Depending on how you intend to use them, electric blankets can be viewed as either a luxury item or a medical necessity. Despite those differing uses, all electric blankets share similar features – they are thin, elongated pieces of cloth with insulated wiring inside of them that produce heat – plain and simple. Whether you’re going to use an electric blanket for some extra cosiness on the couch or in the bed, or to keep a patient warm over the night is up to you.
In both cases, however, it’s strongly advisable to look for a high-value product. This isn’t to say that a cheap electric blanket can’t be of a high enough quality, but simply that you should prioritize quality above all else. This will ensure that the wiring is well-made and secure, that there isn’t any risk of short-circuiting and incidents, that the temperature will be sufficient, as well as that the electric blanket will have enough options and settings to provide you with a good experience.
It’s precisely because high-quality and low-quality electric blankets can have such a big variation that we decided to write this article. It turns out that there is a lot of research that goes into making an informed choice about an electric blanket purchase. So, to help you and countless others make the right decision and don’t just buy the first electric blankets on sale they see, we went through all the research ourselves. And its end-result is below – our choices for the best electric blankets currently on the market, our guide on how to buy an electric blanket, how electric blankets work, how they should be used and maintained, and much more.
Top 3 Electric Blankets:
The HDW electric blanket model of Medisana is an excellent blanket with great heating potential. It has a very soft and comfortable multi-layered texture made out of fluffy microfiber fleece. It also has 4 different heating settings for complete control over your experience. The blanket and the operating element detach easily from each other, which makes this fleece electric blanket machine-washable.
- The blanket uses only 120 watts whilst working so it’s very economic.
- The 4 different power settings help personalize your experience.
- It has a 3-hour automatic shut-off in case you fall asleep.
- It has efficient overheating protection.
- The HDW is a washable electric blanket.
- A UK plug adapter needs to be purchased separately.
- The cable is not too long, so you’ll need an extension or a nearby power outlet.
This single electric blanket from Imetec has dimensions of 75 x 35 inches. It has 5 different heat settings, making it useful in a lot of situations. It has a soft and pleasant texture, so you’ll be happy to both spread it under your sheets and cuddle in it.
- Multiple heating settings for user personalization.
- Soft, comfortable texture.
- Easy to use control unit.
- This is quite an expensive product.
Klarstein Dr. Watson XL
Klarstein brings us this double electric blanket for couples and families. It has 3 separate heating settings which you can use to customize your experience. The dimensions of 71 x 51 inches help it fit on most double beds. It has a comfortable and soft texture, and can either be spread underneath the sheets or used over the body.
- The detachable unit allows this blanket to be machine-washable.
- The blanket has an automatic shutdown after 3 hours.
- 120W of power.
- Great dimensions of 71 x 51 inches.
- Aside from the 3 heat settings the user doesn’t have any more control over the blanket.
How we picked the best electric blankets?
Picking the best electric blankets for our list above was a fun experience that didn’t present much of the complications that some other product groups do. Which isn’t to say that it didn’t take us a couple of dozen hours of research, but there was one key factor that helped us quite a bit – all electric blankets work on the same principle and have more or less the same design. Unlike some other product groups that we’ve written about such as milk frothers or ice cream machines there aren’t 10 different sub-types of electric blankets. Every electric blanket is essentially a normal blanket of a given textile choice that has insulated electrical wiring in it that produces warmth.
This uniformity of the product group meant that all we needed to do was compare the electric blankets on the market in terms of their price, quality and range of options. Of course, this is where things got difficult, because there are actually thousands of different electric blankets being sold online right now. Going through all of them, separating and comparing their various materials, prices and control options in tables, as well as reading consumer reviews and professionals’ opinion articles – this made up the bulk of our time.
The reason we chose to compare electric blankets based on price, quality and range of options is because those are essentially all the objective factors that matter. Which textile you prefer is more subjective, so we’ve left for you to decide whether you prefer wool, cotton, microfiber fleece, or anything else. The quality of the product is really the chief concern we had, since a poor-quality electric blanket can have a rather short life, can be a fire hazard, and can have unpleasant and unhealthy electrical magnetic field.
Price and quality correlate pretty evenly with electric blankets, meaning that expensive blankets are usually of high quality, and cheap blankets are usually very poorly made. Still, we did our best to find high-quality budget electric blankets. After all, there’s no reason to break the bank over a blanket if you can avoid it and not compromise on the quality.
As far as the range of options on electric blankets are concerned, they aren’t computers, but there are still several key “quality of life” options that good blankets usually have. There are great electric blankets with up to 10 temperature settings, there are blankets with overheating protection, there are battery operated heated blankets for when you’ve gone camping, etc. You can also get an electric blanket with timer that shuts down after a set period of time. There are even blankets that are designed to detect your body heat and the room temperature and regulate their operation accordingly.
