Types of Bug Zapper
There are five different types of bug zapper, including:
- Indoor Fly Catcher
- Indoor Insect Bug Zapper
- Rechargeable Cordless Zapper
- Outdoor Close Range Zapper
- Outdoor Single/Multi-acre Zapper
Some products are focused mostly on catching flies in the kitchen, whereas other products cover a broader range of likely insects including mosquitoes. Generally speaking, the indoor only fly and bug zappers tend to be electrically powered.
With outdoor products or ones that are usable both indoors and outdoors, they often will either have a rechargeable aspect to their power technology or can be run using batteries in a pinch. Both of the latter options make some of these types of zapper useful for campers, rather than just in the back yard or garden areas.
The wattage of power used runs the gamut from simpler 10- to 20-watt models right up to over 100-watts of power in the large units. For frugal buyers, one should also consider the cost of continually operating the bug zapper and whether it has options to automatically turn on/off during appropriate times to avoid wasting electricity.
Indoor Fly Catcher
Indoor fly catchers use UV light to encourage flies over to its powered grid where they get zapped. Up to 120-watts of power may be used to provide enough power to catch even the most stubborn of flies. The better versions of this design have a removable tray to easily empty out the accumulated flies after they’ve been captured in the electrical trap.
The design and mounting options vary a great deal, from simple hanging lantern-type designs to rectangular wall fixtures that require 90-degree angled brackets on either side to successfully affix the tool to the wall. While this type of product is operating, they usually emit a little humming sound, but when installed in a restaurant kitchen, bakery or other typical location, the sound is barely noticeable above the frenzied daily activity of busy commercial operations.
Indoor Insect Bug Zapper
The Indoor insect bug zapper is usually a broader use device to kill many types of flying annoyances in a commercial kitchen environment. Multiple UV lights are used to attract the attention of the insects. Powered grids ensure that once the insects fly on over, they won’t continue to fly around much longer.
The newer bug zappers don’t use automatically chemicals to lure the insects in any longer. The effective range of this type of zapper is up to 6,000 square feet in many cases. The collection tray should just slide out for easy maintenance, but be aware that when fitting this type of model high up on the wall, it’s less easy to access later to remove the tray, empty it, and refit it.
Rechargeable Cordless Zapper
A rechargeable cordless zapper is different from a permanent indoor or outdoor fixture because it is often a portable device. Designed frequently as a hanging lantern, this type of zapper is capable of being hung on a tree branch, across a beam or even sat on the floor a distance away from where people are seated outdoors.
One or two LEDs with UV light bulbs are used in these types of products to catch mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and other annoyances that hover and fly around in the outdoor environment. The UV light bulbs are usually easily replaced with new ones. The collection tray should be removable too.
Depending on the product, the rechargeable lithium ion battery is likely to offer a few hours of continual use (typically 3-5 hours) and needs a similar amount of time to recharge. As such, this type of bug zapper is mostly suitable for sitting outdoors for 2-3 hours in the evening, rather than being used all day long. Alternatively, taking a rechargeable cordless zapper on the road or on a camping trip isn’t a bad idea either.
Outdoor Close Range Zapper
Basic outdoor close range zappers cover a shorter area than half to multi-acre outdoor zappers. These products still use UV light on a low sub-30-watt electrical flow to power the mesh that waits for bugs to come for a short visit.
These types of outdoor zappers can run with lower power consumption 24/7 via a direct electrical connection. The design is intended to be weatherproof too.
The collection tray needs to be removable to avoid an excessive quantity of killed bugs from blocking up the unit. Sometimes Mosquito Octenol Lure is used to encourage more mosquitos to fly in.
Outdoor Single/Multi-acre Zapper
The outdoor single/multi-acre zapper units tend to be larger, rugged bug elimination tools for areas where there are plenty of flying insects to attract and remove.
Multiple UV lights are included in these types of products to create a greater coverage. The powered grid zaps bugs when they are lured in by the brightness of the UV light even in the evening. Some products include the Nosquito Octenol Lure as an additional attractant with some models making this a selectable option over a basic model that doesn’t include this extra.
The multi-acre models are substantial installations with a weatherproof design intended to handle different outdoor conditions throughout the year. A direct electrical connection is required to power these units 24/7. Preferably, these larger models are best positioned away from an outer wall of a building and not within 20+ feet of people nearby to avoid it getting in their way or becoming a hazard.
The collection tray needs to be removable to clean out zapped bugs on a regular basis. With 24/7 usage, the UV bulbs may only last one month each.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Bug Zapper
There are a few different factors to consider when deciding to purchase a new bug zapper.
Construction and Design
With bug zappers, safe design, construction quality and ease of use are high on the priority list. Given that electrical current is passing through the bug zapper, it is important to avoid human contact so that no one is accidentally electrocuted. Safety grills are used to cover the contact points to ensure bugs are zapped, but never humans.
If accidentally zapped, it’ll certainly sting a bit, but nothing life threatening. In most cases, though, a bug zapper is installed above the head level with a short ladder being needed to access the unit which makes these much safer to use.
Depending on whether the model is intended for indoors use, outdoors use, or as a portable, rechargeable solution, the design will vary from unit to unit. The most common design has one or 2 UV lights positioned within a long rectangular design to provide a good coverage area. With outdoor units, they also use a weatherproof design to protect from rain and other elements.
