It’s important to know about a range of different aspects of mattress pad construction and features when deciding which might be the best choice for your bedroom.
There are usually several different materials and components that are used to construct a heated mattress pad.
Normally, these are small wires that go through the pad and that heat up to the level specified on the control unit. The thinner these wires are, the less likely that you will feel them through the pad. Having the wires spaced out several inches from each other also helps to distribute heat more broadly across the pad. In most cases, heating wires are electric, but in some products, they are not wires but tubes that carry heated water (such as in the ChillPad Cube).
This is how you set the temperature of the device. If there are two zones for heat, there are usually two controllers. Normally these are connected via a wire or cord, but some pads do have wireless remotes.
The pad itself can be made of a few different types of materials. The most common include:
- Cotton: this material is known for softness and absorbency of moisture. For this reason, cotton can make you feel less sweaty since it will absorb water from your body.
- Polyester: this material tends to be stretcher and less absorbent than cotton but retains a solid level of breathability. Microfiber is a type of polyester composed of smaller strands to give it a more plush feel.
- Blends: many covers are made with a blend of polyester and cotton to capture some of the characteristics of both materials.
This is the part of the pad that goes around the sides and corners of the bed to hold it in place. Polyester is usually used to make the skirt because of its ability to stretch.
It is important to make sure that any mattress pad you buy will fit your mattress. In addition to knowing the size of your mattress, make sure to consider its depth. For a heated mattress pad, you want it to fit snugly on your bed so that it doesn’t bunch up and overheat (which can be a potential safety risk).
Some sleepers have greater needs for personalization and adjustability of their heated mattress pad. Examples include:
- Heat settings: most heated pads have temperature settings from 1-10, but others may have fewer and more basic settings. Some options give more control over exactly how warm the pad will get.
- Different settings for each side of the bed: if you share the bed with a partner who wants the bed warmer or colder, you may want to make sure that your heated pad has dual controls and dual heating zones. In many cases, this is only available on larger (Queen and King) pads.
- Heating and cooling options: if you find that in some seasons you sleep hot while in others you sleep cool, it makes sense to look for a pad that offers cooling features in addition to heat.
- Preheating: many pads have a function to preheat the pad and then hold the temperature so that you can have your bed nice and toasty when you first get into it.
- Timers and auto shut-off: these features allow a pad to either be set to turn on or off at a specific time or for it to automatically turn off after a set period of time (10 hours is a common example). These features can be useful from both a convenience and safety perspective.
Ease Of Use
Ideally, you want a mattress pad that is easy to use and that won’t cause any disruptions to your sleep if you need to adjust it in the night. Examples of things that can improve the ease of use include:
- Digital controls: these make it easier to control the settings and make sure that you have it at the temperature that you want.
- Simple instructions: your heated pad shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to operate. Look for a pad with a simple controller with clear and obvious buttons for the individual functions.
Many people worry about the safety of a heated mattress pad. In general, these products are very safe, but some features can help you sleep more soundly knowing that they aren’t posing any serious risk. These features include:
- UL certification: these are standards that apply to the manufacture and design of various consumer products. UL 964 standards apply specifically to heated bedding. UL certification shows the product has been checked out by an independent testing organization.
- Automatic shut-off: this helps make sure that the pad doesn’t stay on for hours and hours if you forget to turn it off. Many pads have a 10-hour automatic shut-off for this purpose.
- Overheating protection: some pads have a feature that detects if it’s getting too hot and shuts itself off if that happens.
Like most bedding, it’s a big plus if you can easily clean the heated mattress pad, and at the same time, it’s important that cleaning not cause any damage. For any pad you’re considering, check to see if it’s machine washable or if it requires spot-cleaning only. Look for any specific manufacturer cleaning instructions and follow them carefully.