space heater vs electric blanket

Space Heater vs Electric Blanket: 21 Pros and Cons

Space heater vs electric blanket. Both are completely different products and yet they have something in common: They are meant to keep you warm.

If you are not sure which one you should get, this article is for you. We’re going to compare space heaters and electric blankets and find out which one is the better choice for you. This is a very individual choice, so we’ll cover everything you need to know, to make the best decision. Heating with an electric blanket or with a space heater is very different.

The main difference between a space heater and an electric blanket is that with a space heater you heat an entire room, while an electric blanket focuses the heat on just one person. This explains why electric blankets are more energy-efficient to use. On the other hand, space heaters are more versatile and durable. A space heater can last you for several years, whereas an electric blanket is prone to break quickly.

These are a lot of differences between space heaters and electric blankets. To decide which one is better for you, you absolutely need to read through all of the pros and cons. In the sections below, you can find 21 pros and cons. These are the most important points to answer your question: Space heater or electric blanket?

1. Weight

Space Heater

Pro: You can get a space heater in all weight categories. From very light to very heavy.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Nearly always lightweight. But that depends on the blanket material.

Quick Explanation

The weight difference between space heaters and electric blankets is obvious. While one is a heater and weighs much, the other is a blanket and weighs little.

However, that’s not always the case. You can get space heaters in all weight categories, from really light (1 pound), to very heavy (1000 pounds). The really light ones can be even lighter than an electric blanket usually weighs around 2-4 pounds. So, some space heaters can be lighter than an electric blanket.

However, for most heaters and blankets, that doesn’t apply.

Weight is only important for carrying the thing around. You would only carry light space heaters from one room to another. So, a weight comparison doesn’t really make sense unless you want to bring with you on a trip.

In this case: Space heaters and electric blankets can both get light enough to travel with them.

2. Sleep

Space Heater

Pro: Warms the whole bedroom.

Con: Heaters with little functionality draw lots of energy.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Suitable for sleeping.

Con: Heats just the bed, not the air.

Quick Explanation

For sleeping, I would personally choose a space heater. I prefer the feeling of warm air a lot more than the feeling of a warm bed. However, that’s a very personal choice. What do you like more?

Also, energy consumption plays a big role to decide properly. Space heaters do use a lot more energy unless they come with a built-in thermostat and shut-off timer. Here’s the heater that I know is best for sleeping (reviewed): Here’s my review of the only heater you need for sleeping (click to view it).

An electric blanket is also only suitable for sleeping when it comes with a built-in shut off timer function. Otherwise, it would overheat your bed and get uncomfortable. Whenever it gets too hot at night, you wake up and interrupt your sleep.

This point goes to space heaters.

3. Heating Speed

Space Heater

Pro: Heating speed depends on the heater type. Infrared Heaters heat immediately.

Con: Oil heaters need a few minutes to heat.

Electric Blanket

Con: Electric blankets need some time to warm up.

Quick Explanation

The heating speed of space heaters depends entirely on the heater type you use. For example, infrared heaters heat instantly, while oil heaters need a few minutes to warm up. However, that isn’t really important at all. Especially if you’re looking for a heat source for sleeping, speed doesn’t matter.

Electric blankets also need time to warm up.

All in all, space heaters and blankets heat within a few minutes. Nothing to complain about.

4. Efficiency

Space Heater

Con: Space heaters need lots of energy. Usually, they run on 1500W, which would cost you $0.18 per hour to run.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Electric blankets usually only need 150W to run. That’s just a tenth of what space heaters use.

Quick Explanation

Space heaters run on 1500W fixed unless you get a model with a built-in thermostat. A thermostat will dynamically change the power output depending on which room temperature you desire. In this case, space heaters are an efficient heating source.

The difference is that space heaters heat a whole room, whereas a blanket heats just one person. Obviously, an electric blanket is more efficient.

thermostat of a heater

5. Price

Space Heater

Pro: You can find space heaters at every price point.

Electric Blanket

Con: Electric blankets are less flexible in price. Usually, they cost around $50.

Quick Explanation

If you’re on a budget, I’d definitely pick an electric blanket. They usually cost around $50, but their long-term electricity costs are lower than that of space heaters.

In case you prefer a space heater for cheap, check out Best Space Heaters Under $50: A Complete Guide to the Cheapest Ones.

Generally, space heaters can get more expensive than blankets. Yes, you’ll find some under $50, but for really good models you should spend $100 or more. There are even some Dyson heaters which cost up to $600!

6. Safety

Space Heater

Pro: Has plenty of safety features built-in.

Con: Misuse can still lead to safety issues.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Generally safe, because it draws very little energy.

Con: No safety features, or only a built-in shut-off timer.

Quick Explanation

Everybody knows space heaters for their safety issues. However, most of the accidents happened because of misuse. As long as you have a basic awareness of safety, you can’t do anything wrong with a space heater. I suggest to google search “space heater safety tips” and read through the first result.

To compensate for its bad reputation, space heater manufacturers started building heaters with plenty of safety features! From tip-over protection to automatic shut off timers, overheat protection and safety certifications. Space heaters are safe nowadays.

