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FAQ's - UV Light Meters

NOTICE: Keep a notebook to record periodic UV readings for each tanning unit in your salon. 

UV readings are only reliable when comparing the current reading to the original reading for the same lamp.

  1. Why should I purchase a UV meter?

  2. How accurate are UV meters?

  3. How do I take UV readings on my lamps? When do I replace my lamps?

  4. If my lamps are not new, how will I know what they should read?

  5. How can I tell if my acrylics need replacing?

  6. Does it really matter where I hold the meter when taking readings?

  7. How do I know which UV meter I need? What is the purpose of each model?


1. Why should I purchase a UV meter?

  • UV Meters are a very wise investment for any salon. They help determine when it is time to change your lamps.

  • Also, UV Meters should be used to check UV transmission through acrylics. Over a period of time, the acrylic will begin to block a larger percentage of UV light. Using a meter lets you know when you should replace your acrylics.

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2. How accurate are UV meters?

  • Pocket size lamp meters provide a comparative reading, not an absolute reading. They are helpful when comparing original readings to current readings.

  • Each manufacturer calibrates their meter to give you a reading relative to the original calibration. Therefore, each brand will give you different readings.

  • UV meters only read from a small portion of the spectrum of UV light. Different lamp manufacturers design their lamps to emit UV rays from a particular section of the spectrum. The UV meter may or may not read those rays. Therefore, readings will vary between each brand of lamp.

  • To get a truly accurate reading of the spectrum of UV emitted from a tanning lamp, you would need highly specialized (and very expensive) laboratory equipment.

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3. How do I take UV readings on my lamps? When do I replace my lamps?

  • Since UV readings vary dependent upon meter brand, lamp brand, ballasts, voltage, age, and acrylic transmission, lamps need to be measured when new to determine what they should read in OEM equipment.

  • Since it takes a "burn in" periods for tanning lamps to evenly distribute the gases and mercury, you may want to wait until you have 10 or more hours on the lamps before taking your first reading.

  • To take readings, allow the unit to run for a warm-up period of at least 3 minutes.

  • With the acrylic in place, take a reading in the center of the lamp.

  • Take readings from 2 or 3 different lamps in the same manner. The lamps you choose should be in the center of the unit.

  • From the 3 lamps you have taken readings from, figure the average of those three figures. Record this reading for this unit, as well as the date and current lamp hours.

  • Periodically perform this same procedure, recording your findings each time.

  • When the readings reach 70% of the original readings, its time to replace your lamps. Use these readings in accordance with your lamp hours to determine the lamp replacement schedule that is best for your salon.

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4. If my lamps are not new, how will I know what they should read?

  • If you are taking readings on existing lamps in your unit, you cannot tell if they are "good" or "bad" by the reading that you get. You have no original reading to compare it to.

  • Replace two adjacent lamps with new ones of the exact same brand.

  • Compare the readings taken from the old lamps to the new ones to determine the difference.

  • Please keep in mind that lamps will perform differently in different equipment. Therefore, Brand X in Bed A may give different readings than Brand X in Bed B.

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5. How can I tell if my acrylics need replacing?

  • Most UVB should pass through acrylics. As acrylics age, they will begin to block or absorb those UVB rays.

  • Using a meter will help you determine how much UV transmission your acrylic is blocking.

  • See the instructions on taking readings in Question 3 above.

  • Follow those instructions with the acrylics removed.

  • Compare the first readings to the second readings with the acrylics off.

  • If there is a 20% difference, replace your acrylic.

  • For more information on acrylic replacement, see our FAQ section on acrylics.

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6. Does it really matter where I hold the meter when taking readings?

  • Above, we recommend that you take meter readings in the center of the lamp.

  • However, it really does not matter. As long as you measure every time in the same place and at the same distance from the lamp.

  • This keeps measuring locations constant and provides more accurate comparisons.

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7. How do I know which UV meter I need? What is the purpose of each model?

  • The UV meters featured on FSParts are manufactured by SolarTech. They come in several different models: 5.0, 6.0, and 6.5. (They also manufacturer a 7.0 and 7.5 model which we do not carry.)

  • Model 5.0 is the most commonly used meter. It reads UVA + UVB. The primary use of this meter is to measure overall lamp intensity vs. aging.

  • Model 6.0 takes UVB readings. The primary use of this meter is to measure UVB intensity and acrylic transmission. You can determine the % of UVB if you divide the 6.0 reading by the 5.0 reading.

  • Model 6.5 is for UV index readings. It measures solar intensity and is primarily used for outdoor readings.

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Last Modified 06/02/2015

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