If you’re a mosquito magnet like me, you’re always looking for ways to keep the pesky critters at bay. Choices mostly involve covering yourself in smelly sprays or lighting smoky and smelly coils or candles. The ThermaCELL “appliance” is neither of those.
What is the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant Appliance?
“Appliance” is a strange name but it’s hard to come up with something better. It’s an 8” by 3” device that emits a repellant that keeps mosquitoes and black flies away. There’s no need to spray yourself and there’s hardly any odor. And yes, it works.
How Does it Work?
The ThermaCELL appliance uses a butane cartridge to heat up a small mat that’s soaked in mosquito repellent. Don’t worry – there are no open flames so it’s safe to use around fabric and children. As the mat warms, the repellent is released into the air. Each appliance comes with one butane cartridge and three mats. Refills are easy to find.
Long-Lasting Butane Cartridge
The butane cartridge is screwed into the bottom of the appliance. Each cartridge lasts about 12 hours and you can see the amount of butane in the cartridge through a slit in the back of the appliance. It’s easy to install and remove the cartridge.
The appliance has an ‘On/Off’ switch on the front, as well as a ‘Start’ button which connects to the electronic ignition. Just turn it ‘On’, wait a few seconds, and press the ‘Start’ button. The butane will ignite and heat up the mat. It’s easy to check whether the device is working by looking at the lens on the end of the appliance – if it glows, then the appliance is working.
The repellent mat slides under a grill on the face of the appliance. As the active ingredient is used up, the mat slowly turns from blue to white. Dispose of the mat when it’s all white. Each mat lasts about 4 hours.
Note that the grill gets quite warm when the appliance is on, so be careful handling the device and don’t pack it away until it has cooled down completely.
The repellent does smell, but it’s not a strong smell and most people don’t notice it. However, as with any chemical, it’s never a good idea to inhale it and the packaging carries a warning to avoid breathing in the vapors. With normal use, this isn’t a problem.
About the Repellent
The ThermaCELL appliance uses allethrin, a synthetic version of a naturally-occurring insecticide that’s found in chrysanthemum flowers (similar to pyrethrin).
Like most insecticides, allethrin is toxic to fish and other aquatic invertebrates. Use common sense and don’t toss used mats into ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. Most of the insecticide will have dissipated after use, but it’s still best to be cautious.
Does It Really Work?
We tested the ThermaCELL Mostquito Repellent in several locations that have large mosquito populations. Without the appliance, we were quickly bitten by swarms of mosquitoes. After the appliance had been on for 10-15 minutes, there were no mosquitoes in sight and we were able to comfortably sit outside without getting bitten. So yes, it does work.
A single appliance will emit enough repellent to cover an area that’s roughly 15’ by 15’. However, if it’s breezy outside, the area of protection will be smaller and we recommend placing the appliance slightly upwind from where you’re located. In strong winds, the repellent is quickly blown away so don’t expect it to provide protection (then again, mosquitoes usually aren’t a problem in windy conditions).
The company markets the device primarily for hunters, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts, but it’s also perfect for use on decks, patios, or other areas where you’ll be sitting. Just place it on the ground, hang it from railings, or set it on a table and you can enjoy your evening without being bitten by mosquitoes.
Using ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent in the Garden
You’re not always sitting in one place, so how do you get protection while you’re moving about, like when you’re working in the garden? One of the accessories that’s available as an additional purchase is a special holster to carry the appliance. It has pockets in which to carry extra repellent mats or cartridges and a clip on the back to attach it to a belt or tool bag.
The appliance is a little bulky so I clipped it to the back of my pants while gardening at dusk. As long as I stayed within roughly a 225 square foot area, the device provided enough protection to keep mosquitoes away. But when I moved quickly from one side of the garden to the other, it took a while for the repellent vapors to “catch up” with me.
Where to Buy It
The ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Appliance is available at major retailers and specialty stores nationwide (look in the hunting and camping sections) but your best bet is to buy it on Amazon. It’s available on Amazon in a wide range of colors, along with repellent mat and butane cartridge refills and a variety of accessories, including the holster. The three product lines (outdoors, hunting, and home and garden) come in different colors and designs, but they’re all exactly the same – go with whichever look you like best.
There’s also an Outdoor Lantern that uses the same technology but also includes an outdoor light.
Disclaimer: We received a free appliance to test and review for the Gardening Products Review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review, and we received no compensation for writing the review.
Please note that the links above are Amazon affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase ThermaCELL products through these links, GPR will make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps to support this website and our gardening product reviews. Thank you!