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)

FAQs: Electric blankets

Q: How much do electric blankets cost?

A: Most electric blankets cost on average between $40 and $100 depending on the size and features offered. There are high-end electric blanket options — costing up to $500 — which offer numerous heating options, advanced settings, as well as high quality fabrics, such as wool pile covers.

Q: Are electric blankets safe?

A: All electric blankets must pass the Australian standard (AS/NZS 3350.2.17:2000) for safety. Some electric blankets automatically switch themselves off if they get too hot. This feature is called overheat protection.

Q: How often should I replace my electric blanket?

A: Ideally you should only need to replace your electric blanket when it is around 10 years old.

Q: Are electric blankets washable?

A: Some electric blankets are safe to put in your washing machine and tumble dryer, which makes them easy to clean and maintain. This is usually highlighted on the packaging. If you're unsure, check with the retailer or manufacturer before making your purchase.

Q: What is a fitted electric blanket?

A: Fitted electric blankets are coverlets that match the contours of your mattress (like a fitted sheet). They remain nice and flat during your night's rest and are generally more comfortable to lie on. If you choose a fitted blanket, make sure it matches the size of your bed (double, queen-sized, king-single etc).

Q: What is a non-fitted electric blanket?

A: Non-fitted electric blankets do not fit around the corners of your mattress. Instead, they lie on top of the mattress and they use ties to help keep them in place. Non-fitted electric blankets are usually more affordable, but they have a tendency to move around above the mattress if not properly secured — especially if you toss and turn during the night.

Q: What is an electric throw blanket?

A: Electric throw blankets are relatively new to the heated blanket market, and they add heating to the standard throw blanket. The electric throw offers all the benefits of an electric blanket — heat settings, temperature adjustments — in a soft, flexible fabric, such as micro fleece. They are intended to be used around the house — for example when curled up on a lounge, chair or bed — and are designed to cover your body. Note they are not designed as a replacement to a standard electric blanket for use on top of a mattress.

Q: What happens if I spill a drink on an electric blanket?

A: Most electric blankets are spill-proof, which means you won't get 'zapped' if you drop a glass of water on them. However, you should always switch the blanket off immediately in the event of a spill. Do not use the blanket when wet.

Q: How should I dry an electric blanket?

A: Always follow the manufacturer's instructions in terms of safety and use. Only wash an electric blanket if the manufacturer states that the blanket is washable. If in doubt contact the manufacturer directly, as you may need to bring the electric blanket in for a safety service and check. Never turn an electric blanket on to dry it out. Do not use electric blankets and hot water bottles together.

Q: What are dual controls, and do I need them?

A: Dual controllers can be found on most double electric blankets. They allow you to adjust the heat on your side of the bed, without affecting the heat on your partner's side of the bed. Some dual controllers require two electricity cords to run — so you need to check that both sides of the bed have access to a power outlet.

Q: What are programmable settings?

A: Programmable settings allow you to set when the blanket switches itself on — for example, 30 minutes before heading into bed. You can also program the blanket to switch itself off after a set time — an hour after you've fallen asleep, for example. Some blankets even offer a fast heat-up setting, so your bed is warm in 10 minutes. If you often forget to turn your blanket on, then consider this feature!

Q: Should I buy a second-hand electric blanket?

A: You can never be sure if a second-hand electric blanket is safe, how it has been stored, and if it has been cared for over its lifetime. You should always buy a new electric blanket, as the new blankets are tested to Australian standards for safety and durability.

Q: Are electric blankets safe for children?

A: It is possible to buy electric blankets designed specifically for use by children. They usually have a waterproof membrane on the top, which protects the heating wires in case of spills. However, check the manufacturer's recommended age range before buying.

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