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How does a heated mattress pad work? Here’s what we found

Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night realizing that it’s freezing cold in your bedroom? And that even your heavy blanket isn’t enough to keep you warm.

While curling up in the fetal position, you’ve decided that you need something that can keep you warm without having to pile on blanket after blanket.

Heated mattress pads are a wonderful solution for you if you want a nice and warm night’s sleep, but how do they work?

Electric heated mattress pads generally have insulation coating wires sewn underneath additional layers of plastic and fabric. These wires are then connected to a power supply that passes a current through the wire generating heat. These pads usually have multiple heat settings including timers that will turn off the heating at a set time or schedule.

There are a ton of things to consider when deciding on buying a heated mattress pad. This article is geared towards helping you understand how mattress heating pads work. It will provide you with foundational knowledge on whether buying a heated mattress pad is the right choice for you.

What’s inside a heated mattress pad?

Generally speaking, if you were to cut open a heated mattress pad and look at its insides, you would find basically the same thing throughout all heating pads.

In fact, heated mattress pads look like any other regular mattress pad, at least on the outside.

However, heated mattress pads work by heating wires that are embedded through the insides of a heated mattress pad.

What is inside a heated mattress pad
What is inside a heated mattress pad

Inside a general heating mattress pad, you’ll find electrical wiring laid down in a pattern that doesn’t overlap each other. The pattern places as many of the wires as possible throughout the surface area of the pad so that heating of the pad is evenly spread throughout. 

It’s similar to that apple-eating snake game where you’ve advanced so far and the snake is so long now. Since the rule is that the snake can’t touch itself or it will die, you get this pattern of the snake’s body neatly covering all of the playing field.

This pattern is then covered and sealed by a plastic material that has a high capacity for heat. This allows the plastic to keep the heat from dissipating and protects the user from getting burned.

Fortunately, the electricity that runs through these wires is regulated by a temperature sensor and the control panel. This enables the panel to closely monitor and regulate the temperature otherwise adding extra protection from overheating or underperforming.

Are heated mattress pads bad for you?

Safety is important. It can be scary, especially when considering a device that is plugged in and actively working while we’re sleeping.

While heated mattress pads are common in many households, properly using and maintaining them is essential for the safety of the user.

When a heating pad fails, it can result in many different situations.

  • Burns to the skin
  • Electric shock
  • House fires

This is an issue that’s mainly due to either poor maintenance by the user or poor quality control by a manufacturer.

Are heated mattress pads good for you?

Since heated pads are medically used to apply heat to the body, heated mattress pads are not much different. The key difference about heating mattress pads is that it’s larger.

This allows a more holistic approach to how it functions. Instead of being placed only on a specific area of the body, mattress pads engulf the entire body.

A few of the benefits of a heated mattress pad are as follows.

  • Helps promote sleep
  • Relieves joint pain
  • Relieves back pain
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Relaxes the muscles

Are heated mattress pads safe?

Generally yes. As long as you’ve purchased a heated mattress pad from a well-known company that doesn’t cut corners on the build and manufacturing of these things, then you should be safe.

The that are properly used to make these pads must have some sort of electrical insulation. Not only are the metal wires suppose to be fully wrapped around an insulated plastic coating, but the entire mesh lines of wires should be contained in a plastic or fabric that’s insulated as well.

I recommend looking for heated mattress pads that traditionally have a high reputation in the industry.

Here are a few tips to ensure you aren’t harmed by any malfunctions of a heated mattress pad.

  • Make sure to inspect the pad regularly – From time to time, look around the pad. Look for any breakage or holes that may expose the insides of the pad. If you do find any, you’ll need to buy a new one.
  • Only use it when you need it – If the room is cold and you can’t sleep because of this, then this would be a good reason to turn it on. If you don’t need it, just keep it off.
  • Find one that fits your bed – Don’t buy a twin-sized pad for a queen and don’t buy a queen-sized pad for a twin. Make sure it covers your entire bed.
  • Don’t let your children use it unsupervised – These are electrical items and you should be very careful when leaving children alone with them. Toddlers may nibble on it while older kids may try to swing it around and possibly damage it.
  • Don’t try to repair it – After it’s been damaged, the deal is done. Attempting to repair it may put you at risk if it is repaired improperly. You don’t want to wake up to a fire. Play it safe and replace it.

Can you put a waterproof mattress pad over a heated mattress pad?

This is potentially a hazard.

Unsurprisingly most heated mattress pads are well designed with materials to protect themselves from spills, germs, and bugs.

Putting a heated mattress pad underneath a mattress protector may block the transition of heat. This may indirectly have you crank up the heat further so that heat can penetrate through the protector and thus overwork the heating pad.

I would recommend that you keep the heated mattress pad on top of the protector. If something were to happen to the heated pad, you wouldn’t have to wake up and quickly try to remove the heated pad from underneath the protector.

If you can, purchase a thin protective mattress encasement. Sometimes it comes with a heated pad.

Can you leave a heated mattress pad on all night?

It’s not recommended to have heated mattress pads stay on for long periods of time. They are meant to promote sleep and shut off after a fixed amount of time. Most heating pads will even last a default and maximum time limit of 10 hours. This is a length of time the manufacturer uses to avoid the mattress pad from malfunctioning.

However, a typical modern mattress pad is unlikely to cause any issues if there are nights when it is much needed.

How long does it take for a heated mattress pad to heat up?

It’s been recorded that heated mattress pads take approximately 10 minutes or less to fully get to the desired temperature.

Do heated mattress pads use a lot of electricity?

While owning a heated mattress pad does add on an extra electrical device to the home. It doesn’t affect your electric bill quite as much as you think.

Take into consideration the indirect results of owning a heated mattress pad. If the room is always cold, the average person might turn up the heater overnight.

If that person had actually owned a heated mattress pad, they might not need to do so. As a result, this would be much more efficient than running the heater all night.

Should I buy a heating blanket or a heated mattress pad?

Heated mattress pads lay underneath the person, who is underneath a blanket. What that results in is the heat being well insulated within the confines of the bed and normal blanket.

Heated mattress pad with blanket over for heat circulation
Heated mattress pad with blanket over for heat circulation

For this reason, the advantage goes to the mattress pad over the heating blanket.

Since heat expands and rises, a heating blanket’s generated heat would dissipate. Without any further insulation from another blanket above it, the heat ends up getting lost to the room, warming up the rest of the room. This is not as efficient compared to the heated mattress pad..