How a Electric Blanket Works

Tammy Cagle

Electric blankets and mattress pads are equipped with heating elements designed to run through the blanket or pad in a uniform pattern for even heat distribution. Designed for warmth, comfort and safety, the bedding runs on 24 volts supporting the heating element. The element consists of heating coils which are activated by a control for different heating levels. The coil consists of resistive wire acting as a conduit for electrical current to pass through the wires, heating the coils and producing warm. The coils and isolative materials are formed into an existing wire and plug to fit electrical outlets in homes. Once plugged in and turned on, electricity runs through coils to produce heat to the selected temperature and maintain warm throughout the bedding.



The bedding material is a special woven blend prepare specifically for electrical bedding call a shell. Polyester and acrylic mixture make up the fibers and materials used in a shell. This is processed on a high speed weaving loom by the manufacturer. Open channels are designed into the bedding to house the heating element. The wiring for the bedding is made of heat producing coefficient material, protected by an insulated substance made of a specific type of plastic. Once completed the element is inserted into the prepared open channels in the bedding via a machine designed for this specific purpose. Depending on the design of the shell, the wiring will follow the specific pattern previously designed; most typically in a continuous zig-zag pattern. Heating controls and thermostats are manufactured by outside vendors and attached to the bedding as the last step in the process.


Blankets and pads include various features such as automatic timers, overheating protection, warranty against defects, duel sided heating elements for two individuals to be able to control their own side for comfort level. Most need to be dry-cleaned and should not be immersed in water. A lighted dial on the controller helps to control the heat during the night.
Some higher priced models feature a stabilizer which adjusts to body heat to keep the blanket at a comfortable level. It allows the room to stay cool while the bed remains warm, creating energy and fuel cost conservation. Electric mattress pads are similar to blankets but are used to cover the mattress. Using both will provide warmth from the bottom and top. Price, size and features vary. Programmable options are also available on some models for warming the bedding automatically.


After assembly each blanket or pad is tested to ensure safety and high quality. The shell and heating elements are examined for proper assembly and function. Each piece of bedding is checked for foreign objects, proper power cord attachment and appropriate intact wire and insulation.