Let me start off by explaining why I’m about to pour my heart and soul into this review: I love to grill. Something about it is so calming to me — like Megan Fox says in “New Girl,” “Grilling relaxes me.” It sounds like a joke, but I’m totally serious.
But for so long, grilling during the summer has always been tainted by one thing: mosquitoes. From June to late September, the mosquitoes where I live are just SO bad, it becomes nearly unbearable to step outside without either wearing long pants, long sleeves, and long socks (miserable in the heat), or dousing yourself in Deet (which I don’t want to do every day for four months straight).
It’s to the point that I have to severely curtail my favorite hobby during prime grilling season just to avoid being eaten alive. That is, until I discovered Bell + Howell’s Solar Monster Zapper. My neighbor put me onto it, actually — I saw him installing one in his backyard, got curious, and asked him about it. Now I have one too, and it has TOTALLY changed my life during the summer. Sit tight and I’ll explain exactly why.
Basically, this is a solar-powered bug zapper. I’m sure you’ve seen these before — the UV light lures insects in, they get too close to the electric grid, and it zaps them, killing them instantly. These are so effective because bugs are naturally drawn to the light — they can’t help but get close to the zapper.
This one is 1200 volts, which, from what I understand, is extremely powerful in comparison to other models on the market. It has a great reach, too. I put mine within a few feet of my grill and so far it’s taken care of all the mosquitoes that would be trying to suck my blood. I’m not sure exactly how far the range extends, but I would guess maybe a 10 to 15-foot radius. It’s certainly enough to let me enjoy my grilling in peace again.
This isn’t JUST a bug zapper, though — it’s also a spotlight. In my opinion, this spotlight feature makes the zapping even more effective, because it’s like two different kinds of light are drawing the insects in. But it also means that I now have a spotlight in my backyard right where I tend to be outside when it’s dark out. I can grill into the evening as the sun is setting and still see everything that I’m doing.
And the best part? The spotlight is motion activated. I don’t have to press any buttons or flip any switches, it detects that I’m walking toward the grill and flips on all by itself. That’s some high-quality tech if you ask me.
Now here’s what’s so brilliant about this product. It does everything that it’s supposed to, and it does those things well. But it also plays a third role on my back patio that I didn’t anticipate: Security.
That motion-activated light is the cheapest, most effective security equipment I never would’ve thought of myself. Anytime someone gets within 15 feet of it — which is close to my back doors — the floodlight switches on. And that thing is BRIGHT. I don’t know exactly how many watts or lumens or whatever it is, but it basically looks like broad daylight when the floodlight is on. If I were a thief trying to break into someone’s home and that light suddenly flipped on me, I’d get the heck out of there.
Aside from the light itself, the solar panel mounted on top of the floodlight looks like a little control panel, or maybe a camera, adding another layer of security to this whole setup. Again, if I were a thief and the floodlight flipped on, I’d take a quick look at that solar panel and immediately think it was a security camera filming my every move. I’d get out of there as quickly as possible. It’s like a Beware Of Dog sign on the fence — even if they can’t actually see the dog, the threat of a dog being is enough to provide a baseline level of security.
The solar panel is a nice touch, of course. I don’t have to worry about my electric bill or running a cord out to my grill area, I can just let the sun do all the work. Of course, if you live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun, I don’t know if I would recommend this product. It obviously needs sunlight to function. But for me, getting sun for at least half a year, it’s perfect.
It also feels more environmentally responsible to rely on solar power, which I like. It’s hard to live without relying on electricity, fossil fuels, gas, etc. It’s just the way our society is set up, unfortunately. So I like to take the opportunity to use renewable energy whenever I can, even if it’s on something as little as my phone charger or this bug zapper. I have to hope that the little things will add up.
I found the setup for this to be super easy — I just mounted it onto the paneled fencing a few feet away from my grill. It took maybe 15 minutes and a few simple hardware items. So far it’s survived some pretty heavy rainstorms and winds, so I’d definitely say it’s lived up to the durability I was hoping for. I’m not sure how it will go during the winter, but based on how this summer went, my hopes are high.
The bottom of the Monster Zapper is a stake, so if you don’t want to mount it, you can just drive it into the ground and it will stand up on its own. One thing I would change about this product if I could — the stake isn’t very tall, which makes the floodlight pretty useless if you stake it into the ground. If it were me, I would make the stake telescopic, so you can adjust it to be at whatever height you’d like. That being said, if you’re planning on using it solely as a bug zapper and not for the extra floodlight/security purposes that I use mine for, you won’t have a problem with it.
All in all, I found this to be a great product for what I think is a super reasonable price point. I was shocked by what a wide radius of bug-free air it creates, and I’ve been so thrilled to be able to go out to my grill in a tank top and shorts without being eaten alive in minutes.
It’s made grilling later in the evening and during the summer in general so much easier. And now that it’s mounted, I never have to worry about maintenance or upkeep — it can survive harsh weather and recharge with sunlight. If it wasn’t for the super-short stake, I’d describe this as a perfect product.
My final verdict: 4.75/5 stars. I’m so glad I saw my neighbor installing one, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who has to deal with biting insects or needs an inexpensive floodlight in their yard.
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