Thermacell launches LIV, its first smart mosquito repellent system – The Verge

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By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / @jp2e
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When the snow melts and the flowers start to bloom, biting, buzzing mosquitoes appear out of nowhere. Tackling these bloodsuckers is no easy task. While covering up and dousing yourself in bug spray or blanketing your garden in pesticides may work, it's not always the nicest experience nor the most environmentally friendly.
Thermacell, makers of a mosquito repellent that creates a zone of protection around you rather than you having to cover every inch of your skin, has an intriguing solution: the Liv Smart Mosquito Repellent System.
Launching today, Liv is Thermacell’s first connected, on-demand mosquito repellent system for the home. Starting at $699 for a three-repeller kit plus a hub, the app-controlled system should protect about 945 square feet, according to Thermacell. The system is also sold as a four-pack for $799 to cover 1,260 square feet, or a five-pack for $899 to cover just under 1,600 square feet.
The company has made a number of portable versions of its mosquito repellent system for over two decades. These are designed for use when you’re camping, spending time in the great outdoors, or just sitting on your patio. To date, they’ve been manually controlled, easily portable systems. Liv is the company’s first permanently installed, powered connected solution.
I’ve used a number of Thermacell’s products since moving to South Carolina (whose unofficial state bird is the mosquito), and have personally found them more effective and less stinky than other solutions. This move into the smart home with a connected solution should remove one of the pain points of the current products — having to manually activate them.
The active ingredient Thermacell uses in its repellent is 5.5 percent of metofluthrin, an EPA-registered synthetic molecule modeled after a naturally occurring repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers (which mosquitoes are known to dislike).
The Liv system works by warming up a cartridge of the liquid repellent inside each weatherproof repeller, which diffuses it into the air to cast an invisible, odorless cloud around you, through which few mosquitoes will venture (Thermacell says it’s 93 percent effective).
The system is run by a hub that plugs into an outdoor outlet and powers up to five outdoor repellers. It's then controlled through an app over a Wi-Fi connection, where a user can turn the system on and off as needed, set schedules, and monitor repellent levels. It’s not an always-on solution; the company recommends turning it on 15 to 30 minutes before you plan to spend time outside.
Liv works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Nest smart speakers for voice control, and each repellent cartridge lasts for approximately 40 hours. Refills cost $120 for a six-pack.
It is not an inexpensive product, but the alternative for this type of whole-yard protection is a chemical spray system, which usually involves paying a company to come out once a month or installing a misting system to pump out pesticides.
Both these solutions are expensive and may harm other bugs besides mosquitoes. Thermacell told The Verge it has no evidence that its repellent doesn’t affect similar size insects. But, because you are only using it on-demand and in a concentrated area, not continually and blanketing your property, any impact should be lessened compared to other solutions, said the company.
Correction, Tuesday March 1st, 9:15 AM: Removed a reference to Deet as a harmful chemical; the EPA and CDC both consider it safe to use as directed.
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