11 things to consider when shopping for the best electric bed bug heater

If you have been considering purchasing an electric bed bug heater, you may have heard yourself mumbling … there is just so much information out there, it all seems so confusing, what should I believe, who can I trust …

In this article, we hope to cut through all the hyped-up advertising that you have seen and heard. You’ve probably heard “the most powerful bed bug heater on the market” or “the best bed bug heater in the industry.” This article will contain some helpful tips to consider when searching for the best bed bug heater for your situation.  Remember, buying an electric bed bug heater is not simply a purchase – it is an investment. 

By engaging the following simple principles when investing in a bed bug heater, we are convinced that you will be happy with the return on your investment – saving hard-earned money while getting a quality product.

1. What about BTU’s?

BTU is an acronym which stands for British Thermal Unit. It is a form of measurement that calculates energy. One single BTU refers to the amount of energy that is required to increase the temperature of a pound of water by 1° Fahrenheit. The more BTU’s a bedbug machine has, the more powerful that bed bug heater is going to be.

The most common mistake when buying a bed bug heater is being misled by advertisements of how many square feet a heater may treat as opposed to verifying how many BTU’s the heater produces. Square footage is determined by BTU’s – so, the more BTU’s, the larger square footage area that machine will treat. Sometimes advertisers will exaggerate how many square feet a heater will actually treat.

Do your homework and verify the BTU’s are in accordance to the square footage that is being claimed. Also, it is good to note that occasionally advertised square footage is calculated from an unrealistic perfect laboratory environment rather than a real-world setting.  Again – verify the BTU’s.

2. Can I calculate BTU’s?

Yes, you can. A simple formula to determine heating needs is: (desired temperature change) x (cubic feet) x .133 = BTU’s needed per hour. A Google search will also render various BTU calculators. There are several variables that must be factored into the equation. You will normally start by measuring the length, width, and height of a room to get the cubic feet.

If your room has an irregular shape, divide the room area into rectangles. Calculate the area for all of the rectangles then add those values to arrive at the square or cubic feet. Also, you will need to calculate any heat gain or depletion.

Things that need to be factored into your calculation are: the number of doors and windows in the room, outside climate, building material and quality, type and amount of insulation, layout of the room, location of the windows and how much you need to increase the ambient air temperature (up to 140° to get the cracks and crevasses to 121°). Be advised, if your building is concrete or a hollow block construction, you will need to increase the BTU calculation by 35% to compensate for temperature absorption.

3. On Average, how many square feet should I expect a commercial bed bug heater to treat based upon BTU’s?  

For most applications, 26,000 BTU’s will treat up to 350 square feet; 41,000 BTU’s will treat up to 450 square feet; 47,000 will treat up to 600 square feet; 57,000 BTU’s will treat up to 850 square feet; 66,000 BTU’s will treat up to 900 square feet. Don’t be fooled by claims that a 52,000 BTU heater will be able to treat 1,400 square feet – that is mathematically impossible.   

4. Plastic or metal outer shell?

As a general rule, most bed bug heaters on the market today that are produced with a plastic shell are manufactured in China. This is mostly due to the fact that shipping across the ocean will cause issues with rust from the saltwater atmosphere. In the event of an electrical short, plastic casings have the potential to catch on fire or melt causing substantial damage. A heater built with a metal casing would be more capable to contain fire exposure from an unlikely, failed application.

Electric Bed Bug Heater Elements, Coils, Resistor
Electric Bed Bug Heater Elements
5. What is the difference between resistors and coils, which one is best?

The element inside a bed bug heater which produces heat will either consist of resistors or coils. A heating coil is a lightweight wire that is stranded in one single row. Pulling heat from these types of elements requires a lot of air movement. Because of this, distributors of heaters manufactured with coils will attempt to promote as many fans as possible. A heating resistor is a rugged heavy wire that is elongated and cone-shaped allowing for multiple different touchpoints. Because of this, less air movement is needed.

Electric Bed Bug Heater, Cords, Accessories for Electric Bed Bug Heaters
Cords for Electric Bed Bug Heater
 6. Should cords be included with the purchase of an electric bed bug heater?

Yes, all the cords needed to operate the machine should be included when you purchase a bed bug heater. Mainly, so that you are using the length and gauge wire that is recommended by the manufacturer. Distributors who include the required cords with the heater normally sell the package deal for less than a consumer can purchase the cords separately. Buyers should beware of anyone who is selling a machine that does not include the manufacturer-specified cables.

7. Is there a certain gauge cord that needs to be used?

Yes, the gauge of heater cords depends on voltage and the length of the cord; cords can range from 12-gauge up to a 4-gauge wire. Different machines require different gauge cords. Each heater’s manufacturers specifications should be followed without deviation. Using a cord that is not rated strongly enough for the amount of power that is flowing through the cord can be a shock hazard, a fire risk, and a fire code violation.

8. What about heaters that require junction boxes or splitter cords?

Cheaply made distribution boxes may present unwanted issues and become an additional potential safety hazard. If a splitter cord is required, it will present four possible points of weakness. Each connection inside the cord needs to pull the same exact amperage. On most Chinese-made machines, some of the plugs will run different amperage. This could cause potential damage. It is best to consider a bed bug heater that will connect power directly from the outlet to the machine. This is the safest and most practical way to get power to the machine.

9. What about affordability and cost of an electric bed bug heater?

As with most everything in life – you get what you pay for. Cheaper is not always better. Also, if it sounds too good to be true – be certain to do your research. It is important to compare apples-to-apples when shopping for an electric bed bug heater. You will need to compare BTU’s, not just advertised square footage. To acquire the most affordable solution, look for coupon codes, sales, and special pricing at trade shows. 

BBHD High-Temperature Air Mover Accessory, Electric Bed Bug Heater Accessory
BBHD High Temperature Air Mover Accessory
10. What about units with multiple pieces & accessories?

To be able to produce the substantial heat that it does, a bed bug heater requires several electrical cords. Keeping the number of cords and fans to a minimum is a plus. Depending upon your specific situation, you may be able to purchase an all-in-one unit to treat your area for bed bugs. In your research process, you should consider if multiple pieces are really needed. A good rule of thumb is that areas in excess of 600 square feet will generally need an additional fan or air mover to transport the hot air to all extents of the treatment area.

11. What is a good warranty?

Most professional electric bed bug heaters are sold standard with a one-year warranty; however, some heaters are sold with a two-year and three-year warranty. It is imperative that you verify the terms of the warranty. It has been reported that some warranties are denied for “improper usage” and/or “over-volting.” Be sure to verify that labor is included in the warranty coverage. Paying $200 in labor charges within a warranty period to replace a $20 failed component is not a good warranty.  Also, be sure to verify that shipping of your unit is included in the warranty as this can become a quite costly part of the warranty process.   

This blog is the first of a two-part series. Check back with us soon to learn more ways to be 100% certain that you are purchasing the best bed bug heater for your specific situation. If you would like to speak with one of our experienced technicians about anything you have just read or additional questions, please contact us at 844-364-3281 or live chat at prevsol.com.