Electric Blanket Temperature Range

So it comes down to not trusting people to stick to using EBs in good condition and using them properly. This seems anomalous in comparison to the way that other dangerous equipment is managed. Nobody says you cannot drive a car because you might not maintain it properly.

I have been in the situation in a rented house where on cold winter mornings the temperature in my bedroom was around zero and there was frost on the inside of the window from my breath condensing. We would have breakfast fully dressed in overcoats and beenies and drop cups due to cold hands as gloves were impractical.

I had a wool underblanket, three wool blankets and a doona on top. I would have the EB on 3 to warm up and then down to 1 overnight. If I turned it off altogether I would wake up cold about 4am.

If you need to be warm and live in an old leaky house with no insulation and no aircon having a resistive heater on is burning money. In such a case going to bed to keep warm is a reasonable and cost effective alternative.

In any event, why shouldn’t people have it on all night if they want to?

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Quite possibly you would have discovered the benefit of thermal inner layers. Nothing beats some polypro full bottoms and tops to keep one toasty warm at night. And day.
A hot water bottle to warm the bed up before getting in, and warm the feet after.

EB’s long ago discarded as unneeded.

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Looking at how Choice has responded to other products with safety concerns - Choice has consistently provided a black or white response. Children’s cots and button batteries included. To note Choice has pragmatically accepted that button batteries are necessary for some applications. The campaign has had a significant impact in changing how they are packaged and how products requiring them are assessed for safety. Choice set goals on what would provide a safer outcome.

That clarity is missing from the current discussion and politely the position on Electric Blankets as a product and on safe use.

If Choice cannot support the use of modern design, standards approved and tested electric blankets for all night use, should Choice reconsider.

Are the current “best of” products in Choices opinion not safe or inappropriate for all night use? Choice has the option to remove all reviews and recommendations that support the use of the product.

How could Choice respond if it supports all night use of electric blanket products? Choice should continue to be focussed on advising what to look for in a new electric blanket noting that for safe all night use the features, standards marks approvals etc required. The assurance one would expect from Choice as a potential purchaser. If Choice cannot provide that assurance to prospective purchasers are the current products an unsafe product? Hence time for a Choice campaign to ban or improve the product.

The alternate advice is at odds with how most Aussies I know expect to be able to use an electric blanket. To suggest consumers decide on the risk is akin to kicking the can down the road vs providing a definitive response. If nothing more responding by “Choice is now looking further into providing a more considered response” might provide some space. It is not currently a black and white response to a clearly two different community expectations and needs.

For the Choice expert team on electric blankets - if the current “best of” are not up to Choice’s standards and recommended for all night use, what needs to change in the design, testing and approval to ensure they are a safe product? (It would seem appropriate to know their views. There are numerous technical possibilities, some of which may already be included in current recognised standards which can overcome the most unlikely of failures. For a seperate discussion, as like most standards these days access to that information is paywalled effectively concealing it from public review and informed comment.) If the team cannot offer any more - perhaps that is justification enough in proposing a ban on the products?

Choice is deferring to

Point of Reference:
The UK is likely a better reference point. It has a colder climate than Australia. A high percentage of older homes and families facing high energy costs relative to incomes. There is an acceptance in the UK of products specifically designed to standards and tested as safe for all night use. Electric blankets - Fire safety at home | London Fire Brigade.

It’s not to say there is not conflict in other advice. This appears to be driven by the ongoing use of older products or cheap products which do not meet the latest compliance requirements and standards. The requirements for safe use include thermostatic temperature control - an aid to comfort, energy management and safety. Also a feature Choice has tested in reviewed products.

The UK has a significant data base and statistics on fires and injuries or deaths from the use of electric blankets. The common factors include age, consumer misuse/misadventure, and products which are not suitable for all night use.

If Choice could make a more meaningful difference it could encourage greater efforts to improve consumer understanding/knowledge of how to identify safe from unsafe electric blanket products, how to use them appropriately, and acknowledging that there are products which are safe for all night use. One answer clearly for those most at risk, that does not intend to confuse or deter others seeking the all night comfort of the latest products.

