Top 5 Mistakes When Buying Tanning Lamps: Learn how to pick the best lamps for your tanning salon.

For some, choosing replacement lamps for tanning units is complicated and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 5 common mistakes people make when buying lamps (and how to avoid them).

  1. Mistaking high pressure for low pressure.

There is a lot of misinformation on the internet. One reason is terminology. Somewhere along the line people started confusing high-pressure beds for beds that use a lamp with a higher mix of UVA.

We have fielded many calls in the last 40 years from salon owners insisting they have a “high-pressure unit” that in reality did not. A true high-pressure bed uses high-pressure lamps. What is the difference? That is easy.

High-pressure lamps are entirely different than low-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps are smaller (generally the size of your hand) and are placed behind a blue piece of glass that acts as a filter to eliminate UVC rays that are not meant for skin exposure. Low-pressure lamps are longer, tubular-shaped lamps that resemble fluorescent light lamps and come in different lengths and diameters. These lamps do not require a filter glass as the lamp contains phosphors that do the job.  

My bed has both, how do I know which one it is? While there are some hybrid units, most beds are low-pressure units containing high-pressure facial lamps, however, facial lamps are not always high-pressure. Some tanning units use a smaller tube lamp often referred to as a “spaghetti facial” due to their smaller, skinnier size.


  1. Getting the wrong size

Not only do tanning lamps have different lengths and diameters, but they also have different ends. While high-pressure lamps come in all shapes and sizes making them sometimes easier to distinguish, low-pressure lamps can look very similar, especially in the bed. You don’t have to be a lamp expert to decipher what you need though. Each tanning unit is made with a label giving you the information you need to figure out which lamp fits your equipment. These codes can be found on your exposure schedule and could look something like F71 T12 100w. The first part is your length, the second part is the diameter of the lamp, and the last part is the wattage. This code is very important for finding the correct lamps for your unit. It will also help you understand if the end of your lamp is an RDC (a black cap) or Bi-Pin (two pins).


  1. Knowing your limits

Depending on where you are located, you may be regulated on what lamps you run in your tanning equipment. While lamps may be the same size and type, session times and the amount or “mix” of UV they emit can vary greatly. UVA and UVB while both important in the tanning process, do very different things. Additionally, knowing the difference will help you decide on what to purchase as well as whom you let tan in that bed and for how long.  Another common myth we hear regularly is that people want a lamp high in UVB for their “Bronzing Bed”. This is of course backward as UVB causes flushing of the skin color while UVA is for bronzing. For this reason, it is vital that you purchase your lamps from a company that can provide you with compatibility documents and can explain the differences.

  1. Getting the right wattage

Wattage is another important factor in your decisions. While it is possible to put a different wattage lamp in your bed, it could cost you money. The wattage pushed is determined by the ballast in your tanning bed. Using a lower wattage lamp will cause the lamp to underperform or not come on at all while using a higher wattage lamp can cause the lamp to burn out quickly.


  1. Ordering from the wrong place

Ordering lamps online, or from someone who is not knowledgeable about them can cost you not only money but time and headaches. Heartland has been selling quality tanning lamps for 40 years. With well over a hundred years of experience between our staff we can help you choose the right lamps, at a great price, and ship them with care the same day you order them. Heartlands lamps are shipped overwrapped for protection and come with a no-light guarantee.


If you need to replace your lamps, or simply have questions, Heartland is here to help you have a rewarding experience.