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DIY heated clothing

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UPDATE 10/31/2009:  I finished remaking my pants and I think I've come up with a better stitching pattern.  I'll leave the pictures of the old style just in case someone wants to do it that way.  I'm also updating the parts section. 

This is for those motorcycle riders, who like me, don't know when to quit and can't afford store bought heated clothing.  I'll show you how I made my pants, but the same can be done for a jacket or whatever else you can think of.  I made these last year during the middle of a road trip to battle the bitter cold, and it worked wonderfully.  This is how I did it, I'll put some links to other ways on the last step.  Also, I took the pictures while taking my completed pants apart (I think I can make them better), so there are not many action shots. Sorry and enjoy the instructable.

*  The chief concern with anyone I tell this to is always "Can you catch on fire?".  Well to answer your question, no. If you follow the steps as outlined, there is no chance of you catching on fire.  There are companies that sell clothes made the exact same way, just with nicer looking materials and a higher price tag.  The flash point of most fabrics is much higher than this suit is capable of producing. 
 
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Step 1: Materials

Everything but the Teflon wire, clothing material, and needle can be purchased from radioshack.  All together the materials cost me about 50 dollars, and you'll have enough wire left over to make a jacket and more.

- 30ft of 30 AWG Teflon wire
- Some normal copper wiring (16 AWG)
- Connectors (See note 1)
- Ring connectors for connecting to the battery (See note 2)
- Fuse (Over 4 amps with just pants, over 10 if you make a jacket)
- Fuse holder (See note 2)
- An SPST switch (optional but recommended) (see note 3)
- Thermal underwear (or whatever you want to use)
- Cloth to make a lining
- A thick sewing needle

Note 1:  You'll want to chose a connector that can be can be quickly disconnected.  This is for the cases where you forget to disconnect from the bike and you try to walk away.  Rather than tearing anything apart, the connectors will just come apart.  There is an instructable on how to make one that's pretty cool.   Here's the link: http://www.instructables.com/id/ThinkSafe%3a-A-Magnetic-Power-Connector-for-Thinkpad/.  But if you don't want to make one, you should get a coax type plug or maybe a quarter inch plug, like the ones used on guitars.  The coax plugs are what is used on professional clothing.  I have a bunch of bullet connectors laying around, so that is what I'm going to use.

Note 2:  You can buy a pre-made battery harness with fuse holder for pretty cheap.  It's actually cheaper to buy the pre-assembled one than it is to make one unless you have the parts laying around.  This second time around I'm using a pre-made one. http://cozywinters.com/shop/wg-dcjk15amp.html

Note 3: You can also buy a pre-made switch which looks pretty nice and is waterproof.  This is what I'm using this second time around: http://cozywinters.com/shop/wg-oocoax.html

Step 2: Theory

You can skip this part if you don't want to know any of this.

This works on the same principal as a light bulb or a toaster.  Pass electricity through a high resistance, and you get heat.  In this case though, we are controlling how much heat the clothing will put out by varying the length of wire we will use.  To figure out how much wire to use, we will use ohm's law or

Current [Amps] = Voltage [Volts] divided by Resistance [Ohms]


The wire we are using has a resistance of .1 ohms per foot.  So if we used 30 feet of wire, the total resistance would be 3 ohms.  This is ignoring the resistance of the connectors and wire going to the battery but it should be negligible in our calculations. The voltage of most modern motorcycle batteries is 12 volts.  So 12V/ 3 ohms = 4 amps.  Now we know how much current our pants will draw. 

So you want to know how hot this will be? Here's an excerpt from this site

Power [Watts] = Current [Amps] x Voltage [Volts]

Based on our project consisting of a 12-volt battery and a current of 4-amps, the power consumption would be (4-amps x 12-volts = ) 48-watts.  The heat output of 48-watts, can be expressed in British Thermal Units (BTU) per hour by performing the following conversion:

BTU / Hour = Watts x 3.413

Put simply, one British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1-pound ( lb) of water 1-degree Fahrenheit.  Thus the vest in our project would output ( 48-watts x 3.413 = ) approximately 164 BTUs per hour.  If this value isn't intuitive to you, consider that 48-watts is similar to a 50-watt light bulb, and imagine the amount of heat that a 50-watt light bulb outputs.  That may not sound like much, but when that amount of heat is contained under a jacket, you will find that it is plenty warm.

