Electric blankets have evolved from obscure devices used in tuberculosis sanitariums for patients, to become a modern-day luxury so many people adore. Those who want to stay toasty without busting the heating budget or who simply always feel cold rely on electric blankets for warmth and comfort.
Sure enough, when the temperature dips into the frigid zone, an electric blanket can keep you warm in the draftiest of bedrooms. This “luxury” also lets you lower the thermostat at night to save money and energy without having to pile on the duvets. These days, many consumers consider them a necessity more than a luxury, especially in very cold climates.
Unlike today’s safe and lightweight electric blankets, early versions were actually big, bulky and very dangerous, according to ThoughtCo.com. As already mentioned, they found their first uses in 1921 in TB sanitariums where patients slept outside for the fresh air. That first design was patented by inventor S.I. Russell. Later, the first automatic home electric blanket was launched in 1936 and people with cold feet have been buying them ever since.
Modern Electric Blankets
Today’s safe, modern and lightweight electric blankets bear little resemblance to their forebearers. First of all, for marketing reasons, this product is often rebranded as a “heated blanket.” Whatever you call them, most all have an automatic setting that powers turns it off after a defined time period. This not only makes them safe but also saves energy. Why leave have the blanket running long after the bed is warm and you’re fast asleep? Up until the early 1980s, an electric blanket was essentially wires and thermostats integrated into a blanket shell. According to Madehow, 1984 ushered in a big technology leap that made electric blankets without thermostats. With a “positive temperature coefficient wiring system,” where the wires sense temperature changes and can adjust.
Electric blankets now also have a host of other features that let users control the heating experience:
- Dual controls – Do you disagree with your sleeping partner about how warm the bed should be? Maybe you’re bundled up within an inch of your life while he or she is practically uncovered. Help is on the way! Many models offer dual controls that allow two people to set separate heating levels on each side of the bed. Crank your side up to high while the other side is on low – or even shut off.
- Zoned controls – This is a further refinement of the dual control concept and is useful for people who might just want to heat up the bottom of the bed where their feet are.
- Responsive – Related to zoned blankets, some high-end models can also detect the temperature of different parts of the body (like feet) and adjust how much heat is generated in that area.
- Programmable – Technology has also made it possible to have a programmable electric blanket. This lets users set a regular time for it to come on and preheat the bed so that when it’s time to go to sleep, everything is at the optimum temperature.
Of course, along with the popularity of electric blankets, questions about their safety began to arise. In the 1990s, controversy arose over the safety of electromagnetic fields in general, and this included electric blankets. Madehow.com reports that an early scientific study had found an alarming link between childhood leukemia and their use, but other studies were contradictory or inconclusive. Nevertheless, manufacturers were spooked enough to redesign their products in a way that minimized any electric fields produced. Today’s electric blankets are rigorously tested and must have certification from the underwriters laboratory.
Despite being super safe, there are some measures consumers should take:
- Don’t use an old one – That yard sale find might still be functional but not necessarily safe. Get rid of any electric blanket that is 10 years old or more. It’s not likely it would pass today’s more stringent safety requirements.
- Certified safe – Don’t buy or use a blanket that doesn’t meet the UL safety standards.
- Safety Shut-off – Make sure your blanket will automatically turn off in case of overheating or being accidentally left on.
- Don’t sandwich the cords – Sure they’re not the most attractive thing to have accessorizing your bed, but it’s never safe to have the electric cord run underneath the mattress or between the mattress and box springs.
- Don’t layer – Electric blankets are made to work solo and not layered amid quilts, bedspreads and comforters.
- Follow the directions – When it comes time to clean the blanket, pay attention to the instructions from the manufacturer on how to wash and dry it. An electric blanket should never be dry cleaned.
- Use as directed – It’s a phrase you often see on medications, but also holds true for electric blankets. If it’s designed for a bed, use it flat. Of you want something you can bundle up in on the couch, find one specifically made for that.
- Watch for wear – As with any electrical appliance, keep an eye out for frayed cords, cracks, tears or anything unusual. If you notice anything funny about its operation, stop using it.
Best Electric Blankets
So you’ve decided you want to try out an electric blanket? We’ve done the homework for you and here are the best electric blankets out there, along with the top features that each one offers:>?
Amazon Choice for “queen electric blankets with one controller” is this Sunbeam heated blanket with 10 settings. The 100 percent polyester fleece blanket is fluffy and soft, and incorporates ThermoFine technology the manufacturer says “delivers consistent, evenly distributed heat.” The “exclusive wiring system” in this Sunbeam blanket is able to sense the heat level and adjusts appropriately while it is turned on.
The generous number of heat settings lets users set it for just the right amount of warmth, whether that is the same every night or not. For safety, the blanket has an automatic-shutoff that turns it off after 10 hours of use. The queen size is advertised as having one controller, but some purchasers noted that there were two.
- Buyers who gave this blanket five-star ratings praised its speedy heating, generous size and adjustability.
- Some reviewers had issues with durability and proper functioning.
This Sunbeam heated throw blanket is one that you can have all for yourself. It’s just the right size for snuggling up on the couch on a cold evening. Since it’s for one, you can set it on any one of the three heat settings — whichever one keeps you the most comfortable and toasty. In fact, this is Amazon’s #1 best seller in electric throws. If you’re looking to turn down the thermostat and still stay warm anywhere in the house, this affordable throw is just the ticket.
