Coil/compact UVB bulbs in 2021

joperez

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Hello everyone! I am a new tort mom and also a new member of this forum :)

I've been caring for a baby sulcata for the past 2 months now and all is going good. I let him/her get some sun as much as I can (usually in the weekends) when I have the time. Lately though I have not been able to do so because I leave early in the morning for work and come home in the evening. I recently looked into UVB lights and I have read so many bad things about coil/compact uvb bulbs. Are these still true to this day? Or have they already corrected and fixed this issue/s?
 

Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
The advice is still to avoid them as they can burn tort eyes.
Mercury vapour balance bulbs (MVB) give heat light and uvb in one bulb, BUT these have also been found to dry and damage shells so they aren't recommended anymore.
Many of us now use T5 HO tube kits for UVB.
This is an up to date carehseet that will help your baby thrive and if you want to post pics of his enclosure we can help you make sure it's as safe as possible for him.
 

jsheffield

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Food for thought/discussion (& possible heresy)
  • I've been testing a UV coil-bulb over one of my Russians since April of this year.
  • The readings on my solarmeter have been both adequate and consistent in that time.
  • No blindness or summoning of The Old Ones from nether dimensions has been experienced, either by me or my torts.

The bulb has almost 1000 reviews, 70% of them 5-stars.
  • I'm not saying that there weren't problems with early generations of coil bulbs that came out years ago.
  • I'm not saying that some coil bulbs may not still be problematic.
  • I'm not saying that everyone/anyone should switch from what works for them, or what they feel safe with.

I am saying that I've been trying something new, in a very limited way, with (to date) positive results.

I'm also saying that tortoise husbandry and caretaking tends to be slow to move forward, slow to change... there are lots of reasons for, and examples of, this over the past 50 years.

We, tortoise-keepers, stick with the old ways for a long time; one of the things that I particularly value about TFO is the general openness to questioning dogma.

Jamie
 

TeamZissou

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It's possible that manufacturers have improved coil bulbs, but ultimately it's hard to tell. We do still see some turtles and tortoises popping up on the forum with photokeratitis, or swollen eyes due to coil bulbs. Here's a recent example. Granted, that turtle has many issues.

Ultimately, it's all about the wavelength and power of light that is emitted from these bulbs, and short wave UV (UVC) is what causes issues. A bulb may put out the right amount of UVB that tortoises need, but could also be pumping out a lot of UVC. We would not be able to measure into the UVC with the Solarmeter 6.5. Someone would need to buy a Solarmeter 8.0, which is built for UVC measurement and test a bunch of coil bulbs in different configurations to check the intensity of UVC.

Aside from manufacturing problems, the way the bulb is mounted has been said to affect eye issues. They were apparently made to be mounted horizontally, yet most people use a dome fixture mounted vertically. More of the damaging UVC light might somehow be emitted from the coil part at the end, to which the tortoise would not normally be exposed if the bulb were mounted horizontally.

Given these issues, the convention is to recommend T5 HO bulbs out of caution.
 

Tom

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Hello everyone! I am a new tort mom and also a new member of this forum :)

I've been caring for a baby sulcata for the past 2 months now and all is going good. I let him/her get some sun as much as I can (usually in the weekends) when I have the time. Lately though I have not been able to do so because I leave early in the morning for work and come home in the evening. I recently looked into UVB lights and I have read so many bad things about coil/compact uvb bulbs. Are these still true to this day? Or have they already corrected and fixed this issue/s?
We still see problems with them. Best to use something safer and more effective.
 

Yvonne G

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Food for thought/discussion (& possible heresy)
  • I've been testing a UV coil-bulb over one of my Russians since April of this year.
  • The readings on my solarmeter have been both adequate and consistent in that time.
  • No blindness or summoning of The Old Ones from nether dimensions has been experienced, either by me or my torts.

The bulb has almost 1000 reviews, 70% of them 5-stars.
  • I'm not saying that there weren't problems with early generations of coil bulbs that came out years ago.
  • I'm not saying that some coil bulbs may not still be problematic.
  • I'm not saying that everyone/anyone should switch from what works for them, or what they feel safe with.

I am saying that I've been trying something new, in a very limited way, with (to date) positive results.

I'm also saying that tortoise husbandry and caretaking tends to be slow to move forward, slow to change... there are lots of reasons for, and examples of, this over the past 50 years.

