Need to know
- CHOICE experts have tested a range of electric blankets ranging in price from less than $100 up to over $400
- Two CHOICE staff members took two of our lab-tested blankets home to try them out in a real-world scenario
- Sign up to become a CHOICE member to get exclusive access to our detailed reviews of electric blankets and thousands more household products
Looking for ways to save on your heating bill, or just love the thought of jumping into a warm and toasty bed every evening? An electric blanket could be the answer to all your chilly problems.
But, if this is your first foray into the cosy world of electric blankets, figuring out how much you need to spend to get the best blanket can quickly send you diving under the doona in frustration. The array of products and price tags varies wildly, and while you can pick up an electric blanket for as little as $60, other models stretch to over the $400 mark.
CHOICE staff and testers love to find a cheap product that performs well, so we were keen to measure up how the $75 Kmart Anko Electric Heated Topper rated against the Breville Bodyzone Plus Connect blanket which is a pricey piece of bedding at $399. As well as putting both blankets to test in our labs, looking at factors such as how fast they warm the bed, how safe they are and how easy they are to use and clean, two volunteers each took one of the blankets home to see how they performed in a real-world sleeping scenario.
CHOICE household appliance expert Adrian Lini and CHOICE audience and engagement editor Pru Engel – one American, one Australian; one electric blanket sceptic and one enthusiast – share their take on the pros and cons of their blankets and whether they think the price tags are worth it.
The $399 Breville Bodyzone Plus Connect
Adrian tried the Breville Bodyzone Plus Connect electric blanket and says: "When we first decided to take home some electric blankets for 'at-home' testing, I was unconvinced of how good of a product they could be. However, after the first week, when I thought I would be uncomfortable due to stiff wiring, awkward cables, or just an overly hot temperature, I ended up having one of the most comfortable sleeps I've had in a long time.
"Not surprisingly, it's incredibly comfortable jumping into a nice warm bed before going to sleep. And the higher settings can also feel quite nice for a short time on your back or stomach if you've got sore muscles or joints.
I ended up having one of the most comfortable sleeps I've had in a long timeCHOICE household appliance expert Adrian Lini
"Compared to an electric heater in the bedroom while you sleep, the electric blanket is faster and more direct. It's also cheaper to run since it's often only on for a short time and, unlike an electric heater, it doesn't dry out the air in the room.
"This blanket also has a timer, which lets you decide when the blanket will turn off, with options ranging from 1–9 hours. This makes it easy to turn it on and drift off to sleep knowing that the blanket will turn off automatically soon after."
Look for a blanket with a range of controls such as variable heat settings and a timer.
Adrian did note some downsides to the exxy blanket, and was sceptical as to whether fancy features such as the Wi-Fi connectivity and 'BodyZone' feature is really worth paying more money for.
Adrian says: "The blanket has a feature where you can connect it to WiFi and control it via an app on your phone but I don't use it, as all it can do is turn it on from the other room, which I don't think is that useful. I also don't want another app on my phone.
"I don't use any of the BodyZone features either, I just set both the feet and the body to the same temperature. My girlfriend does enjoy the BodyZone changes though and will sometimes set the feet section to be warmer. Unless these features are really important to you, though, I wouldn't spend extra money to get them.
"I did find that this specific removable topper often bunches up underneath the fitted sheet making the bed feel lumpy. The way the topper is attached with buttons can be annoying as well as you can feel it underneath the sheet. The cables are also quite big and can make the area around the bed look messy and make it more awkward when vacuuming. Overall, though, I would definitely recommend the Breville BodyZone Plus Connect."
Read more: Find out how the Breville BodyZone Plus Connect performed in rigorous testing in the CHOICE small appliance labs.
The $75 Kmart Anko Electric Heated Topper
Pru tested the Kmart Anko Electric Heated Topper and says: "During winter, I feel like I'm perpetually frozen and spend most of the chilly season wrapped up in several layers of jumpers and scarves, preferably sitting on top of a heater. I also despise nothing more than jumping into a cold bed so, despite the fact I love the idea of electric blankets, it's surprising I haven't used one since I was a teen.
"With our heating bills steadily creeping higher, it's becoming an expensive exercise to leave our heaters on overnight, so I was very keen to give an electric blanket a go as a cheaper way to stay warm. (Our CHOICE testing noted that this Kmart blanket will cost a total of $9.37 to operate over the whole of winter, every night, on its lowest setting).
