Metal Halide Lighting - Need Advice

iMi

Established Member
#1
I decided to try a metal halide setup for our vailed chameleon. There are two products I'll try. I'll keep both as we have a bearded dragon as well. First one is the Zoo Med PowerSun H.I.D. 70W system and the second one is the Exo Terra Sun Ray 50W. Both look pretty good. The mid section of the enclosure and below offers 100% shade, so I am not concerned about UVB exposure being an issue. In fact, it should allow for a more natural behavior as Vailed will retreat into bushes during the time when the sun is most intense.

Has anyone used either system? What is your opinion?
 

nightanole

Chameleon Enthusiast
#4
Both bulbs should be setup so that the cham is 18"-28" away from the bulb. Beyond 28" its useless for uvb(same output as a reptisun T8 5.0 at 12"). If you get closer than 18" to need to check temps for thermal burns (it is a 50-70 watt high efficiently flood light after all). You can not "over UVB" with them, so you dont have to worry about that. Even at 12" the uvi is only 3.0, which is the same as under a shade tree in summer. Full outdoor sun is uvi 6.5 in summer.
 

iMi

Established Member
#6
Both bulbs should be setup so that the cham is 18"-28" away from the bulb. Beyond 28" its useless for uvb(same output as a reptisun T8 5.0 at 12"). If you get closer than 18" to need to check temps for thermal burns (it is a 50-70 watt high efficiently flood light after all). You can not "over UVB" with them, so you dont have to worry about that. Even at 12" the uvi is only 3.0, which is the same as under a shade tree in summer. Full outdoor sun is uvi 6.5 in summer.
Thank you!!!

That is basically the plan. The "basking spot" is about 12" from the top of the enclosure and I plan on suspending the light about 3-6" above the cage. I was honestly more concerned about there not being enough heat, so that is good news.
 

iMi

Established Member
#8
Why have you decided on a metal halide? They are generally only used on large enclosures and free range set ups due to the heat they put out. They also use quite a bit more energy compared to the typical T5HO or T8 fixtures and separate basking bulb.

https://www.chameleonforums.com/care/lighting/
Good question. In short, I think it will provide the best light available.

I have read up quite a bit on the subject and, according to several sources, metal halide offers by far the most "natural" light one can achieve artificially. Many report changes in their animals' behavior, growth and wellbeing after switching to this type of lighting. Also, and I mean it with at most respect, some of the info on the lighting page may be outdated. It says metal halide is only effective at "high wattage" and in very large closures, but that is just not the case. The Sun Ray comes in 35W, 50W and 70W while the PowerSun runs at 70W only, but they provide all the lighting needs with impressive specs. The setup I have now is 75W halogen + 24W T5 and delivers similar temperature but substantially less visible light and UVB. The light spectrum is not even in the same league. Even at the top of the power range, the metal halide system will still be 30% more efficient.

I don't know what the authors of the lighting sheet here meant as "high wattage," so I could be missing something. The enclosure size mentioned in the lighting sheet is more specifically stated as 10' or free range setting. Free range application makes sense because it's a single light that meets all the needs and covers relatively large area, but the 10' enclosure as the recommendation, I cannot fully understand. Beyond 3' the UVB exposure is almost non-existent, heat is approaching ambient levels and visible light reaches a lumen output compatible with a 60W Incandescent bulb. Hardly too high considering natural setting and that's only 30% of the 10' recommended space.

I welcome any insight on this. Am I missing something?

There are a couple other reasons, but this response is getting long... I don't want to put everyone to sleep :LOL:
 

Goose502

Chameleon Enthusiast
#9
I use the Exo Terra sun ray 70 watt, and have now for over 3 years. This bulb is very intense initially. My initial UVI readings through screen at about 8 inches was 12-15! I let my enclosure grow out, and the light burn in. This is important, after a few months of use, those crazy high UVI levels dropped to the 5-8 range, and have stayed there for years. There is also a good deal of heat emitted from this fixture as well. I use it as a basking area, but also use a quad t5 fixture as the UVB is only offered in a narrow cone in the sun ray fixture. My biggest problem has been the fact that it burns any plant growing near the top of the enclosure. My biggest piece of advice is to purchase a Solarmeter 6.5 and measure all the areas of the cage the chameleon can get into to. You will know the exact levels of UVI offered, and see any degradation in the bulb itself.
 