Also, if you were to look at the power output of Gerbing's heated pants, you'll see that they put out 44 watts of energy, so our pants will be warmer than theirs.  If you want to go even hotter than that, just use a shorter length of wire.  Just remember ohm's law and you'll be all set.



Step 3: Threading the wire

layout_2.jpg
needle.jpg
After measuring out 30 feet of teflon wire, you'll want to thread it through the pants.  Plan your layout.  Otherwise you'll have a hard time figuring out where to put 30ft of wire.  You'll want to put most  of the wire where the wind will hit you.  So for me, I put a bunch on my shins, and on my thighs.    Turn the pants inside out.  If you are using thermals, it helps if you wear them to stretch them out, otherwise you'll have a hard time putting the pants back on.

Measure out 15 ft (or the halfway point) and mark it.  Now starting at the middle point of the crotch, feed the wire all the way up to your halfway mark.  Now tie a loose nut or put some tape to keep the other half from passing through.  Make your way down the inseam, and then follow the pattern that I drew below.  You'll want to finish around the waistband area.  This is where we'll attach a connector.  Once you finished with the one pant leg.  Repeat the process for the other pant leg with the other half of the wire. 

This new layout is better as well because it doesn't constrict the legs like the spiral pattern does.  It makes it much easier to put the pants on.

Step 4: Soldering the wires

Picture of Soldering the wires
connections_soldered.jpg
connections_taped.jpg
After you have finished passing all of that wire through your pants, you'll want to connect them to the thicker gauge wire.  After I soldered them, I bent the thin wire down leaving some slack and taped it the the thicker wire.  I did this to act as a sort of strain relief.  If there is a better way to do this, please let me know.

Step 5: Adding a connector

Now it's time to add a connector to the end.  Tie a knot in the thicker gauge wire and then pass them through the pants; the knot will act as a strain relief.  Now solder and or crimp whatever connector you bought.  Always make sure to put the female side on the bike. 

After all of that is done, you'll want to add a liner.  This will serve two functions.  One it will protect your wires and two, it will keep you from getting burned.  Trust me, this wire gets hot, it WILL burn you...I found out the hard way.  I think an easy way to do this would be to buy another set of thermal pants, and sew them on the inside.

Step 6: Final steps

Now put together the female connector with the switch and fuse housing, and end it all with a ring connector on each end.  To brake it down, take two lengths of your thick wire.  Attach a ring terminal on one end of each wire.  Now, connect one of those wires to the fuse housing, and the other wire to one of the terminals on the switch.  Now attach another wire to the other terminal on the switch and have that go to one side of your female connector and the other end of your fuse housing to the other side of your connector.  Don't worry, I drew a diagram.  And there you have it, your own heated pants.  Now you can do the same thing for any other article of clothing you want to electrify.

Step 7: More Info

If you want more info, just search "DIY heated clothing" in google.  That's how I learned about it.  Below are links to sites that I think have good information.

- http://www.mototour.us/technical/electricclothes.htm

- http://home.mebtel.net/~rbutterfield/Heat.html

- http://www.shadowriders.org/faq/electricvests.html

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sixty7flh2 months ago

just found this. cool. I am looking at a way to make portable pwer? I have the gerbings and love it, but often I am on one of my "old" generator (low output) bikes.. Figured I need a portable solution......

lrdforster2 years ago
I like you idea its very good. i also have an idea to improve it, By using a PWM control you can regulate the tempreture of the wire by pulsing the current. I have biult a PWM circiut for £2-50 stirlin, it fits in a small container and has a potentiometer to regulate the length of the pulse, hence giving full range from full current to no current. A bit like a lamp dimmer switch.

