Yes, bed bug heaters work. Bed bug heaters are a chemical-free way to successfully kill bed bugs, even in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
They have a high rate of success if they are used correctly, but the difficulty of use and preparation, plus the possibility of damaging household electronics, make bed bug heaters harder to use than chemical options.
These heaters are a newer development in the market of bed bug extermination and can save you a ton of money and hassle.
Bed bugs can cause turmoil in any household, but our guide on bed bug heaters and their intricacies should help you get back control, fast.
What is a Bed Bug Heater?
Like the name suggests, a bed bug heater is an industrial-sized heater that, used in conjunction with fans, can kill bed bugs from heat alone.
There are two main types of bed bug heaters: stand-alone heaters and heat tents, and two main power sources, electricity and propane.
All bed bug heaters, regardless of type and power source, become incredibly hot and are machines that should be used with an enormous amount of caution! Pets, sensitive electronics, and incendiaries will need to be removed from the property prior to treatment.
Stand Alone Bed Bug Heater
A stand-alone bed bug heater resembles a large space heater, but they are much hotter than their smaller counterparts! These heaters are meant to heat rooms or whole homes, depending on their size and power.
These heaters are ideal for someone who has an apartment or small office that needs to be heated. They reach between 118°F (48°C) and 130°F (54°C).
These heaters are used in conjunction with fans to make sure the heat reaches all of the hiding places that bed bugs love so much.
Heat Tent Bed Bug Heater
A heat tent bed bug heater is an enclosed space of various sizes that you place your items into, zip closed, and then heat the items inside.
These tents can be anywhere from the size of a large shoebox to large enough to fit a couch or bed inside. They reach the appropriate temperature, but since they are their own enclosed space, they can’t heat areas like walls or floors, making them unsuited to treating whole homes.
These heaters are great choices for summer camps or schools where employees may want to heat treat children’s backpacks or luggage. They also work great for homes when families come back from vacation. They can simply pop their luggage into the heat tent and treat it, so any unwanted stowaways are eliminated.
Electric Bed Bug Heaters
The most common power source for at-home bedbug heaters is electricity. Everyone has access to an outlet, making electric heaters much more accessible than propane heaters.
Heat tents will always be electric, since pumping propane fumes into a small space is a terrible idea.
The only downfall of electric bed bug heaters versus propane bed bug heaters is that electric heaters can’t reach the insane temperatures and power that propane heaters can. Therefore, you will probably need multiple electric heaters to get the job down, whereas a single high-powered propane heater can do the job.
Electric heaters are safer, especially for someone heat treating their home themselves.
Propane Bed Bug Heaters
Propane bed bug heaters are usually only used by professionals since there is an added element of danger and difficulty with them.
Propane heaters require propane fuel to create heat, and since they are so powerful and give off noxious fumes, they must be run outside of the home with the heat being inserted into the home via ductwork.
The addition of fuel and ductwork can make propane heaters less desirable, but if you’ve got a large area that needs to be treated in a flash, nothing can beat a propane bed bug heater.
“If you’re looking for a one-and-done treatment, propane is the way to go. A good propane bed bug heater can treat a whole house from a single machine, in a single day.“
Do Bed Bug Heaters Really Work?
Bed bug heaters absolutely work. Heat treatment is swiftly eclipsing chemical pesticide treatments as the most effective way to rid homes of bedbugs in the smallest amount of time.
Bed bugs are sensitive to heat, and when exposed to high enough temperatures for long enough times, both adults, nymphs, and eggs will be destroyed.
Earlier uses of heat treatment involved super-hot steam, but this method was ultimately a spot treatment, just like pesticides. Plus, who wants to steam clean their Playstation? That’s right. bed bugs can hide there, too.
Chemical pesticides can be dangerous to pets and children, while also having a higher rate of failure than heat treatment.
Heat treatment is so successful because heat will permeate every teeny tiny area of a home, from underneath the baseboards to behind enormous bookshelves. Your creepy-crawly house guests will have nowhere to run!
