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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Eliminating mosquitozzzzz in the home

Every now and then a male mosquito will find its way through my window screens or front door and into my home.  Of course that sound is extremely annoying, but it's the females that don't make so much sound that I also worry about because of the diseases they can carry.  Over the years, I have experimented with a variety of solutions and currently use a large 40 Watt zapper (Flow Tron BK-15D) that I run on a timer at night out in the backyard.  While it is very effective at reducing the outdoor population, some do get inside.  I had been using a smaller AC powered one in my front hallway that zaps them before they can get too far.  The only drawback to that relatively large zapper was the sound it makes inside the home. While the occasional ZAP was gratifying, it could often be annoying.  Unfortunately, that unit failed recently so I started researching other options.

What I found is that there are a number of simple, small, ultra-low power devices that plug into an electric outlet and consume a minuscule amount of power while solving the problem handily.  the units that I purchased are made by Kooder, and I got them from Amazon for about $12 each.
Kooder zapper with 100% recyclable cardboard packaging
I was particularly impressed that the product is packaged in a simple recyclable cardboard box.  The only instructions are on the back and were clearly translated from another language with such amusing lines as: "LED lights glow to attract mosquitoes: stimulate airs, emit violet light to attract mosquitoes into the hood."

When plugged in, 2 small ultraviolet LEDs come on to attract bugs to the electrode grid inside where they die a quick and quiet death.  No loud zapping!  This subtle purple light can also serve as a modest nightlight.
works as a nightlight
The Manufacturer suggests you to take it apart (three screws on the back) and clean up the electrodes when they catch a lot of bugs.  Here's what it looks like inside.
Remove three screws to open it up for cleaning.
I ran some electrical tests on the device to see how much power it consumes and found that it draws 3.2 mA (3.8 W).  This means that it will only add about 27 cents to your monthly bill (assuming 10 cents/kWh).  So for the energy conscious, this is not a big concern.  

I also tested it by inserting a screwdriver (holding the insulated handle carefully) to short out the electric grid and it did produce some substantial sparks.  For this reason it would be wise to keep this away from young children.

To give the device a rigorous test, I plugged it into an outside outlet for a couple of nights and it caught quite a number of bugs.
bug catch after two nights outdoors - click image to enlarge
I have deployed these clever devices in my kitchen, living room, and bedroom and I am confident they will catch the occasional mosquito that gets into my home.  I also find them to serve as a pleasant night light. 

As someone who designs electronic products for living, I would be very proud of this design.

There are quite a variety of similar devices on the market, including a very clever version that screws into a lamp socket and incorporates an LED light.
OUTXPRO Mosquito Light Bulb Bug Zapper
I did not have a suitable location in my home for this type of lamp, but would seriously consider it for laundry/utility rooms and basements etc.  Apparently the bug zapper remains on when the LED light is off consuming around 3 W, while the LED lamp uses around 10 W.  These devices seem to get very good reviews on Amazon and there are many very good deals on them if you look carefully.

I don't think these devices should be confused with heavy-duty bug zappers.  They are really designed for the occasional incursion so should not be used in the same way as a larger zapper.  I would definitely not recommend them for outdoor spaces other than small screened in porches.

Once you do get bit, there is an amazing techno fix that cures the itch and pain almost immediately.  See my next blog post for a review of The Therapik Mosquito Bite Reliever