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How to Use Ceramic Heat Emitters to Keep Pet Reptiles Warm

I have snakes and lizards, and I've spent a lot of time creating a good, comfortable home for them.

Ceramic heat emitters are the best way to keep your pet reptiles warm, in my opinion.

Ceramic heat emitters are the best way to keep your pet reptiles warm, in my opinion.

Which Ceramic Heat Emitter to Get for Reptiles

Ceramic heat emitters are one of the best ways to provide a heat source to cold-blooded pets. They are an affordable way to provide heat and last much longer than a normal light bulb. They are strange-looking devices but well worth the cost.

Quick Product Review of Zoo Med and Repticare Heat Emitters

I have tested two of the heat emitters with my snakes and lizards: the Zoo Med and Repticare brands. Both of these manufacturers' products stack up about the same as far as price, quality, and life expectancy. Below is more of the product review for these two brands.

Price Range: Anywhere from $20 up to $30 and even higher for some styles, depending on where you purchase the product.

Life Expectancy: About five years or 25,000 hours.

Wattage to Use

  • 100 watt for 30–40 gallon enclosure
  • 150 watt for 50–100 gallon enclosure

Intended Use

These heat emitters are typically used most frequently for:

  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Plant Terrariums

This product can increase the inside air temperature or your terrarium a full 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit above the outside room temperature. I have tested this product extensively, and the bulb stands up to what both manufacturers say about their products.

What the bulb looks like.

What the bulb looks like.

How to Set up a Heat Lamp

Like a light bulb, this product radiates heat in the direction the fixture is pointed. Unlike the light bulb, this product does not provide a light source. The bad part of this is you have to be sure the fixture is positioned as you need it. It can be difficult to position because you can't see the light, as with a light bulb.

What Kind of Clamp Should You Use?

Many say you can use a regular clamp on this fixture as long as the receptacle of the fixture is porcelain. I disagree due to the fact of the heat this unit emits. This bulb gets very hot! If using a regular clamp fixture with a plastic receptacle, it may melt from the intense heat.

I recommend a porcelain clamp lamp fixture that is designed for this product. This fixture costs a bit more, but can you really put a price on safety? I have included a picture of a porcelain clamp lamp fixture below.

Porcelain clamp lamp fixture.

Porcelain clamp lamp fixture.

Pros and Cons of Ceramic Heat Emitters for Your Reptiles

As with any product type such as this unit, there are benefits and detriments. I have listed some ups and downs below.


  • Offers penetrating heat needed by cold-blooded reptiles
  • Zero light emission
  • Perfect for day or night use
  • Higher heat, longer life than light bulbs
  • Provides deep-down warmth that keeps reptiles at their active best


  • Can overheat the pet if not used correctly
  • Can burn the pet if too close to the pet or the pet comes into contact with the bulb
  • Gets very hot. Must be set in place so as not to cause a fire hazard.
  • Can burn you if you're not careful
  • Takes some time to get set correctly. Must be watched closely until you get the placement figured out.
  • A bit pricey

My overall opinion of this product is very good. I recommend this product, but only if the user of this product is careful and pays attention to detail. This product can cause harm or death to the pet if not used correctly. It can also be a fire hazard if it's used carelessly. Overall, it's a great product—thumbs up and highly recommended!

A Word of Caution for Beginners

This product must be used with extreme caution. Please follow all of the manufacturer's guidelines for use. This item can severely burn or even cook your pet if used incorrectly. You must watch the temperature and placement very closely until it is set perfectly. This product can also be a fire hazard if used carelessly.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Katie Hynam on August 23, 2020:

So I’ve got a heat emitter plugged in but it’s above the shelf and the plastic vent don’t go back in so where’s the best place for the heat emitter to sit

Irene E Murray on May 13, 2020:

So I have a zoo med deep dome. I can put a ceramic heater in that? I am reading conflicting information.

Linda Gilmet on October 02, 2018:

Hi. I have a 6 month old bearded dragon. I just bought a ceramic heat amitter and not sure if im supposed to use it day and night. I replaced it with my normal red light. Was told it is healthier. Should i put the regular heating lamp on in the day and only use this at night?

hunter t on March 21, 2014:

can a heating pad replace the heat need at night for a reptile?

mr'tang on October 22, 2013:

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ballpythonlover on April 14, 2011:

i am planning on getting a ball python in a 40 gallon breeder tank {adult] and i am going to use a UTH for the hot side but i neede to raise the cool side by 8 to 15 degrees what wattage of ceramic heat emitter should i use by the way love this article.