Which Instrument Do You Have Questions About?

Q: I didn’t get a CD with the PMA Organizer software; don’t I need one?
A:The Organizer software is available online on the PMA2100 page under the ‘Literature and Downloads’ tab.

Q: Does it matter which side I plug in my sensor? (For PMA 2100, DCS-2)
A: It doesn’t matter which connecting port you use. Both meters will let you change between the left and right channels to individually display.

Q: Can I view both sensors at the same time? Can I log both simultaneously?
While you cannot view two sensors at the same time, the PMA 2100 will log two sensors at the same time.

Q: How does the Hold button work?
You can locate this button on the PMA 2100/2200 while the DCS-2 has this button next to its live intensity. Pressing hold will freeze the live intensity so you can start a dose without the sensor being in the way at first.

Q: I see that sensors can be made waterproof and weatherproof. Can I do that to this to my PMA 2100/2200 as well?
A: Unfortunately, neither the single or dual input radiometers are able to be weatherproofed or waterproofed. It is best to plan for your radiometer to placed dry and secure. We offer additional length sensors to help facilitate this.

Q: My sensor says UV AB, does that mean it can flip to reading between UVA only or UVB only with the same light output?
Each sensor is made to measure the total energy within the window that it can see light. It will not separate the UVA signal from the UVB signal, so you will always see their AB sum.

Q: How do I know if what light sources work specifically with my sensor?
You want to look at emission spectrum to find out the nanometer wavelength range that is emitting from that source. Your sensor will work when its listed wavelengths fall within the range listed by that light source. (Some matches are only partial, don’t hesitate to ask more on spectral matching)

Q: Every time I power on, I have to change the units over to another selection. Is there any way I can change the default units?
Yes! Every time we calibrate our sensors, we have the ability to switch which of the units are defaulted. If you notify us that you are interested, we can do it for free during your next annual servicing.

Q: Do I need the sensor with a chimney top like the PMA 2103?
The sensors with a chimney top design were meant to be used with liquid light guide (LLG) that is present on some of our solar simulators. It has a specific fit, so we recommend only using it for that purpose to avoid any unnecessary damage.

Q: Do I connect my analog sensor to a power source and voltmeter separately?
Some other voltmeters/dataloggers attach to a power source, and they provide power to the sensor when connected. Other dataloggers are not powered, and therefore the sensor must be wired to a power source as outlined in their brochure.

Q: How is the PMA2174 Quadrant Sensor used to stay compliant with the latest regulations?
This sensor is made to work with a Liquid Light Guide (LLG) and a DCS-2 Radiometer. The DCS-2 has a feature called ‘Uniformity Test’ which provides step by step instructions. This feature also performs all of the necessary calculations leaving you more time.

Q: Will this setup work with all germicidal UVC sources?
Not all germicidal sources will work. The germicidal UVC meters we offer can sense light that is 249-259nm. LEDs however only emit UVC germicidal light from 265-280nm and will regularly give partial inaccurate data. Our custom sensor PMA 2180 is fully capable of reading the range

Q: If LEDs don’t respond well with your germicidal equipment, then what type of light sources work well with the UVGI equipment?
Our sensors work perfectly with xenon lights. They also work very well with fluorescent or mercury-based lighting. The naturally emit light in the 245-260nm range. You need light that is centered around at 253-258nm.

Q: Why does the signal change so fast when I get closer or further from the lamp?
The sensor reading will increase or decrease very quickly as you get closer or farther. UVC reacts with oxygen to create ozone, so expect the light to not travel as easily as UVA or UVB. UVC use will always be a medium to close range application.

Q: What is a dose? Is that what my sensor is showing me?
Your sensors will show you irradiance, or the strength of the light. Dose factors in how long that same light was exposed to your sample. To learn how to use the dose features on your radiometer, consult your PMA 2100/2200 manual.

Q: My Sunphotometer has times where the AOT at shorter wavelengths will be high, but sometimes AOT’s are approximately the same at several wavelengths.
You are probably in a very low AOT environment. When AOTs are extremely low, the difference in AOT between wavelength channels, especially in the IR, can be less than the accuracy of the instrument.