Heat is a sure-fire way to kill bed bugs and their eggs, which isn’t always the case with pesticides.
“Over the years, bed bugs have become resistant to certain types of chemical pesticides, being able to withstand contact and go on with their lives. Bed bugs will always be killed by high enough heat, they can never become resistant to it.“
The use of bed bug heaters is also quicker than chemical treatment. There is no need for multiple sprayings of different chemicals, heat gets the job done swiftly, often in a single treatment.
Bed bug heaters can be rented, purchased, or operated by a professional.
How Long Does it Take to Kill Bed Bugs With Heat?
According to the University of Minnesota, Bed bugs and eggs die within 90 minutes at 118°F (48°C) or immediately at 122°F (50°C).
Most professionals recommend at least 90 minutes if you’re running a whole home bed bug heater, but if you’re going room to room with your heaters then treatment can take between 6-8 hours, even for the pros.
It can be tempting to just run your heater at a higher temperature for a short amount of time, but that just won’t work. The heat must reach every inch of a room and then be held there for at least 90 minutes to be successful.
Fans are used with free-standing heaters to allow the heat to be evenly dispersed in a room or home. They increase the rate of success and are a must-have addition when using a bed bug heater.
If you’re using a heat tent bed bug heater, the heat will automatically be much more evenly dispersed, so 90 minutes to 2 hours should be the maximum amount of time needed to treat.
What are the Pros of Bed Bug Heaters Over Chemical Methods?
Bed bug heaters have a ton of benefits over chemical pesticide treatment! There’s a reason heat treatments are swiftly becoming the number one choice for many pest exterminators.
Here are just a few of those awesome benefits! They include:
- Less chance of failure! Heat gets in all of those hard-to-reach places, unlike chemicals, and bed bugs can never become resistant to heat.
- Heat kills eggs just as well as it does adults! Some chemicals are successful for adults, but not so much for eggs, necessitating the use of multiple chemicals. Bed bugs lay their eggs in hard-to-access places and chemicals won’t always get to them.
- Heat is less dangerous! While there can be some risk of heat damage with improper preparation, heat will never make your dog, cat, or precocious toddler sick.
- In the long run, heat is almost always cheaper! The upfront cost may be higher, but since bed bug heaters usually only require 1 treatment, you avoid the costs of multiple chemical sprays. If you decide to purchase your own heater for us, you will never have to pay a bed bug exterminator again.
What are the Cons of Bed Bug Heaters Over Chemical Methods?
While bed bug heaters are the superior way to treat bed bug infestations, they do have drawbacks that may make them less than ideal for some.
Some of these drawbacks include:
- No residual protection. Chemicals can stick around for a little while, working on kidding bed bugs for some time after the treatment. With heat treatments, if another bed bug is brought in right after the heat treatment, the infestation could reoccur with no obstacles.
- Bed bug heaters can be detrimental to delicate electronics. If you have sensitive equipment in your home, it’s best to speak to a professional before attempting a heat treatment.
- Preparation can be long and tedious. There is a lot of preparation needed for chemical treatments, but chemicals won’t melt electronics.
- There is a potential for heat damage, especially with propane heaters. Electric heaters have an upper limit of how hot they can become, but propane heaters can have runaway temperatures without proper supervision.
A quick note on residual protection. It isn’t uncommon for a pest control company to spray a home with a chemical pesticide after finishing a heat treatment. This isn’t the same as a full-scale chemical treatment.
Instead, the exterminator is spraying a residual chemical pesticide that will hang around to kill any stragglers the heat may have missed somehow, or any new bedbugs brought in for the next few days.
Renting or Buying Bed Bug Heaters to Use Yourself
There is a huge market for successful bed bug treatments. The panic and stigma associated with bed bug infestations can lead consumers into purchasing hundreds of dollars of products that just don’t work.
Luckily, alongside the rise in gimmicky bed bug treatments, do-it-yourself heat treatments have also been on the rise.
