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Old 16-12-2013, 12:03   #1
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Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

Last night we had the electric blanket on - the sleeping cabin did get below 50 by early AM and my skinny wife is constantly cold.

I do not wear a shirt when sleeping. I kept feeling a strange poking sensation in my chest and stomach area. I thought we had gotten some needles, or sticks in the bed when we changed out of our hiking clothes. Nope - nothing. But - the sensation stopped when I turned off the electric blanket.

This morning I did a bunch of measurements. Ground was either me holding the black probe between my fingers and standing in bare feed on the floor or touching the probe to the mast:
2.4 V AC @60 HZ between the outside of the blanket (just laid the red probe on the blanket) and ground & 0.005 V DC

I got that measurement with the blanket turned off or on but the voltage goes to 0 when I unplug the blanket from the thermostat control.

I had always thought an electric blanket was a DC device and the thermostat was an AC/DC converter. I measured 120 V AC @ 60 HZ between the two connectors in the plug that comes from the thermostat and connects to the blanket - voltage drops to 0 when I turn off the thermostat.

It appears that the blanket runs on 120 V AC which is a scary thought in a boat.

It is hard to think about 120 V coils of wire laying on my chest at night under a port light that drips water on my head and chest as it condenses on the cold metal.

What do you know about electric blanket safety? Are there any more significant shock issues on a boat than on land?

I do not want to debate or even hear about EMF issues - we are well aware of them and I lost that battle to my wife's cold sleep problems years ago.

We live aboard full time and are looking at many more months of cool nights here.
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Old 16-12-2013, 12:11   #2
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

Take a look at 12 volt versions:

12 volt electric blanket - Bing

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Old 16-12-2013, 12:21   #3
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

What Steve said. They work OK in RVs.

At least GFI protect the one you're using - if you could feel a tingle, it would have tripped a GFI.
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Old 16-12-2013, 12:25   #4
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

The 12v ones are kinda-sorta-warm, but nothing like the toasty feeling of the AC models (go figure).

I had one for a winter in San Diego when the temps can get into the 30f at night. We were at the dock and running a little space heater in the morning and evenings, but it was harsh to run that thing at night as it dried the air out brutally and gave everyone a sore throat.

I put them in the same camp as $30 electric space heaters: handy as hell but I view them with constant contempt and mistrust.
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Old 16-12-2013, 12:26   #5
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

An electric blanket isn't as efficient as a bunk heating pad like truckers use. Heat rises, so if your sleeping on the heating source you will be toasty with the minimum watts. I have used the 12 volt heating bed pads and they work so well you will always be using the lower settings. They only take 5 amps @ 12 volts (60 watts) and on the lower settings cycle off 75% of the time so that a 8 hour sleep will only take 10 a-hr out of the battery. Can't get more efficient than that.
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Old 16-12-2013, 12:48   #6
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

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The 12v ones are kinda-sorta-warm, but nothing like the toasty feeling of the AC models (go figure).

I had one for a winter in San Diego when the temps can get into the 30f at night. We were at the dock and running a little space heater in the morning and evenings, but it was harsh to run that thing at night as it dried the air out brutally and gave everyone a sore throat.

I put them in the same camp as $30 electric space heaters: handy as hell but I view them with constant contempt and mistrust.
Interesting, I have been having a sore throat for several days now never thought the electric heater could of been causing the issue.
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Old 16-12-2013, 13:04   #7
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

Can't believe a non vented electric heater would dry the air enough to cause a problem on a boat. When I had electric heat on a boat over a VA winter, condensation was the problem not too dry air. We notice when we go back to the mainland that the air is so dry it effects us. In the winter it's terrible in heated houses but a house is not in the same environment as a boat.
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Old 16-12-2013, 13:16   #8
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

We have 12 V mattress pads but my wife really likes her electric blanket. We have a superb Ardic diesel heater (hot water / forced air) but I don't want to have it running at night.

The AC plug for the blanket is a GFI outlet and the the GFI tests OK.

Is it unusual, or a concern, that I can measure 2.5 V AC between the blanket surface and my body grounded to the cabin sole?
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Old 16-12-2013, 13:19   #9
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

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Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
Is it unusual, or a concern, that I can measure 2.5 V AC between the blanket surface and my body grounded to the cabin sole?
Na....what unusual to me living on a mooring ball in Morro Bay is just the THOUGHT of an electric Blanket on a boat....
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Old 16-12-2013, 13:28   #10
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

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Originally Posted by deckofficer View Post
An electric blanket isn't as efficient as a bunk heating pad like truckers use. Heat rises, so if your sleeping on the heating source you will be toasty with the minimum watts. I have used the 12 volt heating bed pads and they work so well you will always be using the lower settings. They only take 5 amps @ 12 volts (60 watts) and on the lower settings cycle off 75% of the time so that a 8 hour sleep will only take 10 a-hr out of the battery. Can't get more efficient than that.
That's actually what we'd do with our electric blanket: put them on the bottom and sleep on them. It solves the "getting into a cold bed" issue nicely. And I tend to sleep all over the place so the electric blanket stays put and I can roll around with my normal one instead.

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Originally Posted by cburger View Post
Interesting, I have been having a sore throat for several days now never thought the electric heater could of been causing the issue.
See what happens if you turn it off. When we left it on at night in the winter, we'd get sore throats but just in the morning, it would go away by mid day. Back again in the morning. Once I heard the kids coughing at night I decided to stop running it through the night.

Cold air is pretty dry anyway. Adding in the drying affect of a heater and it gets really dry.
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Old 16-12-2013, 13:30   #11
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

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Can't believe a non vented electric heater would dry the air enough to cause a problem on a boat. When I had electric heat on a boat over a VA winter, condensation was the problem not too dry air. We notice when we go back to the mainland that the air is so dry it effects us. In the winter it's terrible in heated houses but a house is not in the same environment as a boat.
Those dehumidifiers that people swear by are a small heater and a small fan, so it's a pretty straight up extension to imagine that a much larger heater and fan would dry things out even more.

I lived in plenty of places where we'd need to run humidifiers during the winter because the cold air outside has such little moisture and then the interior heaters dry it out even more.
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Old 16-12-2013, 15:51   #12
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

As a side note... buy a cheap smoke detector (you can get one for $5) and stick it up someplace in the boat.
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Old 16-12-2013, 18:33   #13
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

I'd also suggest the 12V mattress heater as the better way to go. But if you got a tingle from ANY AC "appliance", contact the manufacturer and ask for a refund. If there's any argument, you also contact the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission and let them know there's an appliance out there with a ground fault and a risk of electrocution. They tend to take notice about these things.

Of course there's something to be said about a big thick quilt, with no power needed...
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Old 16-12-2013, 19:42   #14
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

We use a Sunbeam electric blanket home where we keep the bedroom temperature around 62F. We have another Sunbeam blanket for our boat which gets most usage during the spring when the water temperature is in the 40-50 range.

We never have had trouble with an electric blanket. And I would not want to be without one on the boat. Purchasing a quality blanket IMHO is the secret.
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Old 16-12-2013, 19:44   #15
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Re: Electric Blanket Safety on Boats

We made a couple of winters in Alaska with Hutson Bay wool blankets and the heat shut off or turned way down at night ! Got where the shock of a unwarmed bed was sorta fun !! LOL( made for snuggeling!) But we sure turned the heat up in the morning!! Lot to be said for wool when it's really cold !
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