Q: The Glass Dome cracked on my sensor. Should I send it in after my current trial ends? The data is very important.
In these scenarios, it is very urgent that the equipment be returned ASAP. Any breaches to the sensor will cause humidity corrosion and effect the sensors capabilities.

Q: My ISO/ FDA runs sometimes freeze mid run or ask me to change my HV/ Gain in the middle of a run. Is this normal?
A: This issue can occur when the analyzer is initialized with a dry blank plate, but a glycerin plate is later used for the testing blank. To correct this, we want to aim to use the same exact substrate that we intend to use in our test. This will ensure HV and Gain levels remain optimal.

Q: Why should I purchase the SPF-290AS over a competitor’s instrument?
A: The SPF-290AS and any of our competitor’s models require pre-irradiation for any FDA and ISO studies. Regardless of the analyzer, if you do not pre-irradiate the plates according to FDA’s guidelines then the results cannot qualify as a valid test. Same goes for ISO, the end user also must irradiate their plates using ISO’s listed equation. What makes the SPF-290AS superior to its competitors is our program performs the calculations on each separate plate for you and lists the required doses.

*Please note, the SPF-290AS and our competitor’s instruments are unable to irradiate the plates themselves. For pre-irradiation testing we recommend the LS1000-Series Solar Simulator or the 16S-Series Solar Simulator.  

Q: What kind of files will I need to download when first setting up my system?
A: Each system will be shipped with all the necessary programs installed and ready to go! We made sure to put all tools you’ll need on the desktop along with some manuals on performing most methods.

Q: Do I need to connect the computer to the internet to be functional?
A: Your system will be fully operational without the internet. Sometimes units may require internet access for remote diagnosis and repair.

Q: I don’t see the manual/standard for ISO 24443. Why don’t I see it, do I need to purchase it separately?
A: The ISO standard is a very specific standard that legally demands licensing to sell or distribute. This is very similar to the way computers don’t have Microsoft Office when you first purchase them. The company compels you to purchase it from them directly in this matter.

Q: I need to change my lamp. How do I go about that?
On the front desktop screen, we provide a folder with a full instructional sheet on doing the replacement in a simple manner. Contact Solar Light to acquire a new lamp and we will happily aid you in this process.

Q: I want to use a different computer for my SPF-290AS analyzer. Can I do that?
A: This is very possible and depends on compatibility. All of the files are able to be transferred over, and we can also assist for the transition. Sometimes, certain software in your computer can complicate things. There may be some situations where alternative computers are incompatible.

Q: The comprehensive test plate failed, what happened?
A: Most times the comprehensive test fails because the H.V. and Gain are not 300 units apart on the front of the 290AS. The initialization needs to read green while this 300-rule is simultaneously met. If the plate still fails, call or email us.

Q: My sample is too thick to spread evenly or to work with a syringe. How do I get things to cooperate?
A: Mild heating sources like a hair dresser or low powered glazer can be used to apply just enough heat to encourage/allow movement. Blasting heavy amounts of heat can impact the samples structurally at times or it can induce warping into the PMMA plate.

Q: How well do the SPF-290AS results correlate with in-vivo results?
A: Our long experience and customer feedback indicates that the SPF-290S results correlate extremely well with in-vivo results. Several customers provided actual sample data which is presented in graphical format in our brochure on the support page.

Q: Can the SPF-290AS results be used instead of in-vivo testing?
A: For final results, not yet, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, because of the extremely good correlation with in-vivo testing results, the SPF-290S can be an enormous time and cost saver during the product development and formulation stages.

Q: Why is the wavelength range from 290 NM to 400 NM?
A: According to the US Food and Drug Administration’s monograph (Federal Register, Vol. 64, #98), as well as industry-recognized computational standards (Diffey/Robson technical presentation, A new substrate…, in the J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem., 40, 127 ‚ 133, (May/June 1989)), SPF’s are calculated on the basis of measurements taken in this specific wavelength range.

