Heated throws let you stay toasty and warm anywhere in the home – as long as you’re within 2 metres of a power point.
We bought two throws (a Sunbeam and Goldair) and got three Consumer staff to trial each one over a few cold, wintery days to find out if they were cosy delights or wet blankets.
A heated throw is a fleece blanket with a built-in heating system of wires, similar to an electric blanket. However, the wires inside heated throws are more flexible, which means you can snuggle up in one or lay it over yourself when you’re on the couch.
Both Sunbeam and Goldair have heated throws available in various fabrics, such as microfleece (which we trialled), sherpa fleece, faux fur and “luxurious velvet”.
The instructions we got with these heated throws left us scratching our heads – they were littered with references to electric blankets.
The Goldair instructions stated the throw should only be used on a bed before bedtime, but the packaging shows someone with it wrapped around them. We contacted Goldair and it said it can be used as a “cuddle” blanket or laid over the lap, and that someone was “overzealous” in copying the common instructions from electric blankets.
The Sunbeam had similar issues. Instructions on the controller said the lower five settings were for “all night use”, but the throw has an automatic 3-hour shut off. The controller is very similar to the one used on some electric blankets, so it seems Goldair wasn’t the only one to borrow from their electric blankets.
Both throws trialled have removable controllers, which means you can simply unplug the controller and put it in the washing machine. Detaching and reattaching controllers was usually easy, but some triallists had problems releasing the safety catch on the Goldair. Being machine washable means the odd spilt tea isn’t a danger, just put it in the wash.
The Sunbeam’s washing instructions are simple, put it on a gentle machine wash. The Goldair required 15 minutes of pre-soaking and then a gentle wash for two minutes. When was the last time you saw a washing machine with any wash cycle that short? Instead, we put it on a rinse and slow spin.
Line-drying was straightforward (don’t use pegs as they can crease the wires) though, in Wellington weather, they took two days to dry. You can accelerate the process by partially drying these throws in a clothes dryer, but you need to remove them while still damp (to prevent damage) and finish with line drying.
This microfleece throw was soft and cosy, with edges finished with piping. Our triallists described it as “very soft and cosy” and “a good size to wrap around yourself”. All triallists found it warmed them up well, but it was noticeably cool around the edges. This is because of its unheated border (90 to 100mm wide on the bottom and sides, and 140mm wide on the top).
It has nine temperature settings and one 12-hour timer. Annoyingly, the timer display doesn’t count down to show how long is left until it turns off, leaving the user guessing – it caught out at least one triallist.
It has a generous 2.7m long cable (including from controller to the throw). Overall, this throw was comfortable, warm, and retained heat well.
Price: $150 (Briscoes exclusive)
Dimensions (WxL): 120cm x 160cm
Heat settings: 9
Our triallists described this simple-looking throw as “very soft” with a weight comparable to a normal blanket. It provided plenty of warmth and comfort, even though it was noticeably thinner than the Goldair.
Triallists didn’t notice any hot or cold spots in the middle of the throw, though the unheated borders were cooler (180 to 220mm on the sides and 160 to 220mm top and bottom). The controls were easy to use, but not completely intuitive.
For example, its 2 power buttons left one triallist confused as to which actually controlled the throw (it’s both). It automatically turns off after 3 hours.
It has a 2.12m cord (including from the controller to the throw) and is edged with a simple blanket stitch, which meant it did start fraying around the stitches. Overall it was comfy and warm, but the quality of its construction and instructions could have been better.
Dimensions (WxL): 120cm x 160cm
Heat settings: 6
Most of the participants in our trial found the throws warm and comfortable and would buy one, if only they were a little cheaper. None would fork out more than $100 for a heated throw.
We didn’t put these throws through a lab test like we do electric blankets, but we did make a few observations using our office test equipment. The Sunbeam reached a maximum (pre-heat setting) of 29°C and the Goldair 26°C. Temperatures on middle settings averaged 24°C to 28°C. These are double-layered microfleece throws, so they retain heat once turned off.
Neither throw was particularly power-hungry. We checked energy consumption over two hours of use on a medium setting and both cost less than 5¢ per hour. Both throws were quick to warm up, taking between three and four minutes to reach pre-heat temperatures (though they claim to take longer).
Both throws did what they claimed, keeping our triallists warm and comfortable. But if it came to a “throw down”, the triallists found the Goldair more comfortable. The Sunbeam still rated well with our triallists. All said they would buy one if they were cheaper.
Interested in a full lab test of heated throws? Let us know by contacting email@example.com.