Electric blankets, on the other hand, are generally safe because they consume less energy. But they come with nearly no safety features. Mostly, all you get is a built-in shut off timer.

On top of that, there are concerns about harmful effects caused by the electromagnetic field of electric blankets. However, there’s no study that proves it.

Space heaters win this point.

7. Portability

Space Heater

Pro: Compared to other heat sources like a furnace, or a radiator, extremely portable.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Very portable as well. 

Quick Explanation

The portability point, of course, has to go to the electric blanket. They are blankets. It’s difficult to build a heat source that’s less portable than that. You can also put your blanket in a suitcase and travel with it. Maybe they’ll let you take it on an airplane.

I’m sure nobody would allow space heaters on an airplane.

Space heaters still do a great job. Their goal is to replace regular heat sources, so that’s what they’re actually competing with. Compared to furnaces or radiators, they are extremely portable.

Still, electric blankets win this point.

8. Heating Capacity

Space Heater

Pro: Can heat a big room with many people in it.

Electric Blanket

Con: Heats just one person.

Quick Explanation

Here’s a fundamental difference. While a space heater heats a whole room, an electric blanket can heat just one person. Also, space heaters make up a great emergency heat source.

If you want to keep warm together with your family, a space heater is definitely the better choice. If you rather heat just yourself, while reading a book, for example, an electric blanket is better.

It’s a draw and depends on what you want. Do you want to heat just yourself? Or do you want to keep everyone warm?

9. Versatility

Space Heater

Pro: Very versatile. You can heat your home, a garage, a basement, a party tent … you get it.

Electric Blanket

Con: Not very versatile. To use it you need to tuck yourself up.

Quick Explanation

With an electric blanket, you are very much limited to lying on your couch, your bed, or sitting at your desk. But cooking or repairing the car becomes impossible with a heated blanket.

Still, you can get creative with electric blankets. For example, you can use them to heat the weight bench in a cold garage gym (see this article).

Generally, though, electric blankets are inferior to space heaters. They limit your ability to move and are less versatile.

In contrast, you can carry a space heater anywhere you want and you can keep warm in every room. And it doesn’t matter whether you just lie down on the couch or whether you workout. A space heater will heat you without disrupting your activity.

10. Maintenance

Space Heater

Pro: Needs no maintenance. If it breaks after a few years, just get a new one.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Needs no maintenance either. But when something breaks, it’s easy to fix for an electrician.

Quick Explanation

Both space heaters and electric blankets are maintenance-free. Which already makes them better than regular heating systems that you have to vent or refill.

Still, space heaters or electric blankets can break (Our electric blankets electronics blew last week). And when they break, the best thing to do is just replace them.

11. Stains and Greasiness

Space Heater

Pro: You can wipe stains off. The material is easy to clean.

Electric Blanket

Con: Hard to clean, but washable.

Quick Explanation

Space heaters look good for much longer. Their material doesn’t age, because it’s plain plastic, wood or light metal.

On the other hand, electric blankets get greasy very fast. Because they are warmer than regular blankets, they absorb oils faster. Electric blankets wear down faster.

You can wash electric blankets, but make sure to check the label for detailed info.

12. Comfort

Space Heater

Pro: The right space heater always produces pleasant heat.

Con: Some people say that space heaters dry the air (I was never able to confirm this).

Electric Blanket

Pro: Provides heat and is cuddly at the same time!

Con: The air around you will stay cold.

Quick Explanation

When it comes to comfort, both space heaters and electric blankets are great to use! The way they increase your comfort at home is just a different one.

Space heaters mostly produce warm air, which heats your room. Overall, you’ll have a warm and cozy room.

Electric blankets, on the other hand, are great for cuddling. You can wrap it around you and feel warm even when the room you’re in is freezing cold.

An electric blanket is also useful for preheating a bed. Trust me, it’s awesome!

13. Storage

Space Heater

Pro: A space heater fits in any regular storage room. Maybe even in a closet to hide it.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Electric blankets fit anywhere. Storage is no issue with them. You can even travel with them.

Quick Explanation

Space heaters fit about anywhere. They’re not that big in size. Honestly, when I first got mine, I thought it would be a lot bigger. There are a lot of space heaters that you can store in a storage room or in a closet.

Electric blankets are even better. Storage is absolutely no problem with an electric blanket. You can even take them with you for traveling. Whereas taking a space heater with you would require a lot more effort.

For RVs or camping, both are easy to store.

14. Ease of use

Space Heater

Pro: Easy user interface. Set a temperature or power level and start heating.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Easy to use.

Con: Awkward remote control that is connected to the blanket using a thick cord that is uncomfortable to handle.

Quick Explanation

Both space heaters and electric blankets are easy to use. However, space heaters are my favorite. You have a simple user interface where you can set shut-off time and temperature. Or just a simple power knob.

Whereas with an electric blanket, you oftentimes get an awkward remote control that’s attached to the blanket using an old-fashioned spiral cord. The remote is impractical to use and often looks weird.

The worst thing is when you are cuddled up in the blanket and you want to change the heat. And then you notice that the remote is on the other side of the blanket, lying at your feet.