We, tortoise-keepers, stick with the old ways for a long time; one of the things that I particularly value about TFO is the general openness to questioning dogma.

Jamie
The problem seems mostly to affect baby tortoises, not full grown.
 

Markw84

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I have been carefully following the forum for over 5 years now on this and have yet to see one problem linked to the coil bulbs. However, it immediately blamed and most often the search for the real problem is stopped! The link @TeamZissou offers is a good example of simply immediately blaming faulty bulbs when there was absolutely no evidence it was a bad bulb. With a box turtle it well could have been vitamin deficiency (no one asked about diet and the whole post was about long nails which points to diet issues) and it more probably was from the placement of the bulb if indeed it was even photokeratitis - which was never shown in pictures - just suspected from an appearance of swollen eyes. Yet now used as "proof" that issues are still seen today!

There have been more posts about eye issues that were not even using coil bulbs yet hardly anyone asks about how high the UVB is placed over the tortoise in those cases. ANY UVB bulb will cause photokeratitis if placed too close and UVI levels are too high. With stronger bulb creating higher UV levels (including the compacts), we should be monitoring that, not simply a knee jerk reaction that coil bulbs are bad.

I have been using compact flourescents continuously for the past 6 years with no issues over all my baby aquatics. I monitor UVB level with all my UV bulbs with a solarmeter. I will not use nor trust foreign made bulbs, only brand name manufacturers I know. That goes for all types of UVB bulb including the new LEDs and all fluorescent bulbs.

@jsheffield There are recent articles, tests and studies. Francis Baines on the facebook group Reptile Lighting has posted and done many tests. Has not found one defective brand name bulb emitting dangerous wavelengths in over 9 years now. The exact same phosphors used in the long tubes are used in the compacts for all bulbs made by the established manufacturers. If placed properly, the compacts can provide adequate UV levels in situations where less height is available.
 

jsheffield

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I have been carefully following the forum for over 5 years now on this and have yet to see one problem linked to the coil bulbs. However, it immediately blamed and most often the search for the real problem is stopped! The link @TeamZissou offers is a good example of simply immediately blaming faulty bulbs when there was absolutely no evidence it was a bad bulb. With a box turtle it well could have been vitamin deficiency (no one asked about diet and the whole post was about long nails which points to diet issues) and it more probably was from the placement of the bulb if indeed it was even photokeratitis - which was never shown in pictures - just suspected from an appearance of swollen eyes. Yet now used as "proof" that issues are still seen today!

There have been more posts about eye issues that were not even using coil bulbs yet hardly anyone asks about how high the UVB is placed over the tortoise in those cases. ANY UVB bulb will cause photokeratitis if placed too close and UVI levels are too high. With stronger bulb creating higher UV levels (including the compacts), we should be monitoring that, not simply a knee jerk reaction that coil bulbs are bad.

I have been using compact flourescents continuously for the past 6 years with no issues over all my baby aquatics. I monitor UVB level with all my UV bulbs with a solarmeter. I will not use nor trust foreign made bulbs, only brand name manufacturers I know. That goes for all types of UVB bulb including the new LEDs and all fluorescent bulbs.

@jsheffield There are recent articles, tests and studies. Francis Baines on the facebook group Reptile Lighting has posted and done many tests. Has not found one defective brand name bulb emitting dangerous wavelengths in over 9 years now. The exact same phosphors used in the long tubes are used in the compacts for all bulbs made by the established manufacturers. If placed properly, the compacts can provide adequate UV levels in situations where less height is available.
Thanks, I suspected this to be the case.

Jamie
 

jaizei

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I have been carefully following the forum for over 5 years now on this and have yet to see one problem linked to the coil bulbs. However, it immediately blamed and most often the search for the real problem is stopped! The link @TeamZissou offers is a good example of simply immediately blaming faulty bulbs when there was absolutely no evidence it was a bad bulb. With a box turtle it well could have been vitamin deficiency (no one asked about diet and the whole post was about long nails which points to diet issues) and it more probably was from the placement of the bulb if indeed it was even photokeratitis - which was never shown in pictures - just suspected from an appearance of swollen eyes. Yet now used as "proof" that issues are still seen today!

