We have a bed bug issue and have found out that heat is the best way to kill them. Would it be better to use an electric heater or a propane heater? How long would it take for each to heat up a ~200 sq ft room to 125F? What are the pros and cons?

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    It takes a matter of a few seconds for almost any heater to heat up to 125 degrees. Actually most heaters go far past that, because the goal is (usually) to heat air that will then heat up a room. Heating up a large area (room? house?) to 125 degrees safely is another story altogether. Please provide more specifics about the area to be heated. Jul 20 at 16:47
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    Cons are you need to heat everything where bugs are to that temperature. Should see this question for some safer ideas. diy.stackexchange.com/questions/18392/…
    – crip659
    Jul 20 at 16:53
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    I am guessing she means heat the entire room to 125F. It depends on the size of the room, right? It will take quite some time after that for structures in the room (like the bed, where the bugs are hiding) to also become 125F.
    – Willk
    Jul 20 at 16:54
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    We're getting closer. 200 square feet gives a starting point. Now the answer depends on "How big a heater?" Safety issues with any heater. Keep in mind that with propane you have an air issue - need fresh air in to provide oxygen for combustion, need venting out to get rid of CO (also CO2, but most critical is CO). Jul 20 at 16:57
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    Most rooms have windows. Most rooms don't have 50A receptacles. That's going to be the deciding factor, I think. Jul 20 at 17:53

This is a difficult question to answer because a lot depends on heating a living space well beyond the temperature that one normally heats a room to.

Take this not as an answer but as a commentary that I could not fit in the comment box.

What matters is how much BTU ("heat output") you need to produce, to raise the temperature in a room. The source of the heat does not matter physically but could be determined by other practical factors such as available electrical power or fresh air supply for a gas heater.

It's well known that it takes about 7000 BTU to heat a room of about 200sqft. This is easily obtained from tables provided by the HVAC (heating & cooling) industry. However, this is a very broad number and considers typical winter conditions, room insulation (esp. windows) and a target temperature of 21C.

Getting to 125F (52C) is an entirely different matter: as temperature rises so does the heat loss, because the loss depends on the difference between inside and outside temperature.

It is also well known that it takes 0.24 BTU to raise the temperature of 1 pound of air by 1F (yes, British origins), and 1lb of air is 12.39 cuft. If you are inclined to do so, you can translate this to the BTU required to get from 20C to 52C in a 200sqft room. However, this only accounts for the air, not the walls, furniture, etc... and it does not discount the losses from radiation and leaks.

Again, this is a commentary, so I ask you to accept that this is not the answer to your question, but I hope it provides some perspective.

If heat is your approach, and not toxins or diatomaceous earth (DE), then applying heat with a heat gun or steamer is probably going to give you more effective and predictable results.

A steamer provides hot moist air which has a higher heat capacity for better heat transfer without requiring a destructively high air temperature. With bursts of steam you only need to expose the bugs briefly. If your goal is to heat the entire room, you'd need make sure all pockets are at the right temperature, and it will likely take more than 52C in the room air to ensure areas under rugs etc.. reach that temperature.

You can direct the heat where required, and apply only as much to raise the temperature but not ruin the materials.

You can then also use an infrared thermometer to confirm the temperature with pinpoint accuracy.

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    OP means 125F. 125C would burn the place down. 140F (60C) is considered the "kills everything" safe temp, so 125F sounds about right. Jul 21 at 0:00
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica yes 125F (52C) is correct. Good point.I looked it up: 119 kills them, 125F their eggs. I'll edit.
    – P2000
    Jul 21 at 0:40

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