A BED BUG IS A BED BUG AND HEAT IS HEAT
A recent caller to my company, who was obviously agitated, started out our conversation with this question. “Why are there so many different bed bug heater products for so many different situations? I just want to kill the *** things”.
After agreeing with her there is a lot of conflicting information out there I assured her that together we would identify the best equipment for her situation.
After we hung-up I began to wonder how this poor woman had come to this conclusion given my assumption that killing bed bugs with electric heat was a very understandable and straight forward concept.
For those of us advanced enough in age to remember Felix Unger and Oscar Madison of the TV show the Odd Couple; during a famous episode Felix was in the courtroom defending himself and expressed a very profound message on a blackboard about the word ASSUME.
The assumptions I had made about my own company and its products, that for years I believed to be true, ended up being exactly the opposite and after a few google searches I quickly learned why.
Since PestPro Thermal System’s first launched in 2012 providing industrial grade electric bed bug heaters to professionals our growth tended to be mostly word of mouth referrals. We had a very basic web site with very basic information on it so folks could get in touch with us. In retrospect I guess we naively thought of a web site as not much more than a digital Yellow Pages ad (yes... I know… I am dating myself with that reference).
Well the world has changed a lot since then and many plastic, budget imports have flooded the market. In going through the exercise of launching a new ecommerce web site I have started to learn the hard way that when our customers are trying to find us on the internet, they end up overwhelmed with information that runs the gamut from confusing, to conflicting and sometimes intentionally misleading.
Now that I know my future customers are confronting this information overload, I feel a responsibility to simplify and explain our company’s position.
First of all, a bed bug is a bed bug is a bed bug.
- There are no ‘hotel bed bugs’ that only bite guests in hotels and
- There are no ‘homeless bed bugs’ that only feed on those experiencing homelessness
- There are no ‘apartment building bed bugs’ who only bite people who live in apartment buildings in downtown Chicago (sorry Chicago).
All bed bugs are basically the same with the same physiology. It does not matter which ‘industry segment’ you come from (hotels, property management, non-profit, senior housing, apartment building owner) – you all have the same problem to solve so don’t believe the hype that any particular company has products that are tailored for your particular segment.
Granted there are power configurations that make more sense in one type of property than another but heat kills all bed bugs regardless of where they are.
Secondly, and all entomologists agree on this, if you expose a bed bug at any stage of their life cycle to heat of around 120° F they will die in a short amount of time. This includes bed bug eggs, bed bug nymphs and adult bed bugs.
Third, if a bed bug is surrounded from all sides by super-heated air using a separate heat source and separate air movers that can be positioned to create the most effective convection effect and penetrate every bed bug hiding place. If the heat is penetrating from all angles the bed bugs will not be able to figure out where the heat is coming from and therefore will not be able to scamper away from it. They will simply die in place and you can move on to treat your next infested area.
Just as importantly, because bed bugs lay their eggs in the most protected locations they can find to lay their eggs the heat will penetrate there as well.
The video below is narrated by Ed von Bleichert, Facilities Manager at the University of Colorado, Boulder CO where he describes how bed bugs have become resistant to pesticides and are not useful in killing bed bug eggs which can lay dormant for months before hatching and why heat is the best solution for eliminating bed bugs and bed bug eggs.
Another category that seems to cause confusion with customers is why some bed bug heat equipment providers offer “turnkey packages” but still require you to purchase all sorts of add-ons to make them work. It is understandable why this sales approach might leave an unknowing customer with the perception they have been bait and switched. The term “turnkey” for PestPro Thermal Systems means the package really does include everything you need to perform an effective bed bug heat treatment without having to decide if you need extra add-ons to make it work. You will not be surprised upon delivery that key pieces of equipment required to perform an effective heat treatment were not provided and that you now need to recontact the provider that sold it to you to acquire the missing gear.
The terms ‘commercial ‘bed bug heater, ‘industrial’ bed bug heater and ‘professional’ bed bug heater are being used by anyone who sells any kind of bed bug heater to persuade you into buying from them. When I drill down on the multitude of products being sold the vast majority are made of plastic. Since when is plastic used for any industrial, commercial and professional grade product? PestPro Thermal System’s heater body is machined from 18 gauge CRS (cold rolled steel) and welded together for extreme use and abuse in any application. Powder-coated inside and out for the most durable, weather-proof finish. Steel will not expand and contract during each heat treatment ON/OFF cycle and there are no rivets that will ever come loose and pop-out leaving you unable to complete a current or future scheduled job. We believe firmly you should never have to pay for roundtrip shipping for and wait for repairs to happen on our terms which is why we have designed our bed bug heaters to be able to be repaired by our customers using easily obtainable replacement parts.
The other thing I have noticed in parsing the search results is that the majority of other bed bug heater products use what are essentially larger versions of heating coils used in hair dryers and toasters. This is the most important and critical component in your heater. Does this type of component honestly represent what most of us would consider industrial, professional or commercial? You be the judge.
