Pro Tip: Adding propane bed bug heaters to your toolbox of pest-killing devices.

As a successful pest control business owner or a professional technician, you understand that selecting the correct tool to do the job is of utmost importance. Selecting the best tool for the job at hand can determine how efficient the job gets done, how cost-effective the job gets done, and how safely the job gets done. There are many ways to kill a bed bug – including squishing it with a shoe. So, technically, a shoe in the closet could be a tool used to kill bed bugs. Although the shoe will work, there are far more efficient and better tools to use. One of those tools is heat. For the past several years heat has become one of professional technician’s tools of choice.

Let’s examine this bed bug killing tool a little more closely to determine if propane heaters for bed bugs may be something you want to consider.    

Which is better, a propane bed bug heater or an electric bed bug heater?

Black Widow Basic Proppane Bedbug Heater Package
Featured Propane Bed Bug Heater: Black Widow Basic Heater Package

Is one better than the other? The answer is that both are good. One may be more efficient or more convenient than the other in different situations. For example: which is better, a tack or a spike? They are both fasteners. However, you would not want to hang a calendar on your wall with a spike. Likewise, you would never use a thumb tack to repair a broken bench in the hallway. Electric heaters are ideal for single room treatments like a hotel room or and small areas like a single living space. Propane heaters are great for whole house infestations, warehouses, high-rise condos, and apartments. 

What kind of electrical power source do I need to run a propane heater? 

The heat produced from a propane heater is generated solely by burning the propane. The basic reason electricity is needed for a propane heater is for the ignitor and to power the fan. With this being the case, there is no need for large voltage from a 240 outlet or from multiple 110 outlets. A single 110-volt receptacle is all that is needed.    

How does a propane heater kill bed bugs?

Most all living organisms have a thermal death point, or a temperature once reached, they can no longer survive. The thermal death point for a bed bug is between 111°-114°F. The larva and eggs die at 117°F. A propane heater can be used to easily heat an area to a temperature that is lethal to a bed bug.  

How hot should the room be while using a propane heater?

Ideally, the room temperature will need to be increased to 140 degrees by the propane heater. This temperature will not harm electronics, pictures, wallpaper, or most things that are in the room. What you will need to remove from the room are things like cosmetics, candles, food, medication, explosives, and articles of that nature. Your initial thought may be that 140 degrees is too hot for an indoor temperature. However, you can put this in perspective by measuring the temperature inside your car on a sunny day in the summer time. Those temperatures can be as high as 200°F on the dash during a hot and sunny day. The propane heater only needs to bring the temperature of the cracks and crevices to 121°F. A temperature sensor, monitoring system or infrared temperature gun can be used to check and monitor the temperatures.  The time it will take to get to the needed temperature will depend on the size of the area and the building & wall construction.  

How to prepare the area for a propane heat treatment?

The technician will need to eliminate cold spots by separating the mattress and box springs, emptying any cardboard boxes, emptying drawers, spreading piles of clothes and fabric.  Determine proper placement for the propane heater. Determine which is the safest place to place the fuel tanks. Place the mylar ducting for outdoor propane heaters. Arrange contents of each room for the most impactful air movement. Close doors to unaffected areas and hang moving blankets where heat is not needed. Remove items that can be ruined by high concentrated heat levels.  

Sleeptight 1500SD Basic Propane Bed Bug Heater Package

What to do after a propane heat treatment?

Once the heat treatment has been successfully completed, turn off the fuel source, allowing the fuel to burn out. Switch the heater to fan mode only. This will allow the area to cool down more quickly. It is a good idea to wear a pair of gloves prior to moving anything in the room. After the treatment is complete – all the bed bugs will be dead. There is no retreatment needed; there is no resistance, they are all dead at that temperature. Once the area has cooled, the dead bed bugs will need to be vacuumed and discarded.  

What safety options should I look for when selecting a propane bed bug heater? 

