First, the golden rule...Tanning is a P-R-O-C-E-S-S. A good suntan takes time, incrementally that is, over days or even weeks to realize its full potential. An easy rule is to follow the tanning schedule on your sunbed, which every unit should have made after 1984. Inherited skin tone will largely dictate how we tan. A fair complected person is better off using a lower intensity bulb or device where the opposite can be said of a person with ample amounts of melanin. Always the rule is the same, tan without burning for a safer, healthier tan!
Let there be HEAT, OR... A common misconception is that there should be lots of heat given off as a way to tell if the bulbs are good or not. Heat is a byproduct of an electrical component and tanning beds are no exception. A better way to gauge effectiveness is to tan on a regular basis 3-5 times during the first week, using tanning stickers to mark progress. Ensure the acrylics are cleaned inside and out and in good shape, ensure the voltage to unit is between 220-235 volts if using a unit using choke ballasts. (A bed using choke ballasts also use STARTERS which preheat the lamp ends). Also make sure all fans are working and are clean from debris or obstruction. The lamp wall temperature must reside between 90-110 degrees C, and if outside of this range can affect tanning performance and equipment performance.
STARTERS. These are integral in 'starting' the lamp by closure of contacts within the starter, preheating the cathodes to allow the inductive "kick" from ballast to cause ignition. Upon ignition, its internal contacts open removing it electrically from the circuit. A faulty starter may flash and cause the lamp to flicker excessively which is harmful to lamp if not replaced. Starter replacement should be done at regular intervals, or when replacing lamps.
Black Ends. All fluorescent tanning lamps blacken on ends from wear over time, and can also be be symptomatic of a faulty starter. This type of black ring should not be confused with the image of the cathode shield on inside of glass, which can appear gray by comparison.
Reflector Lamps. In 'FR71' the 'R' denotes the reflective nature of the lamp. These are fluorescent lamps manufactured with a highly reflective coating on 180-210 degrees of the interior glass wall surface. These produce more heat as energy is focused outward toward user and can yield exceptional results. However, it is not advisable to replace a standard 'full coat' lamp a reflector lamp as the tanning unit may not adequately cope with the added heat, which can affect the UV output as well as reduce overall life expectancy of lamp.