Here is a description from the manufacturer of the heat strips we use in PestPro Thermal System electric bed bug heaters:
Type 304 Stainless Steel sheath provides physical strength and resistance to high temperatures of up to 1200°F (650°C) and chemical corrosion. Helically wound resistance wire coil made from nickel-chrome wire is evenly stretched and precisely strung through the ceramic insulator, providing uniform heat. A custom mixture of several high purity magnesium oxide grain sizes, chosen to increase thermal conductivity and dielectric strength, are used to fill all remaining space inside and around the ceramic insulator. Channel strip heaters are available with or without mounting tabs. If without, the ends are silver soldered shut to prevent moisture and contaminants from entering the heater. The nickel-plated steel fins (SS optional) are mainly used for both forced air in a duct and natural convection air heating in a cabinet type oven.
Moving on, I have identified a fair number of companies that sell electric bed bug heaters as an add-on to an existing product line that includes not only electric bed bug heaters but also propane bed bug heaters, dehumidifiers and all sorts of other products unrelated to killing bed bugs. PestPro Thermal Systems only manufactures and supports one thing and one thing only: industrial grade, electric, 18 gauge cold-rolled steel bed bug heaters. Before joining PestPro Thermal Systems I spent 27 years working in the enterprise software industry where I witnessed numerous times that the larger a support matrix became with products and features the more difficult it became to support any of those permutations effectively. Providing and supporting one product extremely well is very important to us and we take extreme pride in being able to do so. Read some of our customer reviews which truly reveal the level of Tier 1 support that we purport to offer.
The other thing that "grinds our gears" is the culture of making it impossible for customers to fix their own equipment. We engineered our equipment from the start so that we would never have to touch it again. Maintenance is almost non existent and repairs are simple and intuitive using only open-source components available from suppliers like Amazon, Grainger or McMaster-Carr. This video outlines how we feel as a company about planned obsolescence and companies that profit from this short term way of doing business.
UPDATE 01JUN2021 Wall Street Journal update on the Right to Repair movement. PestPro espouses the values of this movement to enable customers to be able to maintain and repair products and not be beholden to the manufacturers to do so for them.
OUR TAKE ON DIRECT FIRED HEAT UNITS (Propane, Diesel, etc.)
As a company we strongly believe that using electric bed bug heaters is by far the safest method for killing bed bugs effectively. Notice I did not say the least expensive because that is not why we do not offer direct fired heaters. After thorough due diligence and research, our ownership, legal counsel and insurance providers all agreed the high risk of handling and transporting combustible fuels like propane and diesel and using direct-fired heaters is not worth the risk to our company nor our customers.
Should you choose to use direct fired heaters please be ever vigilant and use extreme caution. Direct fired bed bug heat equipment can run dangerously hot if the temperature is not being manually controlled by a highly skilled and competent technician. Strict training and ramp up procedures of new hires is paramount when using this type of equipment to avoid structural damage, personal item damage and injury to personnel.
The next item I’d like to address is simplicity and portability of use.
There are numerous electric bed bug heaters that will allow you to use almost any combination of 240v and 110v circuits. Although at first glance this seems like a reasonable approach, the result is the user is forced to plug in an' octopus' up to 8 power cords into each heater and know what the amperage is to each outlet or end up experiencing circuit breakers that “trip” repeatedly. PestPro Thermal Systems has more than a few dozen customers who went down this road only to conclude it can be very hard to manage and ended up ultimately purchasing our equipment and are satisfied with the results.
Our industrial electric bed bug heaters were designed and engineered from the start to be truly universal, from a power usage standpoint, and usable in any residential setting. We wanted them to be simple, intuitive and predictable to use as well as easy to transport. This translates into standardizing on just one high voltage power source choosing a plug from a set of 4 included pig tail adapter cords allowing you to plug into 3 or 4 prong stove, 3 or 4 prong dryer or generator receptacles. Many of our general contractor and former electrician customers fashion their own 5th pig tail and connect it directly to a circuit breaker.
By installing 2 fixed and 2 swiveling caster wheels on the bottom of our heater our customers can haul our heater long distances down sidewalks or hallways as well as turn tight corners especially inside the treatment area. In contrast I have found a fair amount of budget priced bed bug heaters needing to be carried by hand. Depending on the weight this may increase the risk of injury and/or workers comp claims to your organization.
The final point I want to make is this: killing bed bugs with heat is easy and safe if you follow the instructions for use. I have had many customers never take advantage of the free training we offer for purchases in excess of 3 heaters. Most report back to me that with a bit of practice they were able to use the equipment quickly and effectively using the training video provided on our web site in combination with the Quick Start Guide. We know there is money to be made in training and selling repairs and replacement parts but that is not our company’s focus. We want to make sure you can quickly and easily kill bed bugs with equipment that is simple and safe to use as well as built to last.
Call or text 970-443-8119 for meaningful answers to your intelligent questions about our bed bug heat treatment equipment.
We appreciate and thank you for your time.
I can also put you in touch with one of our customers who are happy to share their experiences working with our industrial electric bed bug heating equipment.