iMi

Established Member
#10
I use the Exo Terra sun ray 70 watt, and have now for over 3 years. This bulb is very intense initially. My initial UVI readings through screen at about 8 inches was 12-15! I let my enclosure grow out, and the light burn in. This is important, after a few months of use, those crazy high UVI levels dropped to the 5-8 range, and have stayed there for years. There is also a good deal of heat emitted from this fixture as well. I use it as a basking area, but also use a quad t5 fixture as the UVB is only offered in a narrow cone in the sun ray fixture. My biggest problem has been the fact that it burns any plant growing near the top of the enclosure. My biggest piece of advice is to purchase a Solarmeter 6.5 and measure all the areas of the cage the chameleon can get into to. You will know the exact levels of UVI offered, and see any degradation in the bulb itself.
Thank you for the info. I am going to get a meter. What you said about it being a narrow beam was something that I have been thinking about as well. The Zoo Med disperses the light in a wider area, although it's still a flood light. This is partly why I ordered both. One will end up with the chameleon and the other with the bearded dragon. I think the Zoo Med will be a better fit here. I also like the idea of potentially keeping the T5 in place as a filler light. At least until the meter gets here and I can really get a good idea of how the light is being distributed.

Thank you again for your comments. Really appreciate the input.
 

dshuld

Chameleon Enthusiast
#11
I use the Exo Terra sun ray 70 watt, and have now for over 3 years. This bulb is very intense initially. My initial UVI readings through screen at about 8 inches was 12-15! I let my enclosure grow out, and the light burn in. This is important, after a few months of use, those crazy high UVI levels dropped to the 5-8 range, and have stayed there for years. There is also a good deal of heat emitted from this fixture as well. I use it as a basking area, but also use a quad t5 fixture as the UVB is only offered in a narrow cone in the sun ray fixture. My biggest problem has been the fact that it burns any plant growing near the top of the enclosure. My biggest piece of advice is to purchase a Solarmeter 6.5 and measure all the areas of the cage the chameleon can get into to. You will know the exact levels of UVI offered, and see any degradation in the bulb itself.
What temps are you seeing at the basking spot at what house ambients? I've been thinking about experimenting with the 35w or 50w.
 

Goose502

Chameleon Enthusiast
#12
What temps are you seeing at the basking spot at what house ambients? I've been thinking about experimenting with the 35w or 50w.
Basking level temps are at 84 degrees directly under the light. I keep the upper level of the enclosure at approx 80, lower levels are at 72-74 depending on where you check. The ambient temp in the house stays at 69 degrees. I allow for a temp drop at night, 70-75 in the upper areas and 69 near the bottom. My ceramic heat emitter controls temps at night.
 

dshuld

Chameleon Enthusiast
#13
Basking level temps are at 84 degrees directly under the light. I keep the upper level of the enclosure at approx 80, lower levels are at 72-74 depending on where you check. The ambient temp in the house stays at 69 degrees. I allow for a temp drop at night, 70-75 in the upper areas and 69 near the bottom. My ceramic heat emitter controls temps at night.
Right on, same room ambients as me then. How high above the cage are you suspending the 70w?
 

iMi

Established Member
#18
Cool, wonder if they are still using the fulham high horse ballast...
I'll give you as many details on both fixtures as I can. I think one of my clients makes UVB meters, so I'll see if I can get a sample before I go buy one. If so, I'll get some readings for us as well.
 

dshuld

Chameleon Enthusiast
#19
I'll give you as many details on both fixtures as I can. I think one of my clients makes UVB meters, so I'll see if I can get a sample before I go buy one. If so, I'll get some readings for us as well.
Cool thanks! Looking forward to seeing if they've stuck with the fulhams.
 

iMi

Established Member
#20
Well, the Zoo Med fixture arrived. It's currently resting directly on the top screen with the basking spot about 8" below. I am still working out options for mounting it above the screen.The ballast is built into the top of the fixture. It's a very nice unit. The bulb is noticeably brighter and everything is more live-like. Really a beautiful, bright light. The only downside is that it's definitely a floodlight. Relatively concentrated, so that's the only negative.

I've already noticed some changes in behavior. He is more active. Basks directly under the lamp but for shorter amount of time. Then he is in the foliage and on the floor exploring. He's apatite picked up. Although that could just be a coincidence. His colors picked up a lot, too. He's always dark during the day and ofter just a few hours, he seems to be brighter now. Basking temp is around 90 degrees. He seems happy. I am monitoring him closely to see how he is doing.

On Monday the Exo Terra unit should arrive. We'll see how it compares.

Edit to add that the heat output was surprisingly lower than expected. It's not super hot. In fact, less heat than the previous halogen bulb at 75W.
 
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