The importance of UVB lighting for a captive bearded dragon is paramount. Dragons in the wild enjoy most of their time basking in the sunlight; this fulfills their need for Vitamin D3 naturally. However, in captivity, the owners need to take care of the lighting and warmth. Therefore, it’s best to have UVB lights installed in the enclosure before bringing your bearded dragon home.
A certain UV spectrum light called UVB stimulates your beardie’s body to produce vitamin D. Their body’s ability to absorb and utilize calcium depends on vitamin D. Calcium levels will drop in the absence of vitamin D, which can cause metabolic diseases, bone problems, and problems with female reproductive health.
Unfortunately, choosing the best one becomes a little tricky as several products in the market claim to provide the best UVB lighting.
We have used and tested almost every UVB bulb for beardies available on the market. Not all bulbs are made the same. In this post, we give our review of the 7 best UVB bulbs for bearded dragons.
Quick Comparison of the Best UVB Bulbs for Bearded Dragons in 2022
Best Over All
Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB
ZOO MED T8 ReptiSun 10.0
Zilla Desert Series
Reptile Systems 36-In T5
Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb
Evergreen Pet Supplies
The 6 Best UVB Light Bulbs for Bearded Dragons
1. Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB (Fluorescent Light)
Repti sun 10.0 UVB is the most trusted and reputable light for bearded dragons in the market so far. They provide UVB lighting efficiently and can last for about 6-12 months on average.
This lamp bulb produces 30% UVA while remaining cool, which means it will not raise the temperature in your tank. Your reptile will feel better, eat more, and be more active under UVA lighting. It can be positioned either vertically or horizontally to accommodate various fittings, and it will fit into any common threaded socket.
Because it is a quartz reptile light bulb, you shouldn’t handle it with your bare hands. Your hands’ oils will harm the bulb, reducing its lifespan and possibly even leading to its breakage. Even if it hasn’t burned out, this lamp needs to be replaced every six months to keep its UVB efficacy. Overall, we believe that this UVB light bulb for bearded dragons is the best one on the market right now.
- 10% UVB and 30% UVA
- Stays cool
- Compact size
- Can be used horizontally or vertically
- Fits any standard threaded socket
- Cannot be handled with bare hands
- Needs to be replaced every 6 months
Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB fixture
This light has several fixtures to go with, saving you the trouble to hunt for some specific fixture type. Following is the list of fixtures that you can use with this lighting.
Under-cabinet light fixture. This one is great for the Repti-Sun 10.0 UVB and isn’t a burden on the pocket because of the economical price.
Zoo Med Fixture is the one specifically designed for the Repti-Sun 10.0
Sunblaster Fixture: This is also an affordable option for fixing your Repti-Sun
2. ZOO MED T8 ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent Lamp
The ZOO MED T8 ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent Bulb is the most cost-effective UVB bulb for your bearded dragon. Similar in name to the ZOO MED small lamp, but larger, more affordable, and using a different kind of bulb. It is available in 18-inch and 24-inch sizes, with both providing 10% UVB radiation.
This bulb is perfect for big terrariums because it emits 30% UVA light. It can be used above screen tank covers, but remember a screen will block your bearded dragon from receiving up to 50% of the UVB rays.
Ideally, it should cover 75% of your tank and be positioned 20 inches away from where your bearded dragon basks.
You will need to have room for both this bulb and a heat lamp above your bearded dragon’s basking area because this does provide some heat, but not enough to completely replace the heat lamp.
- Two size options
- 10% UVB and 30% UVA
- Ideal for large tanks
- Rated for up to 24,000 hours of use
- Can be used above screens
- Use over screen will reduce UVB penetration
- Contains mercury and requires special disposal
- Produces heat but tank will still need a heat lamp
3. Zilla Desert Series Fluorescent Coil Bulb
This UVB bulb for bearded dragons is a great option to consider. This UVB light gives 50 microwatts per second. The 20-watt Zilla Desert Series Fluorescent Coil Bulb works with common threaded sockets.
This energy-efficient bulb can be used for up to 12 months. It offers full-spectrum lighting to accommodate your beardie’s requirements.
It generates heat, but probably not enough to replace a heat lamp. This bulb will need to be changed at least once a year, and you’ll also need to buy a separate heat lamp setup.