Q: Why does Solar Light’s SPF-290AS use a continuous UV source instead of a flash lamp?
A: Because a continuous source is required by the US Food and Drug Administration for in-vivo testing and the SPF-290AS was designed to simulate in-vivo testing as closely as possible. Continuous light is also considered to be more representative of real life.

Q: Can I export the SPF data to my spreadsheet or database?
A: The SPF data is stored in standard ASCII format, easily recognizable and readable by all well-known and popular spreadsheet and database programs, e.g. Excel, Access, etc.

Q: How do I spread samples?
A: Methods will have you spread 0.75mg/cm2 to 2.0mg/cm2 in an even grid like pattern. With or without a cot you will usually do light swirls for 30 seconds to spread things around while you rotate the plate, followed by 30 seconds of moderate pressure in a left to right grid pattern that rotates. 10-30 minutes is used for curing, so be sure to look at the method’s official standard manual to find its specifics.

Q: Does the SPF-290S/SPF-290AS produce measurable Ozone?
A: After extensive testing was done, it was confirmed that our unit does not release detectable amounts of ozone. You will not experience any discomforting smells so there is no need for safety concerns.

Q: I ran the comprehensive test but I don’t see any save button. How do I save?
A: Every comprehensive test will be auto-saved into the computer. That is why it seems like there isn’t really a choice. We have found that this ends up saving hassle for many customers who accidentally miss pressing it.

Q: Is there a manual/procedure or video tutorial showing the installation and alignment of the lamp for the solar simulator?
A: Your LS1000 user manual will detail instructions on removing the smaller side panel by the base. From there use your sensor to ensure each of the three thumb screws are at peak position.

Q: ISO24443 is the preferred measurement protocol, and prior to measuring data it is necessary to enter several values: i.e. simulator Cal. Irrad: Is this value taken from the simulator?
A: When using PMA sensors and a Solar Light simulator, the ‘radiometer calibration factor (Y)’ is equal to 1and the ‘simulator calibrated irradiance’ will be left blank. The rest of the information will be filled in and your simulator’s irradiance will be measured and filled in. For more information, consult the official ISO 24443 standard manual.

Q: What is the Star Rating based on?
A: The star rating is based on the average UVA/UVB ratio. A different rating is given to a range of values as shown below.

Pre-Exposure UVA/UVB Ratio
Post-Exposure UVA/UVB Ratio 0.00 to 0.59 0.60 to 0.79 0.80 to 0.89 0.90 and over
0.00 to 0.56 No Rating No Rating No Rating No Rating
0.57 to 0.75 No Rating *** *** ***
0.76 to 0.85 No Rating *** **** ****
0.86 and over No Rating *** **** *****

Q: What is the best Solar Light sensor to measure the uniformity of each quadrant with Homogenizer-Equipped 601 Multiport Solar Simulators and maintain compliance?
A: The PMA2174 Digital Quadrant Sensor can be used with Homogenizer-Equipped 601’s and is ISO24444:2019 compliant.

Q: I’m having a hard time getting stable readings, is my lamp bad?
A: While lamps vary slightly, they usually last 1000 hours for the average user. Newer lamps will have an initial burn in where signal drops at first, but the number one issue that usually causes this problem is not waiting a full 15 minutes for warmup.

Q: Do I apply cream before or after I adhere the blue end pad?
A: Apply the sample fully to your targets skin before applying the end pad. The blue end pad is designed to stay stable even without dry skin.

Q: When I open the shutter, I just get beeping from the DCS-2. Why does the meter not start up?
The multiport is most likely set UVA+B or UVA-only, while the opposite sensor is selected on the DCS-2. Look to the setting on the multiport and confirm that it is correctly set to your selected sensor.

Q: At random times the lamp to the multiport shuts off. My lamp doesn’t seem to be that old yet. What’s happening?
You can contact us for some simple directions of where to turn one small ‘vacuum’ screw in the fan to fix this. If we aren’t available due to working hours, you can still help things by running the multiport without the top grating of the fan. Contact technical support.

