Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his family and friends.
Last updated: April 25, 2021
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Do you want bed bugs? Of course, you don’t! But living in some places, there is almost no way to avoid them once bed bug season starts. What you do want is a solution to bed bugs. And since bed bugs’ behavior can be predicted, preparing for them is simple. Get a bed bug heater that can kill the bugs before they can multiply. But which is the best bed bug heater? How do you determine the best? Luckily, it is something that can be understood by looking at just a few of the best heaters for bed bugs.
There are several important factors for you to consider in the best bed bug heater, however. To begin with, it needs to be able to get to a high enough temperature to actually kill bed bugs. It also needs to be big enough to fit all the sheets you will need to fit inside it, while at the same time being light enough to easily move around. Additional features, such as easy set-up and built-in timers, certainly don’t hurt either. Of course, this all has to be balanced over the bed bug heater’s cost.
More features: built-in timer; digital thermometer; lab certified for safety
This scrappy little guy is the smallest of the group, but he still packs a punch. Reaching up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, this bed bug heater will kill bed bugs at all stages of their lifecycle. This means that you can’t really go wrong while operating it. Additionally, it is exceptionally energy-efficient and comes with a built-in timer and digital thermometer to help you keep your sheets warm without much maintenance.
The size is both an advantage and a drawback. It means that it will never get too heavy and does not take up too much space. But at the same time, you might have to do multiple loads if you have a whole closet or multiple beds that might have been exposed to bed bugs.
Perhaps the most important note is that this bed bug heater is designed for safety. The timer and thermometer don’t just make operating it easier. The heater actually has seven sensors inside it to detect dangerous build-ups of heat so that it can shut down if something gets too hot.
This product is best for almost everyone, as it combines safety and convenience with an affordable cost and easy set-up.
Why did it make our list?
The timed thermometer and sensors make it very easy to manage.
More features: safe; non-toxic; chemical-free; one person set-up
There are lots of products that tout their ability to get hotter and hotter. But what about a bed bug heater that is more adjustable? Don’t worry. The lowest this one goes is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature needed to kill all forms of bed bugs.
But the wide range of temperatures at which this heater can operate means that it can treat more than just sheets. Books, toys, office supplies, basically anything you can think of can be safely treated for bugs by this bed bug heater. This bed bug heater is also bigger than usual, but only slightly. It strikes a difficult balance between portability and miniaturization.
This is important, as many of the more compact bed bug heaters will be just a little bit too small. A bed bug heater will not do much good for you if it can treat everything except your favorite, giant throw pillow. With all that being said, it is surprisingly cheap for how much it does.
Why are we impressed?
Adjustable, versatile, and spacious.
What negatives must you be aware of?
Not the easiest to set up and takes some know-how.
More features: one person set up; folds flat; easy to store; non-toxic
What do you do once bed bug season is over? When you are in the thick of it fighting an infestation, it is easy to imagine it lasting forever. But whether you kill them all yourself or nature does it for you, eventually it will end.
It is necessary then to have the ability to fold and store your bed bug heater. Despite this product being one of the largest of the five, it is also the most portable.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was designed with travel in mind. Many bed bug heaters can be evaluated by the “suitcase test”—if it can’t fit a suitcase inside it, then it likely isn’t big enough to fit your sheets.
Not only does this bed bug heater pass the suitcase test, but it does so while itself being able to fit inside a suitcase. This gives it secondary value as a dryer of swimsuits and beach towels if you are on vacation. It also means that you can turn any environment into a bedbug-free one as long as you have this with you.
More features: easy to use; large capacity; safe; non-toxic; best for furniture
This is the “tough guy” of the group. This massive bed bug heater has to be seen to be believed. Other heaters treat household objects, like clothes and sheets. This one treats entire couches.
The massive size means a bigger power requirement. It also means less portability and harder set-up, though it does fold down to a storable size easier than you might expect, given how unusually massive it is.
