Room temperature hydrogen sensors were fabricated from Au embedded ZnO nano-networks using a 30 mW GaN ultraviolet LED. The Au-decorated ZnO nano-networks were deposited on a SiO2/Si substrate by a chemical vapour deposition process. X-ray diffraction (XRD) spectrum analysis revealed a hexagonal wurtzite structure of ZnO and presence of Au. The ZnO nanoparticles were interconnected, forming nano-network structures. Au nanoparticles were uniformly distributed on ZnO surfaces, as confirmed by FESEM imaging. Interdigitated electrodes (IDEs) were fabricated on the ZnO nano-networks using optical lithography. Sensor performances were measured with and without UV illumination, at room temperate, with concentrations of hydrogen varying from 5 ppm to 1%. The sensor response was found to be ∼21.5% under UV illumination and 0% without UV at room temperature for low hydrogen concentration of 5 ppm. The UV-photoactivated mode enhanced the adsorption of photo-induced O- and O2- ions, and the d-band electron transition from the Au nanoparticles to ZnO - which increased the chemisorbed reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The sensor response was also measured at 150 °C (without UV illumination) and found to be ∼18% at 5 ppm. Energy efficient low cost hydrogen sensors can be designed and fabricated with the combination of GaN UV LEDs and ZnO nanostructures. © 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd.