Going camping on those chilly nights is a lot of fun, but it can also be uncomfortable when the temperatures dip too low. Fortunately, a good electric blanket can take the chill away and keep you nice and toasty while you sleep.
That being said, learning how to use electric blankets while camping is important because it isn’t the same as using them when you’re in your own home.
What’s an electric blanket?
But first, what is an electric blanket?
Electric blankets come in numerous sizes and have electric wires interwoven on the inside of the blanket that keep you warm when you turn it on. They usually have three settings – low, medium, and high – and are operated via remote control.
Most electric blankets are made out of blends of acrylic and/or polyester that prevent the blanket from catching fire once it’s turned on.
While the electric blankets that you use at home typically need to be plugged into an outlet, electric blankets for camping can be powered in many ways.
How to use electric blankets while camping
From choosing the best electric blanket to securing your power source and knowing how to safely use and store your blanket, this guide will help you gain the knowledge you need to start using electric blankets for camping.
How to choose the right electric blanket
When choosing a good electric blanket for camping, it’s important to factor in your comfort and safety. Here are the features you should consider:
- Fabric/material. Electric blankets typically come in fleece or polyester but you can also find ones that are made of faux fur or special materials that cater to those with sensitive skin (e.g., hypoallergenic fabric).
- Temperature. This may range anywhere from about 64 degrees to 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose one that has multiple temperature settings (e.g., low, medium, high, or exact temperature readings) for easy and efficient control.
- Size. This will depend on how big your sleeping area is and how many people will be using the blanket.
- Safety features. Having a timer with automatic shut-off eliminates the risk of overheating and draining your battery out.
- Miscellaneous features. Other features like long cords, illuminated LED screen, storage bags, reversible fabric, and durable heating wires are also nice to have.
You can start your search by looking at our list of the best 12v electric blankets for camping.
How to power your electric blanket
Another important thing you have to figure out once you’ve decided to use an electric blanket for cold camping nights is your power source. You have a few options:
- 12-volt battery. Many electric blankets that are meant for outdoor use are 12v blankets that can be plugged into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter. Most campers prefer this method.
- Camping generator. Plugging in your electric blankets to your trusty camping generators is a great way to keep the power on all night long.
- Electrical outlet. A grounded three-prong electrical outlet on the campsite where you’re staying or in your RV.
You can also use an inverter in your RV but this would be unwise because it requires a lot of power and your electric blanket may not be powered for long.
Should you decide to power your electric blanket with a camping generator, make sure that you look at the wattage of the blanket to see if the battery can accommodate it.
Let’s say you have a generator that has a capacity of 240 watt-hours and an electric blanket that is 55 watts. What this means is that you’ll be able to leave that blanket on for three to four hours and no longer. You’ll need to check these numbers before you plug in the blanket so you can know how long you’re able to safely use it.
How to safely use your electric blanket
If you’ve ever wondered if it’s safe to use an electric blanket in a tent or an RV, the answer is a resounding yes.
Similar to electric blankets you use at home, you simply have to plug in an electric blanket for camping into a power source to start using it. But like many electricity-powered things, you need to proceed with caution.
Here are some tips to ensure safety while using an electric blanket while camping:
- Follow the instruction manual that come with the blanket. This comes with the most vital safety precautions that you should practice.
- The elderly should avoid using electric blankets. They may have altered temperature receptors, so they cannot tell if they are too hot, which may lead to burns. Babies and children may also have a hard time verbalizing that the blanket is too hot.
- Women should also avoid using electric blankets during pregnancy because these generate non-ionizing radiation that may increase risk of pregnancy complications.
- Check your electric blanket for torn or frayed wires. Don’t use a blanket that is more than 10 years old and has signs of excessive wear and tear.
- Lay the blanket on your mattress or sleeping bag to warm it up but don’t keep it on overnight. Turn it off before you sleep to avoid overheating. Having an automatic shutoff feature helps.
- Never place another blanket on top of the electric one as this can cause overheating.
- Keep the blanket flat and don’t let it bunch up or wrinkle to avoid damaging wires and excessive heat buildup.
- Only use electric blankets that have been certified safe by Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Don’t use an electric blanket on a waterbed, recliner, or other surfaces that aren’t flat. Also, avoid using it near a tent heater.
As long as your electric blanket comes with durable materials and safety features, and you handle it carefully, you should be fine with it.
How to clean and store your electric blanket
Not only do you have to practice caution when using your electric blanket, but you also have to properly clean it before storing it.
Some electric blankets are machine washable. Do note, however, that you should only wash with cool water on a gentle cycle only. Using hot water may fry the blanket’s delicate heating elements. If using a dryer, keep it on tumble dry low or just hung to dry.
Other blankets are meant to be spot-cleaned or hand-washed only. Check the instructions from the manufacturer before proceeding.
When packing your electric blanket, make sure to fold it gently and keep it in a dry location. Yes, electric blankets can get wet, but when they’re being packed or stored for a while, it’s best to keep them in a cool, dry place to avoid damage.
FAQ on using electric blankets while camping
Got more nagging questions about using electric blankets while camping? We’ve got the answers here.
Are there other types of heated blankets for camping?
In addition to regular electric blankets that plug into a standard three-prong outlet and 12v blankets that you can plug into your cigarette lighter, there are also electric blankets that can be operated with a USB port or blankets that can run on battery packs. These are especially convenient when camping or participating in off-the-grid outdoor activities.
How much power do electric blankets consume?
Most electric blankets are between 200 and 400 watts. If it’s a 200-watt electric blanket and you leave it on for 10 hours, you’ll end up using two kilowatt-hours. You can look at your utility bill to determine how much money you pay per kilowatt-hour to determine how much your electric blanket costs to use. In most cities, the cost is from 30 to 50 cents per night.
Will an electric blanket drain a car battery?
It might. Different blankets and different batteries produce different results. Make sure you read all of the instructions for your electric blanket so you know how long you can keep it plugged into the car battery before you have to unplug it.
What’s the best electric blanket?
It depends on what you’re looking for. Choose ones that are made of high-quality materials, have temperature controls, and are certified safe, and you’ll be good to go. Reading online reviews also helps a great deal.
How much do electric blankets cost?
Shopping around when you need an electric blanket is smart because the prices vary so much. You can spend as little as $20 or as much as $100 or more for your blanket, and the difference usually involves the power-wattage of the blanket and the materials it’s made out of.
Can electric blankets be left on all night?
A lot of the electric blankets sold online are safe for use while camping but we don’t recommend leaving them on all night. This may cause overheating. At the very least, it’ll drain your battery out.
We recommend choosing an electric blanket that comes with an automatic shutoff feature so that you don’t have to worry about it getting too hot.
How hot does an electric blanket for camping get?
This varies per brand but the temperature ranges from about 64 degrees to 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Find one that has temperature control for better efficiency.
With this guide on how to use electric blankets while camping, you’re now better equipped for your next camping trip. All you need is a durable electric blanket, a reliable power source, and some mindful caution, and you’ll have a warm and safe trip! Stay toasty, camper!