There have been more posts about eye issues that were not even using coil bulbs yet hardly anyone asks about how high the UVB is placed over the tortoise in those cases. ANY UVB bulb will cause photokeratitis if placed too close and UVI levels are too high. With stronger bulb creating higher UV levels (including the compacts), we should be monitoring that, not simply a knee jerk reaction that coil bulbs are bad.

I have been using compact flourescents continuously for the past 6 years with no issues over all my baby aquatics. I monitor UVB level with all my UV bulbs with a solarmeter. I will not use nor trust foreign made bulbs, only brand name manufacturers I know. That goes for all types of UVB bulb including the new LEDs and all fluorescent bulbs.

@jsheffield There are recent articles, tests and studies. Francis Baines on the facebook group Reptile Lighting has posted and done many tests. Has not found one defective brand name bulb emitting dangerous wavelengths in over 9 years now. The exact same phosphors used in the long tubes are used in the compacts for all bulbs made by the established manufacturers. If placed properly, the compacts can provide adequate UV levels in situations where less height is available.


Thank you, maybe this will change the opinions of some with you saying it.
 

TeamZissou

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I have been carefully following the forum for over 5 years now on this and have yet to see one problem linked to the coil bulbs. However, it immediately blamed and most often the search for the real problem is stopped! The link @TeamZissou offers is a good example of simply immediately blaming faulty bulbs when there was absolutely no evidence it was a bad bulb. With a box turtle it well could have been vitamin deficiency (no one asked about diet and the whole post was about long nails which points to diet issues) and it more probably was from the placement of the bulb if indeed it was even photokeratitis - which was never shown in pictures - just suspected from an appearance of swollen eyes. Yet now used as "proof" that issues are still seen today!

There have been more posts about eye issues that were not even using coil bulbs yet hardly anyone asks about how high the UVB is placed over the tortoise in those cases. ANY UVB bulb will cause photokeratitis if placed too close and UVI levels are too high. With stronger bulb creating higher UV levels (including the compacts), we should be monitoring that, not simply a knee jerk reaction that coil bulbs are bad.

I have been using compact flourescents continuously for the past 6 years with no issues over all my baby aquatics. I monitor UVB level with all my UV bulbs with a solarmeter. I will not use nor trust foreign made bulbs, only brand name manufacturers I know. That goes for all types of UVB bulb including the new LEDs and all fluorescent bulbs.

@jsheffield There are recent articles, tests and studies. Francis Baines on the facebook group Reptile Lighting has posted and done many tests. Has not found one defective brand name bulb emitting dangerous wavelengths in over 9 years now. The exact same phosphors used in the long tubes are used in the compacts for all bulbs made by the established manufacturers. If placed properly, the compacts can provide adequate UV levels in situations where less height is available.

Does the orientation of the coil bulb matter at all, or is that incorrect as well?
 

Tom

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Thank you, maybe this will change the opinions of some with you saying it.
Nope. Doesn't negate what I seen repeatedly with my own eyes, and doesn't negate what my reptile vet friends have seen in their practices.

This is easily explainable as I have said from day one: Not all of the bulbs burn reptile eyes. Only some of them do it. Lots of people use them for years and never have a problem, until the day they have a problem.
 

Markw84

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Does the orientation of the coil bulb matter at all, or is that incorrect as well?
Yes. Compact bulbs are designed to be oriented horizontally for the looped type and in a dome for the coil type.

The looped type generates a very poor UVI level out of the end if hung vertically. The longer sides of the loops are where the UVI is meant to be coming from. They are designed to be placed in the hoods that accept screw-in bulbs in that horizontal position.

The coils, by their design broadcast the energy out and if in a dome, it is then directed more downward in a fairly nice pattern. That will give the most value for the amount of UVB it does generate for a basking area. If not in a dome, the UV is broadcast widely and not as effective.

No orientation of either style creates a specific danger of excessive UV. It is a matter of efficiency in getting the best basking zone.
 

Markw84

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Nope. Doesn't negate what I seen repeatedly with my own eyes, and doesn't negate what my reptile vet friends have seen in their practices.

This is easily explainable as I have said from day one: Not all of the bulbs burn reptile eyes. Only some of them do it. Lots of people use them for years and never have a problem, until the day they have a problem.
All bulbs will burn reptile eyes if too close. There has not been one defective bulb emitting UVC found and tested in over 9 years that are from the brands we trust. There are those made in China that have poor quality control on phosphor content and formulation that are terrible.

