When shopping for florescent UVB bulbs, it can be hard to know if you are getting the right bulb for your chameleon. T8? T5? T5HO? What does it all mean? In short, it is about wattage.
The first thing to be aware of is that the fixture (ballast) has a max output that should match the bulb. It is important because a 54 watt bulb can be run at 28 watts. As you may have guessed, this reduces their output. There is more to the story, but for our purposes we just need to check the wattage to make sure our bulb matches the fixture output.
See our wattage charts below for help when picking fixtures and bulbs.
Size 46" Wattage: 32w
Size 34" Wattage: 30w
Size 22" Wattage: 18w
Size 46" Wattage: 28w
Size 34" Wattage: 21w
Size 22" Wattage: 14w
Size 46" Wattage: 54w
Size 34" Wattage: 39w
Size 22" Wattage: 24w
This is a common concern and can be quite confusing, though it doesn't need to be. Let's look back at our UVI requirements: We simply want the highest part the top of his back can reach to be no more than 6 UVI. We want the basking area to be 3 UVI. The bulb we choose will be the one that hits this zone.
For setups with a single bulb w/reflector and the fixture set on the screen top (the most common set up for beginners), 6% or 5.0 is perfect.
A 12% or 10.0 would be for larger setups where the light is suspended above the top of the cage or in multi-bulb fixtures where the additional slots are used for plant bulbs.
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For use with T5HO bulbs such as the Arcadia and ReptiSun T5HO UVB Bulbs.
First of all, not all domes are the same. The difference is in things like reflectiveness of interior and the depth of dome. Standard 5.5” domes may leave the bulb touching anything it sits on. The deeper 8.5” dome will keep the hot bulb safely away from surfaces, especially in setups where the lamp is sitting directly on the screen.
*Personal preference for deep dome fixtures when using the cheaper plant bulbs. Some may have glare, be longer than normal bulbs, and can be visually unappealing. A deep dome hides all this nicely.
For the bulbs themselves, any incandescent bulb 40w to 75w is all we need. There are specialty reptile bulbs and plant bulbs that can be used.
The lights listed above are for heat. Full spectrum LED lights will be for the benefit of your plants. There are many options, but let’s keep it simple. We will call our two options Strip Light and Focused Light. Strip light just means a strip of led lights, and focused light is going to be a spotlight type bulb, (also in led). For our needs, a good set of strip lights is plenty. If you have bioactive or lower plants, below 21", you may want to add a spot bulb to get enough light to the lower plants.
Are They Too Bright ?
It is definitely possible to overdo it. Keep in mind, chameleons eyes would have to deal with sunlight, which would mainly be bright in one direction. They can simply not look directly at it. Since we will be covering the top of a cage, it is good to take into consideration. The simple test is, Is it too bright for you? Most plants can get sufficient amounts of light at visually comfortable levels.
Do Colors Matter ?
In short yes. You want full spectrum white. Not the reds, pinks, or blues, which are specialized towards plant growth periods.
How much light do I need?
For most of our need as chameleon keepers 32watts to 72watts of LED will work.
SANSI 70W Plant Light Daylight Full Spectrum LED Grow Light for Indoor Plants, Plant Grow Light
Highly coveted enclosure plant lighting designed for reptile terrariums. Full spectrum high output advanced sunlight replicating light bar available in 15W, 34W, or 51W.
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