ZappBug heat chambers : tips and hints

ZappBug heat chambers : tips and hints

Table of contents :


1. Loading the unit 

Think about heat treating your belongings in the same way that you think of drying clothes in the sun. If your belongings are densely packed together, it will take a long time for them to dry. Similarly, items densely packed in the ZappBug will take significantly longer time for them to reach bed bug killing temperatures. Always use the provided ventilation blocks and/or net to ensure maximum air circulation around your belongings.

Airflow is important while treating your items. You want to leave at least two inches between your items and the sides of the ZappBug Heater. You also want to make sure your items are not touching the floor of the unit and are placed on top of the support net and/or support blocks so the hot air may fully flow around the items.

It is also best if you are able to have multiple piles instead of one giant pile in the unit. Think about how to cook a turkey in a conventional oven. The larger the turkey, the longer it will take to cook. It would shorten the time significantly if you cooked two or three small chickens at once instead.

Think smaller, faster loads.

2. What temperatures kill bed bugs? How hot does the ZappBug Oven get ?

The higher the temperature, the quicker bed bugs die. At 106°F (41°C) it takes over 1.5 hours to kill bed bugs. At 120°F (49°C), it takes less than one minute to kill bed bugs. We strongly suggest that you follow the industry standard of heating your items to 120°F for one hour to ensure that all bed bugs and bed bug eggs are killed. Here is a scientific paper from the University of Florida showing this research:

In addition, at ZappBug we conducted our own experiment with killing live bed bugs at 120°F in one minute. We used a water bath to ensure proper control of temperature and shot a video of the experiment. You can see the video here:

The temperature inside the ZappBug Heater typically ranges from 120°F to 145°F.

3. How long does it take ?

The time required to perform a successful heat treatment varies depending on the items you are treating and the room temperature. That being said, typical treatment times range from 3 to 6 hours.

Heating items in the ZappBug Oven is a lot like cooking a turkey in the oven. It takes time to cook the middle of a turkey no matter how high you set the oven. This is because it takes time for the heat to conduct through the bird. The ZappBug Oven heats your belongings with the maximum power possible at safe temperatures. The time required to complete a heat treatment depends on how many items are in the oven as well as the thickness of your items. If you have any questions please let us know. Also, be sure to check your user manual.

4. What can I treat ?

Anything you feel comfortable leaving in the trunk of your car on a hot summer’s day is what you should feel comfortable treating in your ZappBug.

5. What not to hot treat ?

  • Anything with a low melting point: lipsticks, cosmetics, vinyl records, crayons, etc.
  • Anything combustible: hair spray cans, aerosol cans, etc.
  • Anything flammable: matchbooks, lighters, fireworks, ammunition, guns, etc.
  • Remove paintings and photographs from frames. Frames can be treated, but the heat may damage artwork and photographs.

6. Once I turn on the heat, won’t the bed bugs try to escape through the heater connection tube or the air vent ?

No. Scientific evidence shows that bed bugs do not run toward convective heat sources. The ZappBug Oven blows hot air, which is convective heat, so bed bugs won’t try to run toward the heater. Additionally, if the heat is hot enough, bed bugs will immediately go into thermal shock and be paralyzed. The air coming out of the oven’s heater is so hot that if it were to blow directly on a bed bug it would immediately paralyze the bed bug and result in a quick death.

7. What should the ambient temperature be ?

You will want to choose a room indoors with a temperature of at least 70° Fahrenheit or about 21° Celsius. Treating in a cooler location will cause your unit to struggle to get up to temperature.

8. Should I monitor the temperature inside the ZappBug ?

Always monitor the temperature inside the ZappBug with the included thermometer and probe. If the temperature rises above 60°C, the batteries in the probe may be damaged. In this case, please remove the probe temporarily.

9. Hard flooring

Hard flooring, such as cement, wood, linoleum, tile, etc. can absorb heat from the ZappBug unit. This won’t cause damage to the floor but may cause your unit to struggle to get up to kill temperatures (120° Fahrenheit).

Resolve this issue by placing an insulator such as an area rug, cardboard (such as the box your unit came in), towels, foam pads, etc. between the flooring and your unit. To test your unit and ensure you have it in the best treatment environment, turn it on while empty. It should take 15-20 minutes to reach 120° Fahrenheit. If it doesn’t reach 120° in 20 minutes please check out the other troubleshooting tips.

10. Thermometer reset

If you’re having issues getting a temperature reading, you may need to do a simple thermometer reset. To reset your thermometer, first, remove all batteries from the device (both from the sensor and the display screen). After all the batteries are removed, first re-insert the display screen batteries. Then, you can reinsert the sensor batteries. This order of battery insertion will reset your thermometer.

Keep in mind, that it can take some time for your unit to fully heat up (sometimes 2-3 hours or more depending on the room, ambient temperature, and size of treatment load). Also, note that the display screen may lose signal if it is too far away from the unit, or if the unit heats above 140°F. If this happens, simply follow the reset instructions above.

11. Heater not working

Safety Tip-Over Switch

The Safety Tip-Over Switch is a small black button located on the bottom of the red, square heating unit. When your unit is plugged in, the button should naturally be pressed in. The button must be pressed in for the unit to turn on. Should your unit ever be knocked over, the button would be released, resulting in shutting off power to your unit. This ensures safety in the case of any tip-over accidents.

If you plug in your heating unit and it does not turn on, please check the safety tip-over switch, to verify that it is indeed pushed in.

