Frequently Asked Questions
What is ultraviolet (UV) phototherapy?
Ultraviolet (UV) phototherapy is the use of specific wavelengths of the sun’s natural spectrum for the treatment of photoresponsive skin disorders such as psoriasis, vitiligo, and atopic dermatitis (eczema); and for the treatment of Vitamin D deficiency. Phototherapy devices create either the short wavelength Ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays or the longer rays of Ultraviolet-A (UVA). UV light produces biological reactions within the skin that lead to clearing of the lesions. UVB is the only waveband of light that produces Vitamin D in human skin.
How long has ultraviolet phototherapy treatment been used?
Using sunlight or “heliotherapy” to treat skin diseases has been around for over 3,500 years. The ingestion of extracts in combination with exposure to sunlight was used by ancient Egyptian and Indian civilizations as a treatment for leucoderma, which is called vitiligo if it isn’t preceded by another cause. Modern Phototherapy began when Niels Finsen developed a lamp in 1903 that emitted chemical rays used to treat tuberculosis, this earned him a Nobel Prize.
The benefits of UV phototherapy for psoriasis was recognized by the medical community as early as 1925 by a study of the effects of natural sunlight on psoriasis patients. Fluorescent devices to produce UV light for the treatment of psoriasis have been in use for over 60 years and today there is a phototherapy clinic in most cities, usually in a hospital or a dermatologist’s office. Home units are a more recent phenomenon, as lower costs have made them more attainable to the average person.
Our bodies evolved in an environment bathed in ultraviolet light, so we developed responses to use the light beneficially (Vitamin D photosynthesis) and to protect us from over-exposure (tanning). Our modern lifestyles; being fully clothed, having protection from the sun, and many of us living in extreme northern/southern latitudes; has significantly reduced our UV exposure, lowered our intake of Vitamin D, and contributed to health problems in some.
For further information we suggest reading History of phototherapy in dermatology.
Will home UVB phototherapy work for me?
The best way to determine if home UVB phototherapy will work for you is to first get a proper diagnosis from your physician, and, if warranted, to take treatments at a phototherapy clinic near you to see if it is effective. SolRx devices use exactly the same UVB bulbs as used in the clinic, so if the clinic treatments prove successful, there is an excellent chance that home phototherapy will work as well, as supported by this medical study of twenty-five SolRx UVB-Narrowband home units in the Ottawa area: “Are Narrow-band Ultraviolet B Home Units a Viable Option for Continuous or Maintenance Therapy of Photoresponsive Skin Diseases?”
If you cannot attend a phototherapy clinic, your response to natural sunlight is usually a good indicator. Does your skin condition get better in the summer? Have you ever deliberately taken sun exposure to improve your skin? Do you take vacations to sunny climates to clear your skin? Have you had some success clearing your psoriasis using tanning equipment?
Note: Cosmetic tanning equipment emits mostly UVA light (which by itself is not effective for psoriasis), and just a small amount of UVB (up to a government regulated maximum of approximately 5%), so some psoriasis patients get benefit from tanning; albeit along with a large amount of unnecessary UVA energy. For hundreds of comments from actual home phototherapy users, visit our Patient Stories page.
How do I take a treatment?
For 6-foot high Full Body devices such as the SolRx E-Series and 1000-Series, the first step is to put the key in the device and turn it on so the timer recalls and displays the last treatment time setting. Then the patient (or responsible person) decides if the treatment time should be increased or decreased based on their skin’s reaction to the previous treatment and the number of days since that last treatment, using the suggestions provided in the SolRx Exposure Guideline Tables. Once the time is set, the patient covers any areas not needing treatment (such as possibly the face or male genitals), puts on the UV protective goggles supplied, stands so the skin is 8 to 12 inches from the front of the device, and pushes the START button to turn on the lights. When the first treatment position is complete, the timer beeps and the lights turn off automatically. The patient then repositions and repeats for the other treatment position(s). For wide devices, sometimes only two treatment positions are needed: front-side and back-side. For narrow devices, often four treatment positions are needed: front-side, back-side, left-side, and right-side. A complete treatment session takes little more than the time the lights are on, which usually totals less than 5 or 10 minutes. Many people take their treatment immediately after a shower or bath, which exfoliates dead skin to improve light transmission, and washes away foreign materials on the skin that might can cause an adverse reaction.
