If cared for properly, a bearded dragon can live up to 15 years in captivity. Unfortunately, many do not make it that long because of negligence or improper care. While there are many factors to consider when it comes to taking care of a bearded dragon, heat is one of the most fundamental properties.
Unlike humans, bearded dragons need to regulate their own temperature by moving between warmer and cooler areas. This means that they need both a warm and cool area in their living space so that they can thermoregulate. A basking light will provide an area of concentrated heat where your dragon can bask to get warm.
When looking for replacement basking lights recently, we decided to put some basking bulbs to the test to see which ones were the best for our beardies. To help you make the right choice for your dragons, we’ve compiled everything we learned into the following seven reviews. These are some of the best options available, but only three of them have earned our recommendations.
A Quick Glance at the Winners of 2023
|Best Overall||Zoo Med Repti||
|Best Value||Exo Terra Infrared||
|Premium Choice||REPTI ZOO Spot Bulb||
|xyzReptiles UVA Bulb||
The 7 Best Basking Bulbs for Bearded Dragons
1. Zoo Med Repti Basking Reptile Spot Lamp – Best Overall
Basking lights work best when they heat a small area and leave the rest of the tank cooler. To that end, the Zoo Med Repti Basking Reptile Spot Lamp produces a tight beam with 35% more heat and light thanks to the patented double reflector. This illuminates the enclosure like artificial daylight while providing a warm basking area large enough for our dragons to thermoregulate, without heating the rest of the tank.
The light provided by this bulb has beneficial UVA rays. These are good for your dragon’s psychological health and overall well-being, ensuring that you’re helping your pet to live a healthy and long life.
Compared to some of the other options we tested, this bulb is a bit pricier. However, it’s got a lifespan of up to 2,000 hours that’s backed up by a 180-day warranty. For us, that’s a level of value that warrants spending a little bit extra.
2. Exo Terra Infrared Basking Reptile Spot Lamp – Best Value
Sometimes, caring for our pets can become more expensive than we anticipated. If you’re looking to save a few bucks while still offering your bearded dragon excellent care, then you might consider the Exo Terra Infrared Basking Reptile Spot Lamp. It’s priced very affordably, yet packed with great features that lead us to believe it’s the best basking light bulb for bearded dragons for the money.
At night, your dragons still need a warm environment, between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain this temperature without disturbing their sleep cycle, you’ll need an infrared lamp like this one that produces a low red light. Of course, that means you’ll need a different bulb to provide light during the day.
This bulb features a built-in reflector that directs the heat, creating a perfect basking spot for your dragons beneath. It’s plenty warm enough for them to regulate their temperature without the worry of overheating the enclosure.
3. REPTI ZOO P95100 Reptile Full Basking Spot Bulb – Premium Choice
We love our dragons, so we’re always looking for the best products to help provide them the most comfortable lives possible. The REPTI ZOO Reptile Full Basking Spot Bulb is one such product that packs a lot of great benefits for our beardies.
To start, this is a full-spectrum light bulb that replicates sunlight. While some bulbs will provide UVA or UVB, this bulb will provide your lizards with both, helping them to stay healthy and strong. But this bulb isn’t just light, it provides plenty of heat as well, allowing your dragons to comfortably thermoregulate as needed.
For us, this bulb was a winner, giving us peace of mind that we were providing our dragons with every possible benefit from a basking bulb. On the downside, that does come with a much higher price tag, several times the cost of most of the other basking bulbs we tested.
4. xyzReptiles UVA Bulb Basking Light
Though it is more expensive than some of the other options we tested, the xyzReptiles UVA Bulb Basking Light is far from the most expensive on our list. It also doesn’t provide the most benefit for your bearded dragon, but it does offer some useful traits nonetheless.
This bulb provides 100 watts of heat and light for your dragon to bask in. It mimics sunlight with a broad-spectrum light and healthy UVA rays. However, it’s missing the UVB rays that your dragon also needs for vitamin D. It gets hot enough to keep the terrarium warm and provide a hot basking area without overheating the space.
While this bulb is a decent product overall, there are other products that offer the same for a lower price, such as the Zoo Med Repti Basking Spot Lamp in our top position.
5. Fluker’s Basking Spotlight Bulb
We were first attracted to the price tag of the Fluker’s 22603 Basking Spotlight Bulb. It’s got the lowest price of any bulb we tested, which will likely make it a top contender for many people. It does provide light and heat, but that’s about the end of this bulb’s features.
Dragons need UVA and UVB, so most basking bulbs try to offer at least one. This bulb provides neither, so your dragons will be missing some very important nutrients. We also noticed that this bulb doesn’t create enough heat for young dragons to thermoregulate. For us, it created a basking area of about 94 degrees. This would be sufficient for an adult, but not for juveniles who need a basking area of 95-100 degrees.
Despite what it’s lacking, there is one thing about this bulb we appreciated; the 3,500-hour lifespan. Especially for this low price, that’s an impressive lifespan, saving you money in the long-term, though you’ll need to add additional lighting for UVA and UVB, so it’s a bit of a washout.
