Broan NuTone invents new mosquito barriers for decks
April 13, 2016
The folks at Broan NuTone in Hartford have decided to pick a fight with Wisconsin's unofficial state bird, the mosquito.
This month, the company has taken to market its Haven Backyard Lighting & Mosquito Repellent System, a new product the company says combines the trend of outdoor living with the ability to repel the biting airborne menace.
The process of bringing the Haven product to market has been among the longest Broan NuTone has ever undertaken. The company makes products such as ventilation fans and range hoods that are in 80 million U.S. homes.
"We've been in development on this product since 2010," said Jeff Mueller, group president of Broan NuTone. It has been tested in the laboratory and at 15 sites across North America. "We've been working on this for a long time to get it right.
"This has undergone extensive testing," Mueller added. "We've tested it heavily against different mosquito classes. The effectiveness is very strong. I have it in my yard and it's awesome."
There are no solid estimates on the total dollar value of the mosquito repellent/eradication market in the U.S.
"It's big," said Joe Conlon, a medical entomologist and technical adviser and spokesman for the New Jersey-based American Mosquito Control Association.
Market researcher IBISWorld puts the value of insect repellent manufacturing in the U.S. at $168 million. The Mosquito Control Association says the market for mosquito abatement is $300 million to $400 million, "But that's just the budget for all of the mosquito abatement districts that we know of," Conlon said.
Mueller said Broan NuTone is well aware that its new product is entering a marketplace crowded with science, junk science and folksy home remedies ranging from garlic to purple martins (neither is effective) as ways to repel or eliminate mosquitoes.
"We're very conscious of that," Mueller said. "We're very confident based on the field testing and our laboratory testing that consumers are going to be happy with the product."
Broan NuTone employs nearly 1,000 people in Hartford, roughly a third of the 3,000 people the company employs worldwide. The components for the Haven system are made around the world but final assembly, testing and distribution are all done in Hartford, Mueller said.
"Broan NuTone has called southeast Wisconsin home since 1932," he said. "We are very committed to Wisconsin."
Broan NuTone is a division of Rhode Island-based diversified manufacturing company Nortek Co.
The Haven works by using a patented system in which a heating element is enclosed within a low-wattage landscape light fixture. The heating element heats a cartridge and creates a silent, odorless, invisible vapor that contains a small amount of mosquito repellent metofluthrin.
The chemical and the Haven product are both registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mueller said.
The company is offering the product through landscape and green build contractors. The system can be installed in ground or directly on outdoor decks.
"We believe, given that low voltage landscape lighting is the primary vehicle for delivering the protection, that the green channel plus the electricians that install outdoor lighting are the best way to buy the system and install the system," Mueller said.
The company is focusing its marketing efforts on what Mueller calls "the mosquito belt," — areas of the U.S. where the critters tend to overwhelm the populace.
"The lights themselves are competitively priced with other similar quality lights in the market," Mueller said. "You'll see them probably from $125 to $150 per light depending on configuration."
The retail price for one of the Haven product's mosquito repellent cartridge is in the $40 to $50 range and lasts 90 days when the system is run about two hours a day, Mueller said. One device covers about 110 square feet.
The company also offers a version of the system in which homeowners who already have a landscape lighting system can add mosquito repellent fixtures without lights.
The Haven product line is hitting the market just as hype surrounding the Zika virus has dominated the news. While Zika is a legitimate threat, other mosquito borne illnesses — including La Crosse encephalitis, named for the city in southwest Wisconsin, where it was first discovered in 1963 — remain, even if they no longer dominate headlines.
While control methods and insect repellents applied directly to the skin, specifically DEET, as well as modern medicine have rendered mosquitoes little more than a nuisance to most people in the developed world, that's not so elsewhere.
"They're the most dangerous creature on the planet by orders of magnitude," Conlon said. "People are afraid of sharks. They should be afraid of mosquitoes. One of the least of God's creatures, what they've wrought on mankind, they still kill about a million people a year."
Mueller said the emergence of the Zika virus is only coincidental to the release of the Haven product. "I can't say that we planned it," Mueller said. However, the company decided to increase its inventory of the product as a result of concerns about Zika.
So what will the coming mosquito season bring?
"Impossible to tell this early because so much depends on upcoming precipitation patterns," Susan Paskewitz, University of Wisconsin-Madison entomology professor and mosquito expert, said in an email. "Except in the driest of years, mosquitoes are always bad somewhere in Wisconsin at some point in the season, but we can't pinpoint those locations with much precision. There will probably be an initial peak in June of snowmelt species, again in July as the floodwater species get going and then things may settle down ... or not."
Added Conlon: "Everyone has an innate (chemical) attractiveness for mosquitoes. It's genetically based. Some are more attractive to mosquitoes than others."
To find businesses that offer the Haven Backyard Lighting & Mosquito Repellent System, go to http://www.nutone.com/haven.
Company: Broan-NuTone LLC
Of: Joe Taschler of the Journal Sentinel
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