Made of 100% polyester, the throw is a super soft microplush fabric that is very cozy. Like other Sunbeam electric blankets, it uses the ThermoFine technology for generating and distributing heat throughout the throw. Since it is not designed for a bed, but rather for casual use, it has a 3-hour automatic shut-off for safety. Moreover, for convenience, the blanket is also machine-washable and dryer-safe.
- Five-star reviews on this throw highlight its speedy warming and ease of washing and drying
- Some buyers have experienced problems with the reliability of the throw and Sunbeam’s return and repair policy.
The reversible Sherpa throw blanket from Sunbeam is cozy even before you turn it on. As Amazon’s Choice for “soft electric blanket,” it becomes super snuggly once the heat is on. With the Sherpa on one side and a plush polyester “mink” fabric on the other, it’s perfect for keeping you toasty, no matter how cold the room is. Users say that it is possible to feel the wires in the blanket but not it is not a big negative. The throw features three heat settings so users can adjust it to the desired warmth and it also has a 3-hour automatic shut-off for safety.
Sized a generous 50 by 60 inches, it is great for wrapping up in a chair or napping on the sofa. The throw is also machine washable and safe to put in the dryer, which makes cleaning it very easy. The product is covered by a 5-year limited warranty.
- Buyers rate this throw highly for its softness and speedy warmth, and not it is useful in a cold workplace as well!
- Some reviewers have had difficulties with it not working after a short time and pilling of the sherpa material
Stop cringing at the thought of crawling into a cold bed every night with this Sunbeam microplush heated blanket. The 100% polyester blanket has 10 heat settings to let users customize the level of warmth. Even better, this top electric blanket comes with a ComfortTec controller that has an LED digital display and push buttons for controlling the blanket. The controller also features a pre-heat function that warms up the bed to be nice and toasty when it’s bedtime. A 10-hour automatic shut-off for safety means a long and toasty night with no worries about forgetting to turn it off. the larger sizes of the blanket — queen and king — have two controllers so that sleep partners can make adjustments to their own halves of the bed.
- Buyers who rated this blanket highly loved its light weight, reliability and quick heating./
- Some reviewers fund the light weight a negative and others had issues with defective products.
As Amazon’s Choice for “electric blanket,” the Sunbeam quilted fleece heated blanket with 10 settings is ideal for making the bed toasty and warm all through the night or just at bedtime. The 100 percent polyester blanket has a channel-quilted design that is attractive as well as functional. It comes with an EasySet Pro Controller that allows users to adjust the heat at any of the 10 settings and features an automatic shut-off that kicks in after 10 hours of use, eliminating any worry of leaving the blanket on in the morning.
Sunbeam’s Thermofine warming system is able to sense the level of heat and adjust the temperature during use in order to keep it at the optimum warmth. Users say the wires in this system are among the thinnest in the market. The electric blanket, which can be washed by machine and dried in the dryer, is also covered by a five-year warranty from Sunbeam.
- Happy customers love the blankets fast and even heating and the adjustable control, calling it a great blanket for the price.
- Reviewers had some problems with durability and burnout.
Fashionistas will love the styling of this Sunbeam heated fleece throw blanket in a trendy zebra print. The 100% polyester blanket is a lighter weight than some other Sunbeam throw blankets but nonetheless provides cozy, fleecy warmth at any one of the three heat settings. For safety, the throw has a three-hour automatic shut-off function that alleviates any worry about being left on. An ample 50 by 60 inches, it’s large enough for snuggling in or napping. Buyers also report purchasing this throw for use at their desks in cold workplaces.
As with other Sunbeam products, the throw has a Thermofine warming system that can sense the heat level and adjust accordingly to keep the user consistently toasty. For ease of cleaning, the blanket is machine washable and safe for the dryer. It also comes backed by Sunbeam’s five-year warranty.
- Reviewers who have this product five stars love the speedy warming of this throw as well as its portability around the house.
- Some buyers reported receiving different fabric patterns while others were not happy with cord placement on the throw.
Serta’s reversible sherpa/fleece heated electric throw blanket is Amazon’s Choice for “heated electric throw” and will make buyers look forward to coming home and snuggling up for the evening. The microplush throw is made from 100 percent polyester white sherpa lining and features five heat settings to customize the heating level. Unlike some blankets that have a short cord, this Serta throw comes with a longer 8.5-foot power cord that makes it easy to plug in no matter what the room’s layout is.
Generously sized at 50 x 60 inches, the Serta throw includes a built-in safety mechanism that shuts off the power after 4 hours. This means there no worries about a family member leaving it on too long. A light-up controller is easy to use and detaches from the blanket, making it easy to wash in the machine.
- Buyers who give this blanket five-star ratings call out its ample softness, perfect size and cozy warmth.
- Some reviewers noted the throw stopped working after a short time, while others had issues with it operating properly.
Whether you’re searching for something to warm you up while snuggled on the couch or in bed, these electric blankets will all do the trick. It’s a matter of personal preference which one you choose based on the features each one offers. The main thing to remember is if you want one to function as a throw that you can wrap up in, be sure to purchase a blanket make for that purpose. Many electric blankets designed for beds should be used flat and not be crumpled up like a throw.