Introduction: Heated Coat

Picture of Heated Coat

In my part of the world, winter is starting right now. 

As I have no basement, and my garage is not insulated, I find myself doing most of my work out in the cold.

I also have a homebuilt electric car, in which the heat isn't the greatest. On top of that, my wife's car has a heated driver's seat, which only makes me all the more jealous!

All of that together got me thinking.... What if there was some way to stay warm both outdoors and on the road?

The answer is the HEATED COAT!

Come along with me as I show you how anyone with basic sewing and electric skills can create inexpensive and WARM workwear for the thrifty Do-It-Yourselfer!.

You can check out my other DIY recycled projects at:
All of my clean transportation projects (electric car and more) are at:

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
The two main components are a coat and an an appropriate electric heating element.

To start with, I went to my front closet and pulled out my work coat. This is a 3/4 length coat with a cotton duck exterior and "Thinsulate"-type insulated lining. It's a bit worn, as it is what I wear in the winter to shovel snow, work on cars, and do other physical and dirty work.

That also means I'm not afraid to cut it open and start modding the coat!

For the heating element, I pulled it from a heated back massaging chair cover I already purchased from the thrift store. Most of these devices are actually 12V DC, but they use a power adapter to run them from household AC electricity. Before buying I looked through several of these and chose one with the highest power rating, assuming that it was likely to have the most powerful heating feature. (Cost was $5.00)

Besides the coat and heater, we will also need both sewing items and electrical items. So, break-out BOTH your sewing kit and your electronics kit and have handy items such as:
  • Heavy needle and thread (denim or canvas weight)
  • Pins
  • Seam ripper / Scissors
  • Soldering iron / solder
  • Wire Strippers and side-cutter
  • Shrink Tube
  • Heat Gun
  • Infrared thermometer
  • Ruler / Tape measure

Step 2: Extract the Heater

Picture of Extract the Heater

The first major step is to remove the heating element from the heated seat cover.

Flip the seat cover over, and you'll notice a zipper that runs a fair length of the back. Open it up. If it doesn't open far enough, use a scissors to extend the length and open the entire back.

Inside, you'll notice a number of wires. Most of these run to the massaging motors, but there will also be a main power connector, and a cord that goes out to the hand control.

Locate the heating pad. Generally, it is going to be two slightly thicker wires that are going to something that is NOT one of those lumpy motors.

It is most likely glued under a layer of foam, so gentry peel back the foam to get at it. The heating wire itself is embedded in a cloth-like material, along with a thermal cut-off device.

Snip any zip ties that are bundling the wires together, unplug any quick release connections, and remove the heating pad AND the main power cable. Snip both of them off with a side cutter, leaving yourself as much extra wire to work with as you can.

Step 3: Prepping the Coat

Picture of Prepping the Coat

First, determine where exactly you want the heat. Maybe it's in your shoulders, or maybe it's in your lower back. You might want to try on the coat and have an assistant pin the location.

I decided on right out the middle of the back.

The heating element will go INSIDE the coat, between the lining and the shell. (This style of coat is only two layers - the insulation and liner are one integrated element.)

I also "pre-wired" the heating element. I simply twisted together the two wires of the heater to the two wires of the power cord so that I would know how much length I had to work with.

Next, I opened up the coat and laid out where I wanted the heating element to go. I also looked to see where I would want the power cord to exit the coat. I decided on the right-side bottom hem, as that would be a good place for it to be when I'm driving a car - near the seat belt and 12V car power outlet. (If you primarily want the heated coat to work with a small 12V battery, you could make the power cord exit into a pocket, where you would store the battery.)

I also decided that if I was going to cut a hole for the cord, that may also be a good place to insert the heater.

Step 4: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

Wiring the heater is pretty simple.

It just needs the two wires of the heater connected to the two wires of the original DC power connector.

I stripped the ends of all four wires, then slid on a little shrink tube, and soldered the two pairs of wires to each other. Slide the shrink tube over the bare connection and heat it to shrink into place. Electrical tape would work fine too.

While I had all the components on my bench-top, I measured the heater with the multi-meter. While you can use Ohms Law and a bunch of other electrical math, I just used my multimeter to measure amp draw through the heater. It was about three-quarters of an amp. Multiply that by 12V, and you'll see that it is about a 9 watt heater. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's enough to stay pretty warm.

My non-contact thermometer measured it at 114 degrees F. 

Step 5: Sew It Up!

Picture of Sew It Up!

With the heater wired up to the power plug, it's time to sew the whole thing into the coat.

I made a slit several inches long in the bottom right of the coat to allow inserting the heater, AND be able to get my whole arm in there.

I slid the heater up into the coat into the correct position, as marked earlier with pins.

I stitched just the four corners of the heater. That is, I stitched from the lining through the corner of cloth material on the heater, and back through the lining. Only the corners are stitched, and the stitches do NOT go through the back exterior of the coat.

When finished, you just see four small bits of looped string on the inside of the coat.

The power cord needs to be connected securely to the coat, as the cord will get pulled and handled a bit when plugging and unplugging it. I stitched through the entire bottom edge of the coat, up and over the cord, and back around again, several times.

