Fluorescent light bulbs are often used as tanning bed lamps. They are ideal for tanning because they emit certain levels of ultraviolet light that promotes skin tanning. A 100-watt fluorescent lamp is the most common type, but a 140-watt lamp also is used. Most tanning beds are designed to employ long fluorescent bulbs, but 2-foot (61-cm) fluorescent lamps are found in many specialty tanning beds. Other factors that determine the different types of lamps are their lengths, diameters, connector styles, and output, as well as whether they have reflectors in them.
Tanning bed lamps are available in many sizes. Some of the more popular sizes include “F71” and “F73.” The “F” indicates that the lamp is a fluorescent lamp, and the number following indicates the general length of the lamp in inches.
T5, T8, and T12 fluorescent lamps are used in tanning beds as well. “T” indicates lamp tube diameter in eighth-inch increments. T8 lamps are 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter, and T12 lamps are 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) in diameter. All T5 tubes are 5/8 inch (1.59 cm) in diameter but are available in varying lengths.
Tanning bed lamps are available in different styles. Bi-pin fluorescent lamps, the most common style of connection system, feature two pins at each end of the bulb. Recessed dual connector (RDC) styles feature a bi-pin system with a cap over the pins to allow for fitting in certain special holders. F71 lamps are designed with bi-pins, and F73 lamps feature the RDC-style connection system.
Certain types of lamps are designed with reflectors in them, which promote quicker tanning by helping to direct more light toward the user. FR71 fluorescent lamps feature a built-in reflector, as indicated by the “R” in the name.
Different types of tanning bed lamps offer different light output levels. The average 21-watt, cool white T12 fluorescent lamps provide 1,190 initial lumen output, and 75-watt models typically provide about 6,300 initial lumen output. High-output, 110-watt T12 fluorescent lamps can produce about 9,500 initial lumen output. The average 55-watt, T8 fluorescent lamp offers approximately 5,050 initial lumen output.
Some tanning beds feature special lamps designed for face tanning that are much shorter than traditional lamps but still very effective at promoting a tan. The T5 fluorescent lamps are often used in portable face tanning beds because they are available in shorter lengths than the T8s and T12s.