How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

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In this article, we will learn about how to change tanning bed bulbs, what types of bulbs are available, and when a bulb needs replacement.


If you live in a place with tropical weather and get your fair dose of sunshine every day, it is amazing. But what about cities and nations that have few sunny days or simply winter months? Tanning beds easily become the best choice to keep a bronze skin tone. However, the more often you use something, the sooner it needs maintenance.

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

Tanning Bed Bulbs Buying Guide

First of all, don’t let yourself be confused about the terms used interchangeably in our guide as well as many articles on the internet: tanning bed bulbs and tanning bed lamps.

“Tanning bed bulbs” is a more popular choice of words, but “tanning bed lamps” is just as valid.

Before you find out how to change tanning bed bulbs, you need to know how to choose the most suitable bulbs for replacement. There are many products available on the market, though you can consider these factors when going shopping!

RDC or Bi-pin?

Bi-pin bulbs are more popular, specified by the two pins sticking out.

RDC bulbs, which means Recessed Double Contact, also have two pins, yet they are covered by an adapter.

You will have more choices with bi-pin bulbs, for they are compatible with many types of tanning beds.

The Bulb Length – F Number

The F number branded on the bulbs stands for Fluorescent + the length of the lamp (or bulb) in inches. F71, F72, and F73 are the most commonly seen sizes.

In most cases, you should get F71. They are bi-pin bulbs, but you can concert them to RDC bulbs of F72 and F73 sizes by using adapters.

The Bulb Size – T Number

The T number is defined as eighths of one inch. Most of the available tanning bed bulbs have T12 sizes, equal to twelve eighths of an inch. The coverage and the intensity of UV rays depends on the T number.

Power in Watts

The standard power for bulbs is 100 Watts, it can be lower or higher. The higher the Watts number is, the less time you need to spend in the tanning bed. However, a bulb with overly high power might end up burning your skin. Sticking to the common 100W bulbs is the safest choice for you!

Time in Use

Halfway through the lifespan, the tanning bed bulbs will start losing efficiency. You won’t notice it through observation because the glow is not any weaker, but the UV radiation will become remarkably less effective.

Proceed to the next section for testing methods on your bulbs and decide whether you need to change them or not!


How much am I willing to spend? It is a question you should ask yourself when you are investing in a costly item.

Like other products on sale, tanning bed lamps are not all the same. The costly price on the label tag might cause you to flinch, but if you do the math, it might not be that overwhelming. For example, a $400 for 5-years use is somehow less expensive than $200 for only 3 years.

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

How to Test Tanning Bed Bulbs

When you notice these signs in your tanning bed lamps, it is time for you to replace them with new bulbs:

  1. If you run a salon, you should change the tanning bulbs every year, for the tanning beds have to be at constant service. Meanwhile, a tanning bed for domestic use doesn’t need its bulbs changed in three or four years.
  2. You can tell the bulbs have expired if they start flickering. Unfortunately, the actual effects for skin might have been slowly wearing off before you see the lambs disfunction.
  3. Keep an eye out for the result after a tanning session. If the tanning bed needs a longer time than before to leave an equal impact, you have got a clue to replace the overdue bulbs.

We can’t possibly count the minutes and the times the tanning bed is in use, but you can definitely install a timer and start it every time you use the bed. It will help you mark the milestone!

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs?


Know the time to get to work

Changing the tanning lamps at the right time will keep your tanning bed at its prime state while saving a significant amount of money for you.

The rule of thumb: tanning bed bulbs don’t need to stop glowing to be out of use.

The efficiency of a tanning lamp is denoted by its ability to produce both UVA and UVB radiation, mimicking a sunbathing session. With time, the amount of UV rays your bulbs can provide might decrease. If the bulbs have a 1000-hours tag, it means they won’t light up at all after 1000 hours, but they will have lost their effectiveness long before already.

Don’t change bulbs partially

If you are going to change the bulbs in your tanning bed, change all of them at once.

When the function and the efficiency of the bulbs differ, you are sure to get an uneven tan. In the worst case, a new bulb with powerful UV rays can even burn parts of your body, putting you in pain.

Furthermore, if you are getting your tools and rolling up your sleeves, why not refresh your tanning bed completely with brand new tanning lamps?

Identify the bulbs you need

We can’t use the same bulbs for all tanning beds. It might mess up the function of the device and burn your skin. Along your journey, you will encounter only several types of lamps: RDC or Bi-pin bulbs, with the F number of 71 – 73, T of 12, and 100W power.