With the cord in place, I sewed the cut in the lining back shut. When done the only thing that really looks different is the pig tail of the power cord sticking out the bottom of the coat.

Step 6: Power It Up!

Picture of Power It Up!

The coat can easily be powered at least three ways.

It already came with an AC power supply, which converts household current to 12V DC. This might be handy for working in the garage for hours at a time on a cold winter day. I would just plug right into the wall for steady power.

In an automobile, the coat can be powered with a 12V cigarette lighter plug. Keep in mind that some cars provide power to that outlet only when the car is on, and others are always powered-up.

My original idea for this heated coat was that the primary use would be in cars. If you car doesn't have a good heater, the electric-heated jacket gives you warmth right away. Even if you have a great heater in your car, you still have to wait for the engine to warm up. Also, heat usually points at the feet in your car. Heat in your back keeps you more evenly heated, for greater comfort.

I also wanted to be able to run the heated coat from a battery, but lead-acid batteries are heavy. I also had a few HiMH cordless drill batteries, but those were higher voltage and still too big to fit in a pocket. I happened to stop at the big box home improvement store and saw that they had a commercially-made electric heated jacket. That one was powered by a tool company's small Lithium battery system.

When I got back home, I realized that I did have ONE small Lithium battery from a Craftsman 12V tool. The electrical contacts on that battery are basically 1/4" female connections. I snipped a plug off an old power supply which had the right size barrel connector for the coat, and stripped the wires on the end. I crimped-on two male spade connectors, and pushed them into the battery. The barrel end of the short cord plugs into the coat, and the battery goes in the pocket.

When done using the battery, I pull the two connections out of it and recharge it on its normal charger.

Step 7: Now You Make One!

Picture of Now You Make One!

If you also do a fair amount of work outside in the cold, or would just like to be toasty warm in your car the moment you hop in, maybe you too would like to make a heated coat!

Just a few thoughts on things I learned working on this project...

If you are good at sewing, there's no reason not to use a dress coat, a brand-new coat, a leather coat, or whatever your favorite winter clothing is. I used this coat because it IS what I wear outside in the winter. Frankly, I'm not that good at hand-sewing and making it all look as good as somebody with more sewing experience.

Maybe you want the cord inside your pocket. If you plan on mainly running the jacket on a battery, decide where you want the battery to go. You might want it in a zippered pocket, or one that you don't use otherwise. Sew the power cord so that it goes to that pocket. Then, it's always out of the way, but right where you want it when you plug your battery in.

Some styles of coats have a removable liner. If the heater and cord are sewn to that, you can easily remove it and still be able to wash the coat.

When I saw the heated coat at the store, it was $200!

With a little bit of DIY, a "can-do" attitude, and a $5 budget, I was able to to build a coat every bit as good, and I'm sure you can too!
See more of my recycled DIY projects at:


Jsoa (author)2017-08-31

I use system from this heated cover seat

so i made a heated coat from it and it's a nice idea, but i still use heated cover seats

VICtORDOOM (author)2016-12-06

682-222-6565 if I can buy one in store, where

if not, if you can build me one, how much

علم (author)2015-10-23

Hello.thanks alot for your best website.I had been surprise when I saw this web.I m an Iranian student and I have a lot of questions about electricity.but nobody has answered my questions. can you help me? If yes how can I send my questions?I'll be so happy if you help me.Thank you

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-28

neeeeed one

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-28

neeeeed one

clay7185 (author)2013-01-06

How long does the battery last?

davidking76 (author)2012-12-26

I thought of this idea about 13 years ago and submitted my idea to one of those invention submissions places..ill never do that again.

crazyg (author)2012-12-20


bennelson (author)crazyg2012-12-20

Thank you!

thecheatscalc (author)2012-12-04

I like the jacket! that's a very fun idea :) I think this would be really cool if you added a fan to make a "micro" jacket contained heater. Basically airflow inside the jacket to spread the heat.

One minor caution, just be careful with the lithium batteries! li-ion and especially li-polymer batteries should NEVER be discharged fully! your batteries may have low voltage protection, but cycling them below a ~2.8v per cell can damage the pack. anyways, just be careful :)
(if you're curious check out page 33

thalass (author)2012-12-03

Thank you very much! This is going to save my life when i migrate to Canada with my wife. :P

kikiorg (author)2012-12-03

Thank you so much for this! I might add a heater to my daughter's car booster seat.

bajablue (author)2012-12-03


DoItOrDie (author)2012-12-02

This could make the basis of a jacket heating system with a fluid distribution system. Perhaps using plastic tubing running throughout the jacket to provide warmth all around. If done right it would not even need a pump. That or maybe a warm air distribution system.

kdf.inc1969 (author)2012-12-02

i noticed that the heating pad had a zig-zag pattern to it. do you think it would be possible to unwind that and run it down the sleeves? my arms are what gets the most cold for me. other than hands-nose and ears.

