Buying guide: Electric blankets

We explain what you should look for when shopping for an electric blanket

Image credit: Flickr.com/photos/sinksanctity/ (Creative Commons)

Image credit: Flickr.com/photos/sinksanctity/ (Creative Commons)

Shopper's checklist: Electric blankets

• Size

Make sure the electric blanket you select is the same size as your mattress (for example double, queen, etc). The electric blanket should be a snug fit and not hang over the side of your mattress.

• Fitted or non-fitted?

A fitted electric blanket is a good choice, as these are designed to fit the contours of your bed and the electric blanket won't move around during the night. Non-fitted blankets are less expensive than fitted ones.

• Washable

Some electric blankets are machine wash and tumble dry safe. Check with the manufacturer to see if the electric blanket offers this time-saving cleaning option.

• Fabric type

Electric blankets can be made out of a number of materials: from wool underlays to fleecy synthetic materials, as well as antibacterial materials designed for asthma and allergy sufferers. Assess what material is best for your needs, and choose a fabric that is thick and comfortable to lie on. Make sure that you cannot feel the heating elements through the fabric.

• Controls

If you're sharing a bed, make sure the electric blanket has dual controls. This will allow you to control the heat settings on your side of the bed without affecting the other side. Some controls have an LCD screen (with illumination on more expensive models), so you can program the settings accordingly. Raised markings on the controls will help you to check the settings in the dark; alternatively, a light should indicate if the electric blanket is on. Detachable controls are generally found on washable electric blankets.

• Programmable settings

Does the electric blanket have programmable settings? Programmable settings allow you to set the electric blanket to switch on and off automatically at a desired time. Fast heat-up times and automatic temperature adjustment provide good temperature controls too.

• Spill-proof

Make sure the electric blanket is spill-proof. Most electric blankets will have water-proof heating elements and power sockets to protect the device from accidental spills.

• Warranty

On average you should expect an electric blanket to have a warranty of between two and three years.

• Overheat protection

Many electric blankets now offer overheat protection, which means the electric blanket can sense any unusual temperature variations and will switch itself off when it gets too hot.

• Heat settings

Choose a blanket with an appropriate number of heat settings depending on the level of heat control you want. Budget blankets usually have a minimum of three settings, whereas top-of-the-line blankets may offer up to 10 settings. Some electric blankets will offer a spot warm setting, or warm foot zone, which is worth considering if you particularly feel the cold.

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