- Fits standard threaded sockets
- 50 UVB microwatts/second
- Energy-efficient and provides full-spectrum lighting
- Doesn’t contain mercury
- Enhances natural colors
- Needs replacement every 12 months or less
- Gives off heat but cannot replace heat lamp
- UVB light isn’t measured in percentages
4. Reptile Systems 36-In T5 12% UVB Juvenile Light Kit
The Reptile Systems 36-in T5 is a premium UVB light option for your bearded dragon. This package comes with a T5 UVB bulb that emits 12 percent UVB, a black clamp-on lamp holder, and a 70-watt mercury vapor lamp.
This bulb can be used in both terrariums and vivariums and is ideal for tanks that are about 36 inches in diameter. While it can be used on bearded dragons of any age, it is especially beneficial to juveniles due to the increased UVB production, which promotes healthy growth and development.
The UVB bulb in this kit requires a separate light fixture because the provided lamp only works with mercury vapor lamp bulbs. To ensure efficacy, this bulb must be replaced every 9 to 12 months.
- Kit includes heat bulb, UVB bulb, and lamp
- Ideal for juvenile bearded dragons
- 12% UVB
- Intended for tanks around 36 inches
- The bulb should last for up to 12 months
- Premium price
- UVB light fixture not included
5. Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb
Mega-ray mercury vapor bulb is one of the best options out there for providing UVB and UVA light to your bearded dragon. It offers 160 watts of light, and its packaging keeps it safe during delivery. It’s costly compared to other bulbs on the market; however, the features that it provides are worth the price.
There is a 100 watts version of this bulb, too, just if you’re reluctant to use the bulb with a light stronger than 100 watts. Furthermore, this 100 watts version is just perfect for the smaller cages.
- Self-ballasted mercury vapor bulb
- Produces similar amounts of UVB to natural sunlight
- Produce 50-75 microwatts per square centimeter
- Can make the tank hotter sometimes
- It may burned out randomly
Mega-ray mercury vapor bulb fixture
Following is a list of recommended and positively reviewed fixtures for the Mega-ray mercury vapor bulb.
Repti Zoo 8.5 inch dome Reptile lamp fixture is one of the recommended fixtures for bulbs above 200 watts and diameter less than or equal to 6.2
Repti zoo 8.5 reptile lamp fixture is also a recommended fixture, which is more affordable and works for the mercury vapor bulb with a power of 160 watts or less.
6. Evergreen Pet Supplies 100 Watt Mercury Vapor Bulb
It’s a great uvb reptile light. This one from Evergreen pet supplies is one of the best mercury vapor bulbs out there and is guaranteed to work on arrival. It is more affordable than the mega-ray, and its dual-threat life covers the requirement of UVB and UVA at the same time. You can use this bulb in a variety of bearded dragon cages, and it can be mounted easily.
- Thermal protection against overheating
- Value for money
- A proper balance of ultraviolet light (including UVA and UVB)
- Easy-to-install bulb
- Needs to be replaced every 6 months even sooner
- shorter lifespan
Evergreen pet supplies 100-watt Mercury vapor bulb fixture
The fixture that you can use with this light bulb is Fluker’s Repta clamp lamp with a switch of size 8.5 inches.
What to Look for in Light Bulbs for Bearded Dragons?
The following key points will help you decide and get the best light bulb for your bearded dragon.
UVB Light Options:
There are a total of three types of light bulbs available in the market beardies.
- Linear Fluorescent T8/T5: Linear fluorescent lights are identical to the bulbs seen in commercial light fixtures. They are one of the most popular light bulbs and are powered by internal gas exchange. T5 fluorescent linear bulbs are 40% smaller than T8 fluorescent linear bulbs. However, T5 bulbs are capable of producing the same amount of light as T8 bulbs, but in a more concentrated area.
- Mercury Vapor Bulb: This type of bulb is a gas-discharge lamp that contains vaporized mercury. Through the evaporated mercury, electricity travels to create light. These lights typically consist of a small quartz tube mounted inside a borosilicate glass bulb that insulates the light, preventing high levels of ultraviolet light from escaping and safeguarding the quartz tube. These bulbs often have a longer lifespan and are more energy-efficient than conventional fluorescent bulbs, although they frequently require specific lights for protection.
- Compact/Coil Fluorescent: Comparable to typical fluorescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs consume 75% less energy. Tiny coil fluorescent bulbs are compact fluorescent bulbs with a spiral structure, enabling them to emit more light while consuming less energy.
