Electric blankets are safe, soft and subtly warm
Sleeping well in the winter (or any cold night) can be a challenge. Couples, especially, may war over how many blankets are appropriate or whether the windows should stay open for a breeze rather than guard against the night's chilly air. Heated bedding helps resolve these issues. Electric blankets, throws and mattress pads offer a lot of options for people who would love to crawl between preheated sheets, suffering from cold feet in the middle of the night. Additionally, some users claim an extra warm bed helps alleviate body aches.
Electric blankets and mattress pads make a warm bed achievable at the flick of a button. Many have preheating functions, which allow you to set a desired temperature while getting ready for bed. And because not everyone finds a warm bed conducive to rest, heat controls typically feature up to 10 temperature settings for optimal comfort. Additionally, couples can take advantage of queen-sized and larger models that have two controls -- one for each side of the blanket.
Electric blankets used to be thick and scratchy and posed a fire hazard with extended use; their only solace was the gradual heat they provided. Modern heated blankets warm you with thin, supple wires sandwiched between layers of ultra-soft fleece, plush or knit. Learning from the past, safety ratings are now paramount, and blankets come with automatic shut-off timers and bulky power adapters meant to nix the heat before the blanket -- or its occupant -- becomes overheated. Others, like the Soft Heat Luxury Micro-fleece (Est. $80 and up) , use low-voltage electricity, which experts consider safest. Additionally, most modern units can be machine-washed and even machine-dried, as long as the manufacturer's recommendations are observed.
There's a lot to like about modern electric blankets, mattress pads and throws. However, there also seems to be some lingering quality control issues even among the most respected and widely available brands.
We searched through hundreds of user-contributed reviews along with several single-product and comparative reviews by home appliance experts to find the best products manufactured by the most reliable companies. However, all electric blankets we researched seem to have a few common problems. First, while the look and feel of the electric blanket may have improved greatly, users say the plastic digital or analog controls are less impressive.
Moreover, the connection between the detachable cord and the blanket itself can be fragile, some users say. Many consumers, regardless of the brand, report their heat controls have malfunctioned at least once and often severely enough to ask the manufacturer for repair or refund. All of the products reviewed in this report come with five-year limited warranties. Despite this industry standard, consumers who have used electric blankets for years say they typically only last about a year.
Electric blankets receive little attention from professional reviewers at home-goods publications but do receive ample feedback from owners sharing their opinions and experiences on retail websites. The exception is Good Housekeeping, which conducted an electric blanket test a few years ago, including our top heated mattress pad, the Sunbeam Quilted Heated Mattress Pad; they gave it an A-minus. Good Housekeeping also offers tips on what to look for when purchasing an electric blanket.
By far the most numerous user-written reviews for electric blankets can be found on Amazon.com and Walmart.com, two of the nation's largest online retailers. When analyzing user reviews in order to identify the best models, we look for those touting the products' durability, heating performance and level of comfort as well as other issues that affect ownership.