What is the Difference Between an Electric Blanket and a Heated Blanket?

Last updated on October 5, 2023

In a nutshell, all electric blankets are heated blankets, but some heated blankets don’t use electricity. Further differences stem from this fact. Read on!

So you want a heated blanket but unsure if you need to choose the electric option? Is there a difference between heated blankets? If so, which one is the better option? These are all good questions and we aim to answer them.

First of all, yes, all electric blankets are heated blankets. That’s the whole purpose of using electricity in a blanket. Often, these terms are used interchangeably. Whether it’s a cordless heated blanket or a battery-operated one, it still uses electricity.

However, not all heated blankets are electric. That’s because electricity isn’t a must to heat a blanket. There are other ways. And the most common is using body warmers.

We cover all the remaining differences and similarities next.

Heated Throw vs. Electric Blanket

electric throw
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If you’re looking to buy a heated throw or a heated blanket, you may be curious about the difference. They are essentially the same with a few differences. Heated throws are also used in home decor for decorative as well as practical purposes. It is often folded over the top of a sofa or armchair when not in use. This means that it is also important to choose a color and pattern that harmonizes with the furniture. Throws do not disappoint when watching television, reading a book, or taking a nap.

Heated blankets, on the other hand, are much larger and put to use as bedding rather than anything else. You have several choices to choose from when it comes to the right heated covers for your bedding for winter.

Electric Blanket

electric blanket
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Electric blankets are specifically designed to be used on your body but not under you. Over-blankets are ordinarily put over other bedding, such as a light blanket, duvet, or quilt, to provide an even temperature at night. Never sit or lie on the electric blanket since it will short-circuit the electrical wires. Lightweight electric blankets are much more comfortable than conventional heavyweight blankets that press down on your body all night. Over-blankets are available in various sizes to match different bedding.

Choose between a down or fluffy bedding for comfort. Fleece is much warmer than other electric blankets (such as acrylic), and it is also very comfortable. The problem with wool is that it appears to pill over time. Microplush and microfiber blankets are the softest electric blankets, lasting much longer than the other fabrics. These products are energy-efficient, modern, and environmentally friendlier.

Heated Blanket or Throw

air activated heated blanket
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As we’ve already established, a heated blanket may not necessarily be an electric blanket. There are options that don’t involve electricity at all. Likewise, some models are battery-operated and don’t use electricity from the power outlet, thus posing a much lower risk.

How is it possible to provide heat without electricity? These blankets and throws use air-activated body warmers. They are typically used to treat injuries and their formula allows them to provide heat for up to 24 hours simply by shaking them once. Such blankets have pockets that can be filled with as many body warmers as necessary. It is the safest option and one of the ways to heat a bed without an electric blanket.

One more option of a heated blanket is one that uses hot airflow. It works much like a blow dryer, by blowing hot air inside the blanket cover instead of using the wiring. This is a safer option as well.

Electric Mattress Pad

electric mattress pad
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When you are cold but want to keep warm, you should opt for an electric under-blanket rather than an electric blanket. An electric mattress pad fits on top of your current mattress to heat your mattress and your body.

A top sheet and a blanket help to retain the warmth created by the electric pad, producing a cozy cocoon-like sleeping experience. It is less risky than a conventional electric blanket because the mattress pad is kept flat on the mattress. You can use a comforter on top of an electric pad if you need more protection for the body.

A heated mattress pad keeps you comfortable, much like heating seats in cars. It heats just the bed surface, which means the temperature under the sheets isn’t that high.

Are Heated Blankets Safe?

The concerns about the fire hazard of electric blankets aren’t that big for new blankets. You can’t say the same for old, faulty, or misused electric blankets liable for most fires attributable to electric blankets. Having said that, never put a heated blanket on top of another heated blanket or pad, or where it might burn you. A lack of air circulation may result in overheating. It isn’t recommended to fall asleep with an active electric blanket as well.

Battery-operated blankets and throws are safer because they don’t use electricity straight from the power outlet. That means you won’t be electrocuted or seriously burnt if something goes wrong.

Airflow heated blankets are safer yet because your body doesn’t have any contact with wiring at all. Albeit, the concerns using an electric device remain.

Meanwhile, heated blankets that use only body warmers don’t use electricity at all, so anything that concerns electric safety doesn’t apply them. Still, the issue of overheating without enough air circulation stands.

Pros and Cons

We can sum up the difference between electric and heated blankets by comparing their pros and cons side by side.

Heated Blankets:

  • Come in many shapes and designs (throw or blanket.)
  • Don’t use electricity.
  • Much safer.
  • Cheaper to use.
  • They aren’t as efficient and have a limited timespan of being warm enough.

Electric Blankets:

  • Come in many shapes and designs (throw or blanket.)
  • Uses (some) electricity.
  • Prone to electric safety issues.
  • Can add to the electric bill (albeit not much.)
  • Efficient and heat quickly for as much as you want.
  • Have handy features, like temperature control and auto-shutoff.

The Takeaway

The key difference between heated and electric blankets is in how they provide heat. Some heated blankets are electric but not all. As far as safety, heated blankets (non-electric) are much safer to use, though they might not be as efficient.


Is it safe to put a blanket over an electric blanket?

Don’t. Putting a blanket over an electric blanket prevents proper air circulation and may cause damage to it. A heated blanket should provide enough heat anyway. If not, put the extra blanket underneath instead.

What are the disadvantages of electric blanket?

The use of electricity is a safety concern. It also affects your electricity bill. Power may not always be available as well.

Is there a battery operated heated blanket?

Yes, battery-operated heated blankets are considered cordless as they only need to be charged before use and you don’t need to plug them in.

Can you leave electric blankets on all night?

You can, but you shouldn’t. Falling asleep with an electric blanket is not recommended. Instead, heat the bed with one before going to sleep.

Can you use a heated blanket outside?

You can use a heated blanket outside if it’s cordless, or if it doesn’t use electricity at all.


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