The best UVB light bulb option for beardies in our experience is a mercury vapor bulb as it provides the whole spectrum of light, including the UVA, UVB rays, and heat for basking. Other than this, the compact fluorescent and halide are also good options. We don’t recommend using this type of bulb beardies because it can damage their eyes. Furthermore, their output is quite inconsistent too, which results in health complications in the bearded dragon.
Choosing the right fixture for the light bulb is essential, too, as different bulbs may require other fixtures according to their construction. You can screw some bulbs directly into standard fixtures, whereas others require special fixtures.
How to Measure UVB Output:
- Percentage: This number shows the UVB to UVA ratio rather than the UVB output. Accordingly, it would be 5% if there were 1 part UVB and 20 parts UVA.
- Microwatts or milliwatts per square centimeter: This is the industry standard for measuring UV output. It measures the UV intensity per centimeter of area.
- Nanometers: These are the measurement used by scientists to measure UV intensity.
- UVI: UV intensity is measured in smaller numbers than nanometers and microwatts per cm2. For bearded dragons, the optimal level of UVI is around 2.9-7.4 in the basking area.
Bearded dragons need both of these radiations, as in the wild, bearded dragons bask under the sun, which emits both UVA and UVB light; so, these two must be provided in captivity too. Moreover, UVA radiations can be transmitted through any ordinary light bulb, whereas, for UVB lighting, a purpose made UVB bulb is required.
UVA light can be obtained from any ordinary light bulb; the light rays have longer rays, whereas UVB lighting is a short-range light. The bearded dragon uses UVB light to get vitamin D3 and absorb calcium.
The hours may differ from one season to another. For example, the UVB light must be on for 10-12 hours from mid-morning to mid-evening in warmer seasons, such as spring and summer. In contrast, you may only turn the UVB light on for 8-10 hours in the colder season.
The bulb’s intensity depends directly on the size of the tank; a bigger tank will require more light compared to the smaller one. You can use Repti-Sun 5.0 for a 20-gallon tank; whereas, the 40 gallons tank requires a Repti-sun 10.0 bulb. Repti-sun 5.0 is not suitable for bigger tanks and adult bearded dragons, as they require a bigger living space, where this light won’t work.
If you are using a regular fluorescent bulb, it’s best to mount it on the inside of the enclosure, as the glass will filter out a large amount of UVB radiation. It should be mounted around 6-10 inches away from the basking spot. In the case of a mercury vapor bulb, you must mount it away from the beardie as its light is way too intense compared to the fluorescent bulbs. You can hang the mercury bulbs above the lid of the terrarium to adjust the heat and lighting.
The longevity of the UVB bulb depends on the quality, hours of usage, and state of the wiring. For fluorescent bulbs, it’s recommended to change them after every six months to ensure optimal UVB lighting for your beardie. Mercury vapor bulbs can last longer than fluorescent bulbs. You can use one for 12-24 months.
Excess of anything can be harmful to the body of any living being. Similarly, too much UVB can have adverse effects on the beardie. If you see your bearded dragon closing his eyes in the basking area, look out for the light intensity as it could have gotten too much for the bearded dragon.
No, bearded dragons do not need UVB lighting at night. However, you must not turn off the UVB lights right after mealtime, as this will make it difficult for your beardie to digest its food.
Turn on lights an hour before their morning mealtime and do not turn them off until an hour after their last meal. This will help them digest and stimulate their appetite.
The wattage is the intensity of the UVB bulb, which can be specified by how close or far you’re placing the UVB light. It also depends on whether you’re using a reflector hood for mounting and a mesh screen between your beardie and the UVB light. This can be explained as a 160-watt bulb placed 24 inches away from the beardie is no different from a 100-watt bulb placed 12 inches away. So, the intensity depends on the location of the UVB light in the enclosure.
Yes, these bulbs are bad for bearded dragons because the intensity of these bulbs is too high, and they might end up burning or damaging the eyes of your bearded dragon.
For the best overall bearded dragon UVB light bulb, check out the ZOO MED ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Compact Fluorescent Lamp, which also includes a light fixture and is compact but effective.
The best value product is the ZOO MED T8 ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Fluorescent Lamp, which works best for large tanks.
If you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks and want a more premium product, then the Reptile Systems 36-in T5 12% UVB Juvenile Light Kit is a perfect option, especially if you are a beginner.
Choosing the best UVB light bulb for your beardie could become a little confusing because of the large number of products available and each one claiming to be the best. The reviews above should help you choose the best option as we have tested and used all of them ourselves.