For 500-Series devices, the procedure is similar, but for “Hand & Foot” treatments the removable hood should be used so only the affected areas get exposed, with the hands / feet placed at the wire guard and moved periodically. For “Spot” treatment, the treatment distance is 8 inches from the bulbs and multiple skin treatment positions are taken, usually with the main lighting unit on the yoke (cradle) so it can be rotated as necessary. Spot treatment times are longer than Hand & Foot treatment times because the skin is further from the light source.
For the 100-Series Handheld device, the procedure is similar, but the wand can be placed in direct contact with the skin for maximum irradiance (light power) from a relatively low-power device (18 watts). With the optional UV-Brush installed, it can be used for scalp psoriasis, but treatment times are considerably longer depending on how much hair blocks UV transmission to the scalp skin. The 100-Series has several other innovative features – please see the 100-Series product pages for more information.
For all devices, it is important to not significantly overlap treatment areas because this may cause localized overexposure and sunburn.
How often are treatments taken and how long are the treatment times?
Recommendations for treatment time (dose) and frequency (number of days per week) are provided in the psoriasis, vitiligo, or eczema Exposure Guideline Table in the device’s User’s Manual. In all cases, the patient always starts with a sufficiently low treatment time (UVB dose) to ensure they will not get a skin-burn, which is typically just seconds long per treatment area. Then, if treatments are taken on a regular basis per the treatment schedule, treatment times are gradually increased possibly up to several minutes long when the skin might show the onset of a very mild burn, which represents the maximum dose. The results of the last treatment and number of days since that last treatment are used to determine the treatment time for the current treatment. The patient continues on this basis until the skin is significantly clear, which can take 40 or more treatments over several months or more. Then, for maintenance, treatment times and frequency can be reduced as the patient finds a balance between minimizing UV exposure and the condition of their skin. Maintenance treatments can continue like this for many decades, essentially solving the problem naturally and drug-free. Many thousands of home UVB-Narrowband phototherapy patients have proven this.
For psoriasis, the initial treatment time is based on the patient’s skin-type (light to dark skin). During the “clearing” phase, treatments are taken 3 to 5 times per week with every second day being ideal for many. After significant clearing is achieved, the “maintenance” phase begins; treatments are taken anywhere from three times per week to not at all, with treatment times reduced accordingly.
For vitiligo, treatments are usually taken twice per week, never on consecutive days. Treatment times are usually less than those for psoriasis.
For atopic-dermatitis (eczema), treatments are usually taken 2 or 3 times per week, never on consecutive days. Treatment times are in between those for psoriasis and vitiligo.
For Vitamin D deficiency, Solarc provides a supplemental document called the “Vitamin D User’s Manual Supplement“, which suggests use of the Psoriasis Exposure Guideline Tables. To quickly restore Vitamin D blood levels treatments every second day are ideal for many patients. For ongoing Vitamin D maintenance, UVB doses less than the maximum can be quite effective. Solarc is a strong proponent of low dose UVB-Narrowband phototherapy for Vitamin D and general health.
How long does it take to get results?
Typically some remission is evident after only a few weeks, while more advanced clearing requires two to six months and sometimes up to a year for the worst cases. Once the skin has significantly cleared (or repigmented in the case of vitiligo), treatment times and frequency can usually be reduced and the skin maintained in its healthy condition for many decades.
A bonus is that every UVB treatment makes large amounts of Vitamin D in the skin for general health benefits as well.
How safe is ultraviolet phototherapy?
As with natural sunlight, repeated exposure to ultraviolet light can cause premature aging of the skin and an increased risk of skin cancer. However, when only UVB is used and UVA is excluded, many decades of medical use have proven that these are only minor concerns. Indeed, UVB phototherapy is drug-free and safe for children and women that are pregnant.
When these relatively minor risks of UVB phototherapy are weighed against the risks of other treatment options, often involving strong prescription drugs or even injections, UVB phototherapy is usually found to be the best treatment option, or at least the treatment option that should be tried after topical drugs such as steroids and dovonex have proven minimally effective.
