When it comes to keeping your bed warm on a cold night, electric blankets get all the glory—but they’re frankly inferior to a heated mattress pad. Here’s what you need to know and which pads are worth looking at.
Heated Mattress Pads Are Superior to Electric Blankets
I don’t often go around starting fights about bedding choices, but I will die on this hill: Heated mattress pads are superior to electric blankets in every way. Let’s take a look at why before we get into recommendations.
Old electric blankets had pretty big wires you could easily feel. There was absolutely no question where they were if you patted the blanket or ran your fingers over the surface. Modern blankets still tend to have detectable wires if you really poke and prod them, but nowhere near the extension-cord-like-chunkiness found in older blanket designs.
Newer blankets use improved technology where the wires are much smaller and more flexible. This is great from a comfort standpoint because the blanket feels more like a regular blanket and less like a blanket filled with coat hangers.
The downside is that the smaller wires, even with the improved technology, are more prone to breakage. Once the wire breaks, the whole system fails. At best, the heated blanket no longer heats. At worst, it’s a fire hazard.
In addition, even when it is working as intended, the blanket is as much radiating heat up into the room as it is radiating heat down into your body. So even when you’re enjoying it during that honeymoon period before it inevitably breaks, you’re not really getting an optimum experience.
Here’s where the oft-overlooked electric heating pad comes into. By simply moving the heating element from the blanket to the mattress pad, you overcome everything problematic and inefficient about the traditional electric blanket.
First and foremost, the heat is trapped between the mattress and your body. Yes, some will end up in the room, but you’ll be able to use the heated mattress pad on a much lower setting to achieve the same level of comfort. Second, and more importantly, your heated mattress pad will most certainly outlive an equivalent quality electric blanket. Once you lay it flat on the bed and secure it, there is next to no wire movement and no repeated bending of the wires like you have in a blanket that is folded back, tossed about, and so forth.
More efficient, safer, and destined to last longer while saving you money in the process? What’s not to love. Let’s take a look at our top picks—we’ve opted to showcase our picks in the nearly ubiquitous queen size, but almost all of them come in range of bed sizes.
A note before we dive in. You’ll notice that our recommendations are all from the Sunbeam company. While we’re more than willing to take a gamble on buying a knock-off water-flosser or a generic can opener, we’re not so willing to gamble on quality or safety when it comes to sleeping on a bundle of heated electrified wires. If you’re going to turn your bed into what amounts to a human-size toaster, you really don’t want to skimp on quality.
Best Overall Pad: Sunbeam Water-Resistant Heated Mattress Pad
There are quite a few highly rated heated mattress pads in the stable of Sunbeam’s offerings—the company definitely has a lock on the heated throw/blanket/pad market. Among them though, our top pick isn’t their Premium option, but their Water-Resistant option seen here.
The Premium option comes with a higher loft in the pad (9 oz. of fill instead of 6 oz.) and features controllers that have a little alarm-clock-like base to keep them upright. But the difference in loft is relatively trivial (especially if your bed is soft enough already or has a topper) and the upright-versus-flat controller doesn’t make much of a difference. The water resistance, on the other hand, is great for a wide range of reasons including but not limited to pet accidents, spilled drinks, or even just cranking up the heat too high and waking up in the middle of the night sweating in your DIY sauna.
In addition to that, the pad includes dual heating zones, 20 heat settings, an automatic 10-hour shutoff if you forget to turn it off in the morning, and the best setting ever: preheat. How does the preheat function work? When you press it the pad turns on for 30 minutes at the highest setting, then switches back to whatever 1-20 heat setting (or even off) that it was set to before you hit the preheat button. It’s a perfect way to get your bed super cozy and avoid the crawling-into-cold-sheets shock—and you can use it even if you don’t intend to keep the heat on all night.
Sunbeam Restful Quilted Water Resistant Heated Mattress Pad - Queen
This Sunbeam heated mattress pad hits a sweet spot for value and features.
Best Multi-Zone Pad: Sunbeam Therapeutic Pad with Zoned Heat
This heated mattress pad has a lot of neat things going for it that absolutely make it worthy of mention (even if we have a few reservations about it that we’ll get to in a moment).
As far as selling points go, it has two great features. First, it has zoned heat. This is different than just the run-of-the-mill side-by-side zones you find on many heated mattress pads. You’re not just limited to heating up the left side of the bed and the right side of the bed to different temperatures.
This heated pad includes that plus control over three separate vertical zones: one for your upper body, one for your midsection, and one for your legs and feet. You can opt to not use a zone at all or to adjust each zone independently. That’s a pretty fantastic setup for, say, two people sharing a bed where one person always has ice cold feet they want to warm and the other person would love to fall asleep with heat radiating into their aching lower back.
On top of that cool feature, the control pod for the pad is wireless so you don’t have to fuss with it being tethered to the end of the bed with a long wire.
So, why do we have reservations? Complexity introduces failure points. As cool as the zoned system and the wireless controller are, there’s something to be said for a simpler setup with a physically attached control pod in terms of reliability. Those concerns aside though, it’s still a highly rated Sunbeam product that comes with the same 3-year warranty as all their other heated mattress pads, so if you love the idea of a multi-zone system by all means try it with confidence.
Sunbeam Heated Mattress Pad | Therapeutic with Zoned Heat, 10 Heat Settings, Queen
Cold feet? Sore back? You can fine-tune the heat with this fancy (and wirelessly controlled!) heated pad.
Best Budget Pad: Sunbeam Quilted Heated Mattress Pad
You want a heated mattress pad with a practically knock-off-price but without the knock-off fire risk? No worries. If you’re not concerned about extras like water resistance, dual-side control (or heat zoning), or a wireless controller, this back-to-basics model has you covered.
It has one wired control puck, 10 settings, and still includes our favorite mattress pad feature: the preheat mode. In fact, the price difference between this model and the absolute bargain-basement Sunbeam pad is usually less than $10-15, which is hardly enough savings to downgrade to a pad with no fill at all and no preheat feature.
Trust us, if it’s chilly enough at the end of the day that you want a heated bed, then you absolutely want to get a mattress pad with a preheat function to ensure you always slip into a roasty-toasty bed. And the same goes for skipping over any pad without a small amount of fill: Without it, the wires, even as tiny as they compared to the electric blankets and heating pads of yesteryear, are still clearly there and bump.
Sunbeam Heated Mattress Pad | Quilted, 10 Heat Settings, White, Queen - MSU2KQS-V000-11A00
This budget pick is perfect if you want to save money and focus on just the essential features.