Infrared Mat vs Infrared Heating Pad – What’s the Difference?

what's the difference between an infrared mat and an infrared heating pad

What’s the difference between an infrared mat and an infrared heating pad? The key differences relate to size, target area, and portability. An infrared mat is bigger and targets the entire body. An infrared heating pas is smaller and targets a specific region. Pads are more portable and easier to take on the road. Below we cover everything you need to know about an infrared mat vs infrared heating pad.

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Key Differences: Infrared Mat vs Infrared Heating Pad

Infrared mats and infrared heating pads both use infrared energy to provide deep penetrating heat to the body. They use electricity to power an infrared heating element inside the device. This element converts the electrical power into infrared light that heats the area of the body that is in contact with the mat or pad. But what are the key differences? And, which is better – an infrared mat or an infrared heating pad?

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The most noticeable difference between an infrared mat vs infrared heating pad is size. Infrared mats are much bigger. Mats are designed to provide cover for the whole body. They are typically at least 6 feet long – so an individual can lie down and heat their entire body from head to toe. Infrared pads come in a wide range of shapes and sizes – usually square or rectangular. But they are always much smaller compared to an infrared mat.

Target Area

The next most important difference between an infrared mat and an infrared heating pad is the target area. An infrared mat is designed to heat the entire body – at once. You can lay your entire body on an infrared mat and effectively receive heat from shoulders to toes simultaneously.

On the other hand, an infrared heating pad is designed to heat a specific target area. For example, an infrared pad can be used to heat a sore back, neck, or limbs while the remainder of the body remains untreated.


Another difference between an infrared mat vs infrared heating pad is portability. Infrared mats are smaller and more compact than mats. This means they are easier to pack up and take on the road. Mats are larger and heavier. If you want a device that can be used on the go, an infrared heating pad is the better option. Infrared mats work best for dedicated home use where they can be used in situ.

Lying Down vs Sitting

An infrared mat is used in the lying down position. The device must be completely rolled out of a flat surface – such as a floor. This means it is always used when lying down. An infrared heating pad on the other hand gives you the option of using it while sitting – or even standing.

It can be wrapped around the area that needs heating and can be used while standing, sitting, or lying down. They provide more freedom and allow you to carry on with your daily activities while in use.

PEMF Therapy

PEMF stands for pulsed electromagnetic frequency. It is a special type of therapy that is often featured in high-end infrared mats and pads. PEMF releases short bursts of electromagnetic energy to potentially stimulate healing and recovery. While PEMF can be found in both infrared mats and infrared heating pads – it is more commonly found in mats, where it can be applied to the whole body.

Crushed Crystals

Infrared mats and pads often come with a layer of crushed crystals such as amethyst and black tourmaline. These crystals play an important role in alternative medicine. They are believed to have healing and relaxation properties.

However, there is little scientific evidence available to validate these claims. Both infrared mats and infrared heating pads can be designed to include alternative medicine purple amethyst and black tourmaline crystals – however, they are more commonly found in mats.

Advantages of an Infrared Mat

What are the advantages of an infrared mat compared to an infrared heating pad? What benefits can you expect given the key differences outlined above? Below we take a look at the benefits of an infrared mat vs an infrared pad.

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Full Body Coverage

The greatest advantage of an infrared mat vs infrared heating pad – is full body coverage. All over body heat!  An infrared mat heats your entire body in one go. It does not target a small specific area. If you want to experience an all-over body heat therapy session, you need an infrared mat.

Greater Heat Intensity

Infrared mats are larger than pads and have a more robust design. This allows them to use more powerful infrared heating coils. Infrared mats can deliver greater heat intensity compared to pads. This may contribute to deeper heat penetration compared to a smaller and more lightweight infrared pad.  Great for people that want lots of heat!

Deep Relaxation

Infrared mats are better for achieving a deeply relaxing experience. They allow you to lie back, unwind, and absorb heat throughout your entire body. Many people find this very calming and relaxing. Infrared heating pads are designed to deliver heat to a small specific area of the body for localized therapy – such as pain relief and muscle recovery.