Electric blankets are harder to use compared to space heaters.

15. Overnight Use / Sleep

Space Heater

Pro: Oil heaters are very safe to use overnight. They come with a thermostat and auto shut-off.

Con: Other heater types shouldn’t run throughout the night.

Electric Blanket

Pro: You can safely use an electric blanket at night. It also has an automatic shut-off timer.

Quick Explanation

For sleeping, space heaters are the better choice, because of several reasons.

  • The first one is that you don’t take a heat source with you in bed. That would be a safety hazard. 
  • The second one is that space heaters are very safe to run throughout the night and come with various safety features like automatic shut-off, overheat protection and a thermostat.
  • And the last reason why space heaters are better for sleeping is that they heat the air. Warm air is much more pleasant to sleep with than direct contact with a heat source.

To be fair, I have to mention that some electric blankets have an automatic shut-off function as well.

For sleeping, I’d stick to space heaters.

blanket on couch - better than a space heater?

16. Noise

Space Heater

Pro: Depends on the space heater model you pick. Oil heaters are very silent.

Con: There are space heaters that are noisy (usually heaters with a built-in fan).

Electric Blanket

Pro: Absolutely silent.

Quick Explanation

Except for oil heaters, nearly all types of space heaters produce some kind of noise. The sounds either come from a humming transformer, or from a running fan. Space heaters handle a lot more power than electric blankets. And whenever you handle high powers, things will vibrate, hum and buzz.

Lightning causes thunder.

So, when you want to do something silently, I’d suggest picking an electric blanket.

17. Children & Pets

Space Heater

Con: Not all space heaters are safe to use with children or pets. Oftentimes they have a hot to touch surface part.

Electric Blanket

Pro: Electric blankets are safe to use with children and pets.

Quick Explanation

When you have children or pets at home, you have to spend special attention to safety. Space heaters are oftentimes very safe, especially oil heaters. But other types of heaters, like infrared or propane heaters, usually get hot to touch. Even when there’s a protective grid that covers the heat source.

Electric blankets are much safer for children and pets because they don’t produce that much heat.

So, nobody can burn his fingers or paws.

18. Outdoor Use

Space Heater

Pro: Infrared heaters are a good choice for outdoor heating. Propane heaters are great as well. You don’t need any electricity to run them.

Electric Blanket

Pro: An electric blanket is even more efficient than a space heater for outdoor usage.

Con: You need access to electricity.

Quick Explanation

For keeping warm outdoors, both space heaters and electric blankets are a good idea.

Whenever you need to move around a lot, electric blankets get a little hindering. So, in that case, I’d suggest space heaters.

Outdoors, infrared heaters or propane heaters are a solid choice. The best thing about propane heaters is that you can even take them with you on a camping trip. You don’t need access to electricity!

19. Thermostat

Space Heater

Pro: Oftentimes have a built-in thermostat to efficiently control the temperature.

Electric Blanket

Con: Electric blankets don’t have a thermostat, just different power levels you can choose between.

Quick Explanation

A thermostat is useful for energy-efficient heating. Also, it prevents overheating, because it senses the current temperature and reacts upon it. A thermostat will automatically cool the heat source down when it gets too hot. And similarly, it will reheat, when the temperature decreases.

Space heaters oftentimes come with a built-in thermostat. Electric blankets don’t.

20. Stability

Space Heater

Pro: A space heater, especially a quality product, is very stable.

Electric Blanket

Pro: An electric blanket is soft, so you can assume it’s stable as well. But wires can break.

Quick Explanation

Can these things break? Space heaters are made of solid materials that can withstand strains. An electric blanket, on the other hand, contains very thin wires that can easily break. Electric blankets are less “stable” than space heaters.

21. Durability

Space Heater

Pro: The right space heater will last you for years. If not even a lifetime.

Con: There are some cheap models that break quickly.

Electric Blanket

Con: Electric blankets are not durable. Oftentimes they have cheap electronics built-in which decreases their longevity.

Quick Explanation

Durability is my favorite point when it comes to the advantages of space heaters. A space heater can last you a lifetime. It will provide you heat for years to come.

Electric blankets are not very durable. Oftentimes they have very cheap electronics built-in (I know that because I repaired one myself). They just don’t last.

An electric blanket may last you a few years, but you can’t compare it to what a space heater can do. Some heaters last for decades.

Conclusion: Space Heater vs Electric Blanket

Space Heater vs Electric Blanket? Here’s the answer:
A space heater is the better choice for heating a whole room while you’re doing something actively, whereas an electric blanket is better, for activities that don’t involve any movement. Space heaters are more versatile, however, they use more energy. Do you prefer cuddling or heating?

Ask yourself this question and you will know which one’s the better choice for you.

I prefer space heaters because you get more value for your money. You can use them anywhere. You can use it to keep your guests warm, for quick heating of a garage or to boost your temperature a little. Whereas an electric blanket is more of a one-purpose product.

Take a look at the recommended products page to see my personal favorite space heaters!

About the Author

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel is an electrical engineer, blogger, and author. He studied electrical engineering and information technology and decided to blog about heaters after working in the temperature sensing industry.