I just joined the site and will post the circiut and instructions soon.
I'd love to see this circuit. I was thinking the same thing about going with an ATtiny85 a mosfet and a momentary pushbutton.
I have published the cct http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-PWM-Control-555-for-Motors-lights-heat but he diagram shows it driving a motot rather than a heater wire
quilter27 months ago
I NEED this to work. But am not riding a motorcycle.
Another electric supply source?
Don't need as much heat. Not sure, how much.
12 years with shingles on leg. Keeping the leg warm...layering isn't enough. Or any type of fleece combination.
I can sew ANYTHING. Industrial machines,etc.
Any help would change my life.
Thanks, Jeanie
You should be able to use any 12v power source( computer power supplies, laptop power supplies, battery pack), just make sure that it can provide enough amps.
YobazEfendi8 months ago
Your motorcycles charger will output 14.4V while the engine is running, and about 12.5V when the engine is off.
Eternal6610 months ago
good
wo0x1 year ago
Hi, Nice instructable! I can´t get Teflon wire of 0.25mm. But i can get 0.50mm. Do I have to change something? it works?
i wanna make it for a motorcycle 12vcc.
thanks.
Tortin1 year ago
During winters i just love to ride. and Its an awesome experience i ever had. Thanks DIY for such a useful tip now i can ride with more safety and reliability. 
would this also work for jeans?
vze1mk7d (author)  DehLeprechaun3 years ago
This could work with any clothing you desire. I just found it easier to work with thermals.

Regarding the 9v battery, if you are talking about the ones used in a smoke detector, then no it won't work. Those batteries are used for low current drain applications. If you got a 9v battery pack or some other large capacity battery, then yes it would work.
do you know how this would fare with cotton like the stuff used in stuffing?
thanks
Pete422 years ago
Hi I would like to know if this could be set up for a Dog Electric Blanket, as we have an elderly pet dog, that needs to go out during the day, and I would like to put a safe non mains powered electric blanket in his kennel for him, some thing that will not light him up if it ges wet, and not likely to get to hot.
your ideas would be appreciated, thanks Pete.
cathy369522 years ago
heated jacket, I see one company who can supply the heated jacket, heated gloves, heated socks,heated apparel. especially ,the motorcycle heated jacket, it is very nice . it is with a LED controller button to controller the motorcycle heated jacket's temperature, and it is easy to operate it. following th is the picture. they are website is :http://www.pcamway-heat.com , email: pcamway168@yahoo.com.cn
vest03.jpg
slomak2 years ago
Hope this question is not too elementary (electronics is not my forte), but I was wondering how to draw heat through resistance wire and not fry the battery. I've taken 2 AA batteries with leads, connected resistance wire (10" length) to both leads to complete a circuit. Got plenty of response and then essentially a dead battery. / If I used more wire (10') would that keep the battery from frying, while still producing heat? Otherwise, how do you draw significant current through the wire without killing the battery?? Thanks for any advice.
vze1mk7d (author)  slomak2 years ago
AA batteries are not really meant for high amperage circuits. And their capacity is usually on the smaller side and it won't take much to drain them. I'm not sure what your circuit is but try using more wire and a battery meant for high drain applications.
oud252 years ago
man i had this idea like 3 months ago and never figured out how to make it work cause i was scared i was gonna electrocute myself
vision0012 years ago
I am building one of these from your instructions into a light zip up sweatshirt which can go under my other jackets. Your design and instructions are great. I found that there was a need for a temp control so I got a PWM from Ebay ( http://www.ebay.com/itm/180749001892?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2648#ht_5308wt_876 ) and it seems to work wonderfully. I have to get a few more switches and plugs inline and get it permanently mounted and then just wait and wait and wait for a cool Florida night to go riding. Thanks so much for the post.
cowboy30592 years ago
another idea for making heated clothing for bikes is go to a truck stop or ebay and buy a 12 volt heated blanket usally get them at tstop for about 35 dollars strip the wiring out buy a roll of metal duck tape from home depot about 7 dollars run the wires inside on the leather in a back and forth pattern taping it down with the metal tape run the long wire with a pre made thermostat out at bottom so doesnt intererfere with your driving and connect to power source your ready to rock and roll they also come with a prewired lighter plug fused took me about 2 hours start to finish product.... very easy way to do it

Cowboy3059
Roughly how much power is needed to power a setup like this? Could a higher resistance wire be used? Such as nichrome wire? Could a few 18650 batteries power this for a reasonable amount of time?
vasucal3 years ago
Hi Author,
First, i should thank you for this wonderful article. I am planning to start on this in a week's time. I have a scooter. Honda Metropolitan which has a 12v battery and 6Ah capacity. Will this be sufficient for a heated jacket and a heated pant?

