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FAQ's - Tanning Bed Lamps & Bulbs

Resources:
The tanning bed replacement lamps (bulbs) you choose should be a well-thought out decision based on all of the following: quality, compatibility, price, longevity, UV output, and brand name. 

When ordering tanning bed replacement lamps (bulbs), always order spare lamps for each type of lamp that you are ordering. This eliminates downtime in the event of breakage, no-lights, or premature failures. 

Don't forget to replace your starters (if your unit uses them) at least every other time you change your lamps. This cuts back on down time by reducing the number of times you have to remove your acrylic to replace one starter at a time. 

To speed up the process of ordering, please have the make and model number of your bed and the numbers off of the lamps you want to replace. Example: F72 T12 100W


FAQ's:

Also see - What Lamps Do I need?

  1. What information do I need to know when purchasing tanning bed replacement lamps?

  2. What is UVB? What does "5.0" and "6.5" mean?

  3. What is compatibility?

  4. Can I turn my 30 minute unit into a 20 minute unit (or my 20 minute unit into a 10 minute unit) bed by going with a higher UVB percentage?

  5. How long should my lamps last?

  6. What can I do to prolong the life of my lamps?

  7. I just bought new lamps, and one (or more) will not come on. What's wrong?

  8. I installed my new lamps, but one (or more) is glowing on the ends (or "flickering", "swirling", etc.). What do I do?

  9. I've had my new lamps in for a few days, and I just don't feel like I'm getting any results. What's wrong?

  10. My salesperson said that these lamps should last for over 800 hours (or 500 or 1000 or etc.). I've only got 250 hours on my lamps, and three have burnt out already.

  11. Do lamps "go bad" in storage?

  12. The last time I ordered lamps, they were pink. This time, they are blue. What is the difference?

  13. I've seen lamps advertised that are two different colors. What is the difference between those lamps and ordinary lamps?

  14. I've heard a lot lately about "bronzing" lamps, or "browning" lamps. What are they?

  15. What does "RUVA" mean? What is a reflector lamp? Why would I need a reflector lamp?

  16. More helpful tips on lamps:

  17. Purchase Tanning Lamps


 

1. What information do I need to know when purchasing tanning bed replacement lamps?

  • Have the make, model, and year of your tanning unit.

  • The most important information when reordering lamps is to make sure that you get the correct length, end-type, and wattage. Most lamps on the market have identifying numbers on one end. These numbers generally tell you the brand, the length, the end-type, and wattage. Some even have special numbers that represent other things such as lamp color and reflectors.

For example:

  •  
    • Take a lamp that has this stamped on it: F71-T12-100W/BL/BP.

    • F71 represents the length of the lamp in inches. However, if you measure the lamp, it will not come out to exactly 71 inches. The number is a lighting standard used worldwide, and it generally represents the length of the lamp including the lamp holder. For reordering purposes in the tanning industry, though, it means length in inches. The most common lengths used in the tanning industry are F59, F60, F71, F72, F73, and F74.

    • T12 represents the diameter of the lamp. This number is usually not used when determining which replacement lamp to order.

    • 100W signifies the wattage of the lamp. The most common wattages used today are 80W, 100W, 120W, 140W, 160W, 170W, and 200W. If you do not see a number followed by a "W" on your lamp, don't worry. Some lamp manufacturers use letters to represent their wattage.

    • BL refers to the color. In this case, black light, or ultraviolet light.

    • BP means Bi-Pin. That is the type of end this lamp has. There are two different types of end types used in tanning equipment: Bi-Pin and Recessed Double Contact, or RDC. See the picture below

     

    Bi-pin  Lamps RDC Lamps
    Bi-pin RDC

     

    • If your lamp does not designate on the label whether it has a Bi-Pin or an RDC, you can look at your actual lamp for that information. As a rule of thumb, F59 and F71 lamps will have Bi-Pin ends. F60, F72, F73, and F74 will have RDC ends.

  • Some lamp manufacturers use different types of numbers or letters to designate the length and wattage of their lamps.

For example:

  •  
    • FR71-T12-HO.-FR.

    • The R refers to a reflector lamp. A lamp that has an "R" or "RUVA" in stamp have a special reflective coating inside the lamp.

    • HO means high output, for 100 watt lamps. You may also see VHO, which means very high output, for 140 watt and 160 watt lamps.

 

  • There are lamp manufacturers that do not use the above system for identifying their lamps. Those manufacturers have come up with their own systems for marking their lamps. Most lamp distributors have a cross-reference for identifying these lamps, so please give them all of the information off of your existing lamp.

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2. What is UVB? What does "5.0" and "6.5" mean?

  • There are two different types of ultraviolet light involved in the tanning process: UVA and UVB.