Simply put, while all electric blankets work on the same principle, you can pick and choose a blanket that really fits your lifestyle. For couples, there are even dual control electric blankets and king size electric blanket dual control variants.
These can all be considered luxuries, but they can be quite important, especially if you have the habit of falling asleep on the couch, wrapped in your electric blanket.
A quick breakdown of electric blankets
Electric blankets are a part of a larger group of heating products and devices used across multiple industries. Electric heating pads are used in hospitals to keep patients warm, heating seats in cars and other vehicles can be used during the cold months, heating battery-operated jackets and other clothes are excellent during the winter or high in the mountains, and so on. All these items have different but similar applications and most of them can be used as both luxury items and medical ones.
Heating blankets themselves are most often purchased as luxury items for the home, but are sometimes used in hospitals or for home treatments of patients. As luxury items, they come in all shapes and sizes. There are electric blankets that are more suitable for couch or sofa usage, ones that are intended for heating your bed underneath the sheets, ones that are meant to be used under a regular blanket, while others are thick enough to be used as a normal blanket.
Electric blankets work in a very simple way – they have insulated electric wires that run throughout the blanket and provides heat when plugged in a power source or a battery. They usually come with a user control unit that helps regulate the temperature, set a timer for an auto-shutdown function, and other user-friendly options.
If you’re not really sure that you want an electric blanket, there are other similar products to consider. We already mentioned some of them – electric heating pads, for example, can also easily heat your bed before you go to sleep at night. Electric pillows or electric foot billows can keep you warm in specific areas of the bed. Plus, there are a lot of great non-electric options for your bedroom like winter covers, duvets, and others. However, while electric blankets are far from the only option for warmth and cosiness during the winter months, they are certainly one of the more popular ones.
Are electric blankets safe?
Electric blankets today are much safer than ones from the previous century. Still, even today and even with a top-notch product, improper use can easily lead to some safety concerns. Chief among those are house fires. Every experienced fireman will tell you that a large number of the fires they’ve had to deal with during the winter have been caused by electric blankets. Most modern electric blankets contain safety circuits that aim to prevent such accidents, but even those can’t do miracles if you are mishandling your blanket. Here’s how an electric blanket can cause a house fire:
- After an overheating of the heating element which can ignite combustible materials in the bedroom.
- After a broken electrical conductor causes an electrical arcing and as a result – ignite combustible materials in the bedroom.
- Also, in lower-quality electric blankets, other electrical components aside from the heating element can also overheat and cause problems.
Most of the times, fires happen not after a direct misuse of the product, but simply after years of usage and amortisation. That’s why it’s important to frequently inspect your electric blanket and change it when it’s gotten several years of service already. That’s also why you should never leave an electric blanket working unattended.
When setting out to buy an electric blanket, we recommend keeping in mind the key criteria that we used in the making of this article:
- Quality is not to be compromised with when it comes to electric blankets. It’s easy to view them as just a luxury item, but as we already mentioned, a low-quality electric blanket can not only leave you in the cold after just several uses, but it can also be hazardous for your home. If you’ve made the decision to get yourself an electric blanket, go all the way and purchase something truly nice.
- Price, while not trumping quality as a priority, should also be considered. Electric blankets are generally well-priced with the more expensive ones offering more for their price, but some extra research quickly reveals good budget options as well.
- The amount of control options an electric blanket can have isn’t that big but it isn’t inconsequential either. It’s really up to you and your lifestyle how many temperature settings you need, whether you need overheating protection or an auto-shutoff option. Yet, still an electric blanket is something that can be used in multiple different situations, our philosophy is – the more versatile, the better. Especially if you want to buy an electric blanket for a sick person to help him or she regulate their temperature and sleep well at night, then having good and detailed control options is very important.
With the more objective criteria taken care of, here are some other things to consider before making a purchase:
- How big do you want your electric blanket to be? Do you want just a single-person couch blanket that can keep you warm? Do you want an electric under blanket for one or two people that you can put under your own blanket in bed? Do you want a fitted electric blanket to put underneath the sheets and use to warm up your bed? Depending on such preferences, on the size of your bed, on your own height, and so on, you’d do best to figure out the exact size you want before making a purchase.
- The exact materials and texture are also important for ensuring maximum comfort. This is entirely subjective of course, with some people preferring wool or cotton, others going for microfiber, and so on. If you’re not too familiar with the textures of different textiles or if you’re buying the blanket as a present for someone else, it’s best to make sure what the most suitable material is beforehand. A blanket made out of the “wrong” for the person materials will usually end up unused in the wardrobe and that’s not something you want out of a luxury item.
