Buyer’s Guide: Electric Blankets
We’ve got you covered with this electric blanket primer, including several recommendations for smart buys on the market today.
As the temperatures drop, we crave warmth and coziness—but before you turn up the heat, consider an electric blanket. About twice as energy-efficient as a space heater, electric blankets have been given a thumbs-up from the United States Department of Energy for their inexpensive, low-impact energy consumption, typically using only 400 watts to run. (A space heater consumes 750 to 1000 watts, and central heat can gobble up even more.)
Whether your home is prone to drafts or you just love bundling up in a toasty cocoon around the house, the best electric blanket can keep you comfortable all winter long. Read on to learn the ins and outs of this cold-weather staple—everything from size and safety to technical capabilities and cool (er, warm) features—so you can make the perfect purchase.
Appearance and Price
Electric blankets come in a host of different sizes, so think about how and where you’ll want to use yours. If you want to snuggle up on the couch while reading or streaming television, a throw-sized model might suit your needs. If you’ll be sleeping under it every night, you’ll probably want one the same size as your bed. Fortunately, electric blankets are available in California King, King, Queen, Full, and Twin, as well as smaller sizes similar to a typical throw. There’s a wide assortment of solid colors and various patterns from which to choose. While some have a quilted texture and others do not, electric blankets are usually very soft to the touch, made of fleece or microfiber (i.e., polyester). Depending on the manufacturer and features, they range in price from under $50 to upwards of $300.
Originally called “heated quilts” or “warming pads” and around since the early 1900s for use in hospitals, electric blankets first became popular for home use in the 1950s. They’ve haven’t changed all that much since then, but they do have features worth considering!
• Heat settings. Many electric blankets have up to 10 heat settings so you’re sure to find the temperature that feels best to you.
• Automatic shutoff. This feature, which automatically cuts off the blanket’s heating mechanism after a specific time (usually eight to 10 hours), is an important safety feature that can keep you and your surroundings from overheating or even catching fire. It comes standard in most modern products, but do double-check to make sure.
• Separate controls. If you’re sharing your blanket with a loved one who likes things warmer or cooler than you do, opt for a blanket with two zones, each with its own separate controls.
• Instructions for machine washing. Many electric blankets can be cleaned and dried in your home’s laundry machines. Just be sure to use the specified washer/dryer settings and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter (which always include untethering all remotes, cords, and peripherals, among other safety precautions).
Warranty and Safety
Although it feels like a soft, simple textile, an electric blanket is actually an appliance and should be treated as such. Especially if you’re investing a few extra bucks on super-soft material or extra features, make sure your blanket comes with a refund or replacement warranty.
Safety is of utmost importance when using an electric blanket, so, again, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions to a T from the first use to the last. There are also two crucial rules to remember: Keep the blanket as flat as possible to avoid pockets of excessive heat buildup (especially when using higher settings) and never lay objects like books or cell phones on top of or underneath your blanket. It’s too easy for your belongings to trap heat between themselves and the blanket, causing the blanket’s coils to overheat—which could destroy them or burn everything around them.
To help you find the best electric blanket and warmth all season long, we’ve picked a few favorites based on the considerations outlined above and critical reviews on the top shopping sites.
Sunbeam Queen Velvet Plush Heated Blanket, $130
The professional reviewers at Wirecutter give this plush heated Queen-sized blanket from Sunbeam the highest marks of any electric blanket they tested. While they don’t rank it as the softest or most comfortable, they cite its very few safety complaints among consumers, as well as its easy-to-use digital controls offering 20 heat settings. Sold in nine colors and all standard bed sizes, the blanket is machine-washable, dryer-safe, and has a 5-year warranty. Available on Amazon.
Biddeford Blanket Microplush Electric Throw, $30
Target shoppers love this microplush electric throw blanket from Biddeford Blanket, which scored hundreds of five-star reviews despite having only six heat settings. Made of polyester, machine-washable and dryer-safe, and available in 10 different colors and patterns, it’s a great size for a sofa at 4 feet by 5 feet. Plus, it boasts a 13-foot cord so you won’t be tethered to an outlet. It’s sold without a warranty—not surprising, considering the unbeatable price. Available at Target.
SoftHeat Luxury Microfleece Electric Heated Queen Blanket, $115
Amazon customers can’t get enough of this soft polyester electric blanket; in fact, thousands of reviewers give it 3.9 out of 5 stars for its dual heat zones, ultra-thin wires, and a pre-heat-and-hold feature that uses more wattage when you first turn it on to warm up faster. With automatic shutoff, 10 heat settings and a five-year warranty, this machine-washable, dryer-safe model earns extra popularity for its low-voltage technology, which makes for greater safety and less energy consumption as well. Available on Amazon.