Ed Ferreira from Forever Tan in Newton, MA asks: What is the difference between conventional glow-bottle starters and electronic starters?
First, let’s talk about how a sunlamp works.
On the inside of the glass tube is a thin phosphor coating and a small dose of mercury. When electrical power comes across the cathode, it sputters emissive material, introducing electrons that create an arc-stream from one end of the lamp to the other. This arc-stream causes the mercury to vaporize, which in turn causes the phosphors to light up or fluoresce.
If some of your tanning system’s lamps flicker but won’t stay lit, try turning the unit on and off once or twice to stabilize the lamps – replace the starters if the flicker doesn’t stop. If your lamps will not light, this is also a sign that it may be time to replace your starters. Take the lamps that are not lighting and install them in positions where the lamps were lighting. If they now work, it’s time to replace the starters.
Traditional “glow-bottle” starters are fairly inexpensive and need to be changed roughly every two to three lamp changes, or every 6,000 starts. In a ten-minute tanning system, you should consider changing your starters as often as every other lamp change. With this starter type, when you turn the power on, the lamp flickers a couple of times and then lights up. Each time it flickers, particles come off the cathode and settle at the end of the lamp, causing end-darkening. There’s nothing wrong with the lamp, but cosmetically speaking, the end of the lamp is just getting a little dirty on the inside.
Electronic starters have a life of ten years. They’re more expensive, but basically, you install them and forget about them. When you turn the power on, the power builds up and then the lamp comes on. Electronic starters are gentler on the cathode and help reduce end-darkening.
Just as in sunlamps, not all electronic starters are created equal. Look for electronic starters from a reliable supplier.
has been with Wolff System since 1998. Her duties include training salon professionals on sunlamp products. She specializes in breaking down technical info into layman terms, so her lamp training is both informative and FUN! Questions or comments? Email email@example.com or call 800.959.6533, X112.
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