With most bug zappers, they only have about as much power as is required. Mostly this is for safety reasons. With smaller models, particularly indoor ones, the effective range is measured in square feet and is sufficient to cover a reasonable area within a kitchen, restaurant, café, etc. With outdoor models, the effective range could measure into the acres, especially when an additional lure is added to the basic product.
For models that support larger, more powerful UV lights and suck down more juice, their range is usually expanded but then so is their operational cost.
A few products either come with a chemical attractant or it is an optional extra. For people who dislike the idea of using any chemicals or who have sensitive systems, it’s possible to order products without these as they’re clearly marked in the description for the item before purchase.
A timer or an internal system monitoring the current time is available on some more expensive models to limit their battery or electricity usage to keep running costs down.
What distinguishes the more expensive products from the cheapest is usually the number of UV bulbs, the zapping footprint, the coverage area, and the power available. The technology behind the electricity grid itself doesn’t vary much from model to model. For outdoor models, there are even some that come with solar panels which reduce their operational costs considerably.
Features of a Bug Zapper
Different types of bug zappers come with their own set of features. Here we look at a few of the most commonly seen.
The number of UV lights depends on the model. Typically, there are either one or two UV light bulbs fitted. These are easily replaced.
Supply of Power
Power is fed to the bug zapper either from a DC adapter, a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, or a polycrystalline silicon solar panel. The amounts of watts needed can be as small as 20-watts and as large as 120-watts or greater. The greater the number of watts required, the higher the running costs of the bug zapper.
A light sensor is sometimes fitted to portable or outdoors units that use LED lights for illumination in the dark. The sensor makes the zapper more efficient when the lights come up without needing to adjust it manually every evening.
An automatic timer may be available that turns the zapper on at an appropriate time and off at a different time when it is no longer needed.
Indoors, Outdoors, or Portable
Bug zappers are designed to be used solely indoors, exclusively outdoors, or as a portable unit most likely employed in an outdoors location. Outdoor products use weatherproof design elements including protective coatings to avoid erosion from the varying weather elements throughout the year.
With the outdoor units, there is sometimes the option to use an attractant chemical additive with the bug zapper to further attract flying insects to the powered grid.
Some bug zappers can be mounted both horizontally or vertically, whereas others are only suitable for horizontal fitting. A distance of at least 25 feet is necessary when mounting and is because:
- Insect body parts are flung up to 8 feet when they are zapped
- Sitting too close to the zapper that is attracting flying insects makes you attractive too.
It is important that the collection tray is easy to access, remove, clean, and refit.
Best Bug Zapper Brands
There are a good number of bug zapper brands competing in the marketplace, rather than only a couple of dominant brands. The benefit to consumers is the range of different design approaches to products with similar functionality.
Flowtron from the Armatron Company has been in business since the 1920s and moved into making bug zappers in 1974. The company continues to be based in the USA. Their product range now includes bug zappers, fly control, and other garden-related equipment to make sitting out on the back patio more comfortable.
Aspectek is part of Milo Enterprises which has been making pest control and other outdoor products for over three decades. Along with bug zappers and pest control products, the company also produces beekeeping, bird feeding, weather proofing, and BBQ and kitchen equipment too.
Stinger Products focus on insect repellants, bug zappers, bug rackets, and other accessories to make sitting outdoors more pleasant. The Stinger Products brand is part of the Helen of Troy company.
This New York startup aims to merge nature with technological innovation to make enjoying the great outdoors more pleasant. Their product line includes camping, garden, and other outdoor gear.
Pest Sentry focuses solely on producing their bug zapper product (with replacement bulbs available). Their bug zapper is rugged enough for both commercial and home environments. It is sold directly on Amazon.com.
What Consumers Say
Power at a Distance
To place a rechargeable or powered outdoors unit a sufficient distance from the exterior walls, an extension power strip may be needed because the power cords are never long enough.
Fills Up Fast
Powerful bug zappers that run on higher-powered UV lights or use an attractant tend to fill up the collection tray quickly. It is necessary to empty the tray every few days in locations where there are many flying insects about.
Doesn’t Catch Everything
It is unrealistic to expect a bug zapper to attract everything. Not every insect is drawn to the same UV light, and they can get distracted with something else they find more attractive. Therefore, spraying on mosquito protective body spray is also never a bad idea.
Not every bug zapper is built to the same quality. Some of the supplied electrical plugs are grounded, whereas others are not. A few products have double-pole switches, whereas others do not. The resistors in the capacitor bank don’t always bleed-off right. With brands that care about customer opinions, their products do get updated to reflect improvements that can be made to differentiate over the competition. Cheaper bug zappers tend to burn out quickly and prove not to be worthwhile.
Make sure that replacement UV bulbs are easy to obtain. Some manufacturers include a QR code with their product manual to make it easier for customers to reorder bulbs online.
Along with various bugs, sometimes a moth will fly into a bug zapper. When this happens, the wings will likely start to smoke, but usually, the moth will not fall into the collection tray. Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to turn off the zapper to safely remove the moth when it has caught itself up in the zapper.
There’s Indoors, and there’s Indoors…
With the indoor bug zappers, they’re not always as silent as one expects. While a zapper is ideal for a commercial restaurant, if planning to position an indoor model in the living room, the sound of insects being occasionally fried might not please everyone in the household. Indeed, for some, the bug zapping may get a little too real for them.