A very clever bit of engineering, the Stoov Big Hug uses infrared heating to warm you in a controlled and efficient way. It’s a great way to keep warm on cold days, whether you’re inside on a chair or even out camping. Decent battery and running costs that put a hot water bottle to shame make this a brilliant choice for anyone.
- Cheap to run
- Directs heat where you need it
- Larger battery should be the default
- Infrared heatingUses dual IR heating pads to direct warmth directly into your body.
No matter how you do it, heating your entire home uses a lot of power, and you can still feel chilly. With the Stoov Big Hug heated pad, you can warm yourself with this battery-powered infrared heater.
Simple to use, great value and with decent battery life, this is a brilliant addition to any home, but particularly for those that feel the cold.
Design and controls
- Choice of two batteries
- Three power levels
- Machine washable cover
The Stoov Big Hug looks much like any other blanket, even rolling up for easy storage and carrying around. There’s a wide choice of covers, and the Big Hug is available in standard (40 x 110cm) and XL (45 x 135cm) editions. There’s no difference in performance, just that each is designed to fit a different chair size.
Unroll the blanket, and it has two distinct sections; one is a seat, and the longer bit runs up the back of a chair and flips over the top.
In the flip-over section you’ll find the battery compartment, which can take one of two batteries. By default, you get the Standard Battery (2600mAh for up to four hours of usage), but there’s also a larger battery (4500mAh battery, for up to six hours of heat). If you’re going to go for the bigger battery, it makes sense to buy it at the point of purchase, as you only pay £20 extra; otherwise, you can buy the standard battery for £34.99 and the bigger one for £54.99.
I think the larger battery is worth it, although it’s worth pointing out that you can plug the charger into the Big Hug and use it while it’s charging. If you’ve got a mains socket nearby, then the standard version may well do you.
Control of the Stoov Big Hug is easy. Just press the control button on the side to turn the heater on to maximum power (indicated by three red icons, and outputting heat at 42°C), and then hit the button again to cycle through medium (39°C, two dots showing) and minimum (37°C, one dot showing) heat settings. After just a short wait, the warmth starts to come through.
Press and hold the power button, and the status LEDs light up to show you the rough charge level: three lights means it’s at least 70% charged; one light means that there’s 30% or less charge.
The outside cover has a zip, and is machine washable at 30°C; the internal electronics and heating element can’t be washed.
Performance and battery life
- Excellent heat production
- Good battery life
- Cheap to run
Using infrared heat, the Stoov Big Hug heats you similarly to how the sun warms us. Rather than convection heat, which warms the air first, infrared directly warms you. That makes the Big Hug fast and efficient to warm up.
As you can see from the thermal images below, the Stoov Big Hug has two heating elements: one where your back goes and one on the base, so you get warmed from both directions.
It’s a pleasant feeling that warmed my entire body. I tried the Stoov Big Hug inside, in a chilly office on a cold day, and outside around a campfire, and it kept me noticeably warmer and more comfortable than relying on heating alone.
In fact, while the top heating level was good for getting me warmed up, I found that often got too warm on this setting, so dropped the level down to the mid or low setting instead. As the Big Hug is so good, I found that I could live with the room set to a cooler temperature than otherwise.
Battery life is about, as Stoove states. On the highest setting, I got around 90 minutes of use, increasing by an hour on the middle setting and just over four hours on the lowest setting. With the larger battery, you can expect the high setting to give you over two and a half hours, and over six hours on the lowest setting.
With the standard battery, I found that it took 30Wh of power. At the current capped rate of 27p per kWh, that means a charge costs around 0.81p. In comparison, boiling a 1.5-litre kettle to fill a hot water bottle costs around 4.05p.
A hot water bottle also gives you no temperature control: it starts very hot and then cools down; the Stoov Big Hug outputs constant heat until its battery has run out. As the Stoov Big Hug is so cheap to run, it means that you can charge it five times for the cost of one hot water bottle. That’s more than seven hours of use on the high setting.
Should you buy it?
You want to keep warm efficiently
Heating just yourself, rather than the entire environment, this heating pad is a cost-effective and efficient way to keep warm.
Your house is well insulated and very warm
If you’re mostly in rooms that keep the heat, you may not need the extra power that this heated pad brings.
An incredible and cost-effective bit of kit, the Stoov Big Hug can help keep you warm, whether you’re sitting at a desk or lounging on a sofa. With natural-feeling heat and three output levels, this blanket outstrips a hot water bottle for use, comfort, efficiency and running costs, and it’s more flexible than a traditional electric blanket. I think it’s worth paying the extra £20 for the larger battery at the point of purchase, although the smaller battery is still capable.
How we test
Unlike other sites, we test every heated blanket we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Used as our main heated blanket for the review period
We record how much power the blanket will use on maximum.
We see how evenly the blanket is heated and if there are cold spots.
You might like…
Yes, it works while charging, and can run wirelessly via its battery.