||Basic Indoor Tanning Certification Course
· Low pressure
Tanning Lamps (A Brief Description)
· High pressure
The tanning lamp is probably the single most important element to your
tanning unit. Having a better understanding of the function of the tanning
lamp will allow you to offer the best level of service to your client.
The fluorescent lamp is composed of seven main parts:
Base- connects the lamp to an external source of power.
Lead-in Wires- connects the base to the cathode, which emits electrons
during lamp operation.
Mercury- atoms in the form of vapor in the lamp which are strukt by
the electrons and excited from their ground state to a higher state,
from which they emit a UV photon with a wavelength of 254 nm.
Phosphor- absorbs this UV and converts it to longer wavelengths (usually
visible light). It is coated onto the inside of the bulb during lamp
Stem Press- is a cathode support structure as well as the means to hermetically
seal the lamp ends.
Exhaust Tube- is the means of introducing the fill gas and mercury into
the lamp during processing. It is then closed off.
Fill Gas- is an inert gas which aids in starting and operating the fluorescent
Tanning lamps emit primarily UVA radiation with a small amount of UVB.
The percentage of UVA and UVB is varied through lamp design by changing
the phosphor composition. An electric current is passed through mercury
vapor gas under low pressure which then becomes ionized. UV emissions
are the result of energy transfers between the electrons and the gas
atoms. Some lamp manufacturers rate their lamps by percentage of UVB,
however, lamp manufacturers who provide a spectral analysis graph will
perhaps be easier to understand.
fluorescent lamps are the most prevalent in the tanning industry. These
lamps vary in size; the average commercial tanning lamps are either
5 or 6 foot in length and range from 80 to 160 watts. Electrical contacts
for lamps are found in two types: Bi-Pin and RDC (recessed double contact).
Light output ranges across a wide spectrum, including UVA and UVB, plus
infrared and visible light. All fluorescent lamps share the same basic
design, a glass tube lined with a coating of phosphors, electrodes on
the inside and end caps at each end to seal the lamp. To determine the
proper lamp type for a particular piece of equipment, you are required
to follow the manufacturer’s recommended lamp replacement guide
posted on the equipment’s operation label. This information can
also be found in the owner’s manual. (Note: Sunbeds manufactured
prior to 9/8/86 do not always have replacement lamps listed on bed labels.
Consult the Owner’s Manual if not listed on bed labels.)
Low pressure lamps’ output generally exceeds the sun’s
natural intensity of the UV spectrum by 2-5 times. The UVA to UVB ratios
are determined by the phosphor in the lamp. Other factors also will
affect a lamp’s output, such as operating temperature, wattage,
and lamp age in hours.
High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps are also known as High pressure
lamps that are significantly different than low pressure lamps. Their
size is small, averaging from 5 to 8 inches in length. They are primarily
used as facial tanning lamps, but are also used in equipment designed
for full-body tanning. HP lamps are mercury vapor lamps. The wattage
output ranges from 400 to 30,000 watts. The light output is 20 to 100
times that of the sun’s natural intensity. They also emit a wide
spectrum of light beginning with short wave UVC through visible light.
HID lamps require a filter glass, commonly known as “blue glass”
to contain the output of the UVC spectrum. This filter glass must be
present in order to operate or severe burning will occur. Cracked filter
glass must be replaced before the unit can be energized. Cracked glass
will allow dangerous levels of UVC and UVB to reach the client. Tanning
systems utilizing HP lamps offer shorter overall exposure times, but
extra care and maintenance must be observed.
Some tanning units utilize both low pressure and high pressure lamps.
Again, extra care must be observed. As always, follow the manufacturer’s
exposure schedule and the maintenance schedule properly, regardless
of the equipment and lamp type utilized.