Tanning beds are well-honed machines that are designed to allow UV light to encourage the production of melanin in your skin. That's how the base tan is created. If you're using an in-home system, you can create and maintain this coloring whenever it's convenient for you to do so. But, keep in mind that these machines are comprised of several essential components, including fans, timers, starters, and tanning bed bulbs. Over time, especially with constant use, some of these parts will need to be repaired or replaced. Below, I'll describe how to shop for a tanning bed lamp and will provide you with a few tips for getting the best deal.
Overview Of Tanning Bed Bulbs
The bulbs are more complex than they appear. The long tubes are filled with gas, while the shell contains phosphorous and mercury. When an electrical current surges through the machine, it causes the mercury to become unstable. To regain stability, the mercury releases energy in the form of ultraviolet light. The phosphorous along the bulb's shell absorbs some of this UV light while allowing other wavelengths to pass through. The UV light that passes through the layer of phosphorous is what ultimately creates the base tan on your skin.
The bulbs don't last forever. You can expect them to work properly for approximately 800 hours. After that, you'll need to replace them. Also, it's important to remember that they are most effective during their first 200 hours of use. When it's time to change them, follow these 4 tips:
Tip #1: Buy New
If you need to replace a tanning bed lamp, it's best to buy a new one. First, new ones are inexpensive (usually under $20), so buying them used won't save much money. Second, used lights are typically sold after they've exhausted the first 200 hours of their lifecycle, which is when they're most efficient.
Tip #2: Follow The Manufacturer's Suggestions
Your system was designed with certain specifications. Some tanning bed bulbs will be better suited for your machine than others will. The manufacturer of your system will have provided recommendations for any parts that need to be replaced. Follow these recommendations as closely as possible unless there's a good reason to disregard them (for example, if the suggested lamp is no longer available).
Tip #3: Look For Deals Online
Usually, the best deals on a tanning bed lamp are found online. Retailers will occasionally have sales, but their inventory will be limited and the prices will often be higher than online wholesalers will. As long as you know the type of lighting equipment your system needs, you can find wholesalers who will be happy to offer new bulbs at a competitive price.
Tip #4: Invest In A UV Light Meter
It's not always easy to know how well a tanning bed lamp are working. You can estimate their UV light output by the number of hours they've been used. But, most people won't track usage that closely. Instead, consider buying a UV light meter that can measure output. If the UV light output is declining past the point of being effective, the meter will alert you that you need to replace it.
Savvy Shopping For Tanning Bed Bulbs
A lot of people enjoy the convenience of their home systems, but neglect to replace parts when they wear out. The fact is, if the UV light output and efficiency of your tanning bed bulbs declines, your system will be less capable of providing you with a good base tan. Keep on top of the problem by purchasing a UV light meter. Then, when it's time to replace your lamps, follow the manufacturer's recommendations, look for deals online, and buy them new. Remember, your system is only as good as the effectiveness of its lamps.
Christine O'Kelly is a writer for ESB Tans, a tanning bed lamp industry leader who provides tanning systems and supplies to salons and residential owners. They also offer an assortment of tanning bed bulbs and accessories to suit every budget.