An electric blanket has an electrical heating device built in that is meant to be placed above the bed sheet. In Commonwealth countries, however, it refers to an electric mattress pad that is kept below the bottom bed sheet. They comprise a control unit that allows the user to adjust the heat produced by the device. Larger size beds may even have two separate control units for both sides of the bed. An electric blanket can be useful to heat the bed to a certain level before sleeping to keep the occupant cosy and warm. Typical low voltage electric blankets work on 12-24 volts and are made of thin carbon fibre wires. The electric blanket was invented more than a century ago by American inventor Samuel Russell, while the first recorded sale in the electric blanket market was by the Samson United Corporation in 1930.
An electric blanket uses heating elements or insulated wires that are put into a fabric that heats up when connected to an electrical socket. The temperature control unit, located between the electrical point and blanket, controls the current that enters the heating elements of the blanket. Modern devices use carbon fibre wires to provide heat for the user’s comfort. These wires are much less conspicuous and bulky than the ones used in the past. Today, there are a lot of variations available in the electric blanket market like under blankets, over-blankets, throws and duvets. What is common is the wiring that heats up when connected to the electric point. Buyers are truly spoilt for choice now as they can select blankets with dual controls, those that remain on throughout the night, and those that are machine washable or even those that regulate themselves according to the user’s body temperature! One can also select based on the more conventional choices of colour, texture, size, thickness – along with the number of available temperature control settings.
Electric Blanket Market Drivers, Restraints and Key Players:
One of the key drivers of the electric blanket market is the affordability, comfort and convenience afforded. Electric blankets are much less expensive than heaters. They can be of great use in countries in the polar or temperate regions which suffer from long and harsh winters. A lot of buyers are able to save substantially on their electric bills by looking at the electric blanket market to satisfy their needs. While electric blankets were very poorly insulated and notoriously thin in the past, they are now made of thick fleece which provides enough natural insulation and warmth even without the help of electricity. Modern electric blankets can also be washed along with pillow cases and bed sheets which allow people to carry them anywhere and use anytime.
While electric blankets offer users a cost-effective and convenient experience, there are certainly legitimate concerns that users may have. Frequent use of electric blankets can negatively impact a man’s fertility. As per the American Pregnancy Association, a man’s sperm count can decrease if the testicles become too warm from using electric blankets. Even pregnant women are advised caution while using an electric blanket as overheating the body can have dangerous consequences for the foetus. Diabetics should also be careful as high glucose levels can lead to diabetic neuropathy which can cause numbness in an affected area. A diabetic with a loss of feeling may not realise how hot the blanket is and could even suffer burns in the process.
The second challenge in the electric blanket market is a lack of awareness. People may not know that such a product exists and even if they do, they might use it incorrectly. The New York Police Department estimates that blankets over a decade old cause 99% of electric blanket fires. Most fires are due to bad cords, igniting materials close by or overheating. Proper use greatly reduces the fire risk. Some concerns have also been raised about possible carcinogenic properties. These blankets create electromagnetic fields which may cause certain types of cancer. While most research is inconclusive, this can worry potential customers in the electric blanket market and proper education is required.
Some of the players involved in the electric blanket market are Sunbeam, Biddeford Blankets, Perfect Fit, Silentnight, Sleepwell, Lakeland, Dreamland, Relaxwell, Lloytron, and Morphy Richards.
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