Looking to the most recent Choice product Buying Guide and associated content there is a single response with little contradiction. One fact includes assessment of differential heating zones for ones feet. Hardly a need if the blankets are only for pre bed warming.

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An effective thermostat greatly reduces the risk of overheating and fire due to electrical fault and the pile of blankets on the bed situation. As well it guards against the possibility of heat stroke for the unresponsive user who for whatever reason does not wake to turn the EB down. Accounts of death or injury focus on fires as the cause not electrocution. So if the risk without one is significant why are thermostats not compulsory?

AS/NZS 3350.2.17:2000 no doubt does mandate thermostats for electric blankets (I can’t read it, because the texts of the standards are behind a paywall … which I think is stupid, but that’s another topic).

Most of the risks would be associated with older / non-compliant EBs. As usual.

Having standards is one thing. Enforcing them … seems to happen only after the fact (of a fire or a heat exhaustion death, for example).

Standards are only ‘compulsory’ in practice if actively enforced.

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This has been raised before on the site, and is a comment made by others about access to Standards.

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Two questions.
Firstly whether they are for product legally sold in Australia?
The second may relate to the settings permitted and whether the designed performance minimises risk?

Not an answer I can offer. Especially considering the regulation of electrical appliances is at state/territory level.

All electric blankets sold in Australia must comply with strict safety standards to meet AS/NZS 3350.2. 17:2000 .

The ACCC has the authority and has effected recalls of unsafe electric blankets. To go one step further perhaps the product should be renamed and the use of the term electric blanket banned. It’s a simple change any government could make to mandate relabeling them as bed warmers and forcing a built in timer feature that permits their use for one hour once in every 12 hours. Our Fire Authorities and related were behind Governments changing the smoke alarm regulations to mandate their installation, the type locations and in some states interconnection.

Of course such a move leaves those more financially capable to live in the luxury of light weight winter bedding and ducted or other expensive to install and run heating. For another class of Australians not so well off or renting at the cheap end, the misery of near freezing bedrooms and layers of heavy oppressive bed coverings.

If it’s a storm in teacup, Australian’s have long suffered the poor choices of housing design. Many such poor outcomes belong at the feet of our governments. To note the last time we made routine use of electric blankets was staying in our mum’s 1950’s war service home. Fibro no sarking tile roof lowest with wooden flooring. Freezing at close to zero overnight in winter and 40+C in summer. A not uncommon circumstance for those oldest Aussies still at home on a limited government pension. If one wanted to re-experience the great outdoors camping experience without the need to leave home, a cheap alternative.

Although

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‘Built-in heating’ was referring to the fact that another person in the bed substitutes for an electric blanket, if we can believe syncretic above.

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My memory of which ceiling insulation we installed over 30 years ago may be hazy, but I don’t remember R5.0 even existing back then; I’m pretty sure R3.5 was the top of the range. We do have wall insulation though and a quite effective passive-solar layout.

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I am fairly sure of this on theoretical grounds and from practical experience even if all parties are passive. Activity will make you warmer. The middle of the bed gets hotter than the edges in both circumstances.

It follows that in winter exercise should be conducted at bed time and in summer at dawn. YMMV.

I love the instruction from manufacturers not to fold electric blankets. Yet, how do they come when purchased? FOLDED.

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Yes but EB’s are designed to be flexible. And the folding for shipment is entirely under the control of the manufacturer.
There is also the matter of metal fatigue in repeated bending of wires in the blanket over time.

I also note the advice to never use an extension lead as it could overload. What rubbish is that? The power draw on an EB is only a hundred watts or so on max. That’s a few light bulbs worth in the old pre-LED days.

Drifting a little from the core of the topic, but related to safe use.
Quite probable that advice is often not followed. It might not stand closer scrutiny subject to the outcome one favours?

Unless one has a relatively modern home well thought out and equiped, it’s unlikely there will be a power point/s (GPO) within reach of the bed head. One could expect many older or cheaper builds will lack adequate power points in the bedroom or location inconvenient. A cost to remedy/add, and a difficult situation if renting. If there is a probability one needs an electric blanket to stay warm and comfortable on a limited budget, what chance it’s one of those properties.

