The Electric Blanket Institute notes that, while heated blankets can slip off or be tossed or kicked aside during the night, electric mattress pads are fitted, and hence securely held flat on your bed. That improves durability and prevents potentially hazardous folding or bunching of the heating elements. 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. Jeffrey Gornstein of ComfortHouse.com notes that he has gone from using an electric blanket to a mattress pad, and adds that for those trying to choose between electric blankets, "I would also recommend considering an electric mattress pad before making your decision."
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. $35 and up), has received well over 1,000 user reviews across different retail sites attesting to its quick heating time, simple-to-use controls and quality workmanship. That includes a 4.2-star rating following nearly 1,300 reviews at Amazon.com. In addition, testers from Good Housekeeping award this model a 4-star rating after thorough testing. 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 our Best Reviewed Electric Blanket 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 very 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 Good Housekeeping 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. Overall, it earns a 4.1 star rating at Amazon.com based on over 1,000 reviews.
The Sunbeam Therapeutic Heated Mattress Pad (Est. $85 and up) also earns some recognition. It does fairly well in user reviews -- a 4.1 star score at Amazon.com based on over 600 reviews -- and it is the mattress pad that Gornstein at ComfortHouse.com is saying is his current personal choice.
The Therapeutic Heated Mattress pad is a bit pricier than the Sunbeam Quilted Mattress Pad or the Soft Heat Warming Mattress Pad, but it also has a few more features. While all three of these electric mattress toppers offer couples the ability to independently control the heat on each side of a queen size or larger 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 twin/full size mattress pad has three heat zones as well but, like all choices in these sizes, you can't adjust those independently for each side of the bed.
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.
Heated mattress pads fare better than electric blankets when it comes to durability, though they are far from long lasting. All of the mattress pads covered here have five-year warranties from their manufacturers, and that's the norm. However, there are lots of limitations and many users advise that the true life span of a heated mattress pad is closer to two years, regardless of the brand.