6. Exo Terra Intense Basking Spot Lamp Bulb
The Exo Terra PT2138 Intense Basking Spot Lamp Bulb is one of the most expensive bulbs we tested, though it’s still lacking in important features. However, it does have one very useful trait; it projects light farther than other bulbs. This means you can place the bulb farther from the basking site and still maintain proper temperature, giving you far more options for setup.
For the price, we were hoping this bulb would provide our dragons with UVB, which would have earned it a recommendation from us. Unfortunately, it does not provide UVB, so it’s really just an overpriced UVA bulb. We think there are too many equally sufficient options available for a lower cost for us to recommend this bulb.
7. OMAYKEY Basking Spot Heat Lamp Bulb
Filling the final position on our list, the OMAYKEY Basking Spot Heat Lamp Bulb did not impress us. Like many of the bulbs we tested, it doesn’t provide UVB, though it does create UVA light and heat for your dragons.
The biggest problem we have with this bulb is its poor longevity. Our first ones only lasted a couple of weeks each, a fraction of the lifespan we got from other bulbs. We didn’t realize that these bulbs are only meant to be run for 3-5 hours each day. Naturally, this is unacceptable for a reptile bulb since they will need heat all the time! We’d suggest saving your money by purchasing a bulb that will provide all-day heat for your dragons.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Basking Bulbs for Bearded Dragons
With so many different options to choose from, singling the field down to just one choice can seem difficult. Luckily, we’ve put together this short buyer’s guide to help you streamline the decision.
What to Look for in a Basking Bulb for Bearded Dragons
When you’re looking for a basking bulb for bearded dragons, there are different features that you can prioritize, depending on your needs and situation. Let’s discuss which traits you should be keeping in mind when looking for a new basking bulb.
Heat, Light, or Both?
Our bodies regulate our temperatures automatically, so it’s not something we really have to think about. Lizards are cold-blooded though, so they have to use sunlight and heat to warm their bodies up, moving to a cooler area when they start to get too hot.
Though temperatures should be reduced at night, your dragons should never be in the cold. Even at night, 72 degrees Fahrenheit is as cool as it should get, so you’ll likely need to provide heat 24 hours each day.
Of course, you’ll still need to consider lighting and sleep cycles. Light bulbs are one of the most common ways of providing heat for dragons, but they also create light, which can affect a lizard’s sleep cycle. You’ll need to provide light during the day, but at night you’ll need heat with no light.
Infrared lights allow you to keep the enclosure warm at night without generating light that will mess with your dragon’s sleep cycles. Instead of bright white light, infrared lights create a very dim red light that reptiles can’t see. This means that your dragons can sleep in peace while their environment maintains the proper nighttime temperature of 72-80 degrees. But you’ll still need to provide light during the day, so another bulb will be necessary as well.
UVA radiation comes from light and can be provided by a good basking bulb. This type of light is essential for a reptile’s vision. Without UVA, your bearded dragon is essentially colorblind. For this reason, we highly recommend always finding bulbs that offer your dragons UVA.
UVB comes from light like UVA, and it allows vitamin D to be produced in humans and animals. Most species of reptiles are unable to use dietary vitamin D, so they must get it from exposure to UVB. Without UVB, metabolic bone disease can be a real concern.
Since you’re going to be running a basking bulb for about 12 hours each day, a longer lifespan bulb will allow you to go longer between changes. We’ve seen bulbs with lifespans ranging from 2,000 hours to 3,500 hours. Naturally, you want the longest-lasting bulb you can find, as long as it still meets your other parameters.
Some bulbs are only intended to be run for 3-5 hours each day, and we don’t recommend them as basking bulbs for bearded dragons. They don’t last very long and tend to give out in a fraction of the time that other bulbs last.
The final component to consider when picking a basking bulb for your bearded dragons is the price. Even with bulbs that offer similar traits, the price can vary drastically. But often the price difference is due to performance differences. For instance, a bulb that offers UVB and UVA can be much more costly than a bulb that only offers UVA. It’s also going to provide more benefits for your dragon, allowing them to live a happier and healthier life.
Sometimes, necessity dictates what you can and can’t purchase for your pets. But if it’s possible, we always recommend providing your pets with the highest quality care you can afford. After all, they are cherished members of the family!
After trying out many of the various basking bulbs available for bearded dragons, we’ve narrowed the competition down to just three products that earned top spots on our reviews list.
For us, the Zoo Med Repti Basking Reptile Spot Lamp was the best overall. With a double reflector that focuses 35% more heat and light while producing beneficial UVA rays for your dragons, it offers excellent performance at a reasonable price. Plus, it’s got a 2,000-hour lifespan that’s backed up by a 180-day warranty.
For the best value, we recommend the Exo Terra Infrared Basking Reptile Spot Lamp. It’s one of the most affordable bulbs we tested, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective! It provides 24-hour heat for your dragons, thanks to the infrared light that won’t affect their sleep.
Finally, if you don’t want to sacrifice any features and you’re willing to pay a premium for the extra benefits, the REPTI ZOO Reptile Full Basking Spot Bulb is the one we suggest. It provides full-spectrum light as well as plenty of heat for your dragon to thermoregulate. Best of all, it’s packed with healthy UVA and UVB to keep your dragons in peak condition.
Featured Image Credit: Tenshi, Shutterstock