DIY reptile lighting fixture

I am not an electrician!

A friend of mine showed me how to wire up these types of lighting fixtures. It works for me but please try this at your own risk. Be very careful when you’re working with any type of electrical current and use excess caution when moving or jostling any fixture as it may cause a fire hazard.

Now, with that unpleasant disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin:

These are the items you will need to make your own reptile lamp fixture. Buy a porcelain lampholder. Emphasis on the porcelain. Plastic may melt if you attach any heat bulb. Metal will get hot and might burn your reptile if he can reach the fixture. Even if you won’t be using it for heat, it doesn’t hurt and this kind of fixture only costs a couple of dollars.

Next, you’ll need a basic cable. Choose any kind of extension cable that has two visible and separate wires on it. You see that groove in the middle of the cable? That’s what you’re looking for.

Lastly: scissors! You could be fancy and use wire cutters or wire strippers but this worked well for me. I’m all about keeping my projects simple! 🙂

Edit: electrical tape is optional but highly recommended!


So, you ready? If you’ve done anything like this before (and you’re like me), this can be nerve-wracking. But I promise, I’ll walk you through it. Cut the wire. You’ll want to make this as long as you need it. Obviously, the plug is the end that we’re saving. On my extension cord, I just picked a place. This cord cost me about $5.00 and it’s 15 feet long.

Take a deep breath, and cut. It’ll be okay. 😛


Now we need to cut into that groove between the two wires. There’s no formula for this. Just cut a little and pull. If you need more later, cut some more. No big deal.

Next we need to strip the wire. Cut carefully into the plastic cover. Just enough to cut through the cover but not into the wire itself. When you’ve scissored through the cover, pull it off! Easy!


Starting to feel all savvy, yet? I like to twist that mess of little wires so they all hold together better. Just twirl it with your fingers. Next, we lay the wires under those screws on our lampholder. Now, remember when I said that I’m not an electrician? Well, that information still hasn’t changed. I don’t know which cable should go where to be technically correct but as long as you only use this fixture with a basic outlet and with basic reptile UVA/UVB or heating bulbs, it shouldn’t matter. Lay down the cable where you will. Either screw, just make sure that each screw has a wire.


Tighten those babies down! You don’t want that wire coming loose! And you don’t want stray wires poking out, either. If these things come undone, it could become a fire hazard.


Now, I’m one of those people that likes to be safe rather than sorry. So we’re going to tape this thing up for extra safety. I like to tape over one screw/wire separately, and then do the other, and then lay some extra tape over it all. The objective is simple: if one wire comes out from under the screw, you do not want it to be able to touch the other one. So just tape, tape, and tape. Electrical tape is cheaper than a fire, right?


Now, all taped up? Good. We’re gonna be super safe. So take this weird little contraption into your bathroom. Building standards require that bathroom outlets have what is called a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter for safety reasons. If anything goes wrong, this should interrupt the circuit and prevent any kind of fire or damage. So if you plug it in and turn on the lamp and the light comes on, you’re good. If it pops or otherwise doesn’t work, then something obviously went wrong and you’ll need to check your wiring.


For this reason, you may want to test it with a regular or cheap light bulb so nothing happens to your heat or UVB bulb.


In my case, it worked!


So, I’m going to attach my heating bulb and voila! We have heat!



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