How To Choose the Right Tanning Bed Bulb

How To Determine the Best Tanning Lamps for Your Skin Type

One of the questions we hear the most often here at Beautiful Bronze Tanning is, “Which tanning lamps work the best?”  There isn’t a quick answer simply because there are many different factors to consider.  So, let’s talk about it.

First, you need to determine which tanning bed bulb style will fit your tanning bed. There are different styles and they are not interchangeable. The most common lamp style is the F71 bi pin. This tanning lamp has the 2 pins on the ends. Then you have F72 and F73 RDC lamps. These lamps have a black clip on the end and are not as common as they used to be. You also have the F59 bi pin which is shorter than the F71.

Tanning Bed Bulb Wattage

Also, you need to determine if you have 100watt lamps or 160watt lamps.  These are also not interchangeable. If you put 160watt lamps in a bed with ballasts designed for 100watt lamps, they will fit but they will burn up your ballasts and instead of getting a super dark tan you are paying big time to repair your bed and you still need new lamps.  Most of the time your tanning lamps will have a series of letters and numbers on them which give you all of the details.

If they do not specifically say 100w or 160w then check to see if they say HO or VHO.  HO stands for high output and represents a 100watt tanning bed bulb.  VHO stands for very high output and represents a 160watt tanning bed bulb. Once you have determined which lamps will fit in your bed you can create a viable list of lamp options.  If all else fails, take the numbers and letters from the lamps currently installed in your tanning bed and cross reference with our handy compatibility list.

(Please note if you are re-lamping a salon then you may need to meet original OEM requirements. Please call for assistance in that case.)

Next it is time to consider the skin types tanning in your equipment.  If you have multiple skin types, for example one person who is harder to tan and one person who is an advanced tanner then you really need to go with a lamp that is suitable for both skin types. In this case you wouldn’t want to go with the Diamond Sun because even though it is ideal for the hard to tan skin type, your advanced tanner isn’t going to be able to achieve their full potential.

The opposite is also true.  You couldn’t put Solar Rayz which are designed for advanced tanners in this bed and simply reduce the session time for the harder to tan skin type.  The tanning process takes more time for harder to tan skin types and higher UVB ratios are not the answer for those tanners.  Ideally, in this scenario you would go with a lamp suitable for all skin types such as the Wolff Dark Tan or the Radiance 7000.  Here is a quick list organized by skin types.

Multiple Skin Types: Wolff Dark Tan, Wolff Velocity or Radiance 7000

Hard To Tan Skin Types: Wolff Diamond Sun or Radiance 5000

Intermediate to Advanced Tanners: Wolff Dark Tan Plus or Wolff Velocity Plus

Advanced Tanners Only: Wolff Velocity Extreme or Radiance 9000

It is also worth mentioning that we don’t recommend putting lamps for advanced tanners into tanning beds with just 16 lamps. That is not to say that you can’t. These will not harm your tanning equipment in any way.  If you are willing to flip during your sessions and move around a little bit then go for it.

However, if you are a sleepy tanner then keep in mind that there is a lot of space between these tanning lamps and even with the shiniest reflector plates you could end up with a great power nap but some serious streaking.  It’s generally a better option to lie five more minutes and get a lovely even tan with a lamp designed for intermediate to advanced tanners.

tanning bed bulb

Another question we hear a lot is. “Can I put lamps with a shorter maximum session time (exp. 11 minutes) into a 20 minute bed?”  You certainly can. In a home setting you can use whichever lamps are most suitable for your skin type and tanning goals as long as you match the style (F71 etc) and the wattage.

The important thing is to respect your maximum exposure time.  Don’t ever lay under a Solar Rayz (11 minutes max) tanning bed bulb for twenty minutes.   Just adjust your timer accordingly. Putting a more powerful lamp in your bed is often the best choice to achieve the darkest results and won’t damage your equipment in any way.

I must mention that while faster tanning sessions can be very desirable for many reasons, such as kids invading your tanning time or just a hectic schedule, you still must take into consideration that the lamp style is suited for your skin type.  A lamp suited for your skin type always trumps the desire for the fastest tanning lamp available. In the end, it’s about the results and selecting based on your tanning ability is the surest way to get the color you’re looking for.

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