A homemade tanning bed is not advised as slight miscalculations can result in serious health complications. It is much safer to purchase a pre-made tanning bed. In addition, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has stated that UV tanning beds are carcinogenic to humans and are in its highest cancer risk category. Creating a tanning bed at home is possible but does require significant effort.
The bulbs used in tanning beds are extremely powerful. Using too many bulbs or bulbs with a high power output can result in severe burns and excess heat. When building a tanning bed it is better to err on the side of caution when adding bulbs. Due to the high power consumption of tanning beds, the bulbs must be correctly connected to a power ballast. This process is not necessarily easy and incorrect wiring can result in a short circuit, electrical fire or damaged bulbs.
Tanning beds require a high amount of power (up to 3,000 watts according to hometanningbed.com). The average outlet in a household can barely supply 1,000 watts through one outlet without blowing a circuit. As a result, the tanning bed may need hardwiring to the house’s electrical system, a process that requires a licensed electrician. Alternatively, the tanning bed may require a 220-volt outlet, and the standard for households in North America is 120 volts. The only 220-volt outlet in most households is where the dryer plugs in. Installing an additional 220-volt outlet is not difficult, but a licensed electrician should do the work.
The size of the bed would be slightly larger than that of an average person standing, and most tanning beds are between 6 and 7 feet in length. For safety reasons, many homemade tanning beds are vertical instead of the traditional horizontal tanning bed found in most tanning salons. The reason for this is that it is easier to adjust the distance between the bulbs and the tanner if the bed is vertical.
A tanning bed is nothing more than a series of UVA bulbs connected to a circuit and ballast and mounted on a panel. All of these components are purchased separately and assembled at home. The construction of the bed itself is a designer’s choice. Many tanning beds are curved to wrap around the tanner, while others are flat. Every tanning bed features an automatic safety shut-off; this ensures not only the safety of the tanner but also the longevity of the bed. Homemade tanning beds do not come with a safety shut-off; it is recommended to add an automatic shut-off feature to all homemade beds.
Building a homemade tanning bed costs several thousand dollars. A complete set of bulbs may be between $500 and $3,000, the variance in price is due to the variety of bulbs available. Bulbs vary in both quality and strength and both of these factors contribute to price. Power ballasts can cost up to $2,000 for a 3,000-watt power ballast. Circuits, wires and control units can add another $500 to costs. The frame of the bed must be sturdy, and the cheapest pre-made frames cost around $800.
References and ResourcesWebMD: WHO: Tanning Beds Cause Cancer
Slate: Is Sunbathing Good for You?
U.S. News: Tougher Restrictions Possible for Indoor Tanning
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: Tanning in Body Dysmorphic Disorder