The Best UVB Light Bulbs For Bearded Dragons

Best UVB Light Bulbs For Bearded Dragons

Getting to know why lighting is essential for your bearded dragon and what UVB lights do for them, will take you a step further in being a better reptile owner.

The lights that we add to the bearded dragons enclosure aren’t just so we can see them better when it’s dark.

In fact, they need the right kind of lighting for each stage of their life to help them become more healthy and to maintain the right amounts of nutrients during their day.

The Best Bearded Dragon UVB Light Bulbs

1. Mercury Vapor Bulbs (MVBs)

These have the most powerful UVB output from all of types.

They have a UVB light output similar to a sunny area, and your bearded dragon will move in and out of it to regulate their UVB exposure.

MVB’s should be approximately a foot away from your beardie.

The distance varies with the particular lamp chosen.

They are only suitable for larger enclosures, and they will need to be replaced yearly.

It also has problems that sometimes it can burn faster then expected.

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Our Top Pick

Mega-Ray Mercury Vapor Bulb – 100 Watts (120V)

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  • Affordable price
  • Provides both UVA and UVB
  • Lasts about 1 year


  • Needs to be correctly set up at the correct distance or else your beardie could get burned skin

2. Fluorescent/Linear Light Tubes

These have a decent amount of UVB output.

If you combine these with a UVA basking bulb or household bulb you will get better UVA lighting than either puts out alone.

The fluorescent UVB bulbs go through a large part of the enclosure, so that the UVB is equally distributed, with an amount of UVB similar to a shady area outside.

Linear tubes should be approximately six inches away from your pet.

They are suitable for any size of the enclosure and should be replaced once every six months or so.

Note: the 5.0, 10.0%, etc. are measures of how much UVB is there opposed to the entire light output, and are fairly useless because a dimmer bulb can say they have a greater percentage of UVB given how much light they have when the total microwatts of UVB carried out are less or more than one of a bulb of differing brightness.

In short, what is important are the microwatts of UVB, not the 5.0, 10.0 numbers.

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Our Top Pick

10.0 High Output UVB Fluorescent Bulb

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  • Has a full spectrum and low-heat lamp
  • Covers a wide with UVB light
  • Lasts long


  • Needs to be used with a T5 Ho Terrarium Hood
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Our Top Pick

Reptisun T5 Ho Terrarium Hood 24″ – 51.62

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3. Compact/Coils Light Bulbs

The compacts or coils bulbs are NOT suitable for your reptile pet.

They are discussed here because there are many currently on the reptile pet market, and pet owners should be educated about them.

First of all they stop producing UVB just after a month or two.

Second is that they also have been linked to health problems.

These include lethargy, eye problems and anorexia.

Even respectable companies and models like the Reptisun 10.0 compact have been linked to these kinds of health problems.

It is wise to stay far away from these bulbs.

Why is Light Important for Bearded Dragons?

The first thing that we need to cover is that bearded dragons are reptiles and the significance of that is that all reptiles do something called thermoregulation.

Essentially, we humans maintain our constant body temperature but reptiles rely on outside light sources to raise or lower their body heat.

They can raise their body temperature to increase their metabolism or lower them to be more dormant.

Reptiles can achieve this by moving to various areas of their surroundings to warm up or cool down.

This is done through radiationconvection, and the evaporation of body fluids.

It may be either raised or lowered by the conduction of heat to or from the substratum or the air.

What is UVB Light and Why do Bearded Dragons Need it?

The UVB Light

The UVB light is a type of light that the sun emits and is part of the UV Spectrum. 

This UV Spectrum is broken up into 3 parts, these being the UVA, UVB, and UVC lights and they can all be found in the actual sunlight.

The UV light wavelengths are filtered by plastic and glass so when setting them up for the habitat be sure they have direct exposure to the enclosure.

The UVB light helps your beardie get his vitamin D3 which also absorbs calcium.

You also need to expose your bearded dragon to a UVA light as this will help him regulate his behaviors such as feeding, daily movement, and mating.

Lack of UVB Light Can Lead to Health Issues

Without UVB light your bearded dragon can develop the metabolic bone disease (MBD), a dangerous disease that involves the weakening of bones.

Reoccurring fractures, breaks, paralyzing, handicaps, and a slow and agonizing death are some of the effects.

