Buying Black LIghts
What I would have given to get my hands on a black light when I was a kid! Back in the day, the closest we could get was the occasional visit to the skating rink where we could marvel out our glowing socks, shoelaces, shirts and the link on our jeans. Today, anyone can get their hands on Black Lights. They can be purchased from most party stores, department stores and, of course, online.
Black lights are the most critical part of your glow party and there’s nothing that will disappoint more than a weak black light effect. With the number of black lights on the market today, it can take time to find the best lights for your needs. We hope this guide helps you get the most bang for your buck and choose the best light on the first go.
Best Black Lights from each Category
Read on for a more in-depth look at the available types of black lights.
Standard Black Light Bulbs for existing fixtures
A common place to start with black lights is to pick up a UV light bulb from the local department store. While this is often the least expensive, UV light bulbs do not always have the best result. If you know what to look for, there are still some great options and as light bulb technology has improved, the cost of UV light bulbs has come down.
Incandescent Black Light Bulbs
We will say up front that, generally speaking, incandescent bulbs that are advertised as “Black Lights” generally do not perform well. They tend to not give off very bright light levels and many do not react to white and fluorescent colors, which is the main purpose of using black lights. Many simply give off a bluish light. With so many better options available, we recommend passing on this option. If you do decide to test these out, read user reviews before purchasing.
Compact Fluorescent Black Light Bulbs
A slight step up from incandescent UV lights, fluorescent lights might be a decent low cost option. They can also be found to be affordable and available in the light bulb section of your local department store. They won’t offer as great of a black light effect as some of the rest in this guide, but can be used in existing lamps or fixtures and are a small financial investment.
LED Black Light Bulbs
Somewhat new to the market, LED black light bulbs are some of the best options to consider. If your budget allows and you have a few existing fixtures, LED UV Light Bulbs is a great way to go. LED light is much more intense than standard bulbs and consume a fraction of the energy.
Fluorescent Black Light TUbe Fixtures
Fluorescent tubes may be what comes to mind when thinking about black lights. This classic may have been one of the first varieties on the market. One of the most popular today is the American DJ 24.
Fluorescent black light tubes give off an even light with great spread. The light bulbs themselves, when illuminated, tend to be less irritating to the eyes. Many fixtures come with an on/off switch can be plugged into an existing wall outlet. Keep in mind, if you are not placing a light near an outlet, an extension cord may be needed.
One great option, if your room or space already is existing T12 tube fixtures, is the GE 10531. These work with any mounted or portable T12 fixture.
Black Light LED Fixtures
LED lights are a relatively new technology to consumer grade light bulbs. With the rise in popularity, and reduction in costs, LED lights are becoming more and more common and available. This is true as well for the LED Black Light.
Being exceptionally bright, lightweight, and low on energy consumption, LED black lights are our top recommendation for your glow party. There are many varieties, styles, and wattage available. Many include convenient on/off switches and some will include mounting hardware.
One thing to keep in mind is, direct light from the LED can be a bit intense, so these are best when used overhead or otherwise out of direct line of sight.
Unique Black Light Options
In addition to traditional fixtures, there are some other creative options that might be a better fit for unique uses.
Rope Lights / Light Strips
Black Light light strips are surprisingly versetile and may be a great fit for your glow part, game, activity, or room decoration. They come in a variety of lengths, can be cut to size in order to fit unique spaces and most are self-adhesive for easy installation. They are typically made from long lasting, bright LED lights. They are also weatherproof, making them usable outdoors or other unique situations.
Handheld Black Lights (Flashlights)
It may be that a special glow in the dark element is only one aspect to your party and a fully-lit space is not necessary. Black Light flashlights are a great option. Put these into the hands of your guests for games, activities, outdoor scavenger hunts and more. Send them home as party favors.
Choosing the Best Black Light
When choosing the best black light for your party or event, there are a number of things to consider. Below is a short list of questions to ask that can help you narrow down your search. Keep in mind that black lights, like any light source, are directional and do cast shadow. We advise, for most situations, that at least 2 black lights are used from opposite ends of the party space for the best black light effect.
- Size of the space – Indoor, outdoor, small room, large hall?
- Spread or reach of light – Fill the room with lights all around, or isolated area only
- Intensity of light – How strong of an effect do you need?
- Mountable – Does the light come with hardware
- On / off switch – do you need an easy to reach power switch
- Budget – how much can you afford to spend
- Bulbs for existing fixtures – Do you already have fixtures on hand
- Length of electric cord – Do you want to avoid extension cords?
- Temporary or permanent – are these bulbs you would mount for ongoing use, store for future use, or never use again?