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Get the max power out of your tanning bed.
Introduction
Getting the most out of your tanning bed and making it perform as good as new, or even BETTER than new is a fairly simple process, but takes a small amount of planning and a little bit of work.  Likely, you are here because you are looking to buy new lamps.   Good, as the lamps you pick will greatly change the performance of your tanning bed and you can now replace them with lamps that far outperform your original lamps.  But that is only part of the picture.  Below are the basic steps to increasing your tanning beds performance, and the rationale behind each step.

Keep it in "The Goldie Locks Zone"
One of the easiest ways to increase the performance any tanning bed is to insure the cooling system is working properly, and that you have the tanning bed in an environment that will enhance, instead of hinder, the performance.  Tanning lamps are funny things, and they don't like the air around them to be too hot or too cool.  The "Goldie Locks Zone" for tanning lamps is between 90 and 105 degrees Farenheit.   Keep in mind that I'm talking about the temperature around the lamp, not in the room itself.  This is why home tanning beds perform much better during the last 5 minutes of a 20 minute session than they do in the first 5 minutes, as the air inside the tanning bed has warmed up enough to get more performance out of the lamps.  When the air around the lamps is below 70, the UV output is cut by 50% or more.

Tanning Bed FansStep one is to inspect to make sure that all the cooling fans are clean, unobstructed and are operating properly.  Replacement fans cost around $20 each (find them here) and will restore the performance.   Clean off all debris and dust from them as well.  You should do this inspection every year or two.

Step two can be more complicated.  You should make sure your tanning bed is installed in a temperature controlled room.  This means inside the house.  If you have your tanning bed in the garage or unheated basement, you may have to pre-heat the system by running it 10 minutes or so before you get in, particularly in the winter or any time the temperature is below 75F in the room.  This will insure the tanning bed will actually reach around 90 degrees in the middle of the session.

Don't block the light
Another relatively easy way to increase the performance of the tanning bed is to simply clean it.  This sounds absurd, but we have tested this time after time, and find a typical 20% to 40% boost in UV output between a clean-looking but neglected tanning bed, and a properly cleaned bed.  The reason the bed must be ultra clean is that UV is so very easy to block.  For instance, the average auto windshield blocks the majority of UV, yet looks perfectly clear.  And think about it: Put on some SPF 50 sunblock.   You can't see it, yet it is blocking all that UV.  You have to take extra steps to NOT block UV when it comes to tanning.

Step one is to only use the proper cleaner for your acrylics, one that is made specifically for tanning beds.  The brand doesn't matter as long as it is made for cleaning acrylic.  No matter what you have been told, using alcohol, glass cleaner or vinegar and water WILL result in the UV getting blocked more over time, and WILL damage your acrylics over time.  Average cost to replace an acrylic is about $150 + $100 shipping.

Step two is to strip the acrylics regularly.  Once every year or two for home tanning beds, 3 to 4 times a year for salons.  We recommend Novus products for this.   They have been making acrylic cleaning products since way before tanning beds, and are the recommended products for other clear plastics like motorcycle fairings, acrylic aquariums, and even car headlights.

Tanning Bed Rebuild KitThe easiest and cheapest way to get all the products you need to properly clean your tanning bed is to simply buy a Tanning Bed Rebuild Kit.   We sell thousands of these a year.  For less than $30, you get everything you need for the next 5 or more years, including scratch remover, stripping polish, daily polish, a huge bottle of daily disinfectant concentrate (makes over 16 gallons of solution), a couple pair of eyeware and an instruction guide.

When changing your lamps, make sure to clean your aluminum reflectors AND the new lamps (glass cleaner is ok to clean these parts) to make sure there is nothing blocking the total output of the lamps.

Get the right lamp for YOUR tanning bed
There are many choices when it comes to tanning lamps for your home tanning bed, and for many people the choice is simple: get something cheap.  The fact is, getting something really good doesn't cost much more.  You pay the same shipping, expend the same effort, but the results are not the same at all.  You don't have to buy the most expensive tanning lamps to bump up your performance, just pick the right tanning lamps for your particular bed style.  Here are some choices, based on the number of lamps you have in your tanning bed.

Tanning Beds with 14 to 20 tanning lamps
The lamp spacing in your bed requires you stick with standard HO style lamps.  The most powerful lamps you can use in these beds (without risking striping) would be ClearTech 20 ($16.99), Pro Twister ($14.99) or Pro Plus ($12.99).  We also make the Custom Plus ($10.99) but the Pro Plus lasts 50% longer and is a better value.

Tanning beds with 24 or more tanning lamps
The most cost effective way to seriously bump up the performance is to change to a RUVA style lamp.  This is a tanning lamp that has its own built in reflector, which increases the total output from 35% to 50% across the board.  


Cutaway view of a tanning lamp
Left: A regular HO lamp, like the OEM lamps in your bed now.  Half the light goes behind the lamp, and only a small portion is reflected by the shiny aluminum reflectors in your bed, most is lost forever.
Right: A RUVA (Reflector UVA) lamp.  It reflects ALL the UV before it has a chance to even leave the lamp, pushing it all towards the tanner, and greatly increasing the power of the tanning system.

For these tanning beds, you have a few extra choices.  For maximum tanning, the ClearTech 120R is second to none, at $18.99 each. In the mid price range, the Power Bronzer 100 costs $13.99 and is very hot and fast.  If you want longer and deeper session times (full 20 minutes) or have lighter, fair skin, then the Pro Reflector ($13.99) is a good choice.  Of course, you can still choose the premium HO lamps listed in the above section for standard output.

Canopy only tanning systems
You only have 8 to 12 lamps, and you have to turn over to tan both sides, so it only makes sense to get the best lamps since the cost different between the cheapest and the best is so minor.  ClearTech 120R  or ClearTech 20 tanning lamps are your best bet.  As a second choice, the Power Bronzer 100 is also a very good lamp, although the longer life of the ClearTech lamps make them more cost effective, since you have to operate your system twice as long (one session per side).

Conclusion
And there you have it.  It is pretty simple in theory: Keep the bed's cooling system running right, operate the tanning bed in a room that isn't too cold, keep the bed extra clean, and only use the best lamps, which tend to be more cost effective anyway since they generally last longer. Spending just a little extra today, while you are about to change your lamps, will cost you less money in the long run since you will buy better quality lamps that last longer, and you won't need to stay in as long to get the same results.


Ready to buy?  The easiest way is to shop using our "Lamp Kits" section, so you can compare the total cost. Just click on the icon that matches the number of lamps in your bed, and compare prices now!




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Get the most out of your tanning lamps