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How often should tanning bed lamps be replaced?

Essential maintenance advice for tanning beds

Author: Jim McDonald May 7 2007

tanning bed

What's the most important part of your tanning bed? Why the lamps of course! The bulbs provide the ultraviolet light that produces your tan. Everything else about your tanning bed is pretty much there to serve the lamps. Did you realize that the quality of the tan you receive using an indoor tanning bed depends directly on the spectrum of the light produced by your lamps? It's also interesting to note that tanning bulbs actually produce more ultraviolet light then you can receive from natural sunlight during the same amount of time.

Lamps are available in two basic styles (although there are hundreds of types within these basic styles). One style is low pressure, and these are normally called tanning bed "lamps." The other style is high pressure, and these are normally called tanning "bulbs."

Tanning bed lamps look pretty much like your common fluorescent lights, long tubes that glow, and they produce both UVA and UVB light. They're usually rated by the percentage of each that they produce. Low-pressure lamps tend to lose their ability to produce UV light over time. Their useful life usually ranges from 300 to 1600 hours. "Useful life" usually means that they're still producing at least 70% to 80% of the UV they're designed to produce. They can actually produce normal light much longer, up to 5000 hours.

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High-pressure tanning bed bulbs are designed to produce UVA light only. In reality, they also produce UVB and the very dangerous UVC light, but filters are used to block these damaging rays. Tanning bulbs should never be operated without the required filter. In addition, they require special care during replacement and disposal. The typical life of tanning bulbs ranges from 300 to 10000 hours.

The lamps should be kept as clean as possible because dust blocks UV light. It's usually sufficient to wipe the lamps about every 200 to 300 hours of use. Here's another interesting fact about tanning bed lamps. Their ability to produce ultraviolet light is actually affected by the temperature of the air around them. There's an optimum temperature range in which they provide the most UV light. Above or below this temperature range the amount of UV produced diminishes. So in actuality, the cooling system in your tanning bed is really designed to achieve this temperature range for the sake of the lights. It's not there to keep you cool.

So how often should you replace your lamps? Most tanning salons replace all of their lamps once a year. If you have a home tanning bed, lamp replacement is more likely to be needed only every three to five years. Of course this will depend on the life of your tanning bulbs and the amount of use it gets.

Replacing your own lamps is something you should learn to do. There's really no benefit to staying dependent on the tanning bed dealer and you should save plenty of money in the process. You can order your lamps online from a retailer that specializes in parts and supplies. If you did your shopping for a tanning bed well, your lamps should be fairly easy to replace. The main trick will be finding the correct model lamps for your specific tanning bed.

It's important to replace all of your lamps at once. It's really not advisable to wait for one to burn out and then replace it. You'll get a much better price on your tanning bulbs if you purchase in quantity. You may be tempted to buy the cheapest tanning bed lamps you can find, but this is not a good idea. Quality will pay for itself in the long run, both in terms of bulb life span and in the quality of tan that they provide. And a high quality tan is what it's all about the first place, isn't it?

About the Author

Jim McDonald is a creative writer and webmaster of, a great resource for choosing your next tanning bed. In depth information on indoor tanning lotions, tanning bed lamps, and used, wholesale, wolff, home tanning beds.

Jim's homepage

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