All the examples people point to here on the forum were never shown to be the coil bulb as the problem. I had a spreadsheet of over 50 eye issue posts for over 2 years a while back in direct response to this exact claim of "we see many cases still". Not one was shown to be the compact bulb. Many were repiratory infections. Many were incorrect placement of MVBs. 3 were compacts that were placed in a reflective dome within 6" of where the tortoise could get. None were shown to be a defective bulb. Yet all were pointed to as proof the bulbs are a problem.

Sounds like the folks who reject the idea of closed chambers. "They cause respiratory problems! I've seen many cases myself of a tortoise kept in a closed chamber and got a respiratory issue. Some do, some don't. But why risk it??"
 

Tom

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Sounds like the folks who reject the idea of closed chambers. "They cause respiratory problems! I've seen many cases myself of a tortoise kept in a closed chamber and got a respiratory issue. Some do, some don't. But why risk it??"
Not remotely the same. People rejecting closed chambers have never tried it themselves and have no first hand experience, good or bad, to draw from. In contrast, I have personally seen several cases of burned eyes where all other variables were eliminated, and trusted credible friends who are practicing reptile vets have seen many cases of their own.
 

ZEROPILOT

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I'm going solely off of the posts here where a tortoise had eye issues and just that one item was changed and the issue went away.
While I'm not claiming to know more about these than members like Mark or Tom (I simply do not) I warn new members about any type of screw in UVB source simply because of the frequency of issues that are certainly due to them.
Someone with more knowledge and with a UVB meter might be able to make a coiled compact work. And I k how that some keepers have done so. But I just don't feel comfortable not warning new keepers about the risk. Especially when there are "safer", almost totally effective UVB types available with almost no risk associated with them.
 
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Markw84

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Not remotely the same. People rejecting closed chambers have never tried it themselves and have no first hand experience, good or bad, to draw from. In contrast, I have personally seen several cases of burned eyes where all other variables were eliminated, and trusted credible friends who are practicing reptile vets have seen many cases of their own.
I disagree! Quite similar. Most all folks parroting that compacts cause eye damage have no experience with them at all and have never used one nor had one damage a tortoise's eyes. Several folks I have delt with over the last few years have claimed to have personally used closed chambers and had a tortoise get a respiratory issue - so will not use. Tyler Stewart is an example who said that directly to me. Many claim their vet - knowledgeable about tortoise and "even has tortoise of their own for years" recommends against closed chambers. They've "seen personally" lots of issues with closed chambers and tortoises dying. ...sound similar?

One big difference is with compact fluorescents there should be a smoking gun. An easy proof of culpability! A bulb in hand that caused the eye issues everyone has "seen personally" but still cannot produce a bulb! With even a solarmeter it can be checked to show dangerous levels of UV. Tom - you have had a personal challenge out for many years now that you will pay shipping and have the bulb tested if someone will send in the bulb that has caused the problems. How many bulbs have been produced with so many "personally seen"? Zero.

I am not talking about bulbs made in China. We have found some that are way off and under a solar meter will show reading over 35. I would not even buy a CHE made in China as they burn with uneven temperatures and often crack soon after first use.

Why aren't there equal warnings about MVB bulbs? They are constantly testing as unreliable. When first pugged in they will read low - UVI of about 3.0 then slowly over about 5 minutes pike to UVI readings of 20.0, finally settling down to a 5.0 desired. Many tested continue to produce over 2x the amount of others of the exact brand and wattage. However, compacts tested don't show that type of inconsistency. But when have you seen anyone on the forum when finding a MVB is being used warn of potential eye damage? A far more realistic possibility. We do have many now concerned about the desiccation issue with MVB, but the compact fluorescent is still the only eye issue boogieman.

All UVB emitting devices are potentially very dangerous. That needs to be the takeaway. Proper placement and checking with a meter should be the first warning. Stronger and more "efficient" bulbs are available now than ever were when the compact fluorescent issue was indeed a real thing over a decade ago. Yet most people still simply buy one and stick it over their tortoise, or worse yet over a lizzard who can climb right up to it! Using a reflective hood can double UV levels. Placing near a white wall or glass wall will substantialy increase UV levels. Through a screen or unobstructed is at least a 30% - 60% difference.

Why isn't "TOO CLOSE CAN CAUSE EYE DAMAGE" the standard reply as opposed to "Compacts cause eye Damage"? The first is infinitely more accurate.
 
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