And really, its set-up is not that much more obtuse than the usual bed bug heater. The difficulty really does come down to its size. It is no more complex than any of the other bed bug heaters, so there is no stress there.
The real selling point of this one is that there is really nothing else like it. If you have a need to treat a whole couch or bed with heat, then this is your bed bug heater. Accept no substitutes.
Of course, it can also facilitate normal bed bug heater needs. It is not the most practical way to treat two t-shirts and a bed sheet of bed bugs, but it will certainly get the job done if it is the only one you have.
What makes it special?
Massive and unique. There’s nothing quite like it.
What cons did we find?
It expensive, as you would expect, and not as idiot-proof as the rest.
This rugged piece of machinery is a bit different from the other bed bug heaters. Rather than using a heating element, this one uses infrared lights to generate its bed bug-killing heat. This means that it is safer to operate than the others due to having nothing you (or, more likely, your children) might burn your hand on.
This difference also means it requires a bit more energy than others to facilitate the generation of those infrared lights. The power draw can be a deal-breaker for some, but it’s nothing that the modern home can’t handle.
It is also far heavier than most bed bug heaters. Part of this is owed to its increased size and storage space. You will never want a room with this heater. Normally the rule of thumb for household appliances is that heavier things are more expensive. Strangely, this heater completely averts that, as it is the cheapest bed bug heater on this list.
For that money, you also get a thermometer with an attached timer, meaning you can heat things to exact temperatures, as well as receive alerts when your heating cycle is done. It is big, heavy, and draws a lot of power. But it is also reliable, safe, and cheap.
What are our favorite features?
Large, versatile, and exceptionally affordable.
What could be better?
Very heavy. It's easy to store but hard to deploy.
Things to Consider
Finding the best bed bug heater for you can feel like an obstacle course sometimes. For the uninitiated, it can seem like there are a million little things that can go wrong when all you want is clean sheets and a good night’s sleep. So, what do you need to consider? What are the big questions you need to ask in order to know what kind of bed bug heater works for you? Why do you need to use a bed bug heater?
You are probably wondering why you shouldn’t just call an exterminator rather than using a bed bug heater. That line of thinking forgets a few things, however. Firstly, an exterminator is necessary for dealing with an infestation. And yes, if you have an infestation, then it is certainly better to call an exterminator. But what if you want to prevent an infestation before it begins?
Features to consider before you buy a bed bug heater
Bed bug heaters are preventative measures as much as they are affirmative efforts towards protecting your home from bed bugs. You need a bed bug heater because there are many stages of bed bugs’ presence before a full-on infestation. A big bed heater will help you stop the problem before it gets to that point.
Think of the bed bug heater like it’s a human body. Just as the human body has a system of breathing and blood flow, bed bug heaters have a system of heat and electricity. They can also come in a variety of sizes which reflect different classes of weight. And, of course, some are safer than others (though all are safe for consumer use).
All bed bug heaters require a temperature of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as this is the heat at which all stages of bed bug life cannot survive. This is why even adjustable heaters like the ZappBug Heater bed bug killer have a minimum heat of 120 degrees: it wouldn’t be very useful if you could accidentally lower the temperature below what is required. For this reason, if a product does not have its temperatures listed, you can be pretty certain that it will maintain a temperature of at least 120 degrees.
Circuits are the most complicated part of owning a bed bug heater. As stated previously, these machines need the power to produce their heat. Heat is one of the most power-intensive things to produce, however, so you have to be careful not to overtax your home in order to power these things.
The general rule of thumb is that each room is on its own circuit. So, every outlet in your bedroom is on one circuit, while the outlets in your bathroom are on a different circuit.
Most bed bug heaters, like ZappBug Heater bed bug killer, will only take one circuit, making them easy to set up. Some take two, however, and as such will come with two different plugs. Be sure not to plug both of these into the same room, or you will blow the circuit and have to go to your breaker box and turn the associated breaker off, then turn it on again.
