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Lamp LifeLamp Life
If you've looked around the website, you've probably noticed that the "estimated lamp life" is usually given as a range instead of a flat number. I want to explain why, and what you can do to increase the lamp life. First, understand that our numbers are conservative, many of you will get more hours than we state here, some will get twice the life, while others may get slightly less. It depends on a number of factors. Here are some things that affect lamp life in general.

Ballast

The type of ballast you use will absolutely affect lamp life in a dramatic way. The ballasts we sell are ultra-high frequency electronic ballasts, which are shown to increase the lamp life because they are less stressful on the cathode/anode of the lamp. Other types of ballasts (particularly the old magnetic) are much more stressful and cause the phosphors to break down faster.

How cycling uv curing lamps affects life
The more any fluorescent lamp is cycled, the shorter the life will be. If the light is going to be OFF for just a few minutes, it is better to simply leave it on.
Temperature

The hotter the running temperature, the shorter the lamp life. Of course, the hotter the temperature, the higher the UV output, to a point. (see How temperature affects UV output for more info). Running them below freezing isn't good for life either, although that isn't nearly as tested so I can't give you a metric for it. Keeping the air around the lamps themselves at 100°F/38°;C or lower allows you get most of the power of the lamp while protecting the life. Of course, they heat up as they are used, and this is complicated by the fact that they don't perform well if they are too cool, so you have to find a way to dial them into the right temperature for your application.

Cycling

The worst thing you can do to any fluorescent lamp is start it. Just like a car engine, most of the wear and tear happens in the start cycle. If you need the lights to be on 5 minutes, off 5 minutes, then on again....just leave them on. If you are cycling less than 20 minutes off, I would just leave them on, they will actually last longer. You many have noticed this in your own life, that the fluorescent lamps at the office that are on 24 hours a day seem to last longer than the lamps that get turned on and off each day. This is just a universal truth about fluorescent technology, and not particular to Solacure products in general. In fact, our lamps don't use standard glass or cathodes/anodes, they use custom made parts designed for heavy abuse, including fast cycling, but the phosphors still break down with heavy switching and it reduces the UV output more quickly.

How age affect curing lamps output
UV lamps get weaker over time, but the decline accelerates as it ages.
What to expect as your lamps age
While we are on the topic, you need to understand that UV output is not linear. The lamps will not put out the same amount of UV when they are 100 hours old, or 400 hours old. All fluorescent lamps get weaker over time. When we rate a lamp at 1000 hours, this doesn't mean it will burn out, it means the UV output will be less than 70% of the original output and should be replaced. It might continue to burn for 2000 or 3000 hours, but it will be useless for creating UV. Typically, the UVB phosphors break down faster than the UVA phosphors, which is why UVB/UVA lamps have a shorter life than pure UVA lamps. You can compensate for this using longer exposure times as the lamp ages, but at their rated life, the output is going to start dropping off dramatically, such that it doesn't make economic sense to continue using them. This is true of all UV bulbs, not just Solacure: it is a matter of physics. Of course, they will continue to create visible light for hundreds (or sometimes thousands) of hours past their rated life, but it isn't usable light that you can turn into work. At that point, you just need to recycle them as you would any fluorescent and grab a fresh set of Solacure lamps.

Recycle your UV curing lampsGive a hoot....Recycle

While we are on the topic, please recycle your UV curing lamps. Don't just throw them in the dumpster. We use a special process that only requires about half the mercury of old style bulbs, but it still doesn't need to be in the landfill or environment. Actually, ALL fluorescent lamps, including the twist in CFL bulbs, should be taken down to your city's or county's Hazardous Waste Disposal place. The same place you would take old paint or medications. This way the lamp can be recycled, the environment is cleaner, and you will know that you did the right thing.

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Solacure Means Quality

Solacure ultraviolet lamps aren't just good, we guarantee they are the best. We don't use stock parts anywhere in our products. Our glass is a special blend, and more transparent to UVA and UVB. Our 32 watt lamps use 60 watt rated cathodes and are tested at almost 70 watts of power. Almost all our lamps have built in reflectors. All are designed to be overdriven to extra high wattages. We test, and test, and test our lamps.

We stand behind everything we sell and guarantee each will perform exactly to specification, or we will replace them. We don't want your business this week, we want it every week, and we are willing to earn it. There really is a difference in quality when it comes to ultraviolet bulbs, and Solacure tops the list.

Buy with confidence: We like what we do, and we've been doing it for over 30 years.
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