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How to Tell If Tanning Bed Bulbs are Bad and Due for Change

How do you know if your tanning bed bulbs are bad? If YES, here are 4 signs that will let you know your tanning bed bulbs are bad and how to replace them. Tanning beds have multiple bulbs (also called lights or lamps), some almost as many as 50, and if even one of them burns out it can impact the overall tanning experience.

The light bulbs in a tanning bed are not the same as regular light bulbs. These bulbs emit ultraviolet rays which make the skin produce melanin faster than the sun’s rays can. Tanning bulbs can also encourage the production of vitamin D.

Types of Tanning Bed Bulbs

There are different types of lamps for tanning beds, but you should know whether or not these lamps are right for your beds. Hotter lamps have less UVA and more UVB light, at 5.5% UVB or higher.

Note that these bulbs are different than the standard bulbs that usually come with beds, which have 4.2% and 5% UVB. These lamps are popular because they can stimulate the skin’s melanin faster, however, they are more likely to cause burning and may cause a tanning peak in users sooner.

Bronzing lamps have a higher UVA strength and lower UVB. These lamps are the opposite of hotter lamps in that they will tan users slower but darker, rather than quicker but less dark. In the United States, there is often debate over which colour lamps are better than others.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what colour the lamp is, it is the strength or the UV light that makes the difference. Note that lamps can be made in any colour, and though you may like the look of a pink lamp over that of a blue lamp, it will not affect the tanning of the user.

Tanning bed light bulbs come in various wattages, and it’s best to use the ones recommended by the manufacturer of your specific bed. Be aware that the higher the bulb wattage, the more often the bulbs will need to be replaced.

If you own a salon, it would be wise for you to keep inventory of what kind of lamps you need and how often you are going to need to replace them. Also try to place your whole lamp order at one time so you can save on shipping, which can be quite pricey when it comes to tanning bed lamps.

While it is a good idea to purchase your tanning bulbs in bulk if you are a salon owner, you probably shouldn’t purchase your tanning bulbs in bulk if you need it solely for personal use. If your purchase too many tanning bulbs, you are not likely to save money in the long run as your bulbs will get old and have a high chance of breaking in storage.

4 Signs to Look Out for Before Changing your Tanning Bed Bulbs

Tanning bed bulbs need to be changed before they actually burn out. The reason for this is that the closer they are to burning out, the less UV light they emit and the less effective they become. Always check with your owner manual to find the exact bulbs and wattage you need.

The customer service at your retail tanning Bed Company should be able to help you find the bulbs you need. Nonetheless, the signs or reasons to change your tanning bulbs include:

  1. If a lamp flickers or goes black, that means it’s time for replacement.
  2. By 500 to 800 hours of use, most tanning bulbs have lost enough potency that they should be replaced.
  3. 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.
  4. When reconditioning your tanning beds.

How to Replace Tanning Bed Bulbs

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 can save plenty of money in the process.

  • Before anything else, unplug the tanning bed to avoid injury. You may also choose to wear gloves if the bulbs are hot or you are concerned about breakage. Be aware that tanning bulbs contain mercury and other potentially harmful materials.
  • Removing the old bulbs should be as easy as gently popping them out of place, being careful not to put too much pressure on the glass. Then pop the new bulb into place, ensuring it’s locked in before replacing the next bulb.

Remember, the best practice is to replace all of the bulbs at once, even if only one has gone out. If all bulbs are the same age, they’re far more likely to emit even light waves and create even tans.

How to Get the Most Use from Tanning Bed Bulbs

Have it in mind that proper care can ensure you get the most from your bulbs during their lifespan. Observe the following to make it easy for the UV light waves to reach every inch of your skin:

  • Always use proper cleaners and fabric materials on the acrylic surface to prevent scratches, fog and build up, which can block light waves.
  • Steadily clean the bulbs themselves with a soft cloth to remove any debris, which will allow the light to come out freely.
  • Also the reflectors behind the tanning lights, especially when you change the bulbs.


It’s important to replace all of your lamps at once. It’s really not advisable to wait for one to burn out or show signs before you replace them.

You’ll get a 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 they provide.

In addition, anytime you change the lamps in your tanning beds, you should recondition your beds at the same time. It may seem like a little extra hassle, but you will be happy you did it. Not only is reconditioning simple and cheap task, but it can boost your beds by 20% to 40%.