The most successful salon operators meter their equipment’s output regularly, and keep a careful log of their meter readings. These simple meters are typically built to read UV intensity at only one wavelength (normally 365nm). It is important to note that they give a relative reading only!
Three different meters might give three different readings for the same lamp in the same bed or booth on the same day. That’s not important. What is important is that your UV meter will help you to see how your equipment is functioning. These meters can show you how your lamps and acrylics will degrade over usage. Establish a notebook with a page for each booth or bed in your salon. Here is an example of how your notebook should read:
|Date||Acrylic On Reading||Acrylic Off Reading||Lamp Hours||Bed Cleaned|
When you put new VHO lamps into your equipment, you should operate them for at least 5 hours initially, to distribute the mercury within the lamps and bring them up to full output. In the case of HO lamps, no break in time is required. Once the lamps are stabilized, take and record your initial UV intensity reading. Test them regularly. You’ll want to change your lamps when the output falls to 70% of the original meter reading. Thus, if your initial reading was 20, you’d want to re-lamp when the output falls to 14.
Always test your equipment under the same circumstances. We suggest a five minute warm-up, and readings taken with the meter in the center of the equipment, resting on the acrylic, or within a preset distance from the lamp. If your test procedures vary (e.g., incoming voltage), your readings will vary, and the information will be inaccurate. It’s not just lamps that wear out. As they age, acrylics degrade, and begin to filter out some of the UV coming from the lamps. When this happens, even unused lamps will hardly tan your customers—and it’s time for new acrylics. Meter your equipment’s output with new acrylics, and watch for a significant output change, (acrylic on vs. acrylic off) as the acrylics age.
In addition, the existence of written records and test results will save you time and money if you ever have to diagnose certain equipment problems. Therefore, you need to meter your equipment and keep good records. You’ll be glad you did!