Q: What is the best way for me to test my lamp? I have low output.
A: The best way is to use a second sensor to confirm that your issue is with the lamp. If you have the power supply turned up to max and the occulter’s as open as possible, you may need a new lamp if output is still low. Contact us for more assistance!

Q: How do I switch between spectrums such as UV, HEV, Full Spectrum, or IR?
A: Each Solar simulator is designed around a single specific spectrum like AM 1.5 or UV. Changing to other output spectra is possible if you purchased a separate conversion kit. Each kit will come with filters and optics required for your desired output.

Q: My air mass simulator only came with two filters. Where is the third?
A: The airmass simulators only come with the AM0 and AM 1.5 filters. Other versions like the UV LS1000 need a third filter for their spectra to set properly.

Q: If I have an AM 1.5 simulator, then do I need to install the AM 0 filter? This other one says it’s AM 1.5!
Both the AM 0 and AM 1.5 filters have to be combined to produce the actual 1.5 airmass spectrum. While AM 0 alone will produce the AM 0 output, AM1.5 outputs require both filters.

Q: What distance do I place my sample?
A: 5 inches (12.7 cm) from the edge of the simulator lens to the top of your sample, sensor, plate, etc.

Q: What is the best way for me to test my lamp? I have low output.
A: The best way is to use a second sensor to confirm that your issue is with the lamp. If you have the power supply turned up to max, you may need a new lamp if output is still low. Contact us for more assistance!

Q: How do I switch between spectrums such as UV, HEV, Full Spectrum, or IR?
A: Each Solar simulator is designed around a single specific spectrum like AM 1.5 or UV. Changing to other output spectra is possible if you purchased a separate conversion kit. Each kit will come with filters and optics required for your desired output.

Q: How far should the patient stop go out?
A: Make sure the lamp has been aligned. To find your patient stop’s optimal position open the shutter and use paper at end filter to find the point where the spot becomes a crisp circle and use a marker to mark the arm’s location.

Q: Some models of the 16S are UV or VIS while the AM1.5 covers a very broad spectrum. Can I mix and match outputs? I only want some parts of this range.
A: Solar light does provide the ability to convert between outputs by swapping some parts. While some custom restrictions may apply, we can facilitate each of the major output modes in one simulator that can be swapped at will.

Q: What is the best way for me to test my lamp? I have low output.
A: The best way is to use a second sensor to confirm that your issue is with the lamp. If you have the power supply turned up to max, you may need a new lamp if output is still low. Contact us for more assistance!

Q: Where can I find my working distance?
A: The working distance used for your simulator will depend on the spot size you select. A 13mm spot needs 8.5cm distance, 20mm spots need 15.6cm distance, and vertical models like the -009 use 45cm of working distance.

Q: What standard creams does Solar Light offer again?
A: Solar Light offers S1, S2, P2, P5, and P8 standards with third party testing documentation available for all batches.

Q: What is the difference between Molded and Sandblasted PMMA plates? Which should I choose?
A: Sandblasted plates undergo an extra treatment to be a little rougher than molded plates to which some people prefer over the molded, but it comes down to preference. Anyone starting out is recommended to try molded plates first especially when learning the spreading techniques for the first time.

Q: I cannot find the certification for my standard. How do I get it?
A: In the bottom right corner the front label will be a lot#. If you contact us with this lot number, we can quickly get you a pdf of the certification.

Q: I have some more custom needs. Is there any flexibility with your testing options?
A: We have the ability to do some very special kinds of tests, and we can vary a lot of things to specifically meet your needs in most cases. Give us a call or email, we’d love to discuss more.

Q: Do I need to get the official report?
A: Some people need quick and reliable checks to guarantee a material is what it claims to be over email. Others however use reports for a thorough break down of all processes used, as well as the background so they can fully present such material officially.

