How We Solved The Bed Bug Heater “Power Challenge”

Posted by Michael Ferkiss on

How PestPro Thermal Systems and RealPower Solved the Bed Bug Heater “Power Challenge”

 

PestPro Thermal Systems opened its doors in 2012 in response to a request from a long time, multi-generational Pest Control Operator in South Dakota for an effective electric bed bug heater that could produce enough heat to kill bed bugs, bed bug nymphs and bed bug eggs in homes and businesses.

High rise residential building where electric bed bug heaters are used to kill bed bugs, bed bug eggs and bed bug nymphs using the power take off gear connected to the truck engine under the hood.

We designed and built a heater that met the specifications for the vast and harsh environment in which he was operating including:

  • Superior Heat Output
  • Extreme Portability
  • Consistent Dependability
  • Industrial Ruggedness 

The challenge quickly became where to obtain enough power to plug in multiple industrial bed bug heaters beyond the stove and dryer outlets found in homes and apartments (given the limitations of residential breaker panels).


The answer is a portable generator.

Self-Contained power truck used for killilng bed bugs with electric bed bug heaters parked in front of a high rise residential building

A generator has two major components: most often a gasoline or diesel-powered engine which when married to an alternator (the device that generates electricity) produces various amounts of voltage for use with our heaters.

Pest control professionals unloading a self-contained power bed bug heat treatment truck.

Each of our 10,000 watt 240v heaters can optimally treat up to 400 square feet require a 240v 50 amp circuit breaker which is considered ‘High Voltage’ versus low voltage 120v outlets. This lower voltage is what we all use to power small appliances and lighting.

Pest control professionals lowering power cables from the 29th floor of a high rise residential apartment down to the self-contained power truck and electric bed bug heaters.

If you plug the first 10,000 watt heater into a 50 amp stove outlet and a second, 6000 watt heater into a 30 amp dryer outlet you have reached the limit of what the majority of what most breaker panels can support. Those two heaters can now treat up to 650 square feet in one average 5-6 hour treatment session or 1300 square feet if you divide the area up into two sections and treat them separately.

Six port power distribution box on the 29th floor of a residential hi-rise building  with input power form the self-contained power truck on the ground level.

Although this was adequate for small apartments it was woefully inadequate for professionals treating the much larger square footage of apartments and single-family homes.

Power cables connecting truck generator on the ground floor up to the electric bed bug heaters on the 29th floor of a residential hi-rise.

ORIGINAL POWER SOLUTION

Because of the power limitation of most residences we quickly found ourselves providing portable generators in trailers to provide adequate power for and transporting our bed bug heating equipment. Selling these generators was not a problem in and of itself but supporting them was. Admittedly, managing the support networks of the generator manufacturers for our customers was spotty at best. 

As anyone who has ever used a portable generator knows they are very loud, very smoky, require loads of expensive and time-consuming maintenance in a shop (that is often booked out 2-3 weeks) and are nowhere near as reliable as you need them to be. On top of that they are anything but discreet leading to lots of questions from curious guests and residents as to why they are there.

As the years went by and more and more of our bed bug heaters were sold in combination with trailers and portable generators, we quickly realized how challenging it was to manage the generator support structures in North America. Supporting generators in the ways we wanted them supported for our customers was out of our control and becoming untenable. We concluded this was adversely affecting our ability to support the top-quality electric bed bug heating products we were building and supporting at the highest levels.

Selling and supporting generators quickly became viewed inside our company as an unfortunate necessity.

There had to be a better way to provide power that would better serve our customer’s needs.


THE ULTIMATE POWER SOLUTION

After extensive research and table pounding the answer to our customer’s requests (and prayers) for reliable, well supported portable power was found in partnering with a company in  Brownsburg Indiana named RealPower.

We could now divorce ourselves from the reputational nightmare of trying to support products we had no part in manufacturing and could instead rely on a ‘game changing’ power option that only PestPro Thermal Systems could offer the bed bug thermal remediation marketplace.

RealPower has engineered a unique and proprietary way to use the power from the engine under the hood of an F-Series HD truck, using the Power-Take-Off (PTO) gear, to spin an alternator connected to the undercarriage of the vehicle.

  • This alternator is then connected to a power distribution box designed and built by RealPower
and 
  • Connected to smaller 6-port distribution boxes that can be up to 300’ away from the truck.

This translates into being able to heat treat an apartment on the 29th floor of a hi-rise while leaving the truck safely locked and running to generate power for six 10,000 watt heaters. 

This method eliminated the need to tow around a separate engine to power the generator resulting in more power without the associated headaches of:

  • Separate fuel system and storage
  • Separate exhaust system and the belching smoke and noise
  • Separate trailer and the parking issues that go with it
  • Separate maintenance and repairs which keep you out of service and out of control making it hard to keep to your schedule of customer commitments
  • Limited floor space for bed bug heaters and fans taken up by the extra generator engine
  • Lower fuel efficiency due to having to haul around a 3000 lb generator to every job

The first two “Self-Contained Power Trucks” have now been operational in an urban, hi-rise midwestern city with a national Pest Control Operator since September of 2019.

The reports from this customer include:

“The performance and reliability of the Real Power generator system continues to exceed our expectations and the dependability is like night and day compared to the separate generators we used to run.”
"Eliminating trailers has opened up new opportunities for us, reduced risk, and improved our ability to execute services on a variety of levels."
“Combined with the added efficiency of the high voltage Pest Pro heaters, we are also reducing operating costs.”

This customer also shared with me that profit margins have increased significantly, and the field operators of the equipment are thrilled at how easy and low maintenance everything is. 

Additionally, the near zero maintenance of the alternator (quarterly grease gun applications) keeps jobs running and on schedule. No more cancellations due to generator maintenance and repair downtime.

Since this customer has previously been running our 240v Universal Heaters they also have the option of plugging 2-4 of these heaters into building power (stove or dryer outlets) to add even more heat into any job thereby being able to treat an additional 800-1600 square feet to their capacity.

In hi-rise situations above 30 stories this is an added level of flexibility that can't be beat.

RealPower and PestPro Thermal Systems have architected 3 options to choose from:


See informational video here


To learn more you can call or email me at 970-221-1036 or sales@pestprothermal.com

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