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I hate bugs.
I hate them so much that when my husband suggests having dinner outside or playing a lawn game, I immediately start to wonder about the swarms of mosquitoes that will attack me.
How about a card game inside instead?
But ever since we started using Thermacell devices, I have happily said yes to the outdoors more often.
Thermacell makes spatial repellents that work like diffusers to emit a repellent into the air and create a bug-free zone. This means you don’t have to douse yourself with smelly, sticky spray. The Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent and the Perimeter System have become my most valuable tools for enjoying outdoor life.
The Radius is a compact and convenient device (smaller than my cell phone) that uses heat to vaporize a little vial of liquid repellent. The active chemical in the liquid is metofluthrin, which in numerous studies has proved to be an effective spatial repellent for mosquitoes. Metofluthrin has undergone thorough vetting by the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies around the world, and it’s deemed safe for this intended use.
Thermacell devices effectively repel mosquitos without creating a sticky, smelly mess.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $44.
I bought my first Thermacell device after building a stock tank pool in my backyard last year. I love spending my evenings sipping a Lone Star while lounging on my flamingo float, but that’s also prime bug time. I tried lighting citronella candles around the pool, and I even bought a citronella plant. Those didn’t work.
But when I placed the Radius on a table by the pool, the mosquitos stayed away, and they have ever since. The exception is a windy day. All spatial repellents are basically useless in windy conditions, but the good news is, mosquitoes struggle to fly even in gentle breezes.
Ultimately, I was so impressed by the Radius that I surrounded the pool area with Thermacell’s Perimeter System. The devices look like small, plastic tiki torches, and they use butane to burn the same effective repellent found in the Radius. There’s also a new model, the Thermacell E55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller, that Wirecutter’s experts have been testing and are likely to recommend. I plan to buy that one too. This is probably overkill for a pool that fits just four adults comfortably, but it makes me feel better knowing nothing is getting near me.
After spending 45 hours researching a category full of marketing hype and debunked methods, we found that the Radius stands out by actually working.
Read more in our guide to the best mosquito control gear for your patio or yard.
Don’t expect the Radius to work right away. You need to turn it on about 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to be outside, to allow the repellent to “saturate” an area. I turn my Radius and Perimeter System on while I grab my drinks, lather on sunscreen, and add extra air to the floatie.
Also, be careful when opening the Radius replacement cartridges. I accidentally broke a few cartridge wicks when I didn’t pull the cap straight up, and if the wick breaks, the cartridge no longer works. Thankfully, I was able to exchange them at Lowe’s for new ones.
We typically see regular deals on Prime Day and Black Friday, as well as the occasional sale every few months.
Best price we’ve ever seen
Alejandra Matos is obsessed with her dogs, red lipstick, and breakfast tacos. She is Wirecutter’s former deputy director of audience and is based in Austin, Texas.
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