This is why the ease of set-up and tear-down is such an important factor to consider when buying a bed bug heater. You probably don’t want a huge, electricity-intensive piece of hardware becoming a permanent fixture in your home if you can help it, so being able to deploy the heater when you need it and store it when you don’t is important.
A bed bug heater’s size is almost entirely up to you. This is the axis upon which you have the most say in how things are, and it is completely dependent on your own needs.
There are bed bug heaters the size of shoeboxes, and there are bed bug heaters the size of living rooms. Deciding between them is a simple matter of deciding if you need to treat no more than a pair of shoes or an entire room.
Of course, if you don’t know what you need to treat, then that just moves the question. If you expect to deal with bed bugs, then what you need to do above all else is be able to treat bedsheets and clothes.
Preferably, you can get a bed bug heater that can fit your whole bed’s sheets in it. This works even if you have a lot to do. Bed bugs don’t reproduce at light speed; if you can treat your sheets, then you can sleep soundly for at least a day while you treat other things. Though note that smaller and medium heaters like ZappBug The Oven 2 XL are much easier to store.
A bed bug heater’s weight will be decided on two factors. The first is obvious: the size of the bed bug heater itself. This is less a matter of it being heavier because of larger dimensions, though. More likely, it will be made heavy by being filled with sheets and clothes. More space to fill means more weight once it is filled. The second less obvious factor is the manner by which the heater generates its heat.
Many bed bug heaters use heating elements akin to a tanning bed or self-warming blanket. Others, however, use high-powered infrared lights to produce their heat.
The light-based heaters tend to be far heavier, albeit far safer. Which one is right for you is a question of safety above all? If you have small children that might burn themselves on a bed bug heater’s heating element, then the light-based options might be preferable. Otherwise, the heating element is the most common type of heater.
As stated previously, a big factor in determining the safety needs of your bed bug heater is whether or not you have small children. This is only the case, however, because adults do not really have to worry about burning themselves as much as burning their environment.
Being electricity-intensive household appliances, bed bug heaters can cause similar cosmetic damage to your house as a normal space heater. That is, if you leave them lying around for too long, you are risking burn marks on your floors and walls.
Also similar to space heaters is their risk of burning particularly flammable materials. Burning is different than combustion, however, so it is not like they’re threatening to burn your house down.
All you need to think about is keeping them isolated from everything else. Bed bug heaters are not decorative. They are designed to be out of the way and with nothing nearby. And they are especially not meant to be running all the time.
Focus on using the heaters for very small stretches of time. A bed bug heater should never be left on for more than two hours. Bed bugs will die within that time if exposed to any temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Truth be told, they will die within 90 minutes at that temperature. But since most heaters start at 120 degrees, it’s safe to say they work faster. If you buy a bed bug heater with a timer, use that timer. You don’t want to burn your clothes or sheets, nor do you want to run your electrical bill too high.
Most (if not all) bed bug heaters are designed to be folded up for storage. Even the heavier ones have this feature. And once they are unplugged and folded up, they are quite simple to store in any closet or basement. They may demand a lot of electricity while they’re running, but once they’re powered off, they’re safe nearly anywhere.
As long as you can fit something inside a bed bug heater, you can disinfect it. Granted, not everything needs to be disinfected. But you can use the heater for sheets just as easily as you can use it for swimsuits and laundry.
Bed bugs are an incredibly difficult pest to control because they are so good at hiding in tiny cracks and crevices. Also, modern bed bug populations are highly resistant to the insecticides used for their control. Because bed bugs are difficult to access, and our insecticides do not work as well as we would like, home owners and pest management professionals have been searching for novel ways to kill bed bugs inside a structure.
Temperature and Time Requirements for Controlling Bed Bugs (Cimex lectularius) under Commercial Heat Treatment Conditions
Developing effective alternative approaches for disinfesting bed bugs from residential spaces requires a balance between obtaining complete insect mortality, while minimizing costs and energy consumption.