Caution should be exercised when using ultraviolet lights. Improper use can result in sunburn to eyes and skin. You should not look directly at the short and mid-wave lights, nor expose your skin for prolonged periods of time. The damage which usually results for short wave to the eyes is that the cornea gets sunburned. They feel raw and like there is sand in your eyes. The outer layer will peel the same as a sunburn to your skin. Exposure to mid-wave ultraviolet light can burn the retinas. Of the three different wave lengths the long wave is the least harmful. But, depending upon how closely the wave length is to the mid-wave length, it can have the same results as exposure to mid-wave ultraviolet light. There has been a study which indicates that children under the age of twelve may develope macular degeneration of the retinas later in life due to exposure to long wave fluorescent lights. The amount of exposure was not discussed (probably more than just a little). Exposure of the skin to short and mid-wave ultraviolet light can result in a sunburn just as you would get from the sun.
Keep in mind that the light being reflected off the fluorescent minerals is still strong enough to cause damage, as well. To prevent problems from using ultraviolet lamps and displaying fluorescent minerals, it is important to display and view fluorescent items behind UV blocking safety glasses or behind UV blocking plexiglass. Regular glass will not work. To determine if your glasses or plexiglass blocks the UV rays or not, place the plastic close to the mineral and shine the light over the mineral and plastic. The portion of the rock directly below the plastic will remain dark, while the rest of the rock will fluoresce.
The fluorescent light units which we offer are manufactured by "Way Too Cool." Why should you be interested in "Way Too Cool" lights? The creator is a collector just like you. He wanted to get the most from his lights for the money just as you do. Most fluorescent lights allow for 92% of the UV light to pass through the bulb which tapers off evenly over the life of the bulb to about 53% at the end of the bulb's life. "Way Too Cool" lights start out allowing about 88% (4% less than the other lights) of the UV light to pass through the bulb at the beginning and tapers off to about 80% at the end of life. So, the other bulbs out perform "Way Too Cool" units for the first 20% of their life and for the remaining life (80%) they are lower performing. How long is the life of the bulbs? About 10,000 hours. So, 8,000 hours of an underperforming bulb, in other lights, is not a very good deal. Of course the life of a unit is affected by many variables, some of which are: how many hours the unit is run, how many times the unit is turned off and on (50,000 times are estimated for "Way Too Cool" units), whether the unit is allowed to overheat (which can substantially shorten the unit life - larger units have fans to minimize this issue).
How does one choose the right light for their particular application? The size of the display usually dictates the wattage to be used, which type of minerals are being displayed, and of course price is also an issue. Let's address the issue of price first. Fluorescent mineral displays are much like fish tanks. The cost and amount of work for salt water fish is about ten times more than for fresh water fish. It is about the same for the difference between short and long wave fluorescent minerals. For long wave minerals you can frequently get by with a black light poster light positioned within twelve to eighteen inches from your specimens, at a cost of under $100.00 (depending on the size of the lamp). A short wave lamp of any reasonable size to work at the same distance will likely be over $500.00. So, if your light will be 12-18 inches from your specimens a 36 watt light may be enough. If your display is fairly long you may loose some color intensity at the edges, which might indicate the need for a stronger light. If the distance of the light is from 18-30 inches from your specimens, you will probably need a 60 watt light to get satisfactory results. Should the color intensity drop off too much at the edges, around three feet from the light, you might want to consider a stronger light. The 95 watt lights should work well in display cases where the distance is three or more feet from specimens or where you want the greatest color saturation from your specimens. Keep in mind the greater the wattage the greater the cost. Also the creator of the lights says that he has noticed that long wave minerals require less wattage to perform than do short wave minerals. He addresses this issue by offering milti-wave length units which have higher short wave wattage than the mid and long wave lamps.
An additional question you may be asking is: Why would I want a mid-wave ultraviolet lamp? The reason is the same as the answer to the question of long or short wave. Different minerals perform differently under different lights. An example of this is Mexican calcites. Some Mexican calcites will fluoresce a blue-white under short wave, yellow under mid-wave, and hot pink under long wave. If you don't have mid-wave available to check out different mineral specimens you won't know what you may be missing.
Just as long wave minerals seem to fluoresce generally better under the same wattage than short wave, some long and short wave minerals will fluoresce better than others under the same light. If you have some specimens which fluoresce very well, you may want to move them farther from the light and move the lesser performing specimens closer, to even out the performance of the display.
The tables in each section will show the different units of fluorescent lights available from this site. You cannot select your choice from the table. With so many offerings we felt it would be less confusing to list all the offerings in brief in one location. You must decide which model best suits your needs, then make your selection from the individual offerings listed below to obtain more detailed information on a particular unit. Units are listed in each section by Model number.