Maintaining Lamp Performance

Lamp Replacement Checks

  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, cause 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 one dollar starter can quickly destroy a twelve dollar lamp!

Lamp Operation

  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.  Purchase a UV monitor and develop a history of UV readings.  Check your lamps both with and without acrylics so you can follow the degradation of the acrylics.  Also, periodically check the lamp intensity so you can monitor the depreciation of the lamps during use.  Keep in mind that most meters cannot be used to compare lamps with different spectral properties.  Generally lamps are replaced at about a 30% loss from their initial intensity.  This will vary by lamp design and power loading.

Lamp Storage

  1. Lamps are not “bread”.  They do not degrade while sitting in a box, so “fresh” lamps are not necessary.  The only way to degrade a lamp is by running it.
  2. Lamps are not hurt by storage in high or low temperatures.  However, lamps allowed to site in a cold or hit 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.  Lamps may be cleaned with glass cleaner, alcohol and most general cleaners.

Always keep spare lamps available!  It is poor economy to operate a salon without at least one spare case of each type used on hand.

Lamp Troubleshooting Tips


  1. Lamps may be leaking in air, due to tiny cracks in the ends of map glass caused by shipping abuse.  Replace lamps.
  2. Sockets may be dirty or worn out.  Check, clean or replace if needed.
  3. Lamps may not be properly seated in sockets.  Check that pins or lamp ends are properly seated in sockets.
  4. Ballasts may have reached end-of-life, or may be defective.  Change ballasts where needed.  In American beds, each ballast powers two lamps.  In European beds, the ratio is one-to-one.


  1. Flickering or blinking-usually caused by defective starters.  Replace starters.
  2. Only the lamp ends are glowing-caused by defective starters.  Replace starters.
  3. Dark ends-lamps not seated, or defective sockets.  See “No-Lights”, 2, 3, above.
  4. Orange and brown streaks-air leaks due to end cracks in shipping.  Replace defective lamps.
  5. Swirling-caused by minute impurities within the lamp, which can be eliminated by cycling the bed on and off a few times.
  6. Early burnout-see “Appearance”, 1,2,3,4, above.  Also, check for proper match of lamp type to bed or booth.  Have an electrician verify that the line voltage is not too high or too low.
  7. Thin phosphor, holes in phosphor-these are rare cosmetic defects; they have no effect on a lamp’s ability to tan.


  1. Not tanning-bulb wall (outside of lamp glass) temperature should be 105 degrees F.  In under-cooled lamps, the bulb wall temperature is often as high as 130 degrees.  This reduces the lamp’s output to only 65-70% of rated output.  Vacuum out bed and blowers to permit better air circulation.
  2. Slow tanning/not tanning-old acrylics may be filtering out a significant amount of ultraviolet.  Using a U.V. meter, check the output through a new acrylic and again through the old acrylic.  If a significant difference is noted, replace the old acrylic. 
  3. Burning-check to be sure that the lamp is the correct one for the bed or booth in question.
  4. Short life-see “Appearance”, item 6.