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A U.S. 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 by pulsing current at different intervals. 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.

Electric blankets use between 15 and 115 watts in general.

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.

The heating of an area can be seen with a thermal camera after two minutes under a comforter.

Some modern electric blankets use carbon fiber elements that are less bulky and conspicuous than older heating wires.[citation needed] 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.

With signal line type

It is used in temperature controller electric blankets which have a thermostat that regulates the temperature. The core of the wire is made of glass fiber or polyester wire. Flexible electrical heating alloy wire is wrapped around it. Outside is covered with a heat-sensitive layer. Then a copper alloy signal wire is wrapped around the outside of the heat-sensitive layer. Outside the copper signal wire is coated with a heat-resistant resin.[3]

When the temperature at any point on the electric blanket exceeds a predetermined value, the heat-sensitive layer on the corresponding electric heating wire is changed from an insulator to a good conductor, so that the control circuit is turned on and the electric blanket is disconnected to achieve the purpose of temperature control and safety protection.

The common type electric blanket without signal line electric heating element is generally equipped with two types of temperature control elements to realize temperature control:



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 voltage (12 to 24 volts), including those that plug in to ordinary household electrical outlets. In the US, such blankets are sold by Soft Heat, Serta, and Select Comfort.[4] Such blankets also include 12-volt blankets designed for in-car use; they tend to shut off automatically every 45 minutes or so.[5]

Old or damaged blankets are a concern of fire safety officials, due to the combination of heat, electricity, the abundance of flammable bedding material, and a sleeping occupant. In the United Kingdom in 2011, it was estimated that 5,000 fires per year were caused by faulty electric blankets.[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]


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 [citation needed]. There is some evidence that melatonin may suppress the development of certain tumors.[8]

Long-term electric blanket use (>20 years) in women is associated with a 36% higher prevalence of endometrial cancer.[9]

Societal considerations

Electric blankets are an efficient and commercially available personal heating systems aim to achieve individual thermal comfort at an affordable price relative to competing solutions. In cold conditions electric blankets are beneficial for decreasing sleep onset latency and improving the comfort sensation when retiring to sleep.[10]

Due to these qualities, electric blankets are popular in low-income communities, especially households with persistent fuel poverty during the cold season.[11] Similarly, electrical blankets are frequently used in hot summer cold winter zones. For instance they are the single most frequently used personal heating solution in bedrooms in the Yangtze River region.[12]

From a power management perspective, however, miscellaneous electric load related to appliances such as the electric blanket, waterbeds, dehumidifiers, television sets, add up to a significant amount, sometimes 40% of the total power usage in homes. Worth to note, these appliances use minimal power e.g. electric blankets use only approx. 15 - 115 W. Yet, compared to other electric appliances, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, electric water heating systems, miscellaneous electricity load is under-recognized and may lead to mistaken forecasts of electricity usage, thus needing appropriate consideration.[13]

Electric blankets offer a significant opportunity to improve quality of life especially for citizens living in low income communities situated in cold climate areas because of their low energy usage relative to the thermal comfort they provide.

In popular culture

A cartoon electrical blanket with its electrical temperature control acting as an anthropomorphic face named "Blanky" was portrayed in the 1987 animated 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.

Is discussed as a form of modern comfort in the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre.

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. Archived from the original on 24 October 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Design Principle of Switching Circuit for Electric Blanket Temperature Controller". YAXUN Electranic Hardware.
  4. ^ In the US, as of October 2013, Perfect Fit Industries seems to be the only distributor of such blankets.
  5. ^ "Heated Travel Throw". Comfort House.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ DePietro, MaryAnn. "Are Electric Blankets Safe?". Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer". National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 2018-01-15.
  9. ^ Abel, Ernest L; Hendrix, Susan L; McNeeley, Gene S; O'Leary, Erin S; Mossavar-Rahmani, Yasmin; Johnson, Susan R; Kruger, Michael (2007). "Use of electric blankets and association with prevalence of endometrial cancer". European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 16 (3): 243–50. doi:10.1097/01.cej.0000228397.22611.d0. PMID 17415095. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  10. ^ Kräuchi, Kurt; Cajochen, Christian; Werth, Esther; Wirz-Justice, Anna (2 September 1999). "Warm feet promote the rapid onset of sleep". Nature. 401 (6748): 36–37. doi:10.1038/43366. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 10485703. S2CID 4362133.
  11. ^ Grey, Charlotte N. B.; Schmieder-Gaite, Tina; Jiang, Shiyu; Nascimento, Christina; Poortinga, Wouter (August 2017). "Cold homes, fuel poverty and energy efficiency improvements: A longitudinal focus group approach". Indoor and Built Environment. 26 (7): 902–913. doi:10.1177/1420326X17703450. ISSN 1420-326X. PMC 5571750. PMID 28890663.
  12. ^ Jiang, Haochen; Yao, Runming; Han, Shiyu; Du, Chenqiu; Yu, Wei; Chen, Shuqin; Li, Baiyi; Yu, Hang; Li, Nianping; Peng, Jinqing; Li, Baizhan (2020-09-15). "How do urban residents use energy for winter heating at home? A large-scale survey in the hot summer and cold winter climate zone in the Yangtze River region". Energy and Buildings. 223: 110131. doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2020.110131. ISSN 0378-7788. S2CID 219471421.
  13. ^ Meier, Alan; Rainer, Leo; Greenberg, Steve (1992-05-01). "Miscellaneous electrical energy use in homes". Energy. 17 (5): 509–518. doi:10.1016/0360-5442(92)90087-G. ISSN 0360-5442.