  • UVB (280-320nm) is what starts the tanning process. It is what causes the "reddening" effect, or erythema. UVB causes melanin to form beneath the surface of the skin.

  •  UVA (320-400nm) oxidizes the melanin and turns your skin brown.

  • Generally, the more UVB in a lamp, the faster results you will see. Usually, they will shorten the session length.

  • Many lamp manufacturers designate the percentage of UVB in their lamps by a number: 2.6, 4.2, 5.0, 6.5, 6.9, 7.5, 7.9, 8.5, 8.9 and so on.

  • A lamp that is listed as a 5.0 for example, might have a label that looks similar to this: F73-T12/BL/HO/50, where the 50 represents 5% UVB.

  • Many salon owners today judge a lamp by the UVB ratio. That can be a very big mistake:

  •  
    • The UVB ratio can not be used to compare between brands. For example, a 5.0 from Manufacturer A is not the same as a 5.0 from Manufacturer B because this number is a percentage.

    • To put it in its simplest terms, see the picture below:

    • You can see that even though both Lamp A and Lamp B have 5% UVB, Lamp B has a higher overall UV output. Therefore, the amount of UVB, not the percentage, in Lamp B is higher than that in Lamp A.

 

  • When choosing replacement lamps of either the same UVB ratio or higher than your existing lamp, be sure to factor in the following:

*Performance *Longevity *Results *Cost Effectiveness *Compatibility *Quality

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3. What is compatibility?

  • Most states are required by either their state regulatory office or by the FDA to use either the original lamp that came in the tanning unit, or a compatible replacement.

  • Compatibility is set by the FDA guideline that states the following:
    • The replacement lamp's output must be within +/- 10% of the OEM (original) lamp.

    • The replacement lamp cannot alter the exposure time of the equipment.

    • The replacement lamp must have the same melanogenic and erythemic effect as the original lamp.

 

  • There may be dozens of lamps that you can technically use in your equipment. In other words, they will fit, they will light, and they will tan. But that doesn't make them compatible. In order for them to be compatible, they have to meet the above requirements. Your inspector will need proof that they do. This can be found on compatibility sheets.

  • Compatibility sheets must list your original lamp as being compatible with the replacement that you have chosen. Either the manufacturer or lamp distributor can provide you with the compatibility sheets if one did not come with your lamps.

  • On the sheet, the numbers and letters on your original lamp must be identical to the numbers and letters listed for your original lamp on the sheet. The same is true for the numbers and letters for the replacement lamp.

  • Not every manufacturer publishes compatibility sheets.

  • Some companies only publish compatibility sheets that list other lamps that they make as compatible replacements.

  • If you are unsure about whether or not a lamp is compatible, you can do the following:
    • Contact your bed manufacturer for info on the original lamp in your unit.

    • Contact the company that you purchased the replacement lamps from. Request compatibility sheets that they have on your lamps.

    • Contact your state or FDA inspector if you have any doubts.

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4. Can I turn my 30 minute unit into a 20 minute unit (or my 20 minute unit into a 10 minute unit) bed by going with a higher UVB percentage?

  • A bed was designed to operate with a particular type of lamp (or a compatible replacement) to achieve the session length it is labeled with. The following factors of bed design play a part in the session length:

*Ballasts *Reflectors *Acrylics *Voltage *Distance between lamp and the tanner

  • For example, if you purchase a tanning unit with a 20 minute session length, the lamp that it came with was designed to tan up to a 20 minute session length in that unit. If you install lamps with a higher UVB ratio, it may reduce the exposure time significantly.
  • Some state and FDA regulations may allow you to re-certify your tanning units for use with a higher UVB-rated lamp. You will have to change the exposure schedule accordingly. Please contact your inspector for more information concerning re-certification.

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5. How long should my lamps last?

  • Most manufacturers will have a rated life time for lamp they make. This information should be given to you at the time you purchase your lamps. Most lamp distributors have that information readily available. If not, ask them to contact the lamp manufacturer for you. Or, you can call them yourself.

  • The rated lifetime figure is based on laboratory tests. It is a number that is arrived at through testing under the most ideal of conditions. In salon settings, there are variables such as voltage, room temperature, proper bed maintenance, etc., that will affect the actual useful hours on a tanning lamp.

  • Do not rely on the manufacturer's rated lifetime to know when to change your lamps. We recommend that you change your lamp at approximately 80% of whatever the manufacturer tells you. For example, Brand X is rated by the manufacturer to last 1000 hours. Change them around 800 hours.

  • Please keep in mind that factors such as inappropriate room temperature, too much or too little voltage, and improper bed maintenance will affect how long your lamps will last.

