What’s The Best Type of Basking Fixture For a Bearded Dragon

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Berded dragon basking fixtures

One of the most important things to get right when setting up a habitat for your bearded dragon is their basking spot. A basking spot with the proper temperature is vital to your beardie’s digestion and overall health.

There are a few different pieces of advice out there, most of them wrong. Regardless of what you find on YouTube or in forums, there is one right way to do this.

What’s The Best Type of Basking Light For a Bearded Dragon?

The correct way to light and heat a bearded dragon’s basking spot is with a directional light fixture and a 75w basking light designed for reptile enclosures. This provides the most consistent & controllable heat of any option. Using incandescent or halogen lights made for home use is not recommended.

While many people advise using inexpensive light fixtures, you can find at your local hardware store, those are not an ideal solution. The same goes for light bulbs not made explicitly for heating a reptile enclosure.

What’s the Best Fixture For A Bearded Dragon’s Basking Spot?

Using a purpose-built light dome like the one we use in our own bearded dragon’s enclosure allows you to accurately directly both the light and heat of your basking bulb to your bearded dragon’s basking spot.

If you live in a warm climate, you probably won’t need additional heating elements, so a single light dome will work great. You may want a dual light dome if you live in a cooler climate or your home tends to dip below 70℉ (21℃) at night.

A dual light dome lets you install a basking lamp and a CHE (ceramic heating element) like this. A CHE heats your enclosure at night when it may dip below 70℉ (21℃).

You’ll notice that these light domes are both deep and narrow. This allows precise control of the light and heat. Your basking spot has a finite temperature range that is healthy for your beardie. This dome-type makes hitting that range much more straightforward than other types.

single and double basking light domes
single and double basking light domes.

The domes we recommend are either this single dome or this double dome that you can buy on Amazon. These are very inexpensive items, and there is no reason to try to save money by going with something else.

What’s the Best Bulb For A Bearded Dragon’s Basking Lamp?

We still see a lot of people using standard incandescent bulbs here. While those bulbs do produce heat, they are not ideal for a reptile’s basking spot.

Instead, a dedicated reptile basking lamp is needed. We’ve used these by Zoo Med for many years with great success. We like to use 75w bulbs, but 100w bulbs work well too as long as you can mount them a little further away from the basking spot.

A purpose-built basking light does a few things that a standard light bulb does not.

dedicated basking light

First, a basking bulb maintains consistent heat for at least the first six months of its life. Because the desired temperature range for your beardie’s basking spot is very specific, you want to eliminate as much heat variability in the bulb as possible.

Second, basking lights are more reliable than other types of bulbs. Since they are built with your pet’s health in mind, they pay more attention to the build quality of the bulb.

Lastly, incandescent and halogen bulbs are now illegal in most countries. They are now unavailable in most places even if you want to use them.

Like the fixtures listed above, basking bulbs are inexpensive (we buy ours in four packs on Amazon). There is absolutely no reason to try to save a few dollars by using a different kind of bulb.

What Not To Use as a Bearded Dragon Basking Light

I’ve read too many forum posts to count that advise getting a cheap shop light from Home Depot and using an old-school incandescent bulb. I’ve seen similar recommendations for using halogen bulbs.

Shop light
We don’t recommend these.

While these solutions technically work, they are not recommended.

Neither an incandescent or halogen bulb produces consistent heat levels over time. They can literally change daily and even across the day in some instances.

Inconsistent heat in your basking spot will cause both behavioral and digestive issues with your bearded dragon.

Getting your tank temps correct is one of the most important things you can do to keep your bearded dragon healthy. It doesn’t make sense to sacrifice that in order to save just a few dollars.

We also strongly advise against using under-tank heating elements. While these are recommended for some reptiles, they are terrible for bearded dragons.

Under-tank heating elements have been known to cause burns on the bellies of bearded dragons.

They also produce no light. One of the primary reasons to use a basking light (on a timer, please!!!) is to simulate the sun’s rising and setting. This, in turn, helps to set your bearded dragon’s circadian rhythm.

Without a consistent “sunrise” or “sunset,” your bearded dragon will develop health issues over time.

The Verdict

If we’ve taken on the responsibility of raising a wild animal in captivity, we owe it to them to provide a habitat set up for their long-term health.

Bearded dragons’ natural habitat is the sunny and arid regions of Australia. Simulating the sun and the heat from the sun is critical to your bearded dragon’s health.

The best way to do that is with purpose-built basking lamps and bulbs.


How long should the basking light be left on every day?

We recommend putting all your lights on a timer like this one. The best setting is 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Try syncing that with the actual sunrise and sunset in your area (or as close as possible).

How often should the basking light be changed?

Every six months. Don’t wait for it to go out. Because inconsistent heat is essential, the bulbs need to be changed before their heat is no longer consistent. This is at six months.

Can I put the tank by a window and let them use the actual sun instead?


Never, ever, ever put your beardie’s enclosure in direct sunlight. Their glass enclosure works just like a closed car in the summertime. Their home quickly becomes an oven.

Many bearded dragons have died this way.

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Tim Steward is a life long pet owner who is currently raising a beautiful little beardie named Bacardi along with two Australian cattle dogs named Anny & Beans. Bacardi is one in a long line of bearded dragons that Tim has rescued, rehabilitated, and rehomed. Through Beardie Bungalow, Tim has helped thousands of beardie parents give the best possible life to their pets.

2 thoughts on “What’s The Best Type of Basking Fixture For a Bearded Dragon”

  1. You say not to use a cheap shop fixture from the hardware store, but we’ve been doing that for years. Why would we spend almost four times as much to buy a “basking fixture” when what we have already works?

  2. If you are checking your basking temps at least once, if not twice a day, then a cheap fixture will work. What you’ll find, though, when you measure that often is a huge variance in temps every day. That’s due to the cheap fixture (and probably bulb). For those that don’t want to check that often, and also want to trust that things are going right, they should use a dedicated basking fixture and bulb.


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