Ensure that the unit you are considering is made with quality parts and always look for a manufacturer who takes pride in quality construction. The foundation for safety is a quality made unit. Verify that the heating unit has a shut off valve on the heater itself. Another safety feature to look for is if the construction includes a second stage regulator. A second stage regulator will provide additional safety in the unlikely event of a failure with the first stage regulator at the propane tank. Also, check for safety solenoids which would shut off the flow of propane in the event of any electrical component malfunctions. A good example of these safety features can be found in the construction of the Black Widow Propane Bed Bug Heater. If your heater needs to be vented, make sure to always have good airflow throughout your treatment space. Remember, propane is flammable, so you need to exercise caution when choosing and using your preferred propane heater.

What is the difference between a direct fired propane heater versus an indirect fired propane heater?

Direct-fired propane heaters have an open flame. Most direct-fired heaters are required to be operated from the outside and will use mylar ducting to transport the hot air to the indoors. Other heaters, like the Sleeptight 800 or the Sleeptight 1500SD, operate from within the area being treated and use a fresh air system to inject air from the outdoors. With an indirect fired propane heater, the burner is fired into a heat exchanger. Air is heated by passing over the heat exchanger, allowing the combustion by-products to remain within the heat exchanger which is then exhausted through a flue.

Are there any EPA standards with a propane heater?

The EPA has numerous standards and increased restrictions on pest control chemicals. It has been noted that some pesticides may be becoming less effective due to their restricted dosage. There are no EPA standards involved when using a propane heater.

Propane Bed Bug Heater

Is there any resistance with a propane bed bug heater?

Research has proven that some bed bugs have been found to be resistant to insecticides. Some bed bugs simply have the ability to survive insecticide exposure.  How do some bed bugs become resistant to certain chemical while the same chemical is lethal to other bed bugs? Chemical does kill bed bugs; however, in the chance that not all the bed bugs die during the treatment – those that survive will go on to produce a resistant offspring. There is no resistance when using a propane heater. Any bed bug within the treatment area will die regardless of immunity or resistance they may have acquired from prior chemical exposures.

Are there any allergies and exposure risks with a propane heater?

When using insecticides, there are always the possibilities of allergies to the chemical that is used in bed bug eradication. It’s difficult to determine or know exactly what the exposure risk might be when these products are used indoors. The use of heat to kill bed bugs will eliminate that risk. A propane heater will not adversely affect human allergies.  

Is there any need to determine which chemical to use if a competitor has previously treated the area?

A common struggle that many technicians encounter is which chemical to use. Many times, there may not be a single insecticide that is capable of eliminating a bed bug infestation if used alone. There are occasions that a technician will need to use a variety of products to tackle an infestation from several different angles.  Here’s a good example – you arrive on-site and learn that the customer has ordered chemical on-line and that did not work out, a competitor company has treated this before you were hired and now there is a good possibility the bed bugs have become resistant. If you are left trying to figure which angle you are going to tackle this infestation … consider a propane heater. 

What about the technicians on the internet who claim that heat is not a good option for killing bed bugs? 

Opponents of killing bed bugs with heat have a two-fold argument: First, there is no residual. Residual insecticides kill insects that land on or crawl over a treated surface. If the bed bugs are all killed by using heat, there is no need for a residual component unless they are reintroduced into the area. Since bed bugs cannot survive a thermal exposure, all of the bed bugs will be killed, creating no need for a residual. Second, they say that there will be cold spots where the bed bugs can hide. Are there such things as a cold spot? Absolutely. Piles of clothes, thick mattresses, stuff in cardboard boxes – these are all prime examples of places that bed bugs could easily hide away and escape the fatal heat. So, it is important for the technician to look for these potential cold spots and move or distribute the items as necessary. As you can see, these are easy theories to debunk. There is plenty of research that has been done on this topic. If you are concerned about this, we challenge you to check it out for yourself.  

If your most recent bed bug treatment required a retreatment, the area was infested to the point you did not even know where to begin to spray, or it felt like you were chasing the bed bugs around with an old shoe – we recommend that you consider looking into a propane heater. Using propane heaters to kill bed bugs is efficient, effective and safe.Please contact us today for more information on both electric heaters and propane heaters.