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Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Review (2020 Edition)

Thermacell is about 20 years old. Despite their relatively young age, Thermacell has an impressive track record of creating effective and popular moquito-repelling products.

In this article, you'll learn:

  • How some Thermacell mosquito repellents work
  • How to use these products
  • What kind of insects Thermacell products repel
  • Our top Thermacell product
thermacell mosquito repellent review

Thermacell mosquito repellent products were originally created for campers, hikers, backpackers, mountain climbers, and other outdoor sportsmen. As time went on, Thermacell began producing products for home use. 

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Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Does Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Work?

Yes, it does. Thermacell Mosquito Repellent works best when the repellent device is motionless or standing still. If you remain within the 15-foot perimeter around the device, known as the Thermacell radius zone.

Within that zone of protection, you’ll be free from mosquito bites.

Gardening Products Review offers an in-depth review of how Thermacell mosquito repellents work. 

There are a few caveats though.

If the mosquito repellent device is moving, the cloud of repellent that it releases will be left behind and won’t offer any protection in front of you.

The repellent also won’t be as effective when conditions outside are windy; the wind will blow the fumes away from you... Unless you're upwind.

When the wind is blowing place Thermacell products upwind or all around you in case the wind shifts. That will give you some mosquito control as long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard (i.e.; sustained winds over 20 mph).

How Do Thermacell Repellents Work?

The active ingredient in Thermacell repellents is allethrin, a pyrethrin derived from chrysanthemum flowers.

Allethrin works by paralyzing insects, an action which eventually kills them.

Read more: What is the difference between pyrethrin and permethrin?

Many people report seeing mosquitoes drop to the ground when entering a cloud of allethrin.  Contrary to their perception, the mosquitoes aren’t dead, but merely paralyzed, and therefore unable to continue flying. They die soon after.

Thermacell mosquito repellers are portable, which means they're cordless. A butane canister generates heat. The butane cartridge is completely enclosed within the cordless device, preventing punctures or accidental release from its connection.

Fortunately there's no open flame to worry about. You won’t set anything on fire and it is safe to use around fabrics, furniture, and clothes.

The internal flame heats a metal plate. The metal plate, in turn, heats the repellent mats you put over it. There is a small grill to hold the mat in place.

Each mat is heavily impregnated with allethrin. As the mat heats up, it releases allethrin fumes into the air.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Exterminator For Your Mosquito Problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

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How To Use Thermacell Mosquito Repellent

Thermacell is not a bug spray. This means there is no spray to worry about getting in your eyes or flames like you have with citronella candles.

Read more: Looking for a bug spray to get rid of mosquitoes?

thermacell mosquito repellent review

There are several types of Thermacell repellers. Most are powered by fuel, but one runs on batteries. 

The battery powered option is the:

  • Radius Zone mosquito repellent

The fuel-powered options are:

  • Backpack repeller
  • Various portable repellers
  • Various lantern repellers
  • Patio shield repellers

Despite their differences, these products all work in a similar way.

The lantern, patio shield, and portable repellers require two simple things: Replacement fuel cartridges and repellent mats.

In any Thermacell fuel-cartridge repeller, open the bottom and insert the cartridge.

Repellent mats are equally easy. The mats start out blue; when they turn white, replace them. To do so, slide a new mat in place, under the grill, which will push the used one out.

The Thermacell Backpack Repeller works differently. For one thing, it requires a camping gas canister, which is not included, nor are they sold by Thermacell.

This video by Thermacell explains exactly how the Backpack Repeller works.

When you turn the on/off switch to the “On” position, you’ll hear the hiss of gas. Give it a few moments to build up a ball of gas inside the combustion chamber, then press the igniter button. You’ll hear a soft “whump” sound as the gas ignites.

Let the device run for about five minutes to build up a cloud of scent-free fumes to create a zone of protection around it. As stated earlier, if there is a breeze blowing, we recommend using multiple devices on opposite sides of the area being protected.

How Long Does Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Last?

This is actually a two-part question that requires a two-part answer. The butane canister and the repellent mats have different effective life spans.

Butane Canister

Each butane canister has enough fuel in it to last for 12 hours. If you use the Thermacell device for three hours a night, out on the patio, for instance, it will last for four nights before you have to replace it.

Repellent Mat

Each DEET-free repellent mat has enough allethrin in it to last for four hours. This means you’ll use three repellent mats for every fuel cartridge.

Obviously, you’ll need to get more Thermacell mosquito repellent refills for the repellent mats to make up for the difference.

For a demonstration on replacing the cartridge and mat, check out the following video.

Are Thermacell Repellents Effective on Mosquitoes, Gnats, and Flies?

Yes. It has been tested against a wide assortment of insects and been found effective to varying degrees.

Thermacell Mosquito Repellents are effective against mosquitoes, gnats, and flies (such as black flies). This isn’t surprising since mosquitoes, gnats, and flies are all members of the order Diptera.

Any active ingredient that is effective against one of these insects will be effective against all of them. Therefore you can use the Thermacell repellers to protect your family and yourself against mosquitoes, gnats, and black flies.

The EPA has registered allethrins as an effective pest control product. It's allowed to be used in the United States, but individual states such as California may not allow Thermacell products to be shipped there.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Exterminator For Your Mosquito Problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Best Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Reviewed

Thermacell offers a variety of different products, which all repel mosquitoes and other insects to some extent. Our top pick is the original Thermacell MR150 Portable Mosquito Repeller

Thermacell was originally conceived for use on camping trips and around the campsite. Therefore the first and still most popular model is the portable one.

Thermacell MR150 Portable Mosquito Repeller

  • Works for up to 12 hours
  • Has a 15-foot zone
  • Scent-free
  • Thermacell MR150 Portable Mosquito Repellent provides hours of protection from mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and no-see-ums. It’s a scent-free insect repellent device that can be clipped to your belt when you’re sitting around the campsite, fishing, or enjoying nature.

    Due to this product's portable nature, it can be used in any situation. Rather than buy a separate Thermacell patio shield to keep skeeters and other bugs away, you can simply use the MR150 while you’re enjoying a quiet evening on the patio.

    Pros

    • Lasts for several hours
    • Portable
    • Easy to use
    • Doesn't contain DEET

    Cons

    • Takes 5 minutes to take effect

    Where Can I Buy Thermacell Mosquito Repellent?

    Thermacell mosquito repellent devices, fuel canister refills, and repellent mat refills can all be purchased at Amazon. Gander Mountain, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, Academy Sports, and other retailers also carry this brand.

    Most camping supply retailers carry it as well.

    Online outlets are usually cheaper but will charge shipping fees. Brick-and-mortar stores will be a little more expensive but don't require shipping. Plus, you can walk out with it in your hand.

    Final Thoughts On Thermacell Mosquito Repellents

    Thermacell products are the best pest control method is you want to keep as wide a berth between you and mosquitoes as possible.

    Plenty of other fly repellents keep mosquitoes away, but Thermacell products create a shield that prevents these pests from getting close.

    If you’re reasonably stationary when you use it, it will provide some of the best protection available. Try it and see for yourself.

    Other Mosquito Guides

    Are Thermacell products the right fit for you? Read about other mosquito products below to find the best repellent for your needs.​​

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