Keeping warm on a cold winter night for most people is they rely on their home heater. But, what happens when the power is offline? That electric blanket will no longer work for you.
Popular with outdoors folks and RV campers is having a 12V electric blanket. Keeping a 12V blanket in your car is suggested if you live in a colder climate. If your car breaks down in a cold climate, a heated blanket might mean the difference between staying warm and hypothermia! But, these are great too for in-home use. Not having another heating source such as a fireplace, I chose to add a 12V electric blanket to my preps. This is not intended for long-term warmth but to get warm occasionally during a power outage. The plan is running the electric blanket for only 30 minutes or so to warm up.
Electric blankets that are low voltage such as 12v blankets are not be expensive. The main benefit of a 12-volt electric blanket is that it doesn’t nearly use as many watts as a 120-volt blanket, which is pretty much impossible to use when there has been a power failure. They can also be purchased in smaller sizes than the full sized 110V blankets.
How to power your 12V electric blanket.
You can keep warm even when there is a power failure by hooking it up to a battery. Keep in mind you’ll need 400-watts of battery power to run a 12-volt camping electric blanket overnight for eight hours. Getting a blanket that has an auto-shut off feature that can be set for 30, 45 or 60 minutes can help prevent killing the battery.
If you have to use your vehicle’s start battery, be very careful that you don’t drain the battery overnight. It will drain your car battery if you leave it plugged into the cigarette lighter.
A 35 amp car battery (that’s a small size battery) has potentially enough energy to run that blanket for 10 hours. But in reality it would be dead long before those 35 amps are used up. Probably 3-4 hours in the voltage would drop enough to shut it off but the car would probably be unstartable sooner. If it kept going it would permanently damage the battery. A deep cycle battery could probably run it for 7-8 hours I’d guess. But if you do this keep a voltage meter.
48W / 12V = 4A
The best electric blankets are made of thick material such as fleece so the blanket can be effective without power, if needed.
Another option is to use a solar generator or a portable battery bank. 12-volt heated camping blankets have a fairly low wattage draw, and can be plugged into a cigarette lighter, inverter or portable power station.
You’ll want to check on the watt output of your electric blanket, and then figure out the right portable power station for the length of time you want to use your blanket. You can recharge a solar generator during the day using solar panels, or your engine start battery if you’re out and about driving around.
I recommend an electric blanket with a thermostat, automatic temperature control, and auto shutoff that can help keep you from overheating at night. This is also helpful because your blanket could drain energy and/or pose a fire hazard if you forget to turn it off.
Having an electric blanket that is washable is also highly recommended.
Best use of an electric blanket for keeping warm
While most people use their electric blankets by covering themselves with it… let me suggest a more efficient way. Putting a 12-volt camping blanket right on top of you means you’ll lose a lot of that heat since heat rises. Instead, try these options:
- Put the blanket inside a sleeping bag or even between another blanket at your sleeping bag, creating a cocoon that traps the heat inside.
- Put the blanket down first at the lowest level of your bed and pile on blankets above. Then, when you’re sleeping on top of the blanket, the heat is kept around your body.
Most electric blanket manufacturers suggest avoiding placing heavy objects on top of an electric blanket, including your own body. The wires in the heating grid are flexible and insulated, but they aren’t designed to resist heavy pressure or weight. Excessive weight or pressure on the blanket could result in broken wiring, which poses both shock and fire hazards. Manufacturers of electric blankets have made significant improvements in their products in recent years, especially in the areas of safety and temperature control. The insulated and lightweight wires used to form the heating grid are much more flexible, improving their resistance against damage.
As with any electrical appliance, you should exercise care when using an electric blanket. A damaged electric blanket could be dangerous, so inspecting the blanket, power cord, and connector is important.