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What is an Electric Mattress Pad?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Electric mattress pads an alternative to an electric blanket. Instead of providing a source of heat above the body, these pads provide heat under the body. Some people use the mattress pad all night long, if they feel exceptionally cold at night. Others use them simply to warm up the bed before jumping in. In this way, the pad helps one avoid the shock of cold sheets on cold nights.

Some people found the initial versions of electric mattress pads to be a bit uncomfortable, since one still had to contend with wires in the pad. Many felt that cushioning over the wires provided adequate comfort. Others found the wires annoying, and found sleeping on the pads challenging.

Since the initial advent of electric mattress pads, wires have gotten much smaller. Thus many people who own pads say they don’t even feel the wires. Also, newer pads are now more energy efficient. In fact, many companies claim that using these devices for a portion of the night can save money since one can also turn the heat down to a lower temperature without discomfort.

When partners share a bed, an electric mattress pad may offer dual controls like an electric blanket. This way, each partner can adjust the setting for individual comfort. Many find that dual controlled pads resolve sleeping issues when one partner is more susceptible to warmth or to cold.

Many also find that the heat underneath the body can be helpful for certain conditions like arthritis. However, caution should be employed when a person suffers from a painful condition that may be age related.

First, people using electric mattress pads or blankets should have sufficient control of their limbs so they can shut off the pad. People who are likely to forget to turn off an electric mattress blanket or pad should also not use one, as the pad may pose a fire danger if left on too long.

Babies should never use either type of electric heating device, as they may be more likely to be burned at lower temperatures, and they cannot control the temperature. As well, experts recommend not employing any type of electric pad or blanket on pets.

Further, those who suffer from urinary incontinence should not use electric mattress pads or blankets. This encompasses some of the elderly and children who might still have the occasional nighttime accident. Though very unlikely, a slight danger of electrocution exists from an accident in the night while a pad is turned on.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon100566 — On Jul 30, 2010

I like to put waterproof mattress pads on all my beds. Can I use a heat blanket on top of the waterproof pad if there is another sheet or blanket in between the two?

By anon56964 — On Dec 18, 2009

The electric mattress pad, in my opinion, does a far better job keeping you warm because the heat is spread out over the entire bed. Electric blankets are okay, but to truly get a nice warm bed you can't beat these energy efficient, safe electric mattress pads.

By anon32413 — On May 21, 2009

Re: Using electric mattress pad on air mattresses.

I do a bit of winter backpacking, the first rule is *never* use an air mattress. The reason is your body heat transfers through and is constantly trying to warm the airspace beneath you.

When traveling to friends and using an airbed the best thing we've found is to place a comforter between the airbed and mattress sheet.

I'm sure the electric mattress pad would work well in this setup also.

By bjb — On Jan 27, 2009

I have a pacemaker and have bypass surgery. Do you think the use of an electric mattress pad is OK to use? Thanks

By edward938 — On Oct 07, 2008

Most electric mattress pads now come with computer controls in the switches that vary the current to the pad. These switches are equipped with an automatic shut-off after ten hours of operation. I am looking for an electric mattress pad that does NOT have this feature. I want an old-fashioned pad with simple variable resistors on the two temperature controls. I

understand perfectly well how important it is not to leave the pad turned on for long periods of time, but I don't want an automatic shut-off. Can you help?

By anon4309 — On Oct 12, 2007

Can electric mattress pad be used on air mattresses?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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