- It goes without saying, but colour should also be considered, especially if you plan on using your electric blanket on a living room couch or something similar. Luckily, most big brands offer their electric blanket models in large varieties of colours.
- Find a blanket that’s energy efficient. While even energy inefficient electric blankets are not going to break your budget, there’s no reason to buy a nice 12v electric blanket instead of something more efficient. If given the choice between two comparable blankets, you should obviously pick the one that will save you some energy.
- Choose an electric blanket that’s washable. For an electric blanket to be washable, the controls must be detachable. If they are, you’ll be able to just throw the blanket in the washing machine together with your other sheets and blankets.
Once you’ve decided on the exact type of electric blanket you want, comes the time for research. We’ve tried to give you all the information you might need in this article, but there’s certainly much more you can read online. If neither of the electric blankets we’ve suggested captured your eyes, then prepare to read a ton of consumer reviews and distinguishing the useful ones from the not-so-useful ones. The thing about consumer reviews is that while most of them are well-meaning, most of them lack context, offer irrelevant or circumstantial information, or are outdated. Still, make sure to read as much as possible to avoid making an ill-informed purchase.
If you find professional industry reviews for an electric blanket that interests you, these can offer you a lot of useful information, but make sure they aren’t biased.
Lastly, another factor that you might want to use as a basis of your choice is brand names. In this industry, as in any other, they are famous brands that have substance behind their names, famous brands that don’t really offer the expected high quality, and less famous brands that are true hidden gems. The brand isn’t everything, of course, but it can certainly help you make your final decision. Here are some of the better brands on the market right now: Medisana, Sunbeam, Imetec, Soft Heat, Klarstein, Serta, AEG, Biddeford and OBH.
Other information about electric blankets
There are a lot of other things that can be said about electric blankets. We’re sure to miss one or two additional factors, but here’s some more info if you’re interested, before we go to the maintenance section:
History of electric blankets
Electric blankets were first invented to help invalids. An American doctor is credited as the original creator of electric blankets’ predecessor. Doctor Sidney Russell devised the first electric heating pad in 1912. The doctor was trying to find a way to keep his ill patients warm and did so by sticking insulated electrical wires in blankets and pillows. Approximately 8 years later, in 1920, commercial usage began as electric pads and blankets were used in tuberculosis sanatoriums. Because tuberculosis patients were advised to sleep with open windows as they needed fresh air, electric blankets were needed to keep them warm.
Slowly but surely, electric blankets, pads, and pillows started replacing the traditionally used water bottles filled with hot water, heated stones and other such methods. By the 1930s, in the US and the UK electric blankets became luxury items for ordinary households. By 1936, the first heated quilt with automatic controls was introduced.
The electric blankets we know today weren’t introduced until World War 2. Because fighter pilots during the war needed to be kept warm at high altitudes, research led into safety improvements and allowed manufacturers to make thinner, more easily folded electric blankets.
In the 1990s, concern was raised regarding the electric magnetic fields generated by electric blankets. A study by the American Journal of Epidemiology found reason to believe that brain tumors and childhood leukemia could have been caused by the extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields generated by electric blankets. While the study wasn’t conclusive, all major manufacturers altered their process and started making their electric blankets with a new system. This system used parallel wires that held the current flowing in opposite directions. This canceled most of the ELF field and there hasn’t been any concern regarding electric and magnetic fields since.
Is spontaneous abortion an issue with electric blankets?
Multiple studies have been made regarding early and later pregnancies, but no proof has been found that electric blankets can cause spontaneous abortions.
Why are electric blankets unsuitable for diabetics?
Electric blankets don’t affect diabetes directly, but diabetes can cause nerve damage. This nerve damage, specifically in fingers and toes, can prevent the person from feeling when the electric blanket’s temperature has risen too much, and skin burns can occur before the person can realise it. Diabetics have similar problems with hot water baths.
To prevent this, use an electric blanket to warm your bed before going in and turn it off and remove it before you climb in.
Living with and using electric blankets
Aside from picking the right electric blanket for your needs, the next high-importance thing to keep in mind is how to use it properly. As any other electric appliance, there are right and wrong ways to handle your electric blankets. Always read the instructions manual and follow it to the letter. But to further help you out, here are several of the most important key points to remember:
Always inspect your electric blanket carefully before use.
As we mentioned above, house fires caused by electric blankets happen not so much due to incidental misuse, but after years of exploitation. For that reason it’s always important to inspect your blanket carefully before using it. It will take you seconds but it can save you quite a lot of trouble.