Those suffering from bed bug infestations have 2 options when choosing to do it themselves. They can rent a bed bug heater, or they can buy one.
You don’t have to purchase an enormous, expensive heater and worry about using it once and then it rusting away in the garage. Instead, you can rent bed bug heaters for your own usage!
Prices will vary depending on the location and which type of heater you’re wanting to rent, but renting a bed bug heater can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in professional pest treatment.
Bed bug heaters can seem intimidating and frightening to first-time users, and while there is a learning curve, there is definitely a time and a place to rent one of these machines.
One of the best reasons to rent a heater is if you think you may have encountered a bed bug infestation while on vacation or away from the home. In this case, renting a small, portable bed bug heat tent will allow you to treat all your vacation luggage with heat and give yourself peace of mind about any critters that snuck home with you.
Buying a bed bug heater is a big investment, but if you have a large infestation that you’re afraid won’t be resolved with one treatment, purchasing a heater instead of buying one might be the way to go.
The best reason to purchase a bed bug heater instead of buying one is if your property has many units occupied by a lot of people.
Apartment complexes, nursing homes, dorm rooms, and office spaces are all areas that can be infested with bed bugs without anyone knowing until it’s too late. When there are a lot of occupants, that means there are a lot of bed bug vectors, too.
Instead of hiring someone to come and treat your property constantly, why not buy your own bed bug heater? Buying your own heater allows you to treat whenever you need to, for as long as you need to, as many times as necessary.
When dealing with rental properties this is especially helpful. The cost of treating multiple homes can add up quickly, leaving your pocketbook and your patience exhausted. Instead, purchase a bed bug heater and have it on hand for use at a moment’s notice.
Hiring a Professional for Bed Bug Heaters
While buying or renting your own bed bug heater seems to be simple enough on the surface, it can become overwhelming before you know it.
“If you have never performed heat treatment, aren’t able to get hands-on training before using one, or simply just don’t feel like messing with DIY treatment, go ahead and hire a professional.“
Heating your whole house might seem easy, but there are a few things to consider.
Once you factor in all the extras you might need, like cords and fans, plus the time it will take, and how important getting your bed bugs gone quickly is, sometimes a professional is the only way to go.
Pack up your kids and pets and go to grandmas house for the day and let the pros handle your bug issues. They will usually show up with a trailer full of tools, and stay on your property for most of the day, treating it meticulously.
This preparedness and attention to detail can be priceless. If you can afford it, hiring a professional will give you both peace of mind and allow you to sit back and relax while they handle your problem for you.
Will Heat Treatment for Bed Bugs Damage My Home?
The chance of damage to your home depends on how well you prepare. All pest control companies that use heat treatment will have an extensive preparation checklist that you must complete before treatment. If you’re heat treating yourself, look up detailed preparation instructions before attempting to heat treat.
Bed bug heaters shouldn’t damage a properly prepared home, but following all the minute instructions on the preparation list is incredibly important!
This preparation list can seem tedious and pointless, but catastrophe can occur if you don’t follow directions.
Consider the damage heat can do to an unprepared home. Pest Control Technology tells of horror stories that include TV mounts dropping huge TVs to shatter on the floor and pictures being blown off the walls. Better safe than sorry!
Never heat treat an unprepared home. Using a bed bug heater without preparing your home first is a sure way to give yourself a lot more problems than just bed bugs. It can seem annoying to do all that prep work, but not nearly as annoying as replacing a brand new TV.
Bed bugs are the bane of a lot of people’s existence. There is a reason why they turn up in horror stories and old-timey nursery rhymes; we’ve hated them forever!
Thankfully bed bug heaters have made eradicating bed bugs from your home or property go much more smoothly than before.
Bed bug heaters are fast, efficient, and most importantly, super effective.
If you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation, don’t panic. You can rent or buy your own bed bug heater, or hire a professional to use a bed bug heater for you, and be back to your bug-free life as soon as possible!
Bed bug heaters really work, and that’s the bottom line.
If you want to learn more about home remedies for bugs, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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