This Kmart blanket will cost a total of $9.37 to operate over the whole of winter, every night, on its lowest setting
"I don't love the idea of dropping a few hundred dollars on another blanket (my linen sheets are expensive enough as it is), so I was keen to find out if the cheaper Kmart blanket did the job. It's obviously a basic blanket – it has two controls for each side of the bed and three heat settings, but no timer or variable body zones like the fancy Breville blanket. One of the key selling points for me is the removable cover, though, which will make it easier to clean.
The $75 Kmart electric blanket was a winner on a few fronts.
"First impressions? My life has just infinitely improved! Hello cosy nights and warm feet! The first night I turned it on full blast (setting 3) and the blanket was comfortably hot within about 15 minutes. Although CHOICE recommends you don't leave electric blankets on overnight, I sometimes sneakily sleep with it on the lowest setting, which I find comfortable.
"A downside is that it doesn't have a timer, so there have been a couple of occasions when I've gone to sleep and forgotten to turn it off, resulting in a rude, sweaty awakening a short time later.
"You can feel some of the wires through the blanket but we have thick flannelette sheets on the bed at the moment so it's still pretty cushy. As Adrian mentioned, the tangle of cords that have now appeared beside our bed aren't exactly aesthetically pleasing but it's a price I'm willing to pay.
"I'm not a fan of buying cheap products that won't last, and of course I have no idea how long the lifetime of this blanket will be – I'm only a couple of weeks into using it, after all – and the controls and buttons do feel quite light and flimsy compared to the controls of other blankets we looked at, which doesn't fill me with hope they'll last a very long time. Plus, there're no raised buttons or satisfying 'click' to help you if you're changing settings blind in the middle of the night – something I've noticed you get on pricier blankets.
"But, the removable cover is a big plus and it certainly does the job, so for under $100, I'd say it's a good buy that'll keep you cosy and help you save on heating bills.
Read more: Find out how the $75 Kmart Anko Electric Heated Topper performed in rigorous testing in the CHOICE small appliance labs.
Cheap vs expensive: Are budget electric blankets just as good?
As we always say at CHOICE, price isn't necessarily an indicator of performance, and when considering which is the best electric blanket for you it's a good idea to look beyond the price tag and consider the features that are really important to you (as well as how well the product performed in CHOICE testing).
In this instance, the Kmart and Breville blankets both created some happy and warm customers, and did the job they promised. Our lab testing showed that the Kmart takes a little more time to get there, taking 13 minutes to heat up to 40 degrees as opposed to the Breville which takes a speedy 2 minutes. But as long as you remember to switch it on a bit before you go to bed, 13 minutes isn't exactly a long time to wait (that's enough time to brush your teeth, check that the doors are locked and change into your PJs – does $324 justify an 11-minute saving?).
The other features that contribute to the Breville blanket's high price tag are things such as the timer, a greater range of heat settings, customisable heat zones and Wi-Fi connectivity so you can operate it via smartphone (for when you just can't be bothered to go to the bedroom to turn your blanket on).
Many of these features will be found only on the more expensive blankets, while handy features such as a removable topper for ease of cleaning may just as likely be found on cheaper blankets like the Kmart.
Adrian's top tips for finding the electric blanket of your dreams
A well-made electric blanket should only be noticeable when it's actually running. A lot of the blankets we test at Choice often fail at this. They may suffer from an awkward size or fit, uncomfortable cable placement or thin and obvious wiring. When deciding on which blanket to take home and try myself I focused on ones that best overcame these issues and did well in our own testing in the lab. These were:
A removable topper: A removable topper that can be easily cleaned and protects the wired blanket. The removable cover also makes the wires and cables less noticeable when lying on the bed.
High wattage: Allows for quick heat-up time and higher top temperature. However, this uses more energy.
A timer: Lets you decide when the blanket will turn off, usually with options ranging from 1–9 hours. This makes it easy to turn it on and drift off to sleep knowing that the blanket will turn off automatically soon after.
Out-of-way cable placement: You don't want to feel like you're lying on an extension cable as you sleep, so a blanket where the cable connection is closest to the top edge and hides under the pillow, or even its own topper, is preferred. This makes it feel as though you're just sleeping on a standard sheet.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.