Gear Test: ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Lantern
Over the years, a plethora of mosquito-discouraging devices and potions have hit the market. Some work, some almost work. Although ThermaCELL has been offering a unique approach to saving your skin for the last few years—a butane-operated mosquito repellent that is built into an outdoor lantern—the company has persisted in its efforts to improve and refine its repellent lantern, succeeding in introducing a brighter and better version than ever before this year.
The new ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Lantern ($30) weighs 13 ounces, features a convenient carry handle, and is operated by 4 AA batteries (not included). Illumination comes from 8 LED lights that can be set at two power levels. The mosquito repellent function operates on a single butane cartridge, creating a 15×15-foot zone of protection from mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums.
As shown in the cut-away illustration, a butane cartridge fits inside a chamber in the center of the unit and provides the fuel necessary to operate the repellent system (batteries are not needed to power the repellent system). Activating the On button at the side of the lantern allows gas to flow from the cartridge into the heat chamber above the cartridge. A Start button ignites the gas inside the heat chamber, and the heat rises upward, warming a metal plate that holds the fabric mat saturated with allethrin, a man-made copy of a naturally occurring insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers.
The heat vaporizes the repellent in the mat, and the vapors disperse into the atmosphere surrounding the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Lantern. The repellent is unpleasant to mosquitoes, but when used as directed, will not harm humans or pets.
How bright is the lantern, and how well did it work? We played cards by it at our camp table, and it kept the bugs away all evening. Each repellent mat provides up to four hours of protection and each butane cartridge provides up to 12 hours of operation. The allethrin mat needs to be replaced when its color changes from blue to white.
According to ThermaCELL, its units become difficult to operate at altitudes above 4500 feet due to low air density. There are plenty of warnings on the unit, but beware that surfaces at the top of the lantern can become hot due to escaping exhaust gases during operation. Pretty clever—a camp lantern and bug repellent, all in one package.