Introduction To Tanning Bed Bulbs

Published: 19th September 2008
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Whether you are using a home tanning bed or are operating a tanning salon, the quality of a tan will depend largely upon the bulbs used in the beds. If they wear out or are used at the end of their lifecycle, they will give a lower quality tan. The tan may look uneven or it may require more time to achieve the tan you want. If you are operating a salon, poorly performing tanning bed lamps can impact your business. Clients will show their displeasure by refusing to return. In this article, we'll explain how tanning bed bulbs work, how long you can expect them to last, and a few factors to consider when replacing them.

How Tanning Bed Bulbs Work

Some bulbs emit only UVA light. Others emit UVA and UVB light. The fluorescent bulbs are long and tubular, and each contains gases that are stimulated to create the UV light. This stimulation comes from a coating of phosphorus and tiny particles of mercury that are distributed across the surface of the lamps. When a tanning bed is turned on, the electrical current stimulates the gases that are inside the bulbs. The gases interact with the particles of mercury to produce the UV light. The intensity of the light that is produced depends upon how thick the coating of phosphorus is across the lamps' surface. The thicker it is, the more intense the UV light.

How Long Do Tanning Bed Bulbs Last?

Most new bulbs can be expected to last nearly 800 hours. If you are using a residential tanning bed, enjoying 20-minute sessions a few times each week, you can expect the bulbs to last for several years. However, if you are operating a tanning salon, and your beds are in use for 10 hours each day, you may need to replace the lamps every 2 or 3 months.

Also, it is important to note that tanning bed bulbs operate at their highest potency during the first 200 hours. After that, their power slowly diminishes throughout the rest of their lifecycle. If you are using a bed at home, this may not be a significant issue. However, a salon owner will probably want to replace the bulbs before the entire 800-hour lifecycle have elapsed.

Changing Tanning Bed Bulbs

To avoid guessing when you will need to replace the tanning bed lamps, you can use a UV light meter. This device will help you determine how well your bulbs are performing. If the bulbs are performing at less than 75% of their original power, consider changing them. But, don't make the mistake of only replacing the bulbs that lose their intensity. Replace all of them at the same time. If you only replace a few, leaving others intact, you will likely notice uneven tanning. At home, this can be a nuisance. As a salon owner, it can hurt your business.

Purchase Considerations

When you are ready to invest in replacement tanning bed bulbs, keep in mind that the bulbs must be compatible with your bed (or beds). Most beds will come with manufacturer recommendations. Though you can stray from these recommendations, it is best not to in order to ensure the bulbs deliver the best tan possible. Also, you will need to choose the intensity level of the bulbs. Higher intensity levels translate into shorter tanning sessions. However, the UV light does not penetrate as deeply during these shorter sessions and tans may fade more quickly.

New tanning bed bulbs typically cost between $10 and $20. Because they are relatively inexpensive, you should consider buying them new (avoid used bulbs) and replacing them at the first sign of diminished performance.

About the Author: Christine O'Kelly is a writer for ESB Tans, an industry leader in tanning bed bulbs and tanning bed lamps. They provide an assortment of high-quality solutions that offer convenience, style and effectiveness for every budget.

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