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This month’s question comes from 19-year veteran salon operator Joe Eng, Owner of Sun City Tanning in Pembroke, MA.
A: Joe, your question is crucial and relevant in our industry, as so many tanning systems currently in use were produced over 45 years ago, and often have changed the lamp configurations while keeping the same model number. This often makes it hard for lamp suppliers to be sure they are sending operators the appropriate product – especially those who take over existing salons that have older beds.
This does not mean older beds are not great or out of order; we just need to focus on not only the lamp connections, but also the wattage and manufacturer’s suggested maximum session. Simply installing a lamp product that “fits” in the unit is not a solution for providing salon guests with the best tanning experience and results.
There have only been two types of fluorescent lamp ends: the bi-pin, which you drop into the lamp-holder and turn/twist – we call it “click-click.” These products are labeled as F59, F71, F74 and F79, which represents the length of the lamp, regardless of wattage.
Then, you have the RDC (recessed double-contact) lamp-end style, mostly utilized in American-made tanning systems. This style is created to fit a spring-loaded lamp-holder, and these products are typically labeled as FR72, FR73 etc.
To further enhance the “mystery,” some American-made systems (such as TanAmerica) are equipped with FR72 RDC lamps in the bench (usually 100W) and bi-pin F71 160W lamps in the canopy which require RDC caps, so they become an FR72 lamp. You purchase those RDC caps separately. Adding to the confusion, some systems require another type of RDC cap that adds length to a bi-pin lamp to make it fit.
All accent lamps and most fluorescent shoulder-tanners have a bi-pin configuration and I believe that the bi-pin has become the norm in all newer systems.
High-pressure lamps are a bit trickier, as there are many connection styles. Depending on the system it is made for, it will have either a wire-lead, single-contact plug-in, GY 9.5 or double-contact, which in turn can be the most common R 7S, often referred to as “clip-in.” Italian systems have either a double-blade connection or double-round pin. In addition, other Italian units (or U.S.-made copies of such) can have what is referred to as the c-clip, half-pipe twist and turn, or full-solid round-pin metal end. Some Italian manufacturers may have changed lamp holders to suit special GY 9.5 sockets; as stated before, talk to your supplier for the correct solution. A 250W shoulder tanner can come in either GY 9.5, a standard rectangular socket, or the round base often used in UWE and KBL models.
Choosing the right HP lamp is paramount. The wattage has to be right, and the size and depth of the reflector and its closeness to the filter glass determine which lamp is appropriate.
HP lamps are produced mostly as 250W, 400W, 600W, 800W, 1400W and 2000W, although different suppliers may list them in different ways. For example, Supra Brands lists 25 different lamps on suprabrands.com/lamps_quartz.html where you can see the various shapes, sockets and other useful info to help take the guesswork out of your research. (Click on a model number to see a picture of the various lamps.)
Lamps are complicated! This is why I have always suggested that salon operators discuss their needs with their supplier.
Thank you for the question, Joe! I’m happy to help.
Industry veteran Leif Vasstrom founded Napa, CA-based Supra Brands Group in 2004, and has been at the forefront of sunlamp innovation since 1978. He opened the first tanning salon in NYC on Madison Avenue in 1978. In 1985, his company designed the Breeze Salon Software and business management program, acquired by SunLync in 2003. He launched the Silver Solarium equipment line in 1978, and Dr. Müller systems in 1993. In 1986, he helped start Applied Digital (T-Max). In 2011, Supra acquired industry forum tantoday.com as a means to further the message about the positive aspects of moderate UV exposure.
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