Equipment & Lamp Performance

  1. Periodically check lamp cleanliness. Most units have an air cooling system for the lamps, which ends up being a giant vacuum cleaner for room dirt. A dirt buildup on the lamps can have a significant effect on lamp intensity.
  2. Check that the cooling system for the lamps is operating properly. Without proper airflow, a lamp can lose intensity. A lamp running 20-30 degrees too hot (or too cold) can lose as much as 35% of its maximum output intensity.
  3. Monitor your lamp intensity, and log it, as discussed earlier.
  1. When changing lamps, always clean the tanning unit thoroughly. Dirty reflectors* and acrylics can significantly reduce the useful UV performance of the lamps.
  2. Check the acrylic quality. Poor quality, “cheap” acrylics, or badly degraded acrylics can block 70% or more of the UVB radiation of the lamps from reaching your skin. This can make a new lamp appear to perform like one that has reached end-of-life.
  3. Check the lamp sockets. Be sure that the lamps are snug in the lamp sockets. Replace any which show worn springs or loose contacts. Poor lamp contacts can cause difficulty in lamp starting, shorten lamp life, premature end blackening, and possible electrical arcing at the lamp ends.
  4. Change the lamp starters regularly. Generally most bed manufacturers recommend changing the starters at every other lamp replacement. A worn-out starter can quickly destroy an expensive lamp!

* mostly applies to US tanning lamps

How do you keep your tanning equipment operating at its peak? How do you know if there’s a problem with your bed or booth before it causes customer complaints? How do you know when to change your tanning lamps? It’s no secret. The most successful salon operators meter their equipment’s output regularly, and keep a careful log of their meter readings. Contact your supplier and purchase a handheld UV meter that is designed to give the most accurate readings for your tanning system. These simple meters are typically built to read UV intensity at only one wavelength (normally 365nm). It is important to note that they give a relative reading only!

Three different meters might give three different readings for the same lamp in the same bed or booth on the same day. That’s not important. What is important is that your UV meter will help you to see how your equipment is functioning.  These meters can show you how your lamps and acrylics will degrade over usage. Establish a notebook with a page for each booth or bed in your salon. Here is an example of how your notebook should read:


When you put new VHO lamps (long mount lamps) into your equipment, you should operate them for at least 5 hours initially, to distribute the mercury within the lamps and bring them up to full output. In the case of HO lamps, no break in time is required. Once the lamps are stabilized, take and record your initial UV intensity reading. Test them regularly. You’ll want to change your lamps when the output falls to 70% of the original meter reading. Thus, if your initial reading was 20, you’d want to re-lamp when the output falls to 14.

Always test your equipment under the same circumstances. We suggest a five minute warm-up, and readings taken with the meter exactly in the center of the equipment, resting on the acrylic, or within a preset distance from the lamp. If your test procedures vary (e.g., incoming voltage), your readings will vary, and the information will be inaccurate. It’s not just lamps that wear out. As they age, acrylics solarize (degrade), and begin to filter out some of the UV coming from the lamps. When this happens, even unused lamps will hardly tan your customers—and it’s time for new acrylics. Meter your equipment’s output with new acrylics, and watch for a significant output change, (acrylic on vs. acrylic off) as the acrylics age.

In addition, the existence of written records and test results will save you time and money if you ever have to diagnose certain equipment problems. Therefore, you need to meter your equipment and keep good records. You’ll be glad you did!

A Word of Caution:
Our lamps are made for OEM and replacement applications, in compliance with FDA and European regulatory requirements. In order to determine the compatible lamps for your equipment, please refer to your equipment manual and user instruction sheets. The breadth of our product lines, includes lamps specifically designed for rapid start, preheat, and now the new electronic ballast designs. This is intended to optimize tanning lamp performance in the OEM equipment design. Rarely is the lamp operation optimal with one lamp in each type of circuit. Be sure you are using the proper lamp for your application! The addition by salons of RDC adapters to bi-pin lamps constitutes a misapplication of the lamps. This could lead to accelerated depreciation, end darkening and dissatisfied clients. Light Sources assumes no responsibility for misapplied lamps.

  1. Lamps will not degrade in their carton; so “freshly dated” lamps are not necessary. The only way to degrade a lamp is by operating it.
  2. Lamps are not hurt by storage in high or low temperatures either. However, lamps allowed to sit in a cold or hot environment may be difficult to light until they reach room temperature.
  3. If lamps have been stored in the open, always clean them before installing. Acceptable cleaners include glass cleaner, alcohol and most general cleaners. Do not use these cleaning products on the bed acrylics as they may damage the acrylic.