This year, Santa has a present for all bed bugs: HOT DEATH!!
Bedbugs are nationally in the news this year, and I have encountered them in a hotel that I use for business travel. I avoided bringing the bugs home by building my last bedbug killing machine for my luggage (http://www.instructables.com/id/Kill-Bedbugs-in-your-luggage/)
Why do you need to treat your luggage for bed bugs? Simple. If you happen to be staying in a place that has bedbugs, it's possible for them to hide in the seams of your luggage, which apparently is a favorite place for them to hide after feeding. This can happen in any kind of hotel (in my case, a good-quality business hotel I had stayed in many times before) and it can still happen even if you check the room for bed bugs. I checked, didn't find any, and was still bitten on the first night I was there.
Like my last project, this one uses heat to kill bedbugs. It's similar in operation to commercially available products like the Packtite (http://www.packtite.com/) using a heat source in a heat chamber to raise the temperature of items to 125F to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
There was a lot of discussion on my last project - someone called it a "Hacktite" - and people were concerned about the amount of wiring that was necessary and I was thinking about an improved version. Fortunately, inspiration struck while I was hanging my Christmas lights...
Why Christmas lights? I needed a heat source that could put out between 350-400 Watts of evenly distributed heat. Hotplates and hairdryers put out too much heat; and things like room heaters don't have thermostats that go up to 125F. Christmas lights are perfect for the job!
This is a simpler project than my last bedbug killing machine, it requires only the most basic home electrical skills. This version is cheaper, and for this one you don't even need to take a trip down that weird aisle fully of funny-looking connectors at the Home Improvement store for supplies since most "big box" general retailers will have everything you need.
This project necessarily brings electricity in close contact with metal, and uses an electrical appliance (the lights) in a method for which it was not intended. You must follow all the safety precautions in this instructable. Even so, you do this at your own risk, if you have any concerns about building or using this device, please buy a commercial product like the Packtite or hire a professional Pest Control Operator instead.
Step 1: Materials
- A 30 gallon or larger metal trashcan
- Between 350 and 400 Watts of incandescent Christmas lights:
- "C9" bulbs are usually 7W each and usually come in strings of 25 bulbs, making 175W per string. Start with one string initially and add a second string if it's cold outside and you need more heat. Two strings (50 bulbs) will give you 350 Watts.
- "C7" bulbs are usually 5W each and usually come in strings of 25 bulbs, making 125W per string. Start with two strings initially. Three strings (75 bulbs) will give you 375 Watts and might work a little better if it's colder where you live.
- A thermometer with a remote probe
- A thermometer with a long probe (optional, but it will help to make sure you don't destroy your luggage)
- A christmas light timer (try to get the kind with a built-in GFCI circuit breaker)
- If your christmas light timer doesn't have a built-in GFCI circuit breaker, then you must either have a GFCI outlet on your house to plug into, or a separate GFCI plug, or an isolation transformer available.
- A 3-conductor extension cord (one with a ground prong)
- A 3-prong replacement electrical plug
- A 3/8" clamp connector for 1/2" knockout (optional, but recommended)
New safety items needed since this Instructable was originally posted:
- A small sheet metal screw or a ground screw
If you use the wiring method:
- A short length (about 2 feet) of green stranded (not solid) ground wire
- Another 3-prong replacement electrical plug or a grounding adapter plug
- A grounded power splitter (the one I'm using here is a 3-way)
If you use the almost-no-wiring method at step 2:
- A long length of green stranded (not solid) ground wire, long enough to reach from your bedbug death chamber to the nearest copper water pipe
- A ground clamp (sometimes called a saddle clamp) that allows you to connect a ground wire to a water pipe - there's a picture of it at step 2.
- Drill (optional, but recommended)
- Wire cutter
- Wire strippers
- If you choose to follow the "no cutting, no wiring' method at step two, you'll need a pipe wrench or similar tool with large jaws.