Overheat Warning

Running your ZappBug chamber in a closet, small room, or a room with a temperature above 99℉ or 37℃ may cause an alarm to sound and heaters to shut off. ZappBug’s heaters contain safety switches designed to shut off in overly hot environments. To fix this issue crack a window or door, or move the chamber and heaters to a larger room with temperatures below 99℉ or 37℃

Make sure the intake vent is unobstructed and free of clutter or debris. If something is blocking the heaters’ air intake it cannot heat the chamber and will shut off to prevent overheating.

If your heater has stopped due to overheating you will need to allow at least 20 minutes for the heater to cool before you can restart the treatment.

12. Difficulty heating

The most common reasons as to why the units might struggle to reach 120°F or above are ambient conditions and item arrangement. The ZappBug Heater works best in rooms that are at least 70°F or above. Whenever possible, do not run the unit on hard flooring; if you must, place insulation (such as cardboard or area rugs) between the ZappBug Heater and the floor, in order to limit heat loss. Always arrange items as spread out as possible to allow air to flow easily throughout the unit.

13. Thermometer probe tips

If you aren’t receiving a signal from the thermometer probe, you may need to set the probe channel. To do that, remove the back of each thermometer probe and change each probe’s channel by sliding the button to position 1. All probes need to be on the correct channel in order to monitor treatment accurately.

14. Optimal circuit management

The ZappBug Oven 2 needs two independent electrical circuits, one for each red thermal unit. An extension cord is included in your package to help reach a second circuit. Usually, each room is on its own circuit. For example, you could connect one heater to an outlet in a living room and another in a kitchen, bathroom, or nearby room. If you are still having difficulty finding separate circuits, the electrical panel usually has them labeled.
ZappBug Room: Make sure each red heating unit is on its own circuit. The recirculation fan of the ZappBug Room, however, can be on the same circuit as one of the heating units.

15. Distance allowed for monitoring

The maximum thermometer monitor distance for accurate operation is 6m without any walls or objects in the way. To keep the best signal stay within 3m of the unit.

16. Where to place the sensors ?

Place wireless thermometer probes inside the deepest (most insulated) locations of the items being treated. Examples would be in the center of a pile of clothes or blankets or inside a shoe or purse. The goal of the sensor is to ensure that all the items in the unit reach 120° Fahrenheit.

17. Cleaning the ZappBug

Use a vacuum hose to clean out any debris.
If you need to wipe down your unit, use soap and water and wipe it down with a rag. Avoid harsh cleaners. 

Warning : The ZappBug has an internal flexible steel wire frame and won’t fold small enough to let you put it in a washing machine or dryer.

18. How to fold the unit ?

ZappBug Heater : video

ZappBug Oven 2 : video

19. What precautions should be taken with delicate objects (shoes, electronics) ?

Please note: Bed bugs typically die in 5-10 minutes at 120° Fahrenheit. To be safe, we only recommend shorter than an hour when treating sensitive items. They should be treated by themselves or in very small loads that you can monitor closely, so that you are able to guarantee all the items have reached 120°.


In some rare cases, shoe glue may soften and shoe soles may separate during heat treatment. To help avoid this, treat your shoes alone, in a single layer in the center of the unit, place the sensor inside one of the shoes, and treat for 20 minutes at 120°Fahrenheit.


With more sensitive items such as electronics, we recommend treating alone for 20 minutes at 120° Fahrenheit.

It is rare for electronics that are used to be infested, as the internal temperature of the device usually gets pretty warm. Think about your laptop or your gaming system fan turning on, this is to cool down your electronic device and bed bugs want to avoid the heat.

If you are still concerned about your electronic device you should consult the manufacturer for a maximum safe temperature before placing it in the ZappBug Heater. Always monitor the temperature to ensure that temperatures never exceed the indicated safe level.

20. Books

Arrange the books in towers on the support blocks – eg. for the ZappBug Heater you would have four towers of books, one on each support block. This ensures that there is heat surrounding the sides of the books and makes it easier to get up to adequate temperature. Also note that stickers on the books may lose their stickiness and come off.

21. Will the ZappBug Room shrink clothes, melt sequins or destroy electronics?

No. Assuming the clothes you put into the ZappBug Room are dry, they will not shrink. The temperature inside the ZappBug Room ranges from 120°F to 145°F, which is plenty hot to kill bed bugs, but is not hot enough to melt sequins or harm most electronics.

When treating clothes it best to place them in two or three fluffed up piles (think fluffing up a feather pillow). Also, if you need to treat a lot of dense clothing such as wool sweaters, jackets, and sweatshirts, you should try to break them up into other loads with less dense clothing such as t-shirts and undergarments. The denser the pile, the longer it will take to treat. Think about cooking a turkey in a conventional oven, the larger the turkey, the longer it is going to take to cook, but if you have two or three chickens in the oven they will cook a lot faster.

22. Luggage

When you get home from a trip we suggest placing your luggage directly into the unit for treatment. If you are unable to treat your luggage right away you should place it in a plastic bag and seal it until you are able to treat it. Placing your luggage in a sealed plastic bag will help you avoid an infestation.

To treat your luggage, place it in the ZappBug Heater on the support blocks provided. Open the suitcase and if possible try to fluff up your clothing, as airflow is key for faster and successful treatment. Always remove anything with low melting points such as cosmetics and combustibles such as aerosol cans.


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