Don’t let animals near it.
A lot of pet owners buy electric blankets and pillows specifically for their pets. Both cats and dogs love to cuddle on warm things and appliances during the winter months, but this is really ill-advised with electric blankets. Unlike other heating appliances, the wiring of electric blankets is protected by nothing more than a piece of cloth or wool and that’s something that both a cat and a dog can easily claw or chew through. There are few easier ways to start a house fire than letting your dog chew the wiring of an electric blanket while it’s working. Not to mention that the pet can hurt itself too.
Keep an eye on your skin.
It’s not awfully like that you’ll burn yourself on a high-quality modern electric blanket, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If the blanket’s instructions allow it, always use a sheet between your skin and the blanket. Even if you don’t burn yourself directly, you can develop some unusual skin symptoms such as red or purple spots, webbed or spotted formations, etc. This could be due to the close heat, the texture of the blanket, or due to dry skin. Using a moisturizer to prevent dry skin can help, but be ready to consult a dermatologist or stop using the blanket altogether if the problems persist.
Don’t bunch the blanket up.
Depending on their instructions, some electric blankets are capable of operating while carefully folded up in a pillow, but you should never bunch up a blanket. Regardless of whether the blanket is turned on or off, bunching it up can damage the heating wires and you definitely don’t want that to happen.
Be mindful of the cord.
Always pay attention to where the cord is. It should never be between the mattress pad and the box spring as the friction can cause a fire hazard.
Never let a baby or a child use it.
As with pets, a toddler or a baby can easily damage the wiring of an electric blanket while you’re not looking. Remember that this is an electric appliance and not a normal blanket.
Don’t use an electric blanket on a water bed.
It should be self-explanatory, but statistics say it isn’t – never do this! The high temperature of the electric blanket can cause a puncture hole in the water bed, and the water can, in turn, ruin the electric blanket, flood the room, cause a fire, etc.
Store the blanket carefully.
Turn off and unplug the blanket before folding it. After that, fold it carefully and store it somewhere where pets and kids won’t find it, where it’s dry, and where’s rodent-free. Place the cords and the bedding together in a soft cloth bag or a plastic container to prevent dust.
Wash your electric blanket properly.
Washable electric blankets should have their own instructions of how to wash them, but here’s a quick breakdown of the process:
- Remove all cords and controls.
- Pre-treat any stains if possible.
- Wash the blanket with cool-to-warm water. Most electric blankets must be washed at 30 or 40 degrees Celsius. Use a regular detergent and not chlorine bleach or any fabric softeners.
- In standard washing machines with a central agitator, spread the blanket around the drum. Feel free to add other blankets, sheets, towels or clothes for balance.
- Use slow or gentle washing settings. If your machine allows you to regulate the speed of the final spin, set it to the lowest speed option.
- Don’t use just the dryer. Instead, use it for a bit, then take the blanket out while it’s still damp and let it air dry. Don’t use high heat for drying the blanket as it can cause it to shrink and damage the wires’ insulation. While still in the dryer, make sure that the blanket can tumble freely in it.
Don’t dry clean your electric blanket.
Some customers try to opt for dry cleaning, but that’s very ill-advised. The chemicals used in dry cleaning can easily damage the wires’ insulation. Commercial dryers also use high temperatures which is also bad news. Most dry cleaners will simply not take your electric blankets for those reasons, but you wouldn’t want them to anyway.
Ironing is a big No-No as well.
As with dryers and dry cleaners, high heat can easily damage the blanket’s wires. If the blanket is wrinkled and that bothers you, just hang it from a shower rod and let gravity do its thing.
Electric blankets are very versatile products that can be used both for keeping patients warm and as a luxury item at home. Whether on the couch, sofa or in the bed, an electric blanket can bring you an awful lot of comfort, especially if it’s of a high enough quality and if you use it properly. Choosing the right electric blanket need quite a bit of research because there are so many items on the market to choose from. To help you out, here are our suggestions:
The Medisana HDW is a great 120 watts electric blanket. It has 4 different temperature settings, a 3-hour auto-shutdown function, and an efficient overheating protection system. It’s also machine washable and the blanket has a nice and soft texture.
The 16175 model of Imetec is a full-body electric blanket with 5 temperature settings. Its control unit is very easy to use, the blanket has a nice, soft feel to it, and it has great overheating protection and high-quality materials.
For couples and families, the Klarstein Dr. Watson XL is a double-sized bed electric blanket. It can easily keep both you and your partner warm during the night, it has 3 temperature settings, a 3-hour auto-shutdown function, and is also machine washable.