Thermacell makes several effective spatial repellents (mosquito-control methods that cover an entire area, instead of just one person). But none of them can match the E90 Rechargeable Mosquito Repellent’s ease of use. This repellent’s simple interface and rechargeable lithium-ion battery make it much more convenient to use than butane-cartridge options. The E90 comes with a 12-hour repellent cartridge, but 40-hour cartridges are also available. Compared with other methods of mosquito control, the E90 is more effective and more user-friendly overall. This pick replaces the Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repellent, our previous pick. The two models are the same except that the E90 has a longer battery life—nine hours, compared with 5½. The E90 is typically $10 more, but we think it is worth the added battery life. Still, the E55 is a great option if the E90 is not available or if you’d rather keep your investment to a minimum.
Thermacell EX90 Mosquito Repellent
Thermacell’s EX90 has the same mechanics as the E90, but with a few features that make it a better option for camping or other outdoor activities.
The Thermacell E90 is a great repeller to keep on your patio table. But if you want something you can throw in a backpack or toss next to a cornhole board or horseshoe pit, the Thermacell EX90 Mosquito Repellent is a better fit. Internally, it’s identical to the E90, with the same nine-hour battery life and repellent qualities, and compatibility with the same repellent cartridges. The differences exist in the body of the repeller. The EX90 has a more compact design, rubbery grip areas on the sides, a lanyard and carabiner (to hang it from a branch), and a locking lid (the E90’s lid is held in place with magnets). The EX90 costs the same as the E90, so it’s really a matter of preference. Also, as with the E90, there’s a version of the EX90 with a 5½-hour battery life, the Thermacell EX55, which costs a little less. Given the more adventurous nature of the EX series repellers, we have a stronger preference for the EX90’s longer battery life.
Thermacell MR450 Mosquito Repellent
The MR450 is more rugged and portable than our other picks. And its butane fuel source makes it better for situations like extended camping trips. But it isn’t as convenient as having one with a lithium-ion battery.
If you want an even more durable and more portable option, we like the Thermacell MR450 Mosquito Repellent. Like the E90, the MR450 has proven mosquito-repelling capabilities, but it lacks some of the E90’s finer touches, particularly the rechargeable battery and the long-lasting repellent cartridge. Instead, like many of Thermacell’s models, the MR450 runs on a butane cartridge and uses four-hour repellent pads, both of which are less convenient than the E90’s features. The butane is easier to burn through and harder to replace, as opposed to simply recharging a battery. The pads last for far less time than repellent cartridges, and it’s harder to tell when they’re used up. The advantage is that there’s no reliance on an outlet to run the repeller, so it’s the better choice for long camping trips, hunting, and other extended outdoor activities. In a large catalog of similar Thermacell products, the MR450 stands out with a more rugged design and a few minor convenience features. But if you’re okay with the compromises of using butane and pads, Thermacell offers similar models worth considering.
Pic Mosquito Repelling Coils
These inexpensive mosquito coils work as well as our other picks, but they’re not as portable, versatile, or durable. And their burning ends release smoke that has an odor.
For a less expensive option, we recommend Pic’s Mosquito Repelling Coils. Like the Thermacell options, the coils effectively clear an area of mosquitoes. And for the coils’ five- to seven-hour burn time, their price is a fraction of that of our other picks. But they’re not as portable or durable as our picks, their burning ends are not as safe to leave unattended, and they emit a smoke with an odor that some people find unpleasant.
For the most comprehensive and integrated approach to mosquito control, we like the Thermacell LIV Smart Mosquito Repellent System. This system consists of multiple repellers wired together and controlled by an app. Depending on which kit you get, the three, four, or five repellers offer a wall of protection and can encircle a patio, porch, or other outdoor area. The app provides total control over the system, including turning the repellers on and off, putting them on a schedule or a timer, checking the amount of repellent remaining, and even changing the color of the little lights on the repellers. The LIV can also be integrated into smart-home systems. In our tests, we found the components to be of very high quality, and the app was easy to use. Setup is simple, and the repellers have the look of a high-end landscape light. If there is a downside to the LIV, it’s the cost. The smallest kit, with three repellers, is roughly $700. That’s a lot, considering that the base functionality is the same as putting out three strategically placed E90s, which cost about $50 each. But the higher price buys you the convenience of the app integration and the polished look of the repellers.
If our other options aren’t festive enough for you, look no further than the Tiki BiteFighter LED String Lights. Spaced along this 36-foot length of string lights are three repellers that work in a similar fashion as the Thermacells. The lights have a socket at the end of the line, so additional strands can be attached to them. As long as they’re plugged in, the lights are on. But each strand has a switch to turn on the repellers, so those are active only when you need them. The Tiki repellers use a lower concentration of repellent, so they don’t cover as large of an area. However, depending how they’re hung, it’s possible to protect a 12-by-12-foot patio. The biggest challenge for us with the Tiki lights was making the 36-foot length fit in our space (45 feet would have been ideal for us). This made us think they would be good to integrate with other, less expensive lights.
The catch with any of these spatial repellents is that they lose efficacy in breezy conditions. But they’re still your best bet since many other popular mosquito-control methods—including bug zappers and citronella candles—don’t actually work. A few additional methods of mosquito control are worth considering, including simply running a fan and using the most predictably effective option: a spray repellent in conjunction with permethrin-treated clothing.