Visit the Solarmeter® Frequently Asked Questions Page

General FAQs and Technical Help

  1. Connect your PMA2100, 501 recorder, or MICROTOPS® to an available serial port on the back of your PC with the cable supplied with your instrument.
  2. In hyper terminal create a ‘new connection’. This can be done by clicking the Hypertrm.exe icon or via the menu within HyperTerminal ‘File:New Connection’.
  3. Type in a name for the connection (i.e. PMA2100, etc.).
  4. Under ‘connect using’ select ‘Direct to Com2’ if your available comport is com2 otherwise select the appropriate comport.
  5. Set ‘Bits per second’ to 2400 for the PMA2100. For MICROTOPS® and 501 recorder, set to same rate as the instrument.
  6. Set ‘Data Bits’ to 8.
  7. Set ‘Stop Bits’ to 1.
  8. Set ‘Flow control’ to None.
  9. In the File menu click Properties. When the Properties box appears go to the settings tab. Under Emulation select VT100.
  10. Under ‘File’ menu select ‘Save As’ and save the configuration file to a convenient folder.
  11. Hyper terminal should now work for PMA2100, 501 recorder and MICROTOPS®.

You can create a shortcut to the configuration file and put it on the desktop or in a convenient folder, this makes life a bit easier. The configuration files typically have a naming convention of *.ht where the star is the name you chose when setting up the new connection.

This example assumes a U.S. Robotics Sportster 33.6k or 56k external faxmodem
A) Ensure the modem is turned OFF
B) On the back of the modem set the dip switches as follows:
1 – Down (Data Terminal Ready Override)
2 – UP (Verbal result codes)
3 – Down (Display result codes)
4 – UP (Echo offline commands)
5 – UP (Auto answer enabled)
6 – UP (Carrier detect normal)
7 – Down (Load factor defaults)
8 – Down (Smart mode Enabled)
C) Connect the modem to a PC serial port using a modem cable and turn the modem ON
D) Using a communications program such as HyperTerminal, or ProComm, send the modem the following initialization string:
if the initialization succeeds, the modem returns ‘OK’
E) On the back of the modem reset the following switches:
3 – UP (Suppress result codes)
4 – Down (No Echo)
7 – UP (Load default profile)
F) Turn the modem OFF then ON again
G) Connect the modem to the instrument’s serial port with the modem cable
H) Set the recorder’s baud rate to 9600.
I) Plug an analog phone line into the modem
You can now communicate with the instrument by dialing the above mentioned analog phone line using a second modem and a communications software package.
Breakdown of Initialization string
AT Modem attention characters
&R1 Modem ignores RTS and turns CTS on when ready to receive synchronous data
&N6 Fixes highest connection speed to 9600 baud
&U6 Fixes lowest connection speed to 9600 baud
S0=1 Modem set to auto answer on 1st ring
&W Stores configuration to user profile 0
&Y Sets user profile 0 as default
NOTE: Phone line must be analog, have a dial tone, and have its own phone number.

You are probably in a very low AOT environment. When AOTs are extremely low, the difference in AOT between wavelength channels, especially in the IR, can be less than the accuracy of the instrument.

MED (minimal erythema dose) Conversions
1 MED/HR = 0.05833 W/m2 (erythemically effective)
1 MED = 210 J/m2 (erythemically effective)
1 MED = 21 mJ/cm2 (erythemically effective)
1 MED/HR = 2.33 UV Index
SED (standard erythema dose) Conversions
1 SED = 100 J/m2 (erythemically effective)
Ref: CIE S 007/E-1998
Radiance Conversions:
1 lux = 1 meter-candle = 1 lumen/m2 = 1 candela steradian/m2
1 foot-candle = 1 lumen/ft2
1 lumen/cm2 = 1.464129 mW/cm2
1 mW/cm2 = 10 W/m2

From the top menu click on TRACK MY ORDER link.

Returns are not accepted due to the cost of calibration that is required prior to shipment. Exchanges are allowed if a different sensitivity is required and if the meter is available in the same spectral range as originally purchased. Customer is responsible for return shipping door to door to our facility including all taxes and customs fees. To exchange, the request for factory approval must be made in writing.

If you are having technical difficulty with a Solar Light Company product, please e-mail or call 1-215-517-8700 with details of the equipment used and the specific problem.