Your guidance would be highly appreciated.
wmax351 vasucal3 years ago
Unlikely that a scooter would have enough extra power from the alternator. They are low on power to begin with.
vze1mk7d (author)  vasucal3 years ago
It depends on the charging system of your scooter. I'm not familiar with the Honda Metropolitan, but if the charging system can supply more power than the bike's circuits require, than yes it should work.
Mukumbu3 years ago
Based on your instructable and a post on advrider.com, I made glove liners last year and pants this year. I'm also going to make a jacket in the coming days. Thanks a lot! Here are pics of my liners and pants. I used a fan controller for the controller with the plan of mounting it on the bike. It was a little bigger than I wanted so this year I'm going to use a pwm motor controller like the ones from quality kits.
DSCF4109.JPGDSCF4112.JPGGEDC0373.JPG
slim_jim3 years ago
9 volts? It's not the volts, it's the amps. That's like asking if a 1 inch wide garden hose will reach the back yard. Wrong measurement. But to answer your question, no way in hell would a standard 9 volt battery work. (The regular kind, like in a smoke detector. Sometimes called a transistorized battery. It wouldn't power these pants for more than a second.) Now, if you have a big gel cell 9volt battery, sure. No problem.

Heating circuits are hell on batteries. Tons of current drain. You will need a decent sized battery.
Helder4u4 years ago
Nice work:
I have some nice ideas for simplifying the heat wiring and enhance movement freedom.

If anybody is interested leave me a post and I will try to put in an instruction.
(it will be my first)
Hi Helder4u,
I am planning to start working on this idea and would like to have your inputs on simplifying the heat wiring and enhance movement freedom.
Your help is highly appreciated.
i want to use this just for walking around out side could i hook up a 9v battery and get similar results?
Great tutorial. I have a Gerbing jacket that never really fit me right. I think I'll make my own next time.

This does relate to another project that I have in mind. . . I've been thinking about building a few of these to keep my fermenting homebrew warm.

How would you go about doing something like this with a 120v power source? 



Lokisgodhi4 years ago
Cozywinters has some interesting heated products. It's worth taking a look at for some ideas. The have 12v systems as well as rechargeable battery systems.

cozywinters.com/
 
Warlrosity4 years ago
What about Mr KipKays portable heaty doo dah?
vze1mk7d (author)  Warlrosity4 years ago
I am not sure what you are referring to.
Oh whoopsiedoodle.. its a lil' portable heater
deadeye4 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
vze1mk7d (author)  deadeye4 years ago
Yes.  I wrote this instructable with a 12v power source in mind.
Crucio4 years ago
Fantastic!

What do you think of applying this to the insides of chaps?  For a first-time build, it might be easier and has the advantage of being easy to put on/take off.  And the disadvantage of not covering the bottom half of your legs.  But there's a pretty straight-forward solution for that too.

The leather does a pretty good job of wind-breaking, so having this on the inside should do a fine job of keeping you warm.

vze1mk7d (author)  Crucio4 years ago
Personally, I like for the heated clothing to be as close as possible to my skin, because then it's working more efficiently at keeping me warm .  But If I were going to put it on chaps, I would wire it so it put out a little more heat to make up for it being further away from my body.  Also, like you said, it would be very easy as a first time project, and if you don't like the way it works, you have the experience from doing it once already.   So I say give it a shot, and let us know how it turns out.  Just a quick question though.  Do the chaps have a liner?  How will you attach the wires to them?
-Theo
Crucio vze1mk7d4 years ago
You've got a point about keeping it as close as possible.  Heated chaps are a good compromise for me between efficiency and convenience.  It shouldn't be too bad unless your chaps are really loose.  This also lets me remove some clothing when I get to my sometimes hot office.

Yes, most chaps I've seen have liners.

How to attach the wires?  Good question.  It might be possible to weave them in and out of the liner like you do, above, but ... I think that can get bulky.  I haven't tried this, but I wonder if it's possible to use iron-on patches.  If so and I could reverse the liners, I could iron them on to the leather side of the liner.  That would make this whole project very easy.

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