Different parts might use different bulbs

If you have invested in a hi-tech model of tanning beds, it might feature different types of bulbs designed for specific areas. For example, the bulbs focusing on your lower body might be a bit stronger than the ones aiming at your face.

This arrangement comes from the thoughtfulness of the manufacturers, since some parts of our skin are more prone to tanning than others. The level of UV radiation to darken the skin on your legs wouldn’t be favorable for your face and neck. You don’t want to get burns while trying to add some colors to your complexion.

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

Step by Step

Besides this guide, make sure you follow the manual of your tanning bed. With that amount of information about UV bulbs, you are 50% ready to be a mechanist!

1. Detach the tanning bed from power source

Always prioritize your safety! Like other electronic devices, you must unplug your tanning bed from the power supply before doing anything else. The standard 220V electric current can be lethal to human body.

2. Take notes of important details

Check on the bulbs for wattage, size, length, and then order the needed quantity. If you have to get different types of bulbs, you can write it down on a note so you won’t forget or mistaken!

3. Remove the shielding

To get to the bulbs, you need to remove the plastic shielding first. It looks untouchable from outside, but there will be a clamp holding the acrylic together. Your first task is to find the clamp and loosen it, then the shield will slide off without any hassle.

You can consult the manual or the manufacturer if you can’t seem to find the clamp.

4. Replace the bulbs

Carefully hold the bulb and turn it counter clockwise to loosen the prongs. Be careful and use both hands to support the bulb because they are very fragile. If you drop even just one of them, you might have a huge mess to clean up.

In case you are dealing with different bulb types, place them on a safe surface in a pattern you can memorize, so you won’t lose track of the order.

Next, insert the new bulbs in the same way you remove the old ones, putting the prongs in the socket and securing them.

Tips: Make sure the text or the label tag of the bulbs is facing upwards for your convenience.

5. Put the shield back and test the tanning bed

Slide the plastic shields back where they are and hold them firmly with the clamps.

Now, you can plug the tanning bed back in and switch it on, checking if the new bulbs are all on. Your bed is ready to run for a whole year at least!

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

Extra Tips for Changing Tanning Bed Bulbs

Get a bed cleaner

When you go shopping for tanning bed lamps, seize the opportunity to grab a bed cleaner instead of relying on window cleaners. Chlorine or common glass cleaners might lead to blocked UV rays. It will disrupt the function of the tanning lamps on the long run and reduce the effectiveness.

Clean the inside

Disassembling your tanning bed gives you the perfect chance to clean the inner parts of the bed and make it work as efficiently as new. If blocked with dust, the reflectors won’t give you enough UV radiation. Your new bulbs might also need some cleaning to get rid of the coating powder.

You can use a glass cleaner for both the lamps and the reflectors, yet the plastic shields will need a separate cleaning solution.

Seek help if needed

If you are changing your tanning bed bulbs for the first time, getting help is a good idea. Another person would give you an extra pair of hands and eyes, avoiding unwanted accidents with the frail and expensive bulbs.

Reduce tanning time

After changing the bulbs in your tanning bed, you are sure to get more UV radiation in the same duration as before. If your session was 15 minutes, you can keep it under 10 minutes now!

How to Change Tanning Bed Bulbs in 5 Steps?

Risks of UV Tanning

There is no way we can be completely safe from UV radiation, and the risk of skin cancer will always be a challenge to us. Knowing what you are dealing with will help you prepare caution methods.

  • Always put your goggles on.
  • Follow the manual about the most compatible length of each session for your skin type.
  • Keep the first sessions short.
  • Avoid using the tanning bed multiple times a week.


How often should I change my tanning bed bulbs?

Standard bulbs have a lifespan of 1000 hours, but you can replace them when they reach 700 hours of use. It equals to 42000 minutes and thus 2100 sessions of 20 minutes each. If you use the tanning bed once a day, the bulbs can amount to 6 years.

When you think about it, the bulbs are not going waste at all. After 6 years, the inner details of the bulbs wouldn’t remain the same even if you don’t use it. Replacing them on time is better than waiting for an issue to arise to take action.

Should I use bronzing bulbs or tanning bulbs?

Tanning bulbs have lower percentage of UVA rays compared to bronzing bulbs, which means they have deeper impact on your skin, resulting in a base tan but also possible burns.

Bronzing bulbs are a better choice if you want quick results, but they are only effective if you are an experienced tanner.

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Learning how to change tanning bed bulbs and keep the device functioning smoothly is fairly easy if you truly want to try! We strongly recommend investing in the best bulbs you can afford, for they will stay with you for a very long time.

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