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I live in Alaska, where we claim the mosquito is actually the state bird. Alaska has 35 species of the blood-sucking mosquitoes, and these insects are the bane of everyone’s existence come summer. Typical survival tools include lathering up with layers of bug dope, not stepping outside without full body coverage, smoking them out with a fire, and constant waving and swatting. I’ve been using Thermacell products for years while living in a camper van, and once the units proved themselves against the Alaskan mosquitoes, there was no going back. After testing the latest rendition, the Thermacell EL55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller, it could be my favorite in the lineup.
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Width/Height: 4.5 inches by 4.5 inches
- Rechargeable Li-ion battery with up to 9 hours of power
- 20-foot range
- Active Ingredient: 5.5% Metofluthrin
Thermacell’s EL55 repeller provides up to a 20-foot zone of smokeless and scentless vapor bug protection that is environmentally safe for humans and pets.
The rechargeable Li-ion battery has light and audio monitoring to alert you when it needs to be charged.
This portable device features a dimmable light around the base that can be used independently or in combination with the bug repellent.
Testing the Thermacell EL55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller and Glow Light in the Field
As I mentioned, I have been using various Thermacell products for the last couple of years. Overall, I’m very impressed with the effects they have on the ever-growing mosquito population around my cabin. I started with the original Radius (now discontinued), and then moved to the fuel-based Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller.
The EL55 has been my favorite so far. Out of the box, it is very self-intuitive. You can figure out how to use it without reading the small instruction book. It comes with one 12-hour cartridge of bug repellent. The repellent is a liquid called metofluthrin. When heated, the metofluthrin turns to a safe odorless vapor that can repel up to 97 percent of mosquitoes.
Does It Keep Mosquitoes Away?
There’s no stinky smoke or sprays. And you don’t have to lather up your skin with essential oils or chemicals. Best of all, the vapor works without tainting a meal on the back deck. While running the Thermacell EL55, even in the middle of the heaviest mosquito season, there were very few flying around me. The product boasts a 20-foot radius zone, but after much testing (walking away 20 feet and being bit), I would say it is more like a 12 to 15-foot radius. Not a big deal to me as I mainly have it nearby anyway.
I love that the device is rechargeable and charges quickly using the USB-C cord provided. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to charge up fully, but I rarely let it empty. After a night of use, I just plug it in, then the next morning it is ready to go. The specs say that the battery lasts up to 9 hours for just using the repellent, and 5.5 hours while using the light and repellent. I found those times to be a little too high; it was more like 7 to 8 hours and 5 hours, respectively.
Using the Thermacell EL55
The EL55 has just two buttons. The lower one, with the light bulb on it, operates a dimmable 360-degree light. When the light button is pushed, the light comes on at full power and then can be dimmed to a low glow. The main top button turns on the repellent. The device makes a loud three-ding audio sound while the four white LED lights flash during warm up. In a few minutes, the four lights turn solid and small amounts of vapor release from the top creating a mosquito-free zone. Another touch of that button will indicate how much battery life is left.
A strong magnet secures the top and there are two finger indentations to lift up. That is where you drop in the cartridge refill. This lid is so secure that when turned upside down, it stays on. The USB-C charging port has a rubber cover that fits tightly. Although the Thermacell Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller Glow Light does not say it’s waterproof, I left it out in the rain and it still works perfectly.
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What the Thermacell EL55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller and Glow Light Does Best
The highlights for me are the fact that the repellent works and only lets out a small amount of scentless vapor that pushes the mosquitoes away. I also appreciate that it’s a non-harmful vapor (unless ingested). The audio sounds letting you know it is on and when it is about to run out of battery are very user friendly. Two buttons make it super easy to use—one for the repellent and one for the light. It is also very light and compact, so it could go along on a car camping adventure or sit on the back deck all summer long.
Where the Thermacell EL55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller and Glow Light Can Improve
I hate the fact that the cartridges are wasteful, and have to be thrown away after they empty instead of refilling them. The 40-hour cartridge only holds 0.33 ounce and the 12-hour cartridge holds 0.11 ounce. I feel they are also quite expensive ($18 for a three pack of 12-hour cartridges and $55 for a three pack of 40-hour cartridges) for the amount they hold. Further, my test showed they are not true to the hours of life they hold. For example, the 12-hour cartridge only lasted me around 10 hours.
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Final Thoughts on the Thermacell EL55
If you want to avoid burning citronella candles, surrounding yourself in campfire smoke, and lathering yourself in smelly bug dope, the Thermacell EL55 Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller is the best odorless solution. With it you can finally enjoy that picnic or drink on the deck without the constant buzzing and biting of mosquitoes.