The Electric Blanket Institute notes that while heated blankets can slip off or be tossed or kicked aside during the night, causing potentially hazardous folding or bunching of the heating elements, electric mattress pads are fitted, and hence securely held flat on your bed. Being "relatively immovable" also improves durability "since they are not being tossed around, pulled and pushed, etc." Finally, heated mattress pads are more efficient since heat radiated upwards is enjoyed by the sleepers instead of being wasted. While there are exceptions, heated mattress pads tend to score higher in user reviews than other heated bedding.
While heated blankets need to be soft and pliable to really score well on the comfort scale, heated mattress pads focus on being fluffy enough to hide the interior coils from sensitive sleepers. Like electric blankets, many electric mattress pads on the market today have 10 heat settings and offer couples dual controls for queen-sized or larger beds. This allows each sleeper to adjust the temperatures on each side of the bed separately.
Our top recommended electric mattress pad, the Sunbeam Quilted Heated Mattress Pad (Est. $45 and up), has received hundreds of user reviews across different retail sites attesting to its quick heating time, simple-to-use controls and quality workmanship. That includes a strong 4.6-star rating at Amazon.com. In addition, testers from Good Housekeeping award this model a grade of A-minus in their comparative review of top mattress pad models. One negative: the top fabric doesn't have the nicest feel, the testers at Good Housekeeping say. The solution? "Soft sheets on top are a must."
There are other mattress pads worth considering. The Soft Heat Warming Mattress Pad (Est. $70 and up) uses the low-voltage technology offered by other Perfect Fit Industries heated bedding products, such as the Soft Heat Luxury Micro-fleece Blanket (Est. $65 and up). Experts consider low-voltage to be the safest type of electric bedding, though improvements in technology make all types of heated mattress pads generally safe overall. Energy efficiency is excellent as well. The kicker might be that the thinner, low voltage wiring makes the mattress pad a touch more comfortable to sleep on, though one tester grouses a little that the top fabric is "scratchy." The other downside is that the Warming Mattress Pad takes a little longer to heat up than other types. We did see some complaints of a low whine at times from the DC power supply. It's no issue for most, but a notable number cite it as bothersome.
The Sunbeam Therapeutic Heated Mattress Pad (Est. $100 and up) also earns some recognition. It doesn't score as highly on overall satisfaction according to user reviews, but it does boast a few more features than the Sunbeam Quilted Mattress Pad or the Soft Heat Warming Mattress Pad. While all three of these electric mattress toppers offer couples the ability to independently control the heat on each side of the mattress, the Sunbeam Therapeutic Heated Mattress Pad has three heat zones on each side of the bed, which can each be adjusted independently. For example, the person on the left side of the bed can have warming at his or her feet only, while the sleeper on the right can aim heat on the back and head zones and cooler temperatures at foot level.
The Sunbeam Therapeutic Mattress Pad also comes with a wireless remote control that eliminates the clutter of wires on the bedside table. One negative: there is only one control that serves both sides of the bed. Users joke that the trickiest part of using this heated pad is determining who will keep the remote control. Some suggest fastening the remote to the bed's headboard.
While heated mattress pads fare better than electric blankets when it comes to durability, the Sunbeam Quilted Heated Mattress Pad seems to generate the best feedback in that regard. All of the mattress pads have five-year warranties from their manufacturers, and that's the norm. However, many users advise the true life span of a heated mattress pad is closer to two years, regardless of the brand.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Reviewed Electric Blankets: Editors discuss the different types of heated bedding available, and name the best choices among electric blankets, heated throw blankets, and electric mattress pads.
Best Electric Blankets: Looking for a cozy electric blanket to keep you warm through a cold winter's night? These top performers use safe and efficient modern technologies to keep the chill at bay.
Best Heated Throw Blanket: Small electric throws are perfect for curling up in on an easy chair or couch. These are the top choices as identified in reviews.
Buying Guide: Not sure what to look for in an electric blanket, throw or mattress pad? This buying guide names the most important considerations.
Our Sources: These are the expert and user reviews we consulted in finding the best electric blankets, heated throw blankets and electric mattress pads. They are ranked by the helpfulness of the site and its reviews.