Many governments issue a “formulary” for each biologic drug that says phototherapy must be attempted before the biologic can be prescribed, but unfortunately often with the caveat “(unless not accessible)”, which too often pushes patients into the more risky, expensive, and unnecessary biologic drug.
Furthermore, biologic drugs for psoriasis have been shown to lose their effectiveness rather quickly for many, with the ORBIT study of 703 biologic treatment courses stating: “Overall median drug survival was 31.0 months.” That means that by 31 months half of the patients had stopped treatment because the biologic drug had lost its effectiveness. The ORBIT study was published in the June-2016 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD). In comparison, UVB phototherapy can be used safely and effectively for many decades, with the bonus of at the same time naturally making large amounts of Vitamin D in the patient’s skin, for health benefits throughout the body.
Other practical safety considerations with phototherapy are that all persons exposed to the UV light must wear eye protection, with patients wearing the UV-blocking goggles supplied with the SolRx device, and with males covering both their penis and scrotum using a sock, unless that area is affected.
To prevent unauthorized use, all SolRx devices have an electrical mains power disconnect switchlock with a key that can be removed and hidden. This is of particular value if children are around, or if there are people that might mistake the device for a tanning machine and take far more treatment time than recommended, resulting in a serious skin burn. The switchlock also makes it easy to electrically disconnect the device, which protects it from possible power surge damage, for example from a lightning strike.
What are the advantages of Home versus Clinical phototherapy?
The greatest advantage of home phototherapy is the tremendous time savings it allows while still providing totally effective phototherapeutic relief. For those that have been going to a phototherapy clinic, the convenience of home treatment eliminates scheduling problems, missed visits, and traveling costs. Also, when treatments are in the privacy of your own home, you can go directly from a shower or bath to the lights while you are still naked. For those living too far from a phototherapy clinic, a home UVB unit may be the only reasonable option, and it might prevent you from being put on risky systemic drugs such as biologics.
Does home phototherapy work? It sure does – check out this Home UVB-Narrowband medical study of twenty-five SolRx devices in the Ottawa area. Have a look at PubMed and you will find many other studies such as the KOEK study.
To see what actual home phototherapy users have to say; visit one of our Patient Stories page.
Note: As a condition of sale, use of a SolRx home phototherapy device requires regular follow-up skin examinations by a physician at least once per year.
Is it possible to treat the eyelids?
Ultraviolet light can severely damage eyes, so the UV protective goggles supplied with every SolRx device must be worn during every treatment. However, to quote from the famed dermatologist Dr. Warwick Morison’s book: Phototherapy and Photochemotherapy of Skin Disease; “An occasional exception may be made in patients with recalcitrant disease of the eyelids or periorbital skin at the discretion of the physician.” So with physician guidance, it may be reasonable to irradiate the eyelids, but only if the eyelids are held closed shut for the entire treatment so no ultraviolet light reaches the eye directly. The skin of the eyelid is thick enough that no UVB light passes through the eyelid skin and into the eye.
What SolRx model should I buy?
There are several considerations when choosing a SolRx phototherapy device model. We have a web page dedicated to helping you make the right choice. Please see our Home Phototherapy Selection Guide.
Are the SolRx models with more bulbs physically larger devices?
No. For a given device family, all models use the same steel frame components and differ only in the number of bulbs installed. For example, the eight-bulb 1780 uses the same main frame as a four-bulb 1740, but the bulbs are packed in much tighter to increase the device irradiance (UV brightness) and reduce treatment times. Devices with more bulbs will also have more ballasts, and be a bit more heavy.
How much room do I need for a SolRx 1000-Series Full Body Panel?
The SolRx 1000-Series Full Body Panel is designed to take up a minimum amount of space in your home. They are only 3½” thick by 29″ wide by 72″ high and mount flat up against a wall, or in a corner, with the bottom resting on the floor and the top fastened to the wall in two places. Casters are not practical because they must have a wide wheelbase to keep the unit from tipping over, and therefore greatly increasing the floor space needed. Casters also increase the distance between the bottom of the bulbs and the floor, making a platform necessary for lower leg treatment. Over 25 years of experience with the 1000-Series has shown that once the device is mounted, it is out of the way and there is little need to have it moved. The author’s personal 1000-Series unit was in the same place for over 20 years, until just recently being replaced by an E-Series 1M+4A.