Alternative Therapies

Are you looking for an infrared heating device that comes with alternative therapies? While both infrared mats and infrared heating pads can be designed to include PEMF therapy and crushed crystals such as amethyst and tourmaline – they are more often found in mats compared to pads.


An infrared mat can be used for yoga – heated yoga.  The dimensions of an infrared mat are similar to a yoga mat.  And, if you want to introduce some heat to your yoga session you can try using an infrared mat.  Their dimensions provide full body coverage.  And, the best mats are durable and will support a wide range of yoga poses and positions.  For more, check out Infrared Mat for Yoga.

Advantages of an Infrared Heating Pad

Now, let’s take a look at the advantages of an infrared heating pad vs an infrared mat. What characteristics of a pad make it a favorable option compared to a mat? Here’s what you need to know if you are weighing up the two options.

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Target a Specific Area

Pads target a specific area. If you want to deliver deep penetrating infrared heat to a specific part of your body then a pad is your best bet. You can apply it to a localized area – for example, the lower back, and the rest of your body remains unaffected. Infrared heating pads are better for people that don’t want to heat their entire body.

Don’t Have to Lie Down

Infrared heating pads also give you the freedom of using them in a variety of positions. An infrared mat can only be used while lying down. An infrared heating pad can be applied to a specific body area. And, depending on how you are using it you can remain seated, stand up, walk, or lie down.

Can Be Taken On the Road

Infrared heating pads are highly portable. If you want a device that can be taken on the road they are a much better option. They are smaller and more lightweight compared to an infrared mat. This means they can be packed up more easily and transported with ease.

Battery Powered Options

Some infrared heating pads are powered using batteries. Others come with a power lead that needs to be plugged into an electrical socket. However, all infrared mats must be plugged into an electrical socket. There are no battery-powered options. Infrared heating pads give you the option of choosing a battery-powered device.


Infrared heating pads are cheaper than infrared mats. They are much smaller and easier to produce. And, this means they come with a smaller price tag. If you’re on a budget and want to invest in a budget infrared heating option – then an infrared heating pad could be the one for you.

Pad Flexibility

Infrared heating pads are often designed to be flexible so that they can be wrapped around a target area, such as an arm or leg. This allows you to concentrate the heat on a specific area of the body. Infrared mats are not flexible. They have a more rigid design and need to be laid out completely flat.


Which Should You Buy?

Which should you buy – an infrared mat or an infrared heating pad? It all comes down to personal preference. Your best bet is to weigh up the key advantages of either device and compare these against your individual needs.

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An infrared mat works best for individuals that want an all-over heat session. Mats heat your entire body while infrared pads are used to target specific areas. Infrared mats are also better for generating greater heat and delivering a deeply relaxing experience.

Pads, on the other hand, are more portable. Their smaller dimensions and light weight mean they are much easier to pack up and take on the road. Great for people that travel regularly and want to be able to use the device when away from home.

Pads can also be used while you get on with your daily activities. They can be attached to a specific area and used while seated, standing up, or laying down. Mats, on the other hand, can only be used when laying down.

And finally, pads are cheaper. While price should never be your one and only deciding factor – it always plays an important role. If you’re on a budget you will find an infrared heating pad is a less challenging investment.


About the Author


• Senior Editor at Home Sauna Heaven

As a native Swede, Magnus developed a deep fascination with the art of sauna bathing from an early age.  Born and raised in the picturesque landscapes of Småland Sweden, he grew up in a family where sauna was deeply embedded in the community and daily routine.  He graduated from Linnaeus University with a Master of Science in Health Science with a special focus on the “Comparative Analysis of Traditional Saunas vs. Infrared Saunas”.

Moving to the United States in his late twenties, Magnus worked as a health and fitness advisor in a well-known spa and wellness retreat in Malibu California.  Over the next 12 years he became the spa’s leading sauna consultant and mentored colleagues on the benefits and applications of sauna therapy.

In 2019 he relocated to Florida to open his own wellness retreat in the Tampa Bay area.  Here he continues to inspire others with the restorative power of sauna therapy. In 2020, he became senior editor of Home Sauna Heaven where he shares his deep understanding of infrared sauna and offers expert advice on its applications, benefits, and periodic product reviews.

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