Some other effects of not having a UVB light are loss of appetite, inactivity, and severe stunting of growth.

Note: Some believe that implementing D3 in a bearded dragon’s diet prevents MBD.

However, many studies have been done on this and it has been found that D3 given orally does NOT prevent MBD.

Bearded dragons have high UVB requirements, one of the highest of all captive reptiles.

For the pet owner, this means that you can buy a UVB light at a pet store randomly, and more likely than not it won’t put out sufficient UVB to keep a bearded dragon healthy, although it may be enough to keep a different species of reptile healthy.

The companies that sell UVB lights are legally allowed to put pictures of bearded dragons on the packaging even though the output of UVB light is not enough for a bearded dragon.

How to Properly Use Bearded Dragon Lighting

To get the most out of your products, you have to make use of them the right way.

These tips will guide you on the best practices for your bearded dragon’s lighting.

  • Check that the bulb you use provides both UVA and UVB so that you can provide all the UV radiation that your bearded dragon needs
  • It is better that you make use of mercury vapor bulbs as they produce heat in addition to their UV rays production
  • The cool side of your pet’s enclosure should have fluorescent lighting as it produces less heat
  • Hang your lighting in accordance with the instructions so that your pet can benefit from the heat and UV rays that are produced

Considerations to Be Made When Using UVB Bulbs

Create an On and Off Schedule

New bearded dragon owners often get confused about the amount of UVB their pet needs.

Bearded dragons require UVB for strong bones and overall healthy life, but how much do they need?

Bearded dragons don’t need the light at night because just as in the wild, they can only absorb this radiation from the sun during the day.

So you can turn off the light at night.

Provide 12 to 14 hours of UVB, and put it off for the remaining time each day.

Also, take note to mount the light in a way that they can get away from it when they choose to.

Make provision for a shady area where they can cool off.

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Our Top Pick

Habba Hut Hideaway for Reptiles

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Choose The Correct Bulb Wattage

There are a few wattage options of UVB bulbs for you to choose from, and it can be quite confusing to you especially if this is going to be your first purchase.

While wattage is a factor that affects the strength of the light, it’s not the only factor and it’s not as important as the others.

The factors that impact the intensity of the bulb are its placement distance, presence or absence of screens, and if you have any reflectors.

You can see that no matter the wattage you use, these other factors play a better role.

Place The Light Properly

The placement of your UVB bulb greatly influences how much UVB your bearded dragon gets, so you must do it right.

Generally, you should mount the bulb 7 to 10 inches away from the basking area. 

You also need to provide shade so your pet can leave the light when they want to.

For mercury vapor bulbs, it’s different. Mercury vapor bulbs should be mounted outside the enclosure, at 3 to 4 inches away from the cover.

If the mercury vapor bulb you have is stronger than normal, then you would need to increase the distance.

Frequency of Replacement

This is an important factor as the frequency of replacement would affect the cost to you.

UVB bulbs from good brands can work efficiently for between 5 to 12 months before they need to be changed.

To be on the safe side though, change the bulb after 6 months because even though they still emit UVB, their output would be diminished at this point.

Why You Should Avoid Coil UVB Bulbs

Coil UVB bulbs are not the ideal products for use with your bearded dragons because of their high output and inconsistency.

This can lead to damaged vision amongst other problems for your bearded dragon.

So keep your pet safe and make use of recommended products only.

UVB Light Accessories for Bearded Dragons

Light Timers

Light timers are amazing to use.

They make things so much easier for the reptile pet owner.

What timers do is automatically turn the lights on and off at specific times, which you can establish yourself.

Secure them into an outlet, an extension cord into the timer itself, and the lights into the extension cord and then you can have multiple lights on one-timer.

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Our Top Pick

BN-LINK 24 Hour Plug-in Mechanical Timer

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Night Lights

Nighttime heat is only needed if the temperature at night gets below 65 degrees F.

The best source of nighttime heat for bearded dragons are ceramic heat emitters (CHEs).

CHEs produces no light, only heat.

Bearded dragons are kept awake by many lights, such as those that produce red light, but CHEs don’t have this problem.

Bearded dragons can burn themselves on heat pads and heat rocks, so these are not a good answer and quite dangerous.

Ceramic heat emitters, however, work remarkably.

