Types of Waterbed Heaters

Written by medb lynch
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Types of Waterbed Heaters
A waterbed allows you to feel like you're floating. (Martin San/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Effective heating is crucial to getting the most out of your waterbed. Modern heating methods offer efficient, reasonably low-cost ways to keep your waterbed at a constant temperature. Waterbed heaters come in three types: softside, bulb and cap, and solid state.The type of waterbed you have will determine which heating systems you can use and how much it will cost to heat your bed. Before choosing a waterbed, review your options closely and consider the long-term costs.

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Types of Waterbeds

Waterbeds are available in two main types: hardside and softside. In a hardside waterbed, a water-filled mattress is supported by a rigid structure. Newer hardside designs incorporate materials to add varying degrees of stability and decrease the effects of motion. Hardside models use more water and heating, making them more expensive to maintain. Softside-style waterbeds consist of water-filled chambers inside a foam-and-mattress casing. A heater might not be needed for heavily padded softside waterbeds.

Softside Heaters

Softside waterbed heaters can only be used with softside waterbeds. As softside beds generally use less water, softside waterbed heaters are among the most efficient on the market. As of 2011, a softside waterbed heater costs about £65.

Bulb and Cap Heaters

Bulb and cap heaters used to be the standard heating system for most hardside waterbeds. In a bulb and cap system, copper coils filled with ethylene gas are encased in a sturdy pad. They tend to be slightly cheaper than other heaters but are not as energy-efficient.

Solid State Heaters

Solid state heaters for hardside waterbeds are easy to use and install, and they are more energy-efficient then bulb and cap heaters. With this system, a heating mat is placed under the mattress and a thermostat attached to the side of the bed. Solid state heaters cost about the same as softside waterbed heaters, which cost about £65 as of 2011.

Running Cost

The cost of maintaining a waterbed will vary depending on the size and type of waterbed. Larger waterbeds, especially hardside-style mattresses, will cost more to heat. As of June 2011, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. estimated that it costs £12 a month to keep an average king-size waterbed. (That's if you make your bed. If you don't, it could cost you up to £19 a month.) To further reduce costs, cover thinly padded waterbed mattresses with a 1-inch foam sheet. SDG&E estimates that this could save you £29 to £70 per year in heating costs.

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