Also possible that there is a power board supplying the EB/s and bedside lamps and a device charger or two and a Bluetooth speaker and … all on a single outlet. Extension cord optional. It’s a symptom of our connected digital and electrified lives moving faster than the budget to upgrade our everyday abodes.

P.S.
A better solution subject to wealth and home ownership includes adding power points with integrated USB sockets. Assumes existing located adjacent to the bed head end. There is also an option for upgraded products which can have more than a standard double outlet. A switched 4 outlet being a relatively minor replacement for a single or double, licenced electrician required in Australia.

The whole POINT of an extension lead is to distribute power from where it may come out of a wall point, to where it is needed. In most cases the power rating will be considerably more than the flimsy cords most appliances come with. And they will have full three wire earth. Unlike many of the flimsy two conductor cords many appliances have.

The earth wire in a three-wire extension lead is useless if a 2-pin cord is plugged into it. :smile:

Seriously, though … a writhing mass of extension cables and powerboards on the floor is a trip hazard, at the very least.


(from Know the Dangers of Overloading Your Power Board)

As the warnings about EB’s make no mention of plugging into power boards, which introduce an issue with multiple devices drawing current in parallel down a single cable, could one accept no problem exists there? Or perhaps a double adapter on a wall point which introduces the same issue. Or even a double power point where a single cable is shared. Or multiple power points on one cable loop back to the switchboard. Which is typical.

The advice to not use an extension cord is ridiculous given the above. And the fact that they are low wattage devices makes a nonsense of that Choice advice.

Another case of excessively conservative advice that does not distinguish between proper use and misuse. It assumes we are all ignorant and thoughtless.

You can cause great problems plugging several high power devices (eg resistive heaters or cookers ) into a power board, or running a max load (2.4 kw heater) on an extension cord if it is not in top condition or coiled up under a doona, or having a rats’ nest of cascading boards and cables.

To say you must not using a 100w EB on an extension cord at all is incoherent. If using a single 100w device on an extension cord is dangerous then extension cords are inherently dangerous and no device would be safe.

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I agree with you, @Gregr – an extension lead plus electric blanket isn’t automatically a risky scenario.

The kind of snake-pit of cables in the image I posted earlier is another matter. Apart from trip hazards, having a lot of devices plugged into such a mess might exceed a powerboard’s 10A or a power circuit’s 16A, although that by itself should just trip the board’s or the circuit’s breaker. Loose connections between components of the mess might overheat, which is more of a risk.

But that kind of mess is a whole lot more than just using an extension lead to get from the blanket to the nearest accessible power point.

One can find some probably well-meaning but misguided ‘advice’ online. I just did a search for “extension lead” plus “electric blanket”, to try to find out why there’d be an aversion to combining them, and came across this (a USA site):

USA EBs and/or extension leads may be different from AU/NZ ones, but – !

Electric blankets are “high power demand” appliances?? 100-150W is “high wattage” that risks overloading an extension lead (that should be rated for at least 10A)??

I don’t know whether to :rofl: or :sob:.

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Wisdom is sometimes to leave it to someone else who can provide the correct advice. If there is a reason some are advising against using extension leads with an EB best the source of the content first be verified. Providing it is advice for which they have the recognised competence and qualifications. A second is to understand the Australian requirements (regulations, standards etc) as they are applied to the design of consumer electrical goods and household wiring rules/standards. One also for the experts.

Rather than start a new topic on the safe use and recommendations for using extension leads, please refer to:

My personal observation is the typical power ratings of Electric Blanket products are a fraction of the rating of a standard 230/240V power socket. Extension leads are also rated, typically for loads 10-20 times greater than a single EB will demand. To note a recommendation if in the manufacturers advice on the safe use of an EB is exactly what it says - a recommendation. It may or may not serve to transfer some responsibility to the user of a product, assuming the supplier or manufacturer can demonstrate a user not following the recommendation has lead to a product failure.