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Our Top Pick

BOEESPAT Ceramic Heat Emitter 250W/150W/100W/60W Reptile Ceramic Heat

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Dimmers are another amazing light accessory.

You attach them to the heat light and then you can control the amount of heat and light that it puts out.

This allows you to get one wattage and use it all year round, adjusting as the weather changes, rather than to keep putting in and taking out multiple bulbs of different wattages.

Note: Dimmers can NOT be used on fluorescents or Mercury Vapor Bulbs.

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Our Top Pick

Lutron Credenza Plug-In Dimmer for Halogen and Incandescent Bulbs

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Things to Look Out For In a Good Lighting for Bearded Dragons

When making a purchase of lighting for your bearded dragon, there are some things you need to look out for so that you can make the best choice for your pet.

1. Type Of Lighting

When faced with different choices in the store, it is advisable to choose from mercury vapor bulbs.

Even though they are expensive, they are most preferred because they produce full-spectrum light including the necessary UVA and UVB, and they also produce heat.

2. Does It Also Provide Heat?

Check that the bulb you are purchasing produces a good amount of heat also.

This is good because it will save cost as there won’t be any need for a special basking lamp or many heating devices.

Choosing a lamp that only produces UV rays would imply your use of a special lamp for heating.

Reptiles depend on external sources to regulate their core temperatures and they also need you to provide them with UVB so they can synthesize vitamin D3.

Some bulbs are solely for UVB while others can emit both heat and UVB.

It’s cost-effective and more convenient to have a bulb that takes care of both needs so look out for such a bulb.

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Our Top Pick

GU10 Bulb, 6 Pack Halogen 120V 50W, Dimmable

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3. Spectrum And Intensity

Bearded dragons have a high requirement of both UVA and UVB to stay healthy.

So in choosing a bulb, make sure it not only produces both rays but produces them in the acceptable amounts that your pet needs to stay healthy.

4. Type Of Fixture That Is Required

Some bulbs can be installed with normal fixtures while others need the use of specialized fixtures.

So when making a purchase, look out for the fixture requirement to be sure it is what you have or can get.

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Our Top Pick

Fluker’s Repta-Clamp Lamp with Switch for Reptiles Black

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Commonly Asked Questions About Bearded Dragon Lighting

What Lighting Do Bearded Dragons Need?

Bearded dragons need heat and both UVA and UVB and they get all of these from the sun in the wild.

So to keep your pet healthy, you need to mimic this with good heat and UV bulbs.

What Light Do Bearded Dragons Need At Night?

Bearded dragons do not need any type of light at night as it will disturb their sleep and night cycle.

It is best that all forms of lighting be turned off at night in a bearded dragon’s enclosure.

For How Long Do You Keep The Lights On For A Bearded Dragon?

The light time for your bearded dragon depends on the season.

During summer, you should provide a light time of no less than 14 to 16 hours and no less than 8 to 10 hours of nighttime.

During winter, light time should be a minimum of 10 to 12 hours and nighttime should be a minimum of 12 to 14 hours.

For How Long Do You Keep The Lights On For A Bearded Dragon?

The light time for your bearded dragon depends on the season.

During summer, you should provide a light time of no less than 14 to 16 hours and no less than 8 to 10 hours of nighttime.

How Long Do UVB Bulbs Last?

The lifespan of a UVB bulb depends on the bulb brand, the number of hours in use, and the state of the socket wiring.

Generally, a fluorescent UVB bulb lasts for 6 months with regular use, while a self-ballasted mercury bulb can last for 12 to 24 months.

For How Long Can A Bearded Dragon Go Without a Heat Lamp?

A bearded dragon can go for only 24 hours without a heat lamp or the sun.

The prolonged absence of heat will lead to health problems in your bearded dragon.

Can A Bearded Dragon Get Too Much UVB?

Your bearded dragon can get too much UVB and that’s why you will sometimes see them seeking shade from the light.

They regulate their intake of UVB so you have nothing to worry about.

Just provide an escaped shade for them in their enclosure and they will be fine.


The need for proper lighting in your bearded dragon’s enclosure cannot be overemphasized as they need all the heat and UV radiation (UVA and UVB) they can get for a healthy life.

Not all products in the market can meet up to their requirements and so with these product reviews, we are sure you can make the best choice to the benefit of your pet.

All products reviewed here are great choices and so no matter the one you go with, you will be surely getting good value for your money.