  • In conjunction with the lamp hours, use a UV meter to determine when to change your lamps. Please see our UV Meter FAQ for more info on how to use a meter.

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6. What can I do to prolong the life of my lamps?

  • Clean your acrylics thoroughly and periodically. Change them when necessary, not just when they are broken. See our Acrylic FAQ's section for more information on cleaning and changing suggestions.

  • Replace all fans as soon as possible after they fail. Keep all dust and debris cleaned away from them. This will help maintain adequate air ventilation in your tanning unit.

  • Clean all reflectors behind the lamps when you change the lamps.

  • Make sure your incoming voltage meets the manufacturer's specifications. If your voltage is too high, it can raise the operating temperature of your unit and therefore shorten the lamp life. If your voltage is too low, the maximum potential tanning results will not be reached. Install a buck booster if necessary or required.

  • Replace starters (if your unit uses them) at least every other time you relamp.

  • Make sure you have enough A/C and/or adequate ventilation for your tanning units. Contact the manufacturer of the tanning unit to get exact specifications on how many tons of A/C each unit requires.

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7. I just bought new lamps, and one (or more) will not come on. What's wrong?

  • During shipping, it is possible that a lamp was damaged. Sometimes, the cracks may be so tiny that you cannot see them, but they allow the gases to escape. The lamp will not light. Contact the company you purchased the lamp from for their policy on freight damage.

  • A certain percentage of lamps (from any manufacturer) will not light. This failure is not common, approximately less that 5%. Contact your lamp distributor for information on replacements.

  • Make sure that the lamp ends are properly installed in the lamp-holder. They may be loose and not making proper connection.

  • Replace starter (if your unit uses them).

  • Check your lamp holder to see if any are black, melted, or have a loose wire. Replace if needed.

  • If you have followed all instructions above, you probably have a failed ballast. Replace the ballast.

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8. I installed my new lamps, but one (or more) is glowing on the ends (or "flickering", "swirling", etc.). What do I do?

  • Lamp ends glowing: replace starters.

  • Flickering: usually caused by failed starters; replace.

  • Swirling: caused by impurities in the lamps. Run the unit through 2 or 3 sessions and they should disappear.

  • Orange or other colored "streaks": caused by air leaks through cracks which sometimes occur during shipping. Replace the lamp.

  • Dark ends: check your lamp holders. A certain amount of darkening will occur with any lamp. Normal darkening occurs within approximately an inch on the end of each lamp. This is completely normal; there is no effect on either the performance of the lamp or the tan.

  • Holes in phosphor (coating): cosmetic defects that have no effect on the tanning ability of a lamp.

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9. I've had my new lamps in for a few days, and I just don't feel like I'm getting any results. What's wrong?

  • When is the last time you replaced your acrylics? You may want to take readings with a UV meter, one with the acrylic on, another with the acrylic off. If there is a difference of 20% or more, replace your acrylic. See the FAQ sections on acrylics and UV meters for more information.

  • Have an electrician check your actual incoming voltage. It may be too low and therefore minimizing your lamp's potential.

  • Make sure that your tanning unit is properly cooled. If your unit is running too hot, that can reduce the lamp's output down to only 70% of what it should be delivering. Check your fans, clean your unit thoroughly, and change any filters.

  • Your old lamps may have been a lot "hotter". Often, customers mistake "heat" for "tan". Have your customers follow the recommended exposure schedule. Have them use a body sticker so they can accurately see the results they get after several sessions.

  • If you have done all of these things, and are still getting repeated complaints from several customers, get your invoice number, the batch code off of the lamp, and contact the company that you purchased the lamp from. Or, contact the lamp manufacturer. They will probably want to see a sample of the batch you have for testing.

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10. My salesperson said that these lamps should last for over 800 hours (or 500 or 1000 or etc.). I've only got 250 hours on my lamps, and three have burnt out already.

  • Make sure that you have checked the starters, lamp holders, ballasts, and voltage as mentioned above.

  • Contact the company you purchased the lamps from to make sure that you have the correct replacement lamp.

  • For example: If your tanning unit is a 160W or VHO unit, and you are running 100W or HO lamps in your unit, the 160 watt ballast is what is causing the premature failure of the 100 watt lamps. The ballast is too powerful, and for whatever reason, whether it be miscommunication between you and the salesperson, not enough information supplied at the time the order was placed, or a mistake during the packing process, you have the wrong lamp for your unit. Consult your lamp distributor and let them know as soon as possible.

  • A certain percentage of lamps will not last as long as they are rated for. Again, remember that if a company says "1000 hours", you should expect approximately 800 hours of useful tanning life. Even at that, a certain percentage may fail prematurely. Contact the company that you purchased the lamp from to see what their lamp warranty will cover. Be prepared to purchase replacement lamps.

