A New Way to Stay Warm This Winter
Senior Field Editor Jeff Jensen
With winter weather well underway, it's time to start dragging out those comforters and blankets again and trying to stay warm in the truck at night. "Not a problem," many drivers say, "My truck has plenty of heat."
That's probably true, but with the cost of fuel continuing on it's roller coaster ride, it will probably be more expensive than ever to idle that motor through the night this winter. A generator is a more economical option, but for those that haven't gonethat route already, it's a substantial investment.
For those with older trucks or inefficient heating systems, keeping the sleeper at a comfortable temperature is an ongoing problem and for those out there in the gas-engined vans, many are understandably reluctant to idle all night, often resorting to propane heaters and the like.
So what's another option to keep warm in the bunk? Patented Products, Inc. of Danville, OH is the manufacturer of the Electro Warmth Bed Warmer series of products.
Developed over 50 years ago for home use, these bed warmers have evolved over the years for use in RV's, Truck sleepers, camping, in short, any application that one can imagine.
Don't confuse these devices with electric blankets, the bed warmer is used under the bedding. One sleeps on it, not under it. The bed warmer attaches directly to the mattress and is covered with the normal bedding.
It's more efficient than an electric blanket because heat rises from the bed warmer and is captured and retained by the blankets or covers. In appearance, the bed warmers resemble a mattress pad.
Made of white material and about a half inch thick, these devices cover the mattress like a fitted sheet with an elastic skirt to hold the warmer in place. The warmers are quilted around the heating wires, done in such a way that one does not feel the wires while laying on the warmer.
The wires in the bed warmer are shielded, so a liquid spill on the bed warmer poses no danger. The manufacturer recommends that the product be hand washed, but as they point out in their promotional material, the bed warmer is used under the bed coverings, so there is not a frequent need to clean them.
The bed warmers are kept in place by two different methods: The Mattress Pad Model has a series of cloth tabs all around the outer edges. A bag of large safety pins is provided with the bed warmer to secure it to the mattress using the tabs.
The Fitted Model is similar to a fitted sheet in that it covers the entire mattress and is held in place using elastic all around the skirt of the bed warmer.
The Electro Warmth bed warmers are thermostatically controlled which cycles the warmth on and off at short intervals. The amount of time it is cycled on versus off depends on the "Comfort Control" setting and room temperature, drawing full rated amperage only when cycled on.
The manufacturer says that their experience has shown that on average, the warmer is cycle on less than 50% of the time. Larry Grindle, the manufacturer of Electro Warmth products, says that over the last 30 years the 12 volt model has been offered, reports of battery problems have been negligible.
He does recommend however, that those bed warmer users in vans should consider utilizing an auxiliary battery.
He tells us that a new battery should provide sufficient power for the bed warmer through the night and still have sufficient cranking power to start the truck in the morning, but for an older battery it could pose a problem.
For the multiple battery arrangements in straight trucks and tractors, it should be no trouble. A comprehensive chart of wattage and amperage draw is displayed on the company's web site. In addition to the bed warmer line of products, a seat or back warming cushion is available to either pre-warm the seat or take the chill off the back while driving.
Larry Grindle is the 56 year old owner of Patented Products, Inc., with the Electro Warmth line their only product. Larry, originally from Akron, OH, was a CPA working as financial manager for Flexible Packaging before discovering the opportunity in this family-owned business located in the small central Ohio town of Danville, which he purchased in June, 1997.
Larry tells us, "We've been growing our business at an impressive rate. We are suppliers to major truck lines such as Millis, Star, CR England, Roehl and many others. Our fleet customers order our products in large amounts, but feel that the small investment per unit results in happier drivers and a large payback for the price. We have literally thousands of satisfied truck drivers using our products." The truck lines have reported substantial savings in fuel costs due to reduced idling time.
The bed warmer sizes and prices are displayed on the company web site with the most popular model for truck drivers being the T-36, priced at $72.40 plus shipping and handling. A worthwhile investment if a driver can save a few gallons of fuel.
Larry adds, "We offer same day shipping, generally, an order received by 3:00 pm is shipped that day. We feel that we offer a unique and practical product that provides comfort at a low price, a great investment." Larry tells us that one of his company's largest consumer outlets is Travel Centers of America.