Electric blanket

An electric blanket is a blanket that contains integrated electrical heating wires. Types include underblankets, overblankets, throws, and duvets.[1] An electric underblanket is placed above the mattress and below the bottom bed sheet. This is the most common type in the UK and Commonwealth countries, where it is known by default as an "electric blanket"; in the U.S. and Canada, where it is less common, it is called an electric heated mattress pad. An electric overblanket is placed above the top bed sheet, and is the most common type in the U.S. and Canada, where it is called an "electric blanket".[2]

Electric blankets usually have a control unit that adjusts the amount of heat the blanket produces. Blankets for two-person beds often have separate controls for each side of the bed. The electric blanket may be used to pre-heat the bed before use or to keep the occupant warm while in bed.

Some modern "low voltage" electric blankets have thin carbon fiber wires and work on 12 to 24 volts.


Much like heating pads, electric blankets use an insulated wire or heating element inserted into a fabric that heats when it is plugged in. The temperature control unit, located between the blanket and the electrical outlet, manages the amount of current entering into the heat elements in the blanket.

Some modern electric blankets use carbon fiber elements that are far less bulky and conspicuous than older heating wires. Carbon fiber is also used as the heating element in many high-end heated car seats. Blankets can be purchased with rheostats that regulate the heat by managing body heat and blanket temperatures, ensuring a comfortable experience.



Newer electric blankets have a shutoff mechanism to prevent the blanket from overheating or catching fire. Older blankets (prior to about 2001) may not have a shut-off mechanism; users run the risk of overheating. Older blankets are considered fire hazards.

Some electric blankets work on relatively low (12 to 24) voltage, including those that plug into ordinary household electrical outlets. In the US, such blankets are sold by Soft Heat, Sunbeam, Serta, and Select Comfort.[3] Such blankets also include 12-volt blankets designed for in-car use; they tend to shut off automatically every 45 minutes or so.[4]

Old or damaged blankets concern fire safety officials internationally. The use of such blankets is of concern due to the combination of heat, electricity, the abundance of flammable bedding material, and a sleeping occupant. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that 5,000 fires per year are caused by faulty electric blankets,[5] of which 99% are believed to have been caused by blankets 10 years or older.[6]

Electric blankets also present a burn risk to those who cannot feel pain, such as those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or who are unable to react to it, such as small children, quadriplegics, and the elderly.[7]

As with any source of heat over the groin, use of electric blankets can reduce fertility in men.[7]


No mechanism by which SLF (Super low frequency)-EMFs (Electromagnetic field) or radiofrequency radiation could cause cancer has been identified. Unlike high-energy (ionizing) radiation, EMFs in the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum cannot damage DNA or cells directly. Some scientists have speculated that SLF-EMFs could cause cancer through other mechanisms, such as by reducing levels of the hormone melatonin. There is some evidence that melatonin may suppress the development of certain tumors.[8]

A cartoon electrical blanket with its electrical temperature control acting as an anthropomorphic face named "Blanky" was portrayed in the 1987 film The Brave Little Toaster.

In the 1951 film The Thing from Another World, a haphazardly thrown electric blanket melted the block of ice that encased the alien monster, releasing it.

See also


  1. Hilpern, Kate (15 September 2016). "11 best electric blankets". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  2. "Heated mattress pad vs. heated blanket: Which is better???". Electric Blanket Institute. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  3. In the US, as of October 2013, Perfect Fit Industries seems to be the only distributor of such blankets.
  4. "Heated Travel Throw". Comfort House.
  5. Haslam, Carl (2011). "Electric Blanket Safety". UK Fire Service Resources Group. Retrieved 2013-04-21. Electric blankets account for over 5000 fires a year in the home and you can prevent these by taking some simple steps.
  6. http://www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/electric-blankets
  7. DePietro, MaryAnn. "Are Electric Blankets Safe?". SymptomFind.com. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  8. "Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer". National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
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