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11. Do lamps "go bad" in storage?

  • No. Lamps can be stored indefinitely. If you receive lamps with a relatively "old" date code, there is no need to worry. The gases, phosphors, and other components used to manufacture lamps do not expire or deteriorate. The only way a lamp "goes bad" is by running it.

  • Lamps that have been stored in either too hot or too cold of an environment may be difficult to light at first. Allow them to reach room temperature before they are used.

  • If stored lamps are dusty, clean them before installation with alcohol or common house-hold glass cleaner.

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12. The last time I ordered lamps, they were pink. This time, they are blue. What is the difference?

  • Different lamp manufacturers choose different colored phosphors to use in their lamps. Phosphors are the specially blended coating inside lamps that allow through UV light.

  • The color itself has little to no effect on the type of tan that it gives. Whether a company chooses pink, blue, white, or any other color is purely cosmetic. 

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13. I've seen lamps advertised that are two different colors. What is the difference between those lamps and ordinary lamps?

  • Some manufacturers make lamps that have two different colored phosphors inside the same lamp. You may have seen advertisements of lamps that are 1/3 pink and 2/3 blue.

  • These lamps are usually designed for salon owners that have tanning equipment that did not originally come with a factory installed facial tanner. These lamps give you the option of satisfying those customers who have a more difficult time tanning their face and upper body.

  • The upper portion of the lamp has a specially blended phosphor that allows through a stronger UVB percentage. The lower portion has a phosphor that allows through a lower UVB percentage. The color itself has virtually no effect on the tan.

  • Ideally, this lamp should give you an evenly balanced tan from head to toe.

  • Please consult the lamp manufacturer or supplier for compatibility before considering this option. See above for more info on compatibility.

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14. I've heard a lot lately about "bronzing" lamps, or "browning" lamps. What are they?

  • In the past, there has been a trend in the tanning industry for higher UVB percentage lamps. They usually give more immediate results, shorter session times, and a faster "reddening" effect.

  • Many salon owners and tanners do not want the reddening effect. They prefer more of a "bronzing" or "browning" effect.

  • If you are interested in something of this type, consult with your lamp salesperson. They will explore the options they have available and probably suggest a lamp with a lower UVB ratio.

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15. What does "RUVA" mean? What is a reflector lamp? Why would I need a reflector lamp?

  • RUVA is a lamp that has a special reflective coating inside the lamp. They generally have a lower UVB percentage, such as 2.6.

  • Other lamp manufacturers designate that their lamps have built-in reflectors by using the letter "R". If it just has an R, that usually means that the lamp is a reflector lamp with a higher UVB percentage.

  • Lamps with reflective coatings direct most of the UV rays directly onto the tanner. They intensify the tanning session.

  • The most obvious cases in which a salon owner would require a reflector lamp is when the equipment's original lamp was a reflector. In this scenario, the tanning unit was designed for use with reflector lamps. Replacing them with a non-reflector lamp will alter the type of tan, the performance of the unit, and the length of the session time.

  • Some salon owners choose to replace their original non-reflector lamps with a reflector lamp in order to provide a more intense tanning session for their customers. This may alter the original session length, so many states cannot use reflector lamps. 
    If you are in a regulated state, always be sure that the reflector lamp is compatible with the original lamp in the unit.

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16. More helpful tips on lamps:

  • Replace all of your lamps at once. This will help prevent "striping", different colored lamps in the same unit, and more uniform performance.

  • There are some cases where a tanning unit will take 2 or more different types of lamps. In that case, you may have two different replacement schedules to follow. For example, a unit that uses 160W lamps on top and 100W lamps on bottom. You will have to change the top lamps twice as often as the ones on bottom.

  • Always order your lamps in even cases if you can. This helps minimize freight damage. It also gives you spare lamps in the event of no lights, breakage, or premature failure.

  • If you do not order in full cases, order several spares for each type of lamp that you are ordering. This minimizes any down time you will encounter from having to take your acrylic out twice.

  • Replace your starters at least every other time you relamp. Keep a box on hand at all times.

  • Get as much information as you can about the lamp you are ordering. If there is any literature, ask that the company either mail, fax, or email you a copy. Make sure that they include any compatibility sheets if you need them.

  • Keep your compatibility sheets in a safe place for your inspector's approval.

  • Keep a record for each tanning unit. It should include the make, model, serial number, year, lamp type(s), lamp replacement schedule(s), etc. This will make the reordering process go smoothly, both for your and your salesperson. It eliminates confusion.

  • Also have a place to enter UV meter readings. See UV Meter FAQ for more information.

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