many ozone generator vendors will have spare parts on hand from returned or fixed units they can sell “on the down low” for a mere pittance of the retail price. Others might be able to sell you a “bare bones ozone generator” without any of the bells and whistles you can easily use to make your own ozone generator, especially if you’re the “do-it-yourself” type. You might also want to check eBay to see if anyone is selling high voltage power transformers in the 3000-12,000 volt range or high voltage ozone elements that can be easily attached to the power transformer. Some ozone vendors want $1000 or more for their ozone generators, however, the fact of the matter is that ozone machines are pretty basic electronic components and they shouldn’t cost as much as a used car, especially if you buy the main components and “Do It Yourself.”
Tip #2. Don’t buy an ozone generator with too many “bells and whistles”. Ozone as I’ve already mentioned is very corrosive over time to all metals except stainless steel. Unfortunately, all electronic switches, relays, etc needs to use regular metal in order to be conduce electricity. What we have therefore is a dilemma. The solution? Don’t buy an ozone generator with all the bells and whistles! This would include an internal timer, ozone output dial (to turn the ozone up and down), etc. Just realize that if you do buy an ozone generator with these parts that eventually the ozone is going to destroy those parts and all it takes to shut down an ozone generator is to have one of the electrical components fail. If you want a timer, buy an external timer for $5 at Lowe’s. If you want to be able to turn the ozone output up and down, buy a “repeat cycle timer” that can turn your ozone generator on for a few seconds ever x amount of minutes, and repeat that cycle indefinitely. Both of those items can be connected via an extension cord in another room to your ozone generator. Less is more when it comes to longevity in shock treatment ozone generators.
Tip #3. Don’t over do it when performing shock treatments! There is a reason the trained professionals that administer ozone shock treatments command thousands of dollars to perform shock treatments; they know what they’re doing and how to safely and effectively perform a shock treatment without leaving your home smelling like ozone for weeks after the shock treatment! Besides being an ozone generator manufacturer, I also run a restoration business that employs ozone in some of our work. For mold remediation, ozone only plays a small role in riding the house of toxic mold for instance. Sheet rock has to be taken down and replaced, super high CFM air cleaners make sure the mold, when disturbed, isn’t re-distributed throughout the structure. Wet wood has to be dried. Leaky pipes have to be fixed, etc etc. Yes, shock levels of ozone will kill the mold, but that’s just a small part of mold remediation, regardless of what some ozone vendors might advertise to help hawk their units.
The main mistake I see homeowners make when doing a shock treatment is not properly removing or covering all petroleum based products such as carpet foam, sofa cushions, etc. We use Kevlar to cover carpets and foam filled sofas, mattresses, etc. Kevlar is ozone resistant and will keep the foam from interacting with the ozone. Ozone will oxidize foam and rubber and cause a chemical-ozone smell that can linger for weeks. So tip #3 is to not over do it with an ozone shock treatment! One or two hour shock treatments in furniture filled homes is advisable. You might have to perform several such shock treatments, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when shocking a furniture filled home. Some vendors tell their clients to just turn the ozone generator on and let it run for a few days. I strongly advise against that practice.
Tip #4. When you are ready to buy, call the vendor and order over the phone. Odds are at some point in time your ozone generator is going to need service. I don’t know about you but I hate buying something on-line, having it break down, then not being able to speak with a live person for support without having to wait on hold for 30 minutes or worse yet, not being able to speak to a live person at all then not having my e-mails answered! You can nip this type of situation in the bud by first calling. If you can’t easily get through and get a well informed live person to answer the phone to place your order, then consider buying elsewhere. This bit of advice goes for making any large ticket item purchase on the Internet.
If you want to save money and make a wise investment, ask the right questions before you buy your ozone generator and also consider incorporating some of my tip suggestions as well. The more you shop around, the more time you spend doing some Internet research, and most importantly, the more time you spend e-mailing and talk directly with the vendor, the more likely you are to make a wise investment and end up with a great ozone machine that lasts you a lifetime.