How much room do I need for a SolRx E-Series Expandable/Multidirectional System?
The SolRx E-Series is an expandable system that can be the absolute smallest 6-foot high full-body device if only the 2-bulb Master device is used. It measures just 3″ thick by 12.5″ wide by 73″ high, and mounts flat against a wall just like the 1000-Series, with the bottom resting on the floor and the top fastened to the wall in two places. As more E-Series Add-On devices are added on either or both sides of the Master (all the same size), the system expands and is adjusted so it surrounds the patient’s body, which takes up more floor space, but can then be easily folded-up for storage. The E-Series has many possible assembly configurations, each taking up different amounts of floor-space, but all able to be folded-up for storage.
How long do the UV bulbs last?
Under typical home phototherapy usage, experience has shown that Philips UVB-Narrowband bulbs usually last five to ten years. Fluorescent bulbs gradually lose power over time so that over many years, treatment times are perhaps double that of new bulbs, but the type of light remains consistent (has nearly the same relative spectroradiometric profile). The decision to replace bulbs is therefore mostly a matter of the patient’s tolerance of longer treatment times. UVB lamps are very specialized and cost $50 to $120 each. To learn more about phototherapy bulbs, please visit our Bulbs page.
How can I prevent others from using my SolRx device ?
To prevent others from using your device, all SolRx devices have a mains power electrical disconnect switchlock with a key that can be taken out and hidden. This feature is important if children are around, or in case somebody mistakes the device for a tanning machine and takes a far longer treatment than recommended, which would result in a serious skin burn. The risk is significant because tanning treatments are typically a much longer duration than UVB medical treatments.
The switchlock is also useful to electrically disconnect the device in order to protect it from potential power surge damage, for example by a lightning strike.
What maintenance does a home phototherapy device require?
The only maintenance that is required is the occasional cleaning of the bulbs and reflectors using any common glass cleaner. We also recommend checking the accuracy of the digital timer periodically. Appropriate maintenance instructions are given in the SolRx User’s Manual. For example, a good way to clean the 500-Series is to take it outside and blow it out with clean, compressed air.
What is the warranty?
Solarc is ISO-13485 (medical device) certified. We use only the highest quality components and manufacturing methods in the construction of our SolRx family of UV phototherapy devices, resulting in an excellent track record of reliability.
When used for Home phototherapy, there is a four year warranty on the device and an unequalled one year limited warranty on the bulbs.
When used in a Clinic, there is a two year warranty on the device and an unequalled 6-month limited warranty on the bulbs.
Normal wear and tear is excluded, for example the bulbs are a consumable and are warranteed for premature failure only.
Exclusive to Canadian customers, the device warranty is extendable to five (5) years if the device purchase is made using Interac E-Transfer instead of a credit card.
For the complete warranty statement, please visit our Warranty page.
Do I need a prescription?
A Physician’s Prescription is optional for Canadian and International shipments, and mandatory for USA shipments.
For Canadians, a prescription is useful only if you are trying to get reimbursement from an employer’s health insurance company, or it might be needed to make a withdrawal from your health care spending account. A prescription is not required to claim the Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) on your Canadian Income Tax Return; all you need is the invoice from Solarc.
For patients in the United States, a prescription is required by law per the US Code of Federal Regulations 21CFR801.109 “Prescription Devices”.
Whether a Prescription is needed or not, Solarc recommends that all patients seek the advice of a healthcare professional before purchasing a SolRx medical UV light therapy device.
For more information, including what the prescription should say, and how to submit it to Solarc, please see our Prescriptions page.
Will my insurance company help with the cost?
Many insurance companies such as Manulife recognize home phototherapy equipment as ‘Durable Medical Equipment’ (DME), and will help with some or all of the initial purchase. Sometimes; however, this requires considerable persistence because “home phototherapy device” is usually not on the insurance company’s list of pre-approved devices. Some insurance companies may decline vitiligo coverage claiming it to be merely a cosmetic problem. The best results are obtained by referring the request to more senior human resources staff, and making the case that the device will save drug costs and improve your quality of life. A doctor’s letter and/or prescription is also useful. Solarc continues to work at getting all insurance companies to cover this safe, effective, low-cost, and long-term solution for many skin disorders.
If you cannot get insurance company coverage, you can still claim it as an allowable Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) on your Canadian income tax return. See also our Tips for Insurance Reimbursement page.
Can I claim a SolRx device on my Canadian Income Tax Return?
Yes, a SolRx home phototherapy device is an allowable Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) on your Canadian income tax return and a prescription is not required to make that claim, only the Solarc invoice is needed.
Should I be using UVA or UVB for home phototherapy?
For almost everyone, UVB is the best treatment option, with UVB-Narrowband being most preferred – it is almost always the phototherapy treatment that is tried first.
UVA is less desirable because it requires the use of the drug methoxsalen (Psoralen), taken orally or in a pre-treatment “bath”, and carefully measured doses of UVA light using a light meter. These so-called “PUVA” treatments have greater side-effects and are more difficult to administer in the home than UVB. PUVA is therefore usually reserved for the worst cases and is best done in a clinic. UVB home phototherapy does not require use of any drug to be effective, and does not require use of a UVB light meter.
UVB home phototherapy can also be used in combination with topical drugs applied directly to the lesions for greater efficacy, best applied after the phototherapy session. For example: tar preparations (LCD), steroids and calcipotriene (Dovonex, Dovobet, Taclonex).
What is the difference between UVB-Broadband and UVB-Narrowband ?
Conventional “Broadband” UVB bulbs emit light in a broad range that includes both the therapeutic wavelengths specific to the treatment of skin diseases plus the shorter wavelengths responsible for sunburning. Sunburning has a negative therapeutic benefit, increases the risk of skin cancer, and limits the amount of therapeutic UVB that can be taken.
“Narrowband” UVB bulbs, on the other hand, emit light over a very short range of wavelengths concentrated in the therapeutic range around 311 nanometers (nm). UVB-Narrowband is therefore theoretically safer and more effective than UVB-Broadband, but requires either longer treatment times or equipment with more bulbs to achieve the same dosage threshold. UVB-Narrowband now dominates new equipment sales worldwide (more than 99% of all Solarc devices are now UVB-Narrowband), but UVB-Broadband will likely always have a role for more difficult cases.
Solarc’s UVB-Narrowband models have n “UVB-NB” or “UVBNB” suffix in their model number. Broadband models have the “UVB” suffix only. Check Understanding Narrowband UVB Phototherapy for more information.
What is a Dosimeter and do I need one?
The irradiance (brightness) of fluorescent lamps vary with many factors such as bulb age and bulb wall temperature. A dosimeter is a control system that constantly measures the irradiance second-by-second and performs calculations using the equation TIME = DOSE / IRRADIANCE to turn the device off when a pre-set dose is reached. Dosimetry is useful in phototherapy clinics, where the irradiance is highly variable, for example where bulbs are renewed frequently and when patients might use different devices. Dosimeters require calibration every year or so, and suffer from sampling the irradiance of only one or two bulbs that might not be representative of the entire device.
In comparison, home phototherapy devices are used far more consistently by the same patient using the same bulbs in the same way, resulting in treatments that are predictable and repeatable. For this a simple countdown timer has proven to be effective because it is easy to understand, has less initial cost, and has no need for expensive annual calibrations. Using the Exposure Guideline Table <pic of Exposure Guideline Table> provided, the patient’s treatment time (dose) is guided by the results of the previous treatment. As the bulbs age and slowly get dimmer, the patient simply compensates by taking more time. When new bulbs are installed, the process of building up treatment times starts over, but in 10 treatments or less the new treatment time has been established. Over about 30 years, Solarc has sold over 15,000 home phototherapy devices and has never offered a dosimeter. Simple is better.
If necessary, can I switch the UV waveband type in a SolRx device?
It depends, because not all SolRx device families have dimensionally interchangeable bulbs available for all four common UV waveband types: UVB-Narrowband, UVB-Broadband, UVA and UVA-1. SolRx 1000-Series and 500-Series devices have all four waveband types available, the SolRx E-Series does not have UVA-1, and the SolRx 100-Series does not have UVA. Solarc does not produce any UVA or UVA-1 User’s Manuals, so you must consult your physician for treatment protocols. Solarc may also be able to help by providing information from our library. When changing waveband types, it is important to change the device’s labeling to list the correct waveband type; failure to do so can result in the device being mistaken for something it is not and the patient being seriously burned. For more information about waveband types, please see the bottom of the Selection Guide.
What is the relationship between treatment time, dose and device irradiance?
There is a simple linear relationship between treatment time, dose and device irradiance, it is:
TIME (seconds) = DOSE (mJ/cm^2) ÷ IRRADIANCE (mW/cm^2)
IRRADIANCE is the UV light power of the device per unit area, which for medical phototherapy is usually expressed in milliWatts per square centimeter. Think of it as light intensity or brightness. It is similar to the use of “Lumens” when instead referring to visible light.
DOSE is the energy delivered per unit area. For medical phototherapy it is usually expressed in milliJoules per square centimeter. When a certain UVB dose is reached, human skin will exhibit skin burning, which is also known as erythema.
TIME in this equation is expressed in seconds.
Example: A SolRx 100-Series model# 120UVB-NB placed directly on the patient’s skin has a nominal UVB-Narrowband device irradiance of 10 mW/cm^2. If a dose per skin-area of 300 mJ/cm^2 is wanted, the time needed is 300/10=30 seconds.
Each Solarc device has been tested to determine its nominal device irradiance value. That irradiance value is used along with recognized treatment protocols to generate the treatment times in the Exposure Guideline Tables in the User’s Manual.
What are the electrical requirements?
SolRx phototherapy units plug into any standard 120-volt, grounded, 3-prong electrical wall outlet receptacle common to almost all homes in North America. There are no special electrical requirements. Some 230-volt devices for other parts of the world are also available – please see further down for the FAQ question: Does Solarc have any 230-volt devices?
The AC Current ratings at 120-volts AC are:
E-Series Expandable: A total of five(5) 2-bulb devices can be electrically connected together, totalling about 8 amps.
1000-Series Full Body models: 1790=7.9 amps, 1780=6.3 amps, 1760=4.7 amps, 1740=3.1 amps.
500-Series Hand/Foot & Spot models: 550=1.6 amps, 530=0.9 amps, 520=0.7 amps.
100-Series Handheld model 120: =0.4 amps.
Most homes in North America use 15 amp circuit breakers for 120-volt circuits.
All of these devices require a grounded, 3-prong electrical supply.
It is not acceptable and dangerous to operate a SolRx device without a ground connection, for example by cutting the ground pin from the power supply cord.
Does Solarc have any 230-volt devices?
Yes, some SolRx UVB-Narrowband devices are specially built for use with 220 to 240 volt / 50 or 60 hertz supply power common in other parts of the world such as Europe. These devices have a “-230V” in their model number. They are the 1000-Series 8-bulb 1780UVB-NB-230V, E-Series Master E720M-UVBNB-230V, E-Series Add-On E720A-UVBNB-230V, Hand/Foot & Spot 550UVB-NB-230V, and Handheld 120UVB-NB-230V. These devices are usually in-stock and can ship within a few days.
Please be sure to indicate 230V when ordering these devices.
All of these 230-volt devices require a grounded, 3-prong electrical supply. The device is equipped with an internationally standard “C13/C14 power inlet” that allows connection of a power supply cord specific to the region. The customer may have to supply this power cord, but it should be easy to find as it is also frequently used for computer equipment. It is not acceptable and dangerous to operate a SolRx device without a ground connection, for example by cutting the ground pin from the power supply cord. Operating the device without grounding may result in electrocution causing death.
Does Solarc make any 4-foot high devices?
Not any more. We used to make a 1000-Series model called the “1440” that used four 4-foot long T12 bulbs, but because 4-foot bulbs are only 40-watts each (compared to 6-foot bulbs at 100-watts each, 2.5 times more powerful) the device had much lower total power than our 6-foot devices with only minimal cost savings. In fact, we actually now pay more for Philips UVB-Narrowband 4-foot TL40W/01 bulbs than Philips 6-foot TL100W/01-FS72 bulbs. Given these factors, 4-foot high devices are technically obsolete.
Instead, to provide the lower cost device that many patients need, we turned focus to the development of the SolRx E-Series Expandable System, which, with only one Master device, can provide effective full body home phototherapy with only two 6-foot bulbs (200 watts total versus the 1440 at 160-watts), and can later be expanded as needed. Many patients can do well with just a single E-Series Master device. It is the lowest cost full-body device in the world.
Do these UV light therapy units produce a lot of heat?
No. All SolRx medical UV light therapy units use modern fluorescent bulbs and electronic ballasts where possible. They produce about as much heat as any other similar sized fluorescent bulb. However, electric filaments inside the bulbs cause the ends of the bulbs to locally get quite hot, so the bulbs should obviously not be touched when they are operating, especially at the ends.
Will I get a tan using a home UVB phototherapy device?
Some people report that they get a tan and others do not. UVB is known to create more melanocytes in your skin, the cells needed for maximum skin darkening, but UVA light is the primary contributor to tanning. Dosages also play an important role. The SolRx User’s Manual provides conservative treatment times. Excessive tanning has not been reported. More likely is some temporary skin reddening (called erythema) if the dosage approaches its maximum. Skin reddening usually fades within a day.
Will the UV light fade colours in the room?
It is a fact that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light will fade colours. However, this requires considerable cumulative amounts of UV light and because a home UVB unit is used relatively infrequently, as compared to say exterior house paint exposed to daily sunlight, our practical experience is that colour fading is not an issue. If it occurs, it is barely perceptible. The only possible exception to this is that fine art should be protected.
Why are the UVB bulbs so expensive?
There are several reasons why medical fluorescent UVB bulbs are expensive:
- To allow passage of the UVB light, expensive and sometimes difficult to obtain quartz glass must be used. Standard glass filters out UVB light.
- Medical UVB bulbs are produced in much smaller quantities than other fluorescent bulb types.
- Medical products are subject to higher regulatory standards, controlled distribution, and greater compliance costs.
- In the case of Philips TL /01 UVB-Narrowband bulbs, the phosphor (white powder) within the bulb is expensive to produce.
- The bulbs are fragile and subject to shipping damage losses.
- In Canada, Health Canada levies a 1% “fee” (tax) on replacement medical ultraviolet bulb sales via their mandatory “Medical Device Establishment Licence”, and to further increase costs, has very onerous reporting requirements to determine the fee assessed to the licensee, in addition to on-site Health Canada MDEL audits every 3 or 4 years.
What if my SolRx device arrives damaged?
Any product containing glass bulbs is at risk of shipping damage. SolRx shipping containers are highly developed and heavy-duty, but yes, there are times when damage does occur. In the vast majority of cases, it is simply a broken bulb(s). The problem is rare and confined mostly to the 1000-Series and E-Series Full Body devices and their 6-foot long bulbs. The 500-Series and 100-Series use smaller compact fluorescent bulbs and have much less risk of shipping damage.
Since they contain glass, SolRx devices and replacement bulbs are not eligible for the insurance offered by shipping companies such as UPS, Purolator, and Canpar; so for the protection of our customers Solarc has for many years included an Arrival Guarantee for every shipment.
In all cases, the customer is requested to accept the shipment even if it is damaged, and if possible to make the repair locally, because it is seldom practical to return the device to Solarc.
For detailed information please see our Warranty, Arrival Guarantee, and Returned Goods Policy page.
Do fluorescent lamps contain Mercury?
Yes. All fluorescent lamps, including the UVB-Narrowband lamps supplied with Solarc devices, contain mercury vapor. Mercury is not released when a lamp is intact or in use however, if a lamp is broken, it should be cleaned up properly. For safe handling procedures, measures to be taken in case of accidental breakage, and options for disposal & recycling; please visit: LAMPRECYCLE.ORG. Dispose of or recycle in accordance with applicable laws.
What if a repair is needed after the warranty has expired?
If a repair is needed after the warranty has expired, the customer can either:
- Purchase the components needed and have the device repaired locally, using a local electrical appliance repair company if necessary. Solarc has detailed procedures for most common repairs.
- Get a return authorization per the Returned Goods Policy and then properly package and pay for return of the device to Solarc. Then, Solarc will provide the repair labour for free, but the customer must pay for any components replaced, and the customer must prepay for shipping the device back to them.
- Make arrangements to personally bring the device to Solarc for repair. We will repair it for free while you wait and all you have to do is pay for any components we use.
Whatever the case, we will do our best to help keep your SolRx device working.
How do I place an order?
The best way to order is using the Solarc Online Store.
If using the Online Store is not possible, please download, print, and complete the paper Ordering Form by hand. Make sure to sign the Terms & Conditions, attach your prescription if applicable, and then submit it to Solarc using the contact information provided in the top-left corner of the form’s first page. Possible ways to send it include: fax, scan & email, smartphone photograph & email, and letter-mail. Remember to keep a copy for your records. Once received, Solarc will acknowledge the order and provide shipping details.
Does Solarc Systems ship to the USA?
Yes, routinely. All SolRx devices are US-FDA compliant. All USA bound orders must be placed on our USA website at solarcsystems.com. The amount listed is in US-dollars and is all that you pay, shipping and brokerage included. The devices are NAFTA eligible and duty free. Solarc does not collect any USA taxes. If USA taxes are payable, they are payable by the purchaser.
Solarc’s FDA Facility Registration Number is 3004193926.
Solarc’s Owner/Operator Number is 9014654.
Solarc has four FDA 510(k) numbers and four FDA Listing Numbers – one for each SolRx device family:
- Solarc/SolRx E-Series: 510(k)# K103204, Listing Number D136898 (models E720M, E720A)
- Solarc/SolRx 1000-Series: 510(k)# K935572, Listing Number D008519 (models 1740, 1760, 1780, 1790)
- Solarc/SolRx 500-Series: 510(k)# K031800, Listing Number D008540 (models 520, 530, 550, 550CR)
- Solarc/SolRx 100-Series: 510(k)# K061589, Listing Number D008543 (model 120)
Does Solarc Systems ship internationally?
Yes, frequently. We have shipped SolRx devices to over 80 different countries and we have devices for use with 230-volt power supply available and usually in stock (each having “-230V” in the model number).
For the least risk of shipping damage, our preference is to ship to the nearest international airport where the customer is responsible for importing the device including paying any fees, duties, or brokerage.
We can also ship direct using DHL, but that is much more expensive and risks damage during local ground transportation to the final destination.
Please see our International Orders webpage for more information. We are always happy to help our friends worldwide.
What are my options if the Solarc UVB lamp does not work?
Solarc does a follow-up with every customer to determine if the device was effective. From this we know that over 95% of patients achieve success. For the patients that do not achieve success, please review the SolRx User’s Manual – sometimes increasing the dose is all it takes. For more help, talk to one of our experts at Solarc. We are not medical doctors, but we live with these skin diseases and are totally immersed in the subject of photodermatology. On staff, we have a lifelong psoriasis sufferer, and a vitiligo patient/clinician; both of whom regularly use UVB-Narrowband to maintain their skin condition. Please also, of course, consider seeing your physician or dermatologist, there could be other complications. For example, guttate psoriasis can be caused by a strep infection requiring antibiotic treatment.
Solarc cannot buy back used SolRx devices because it is not economically practical to remanufacture and recondition these medical devices to the standards demanded by the regulatory authorities. Should you want to sell a device, consider using a website such as Kijiji.
Does Solarc have a showroom?
Yes, Solarc has a showroom in our manufacturing facility at 1515 Snow Valley Road in Minesing, Ontario, L9X 1K3 – which is near Barrie, about a 10 minute drive from Highway 400. All four SolRx device families are on display and experts are available to help answer your questions. Look for the large red “S” on the building, about 2.5 kilometres west from Bayfield Street on Snow Valley Road. Ideally, please contact us before you arrive at 1-866-813-3357, and especially if you might want to leave with a SolRx device. Our hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 9am to noon, and 1pm to 4pm. We will do our best to help you.
I have more questions, how do I contact you?
If you have any more questions, please contact us toll free at 1.866.813.3357 or direct at 705-739-8279. Our hours of operation are 9am to 5pm and we are in the same time zone as Toronto and New York City.
We can also be reached by fax at 705-739-9684, by email at email@example.com or send us a note right now and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We will do our best to help you.
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