agis68 (author)2012-12-02

Great instrucatble. Why you choose that resistor and not a diy one? At my bicycles jacket i had placed two diy resistors heating my back in two positions (middle and main back) Both with copper wire of 1 1/2 mm . With 4 turns i need about 6 volt each so cause i wanted more power in other supprting stuff i did the one 31/2 turns and the other 5 (main back) The circuit has also an smd led placed on fabric and an on/off switch. (my left hand wrist) All circuit is well supported from motorcycle's battery and i placed on the whell a full isolated 12dc cigaerette plug. The cable from the internal left pocket goes to the plug. In washin (2-3 times for year) I remove the resistors and circuit of the led and switch wich are both holded by black metalic sewing clips I don't know the exact word). Iam really very happy all winters cause now on my body is warm and nice

moin937 (author)2012-12-02

this is good
How does the system of coat 200$
I am From iran

dublinrun (author)2012-12-02

Wally world sells Velcro that can be "ironed on" without the trouble of sewing. It takes 90 seconds or less to get a decent bond. Heat from the opposite side of the Velcro to prevent damage to the hoops and loops. The brand name is Fabric Fusion.
PS: excellent instructable!

peoplephobic (author)2012-12-02

This is a great project. My brother has one of the Milwaukee coats. I live in the south where it's warm but I'm sure I'll have coat envy when I visit for Christmas. I wonder if adding some Mylar behind the heating element would reflect more heat back into the coat instead of having it radiate out away from your body? Then it may be possible to put the heat on a lower setting for added efficiency.

Snerdguy (author)2012-12-02

Your idea is good. But, you REALLY need to put a fuse in series with the power to the heater. Use one that closely is rated for the current draw. Car batteries and lithium power packs can put out a tremendous surge of current. If something were to short across your heating elements you might get burned or even set your jacket on fire. A fuse won't add that much to the cost and might save you from a painful experience.

bennelson (author)Snerdguy2012-12-02

The cigarette light plug cord has a fuse built into it and the tool battery has built-in current limiting.

maxhuey (author)2012-12-02

Maybe include the vibrating motor for added fun? I know some women does...

shocker187 (author)2012-12-02

Ebuy is a good source of 12v motorcycle handgrip heaters which are simple 5 x 5 inch flexi plastic sheets with a switch that appear to be self limiting....they get up to a max temp and stay there for hours . I have used them for all sorts of things (never on a bike!) and they come at under 5 bucks delivered from china.....if you buy from china , that is !

SienkRJ (author)2012-12-02

I have an old Army field jacket (the ancient, OD kind) I might try this on. Alternatively, one might consider installing the rig in a vest, which could then be worn under a variety of other coats or jackets.

jtmcdole (author)2012-12-02

Nicely done. I wonder if you wanted to spread out the elements so you distribute heat a little more than the patch. I've also seen some 3'x5' 12v blankets that could be used to cover more parts.

bennelson (author)jtmcdole2012-12-02

A person certainly could add more heating elements or snip and spread out the one that's already there. It would just be a little more work and sewing, but would probably work great.

ThamarBerber (author)2012-12-02

Unfortunately, I don't have a car, so do you have a suggestion, where I can get all the electric parts?

bennelson (author)ThamarBerber2012-12-02

On any project, I start in this order
1) My recycling bin
2) Stuff that's in my garage already
3) The Thrift Store

Anything beyond that usually means actually spending money on a project.

For this one, I got the heating element, 12V wall power adapter, and power plug all as part of a Massaging Heated Seat cover for $5 at the thrift store. Those things aren't even designed for cars. They are for home use on a kitchen or living-room chair.

I repurposed/salvaged the car power plug from materials I already had.

Gordyh (author)2012-12-02

Great idea, especially considering the cost difference between this and the new electric coat. What is the capacity of the battery you used? And have you done a run time test to see how long the battery will last on a charge?

bennelson (author)Gordyh2012-12-02

The battery doesn't list its capacity, but just looking at its size, I'm guessing a several hour run-time.

plyman5 (author)2012-12-02

Very intriguing! I am electrically challenged and have a question: What about cutting in between the rows of wiring, then spreading out the heating element over a greater area? Would a line of wires (rather than the block) generate enough heal to make any difference? Perhaps distribute the length of wires troughout a sock, glove or arm sleeve? Thank you! Very impressive "making do"!

bennelson (author)plyman52012-12-02

I considered doing exactly that.
It would be the exact same amount of heat, just more spread out. Should work fine though.

This is the first time I've ever combined sewing and power cords, so I was just trying to keep it simple.

Chuck_Reavis (author)2012-12-02

What about washing it? I'm a dirt "magnet" and get VERY dirty just walking outside!

bennelson (author)Chuck_Reavis2012-12-02

I wasn't too concerned about this particular coat.
To really do something up nice, I'd recommend sewing the heater and wiring to a removable liner.

Attaching it with velcro might be a good alternative as well. Just pull out the heater before washing.

Haymaker007 (author)2012-12-02

Awesome idea and great way to repurpose parts I have to try one of these for sure, not sure what one heater puts out ie one area versus overall but two might just cover me. And like skwoorl my fingers tend to cool off in November on the throttle side so a glove backing is an idea in the making, size looks about right. Curious about how much time would you have on one battery? Although I could wire something into my battery tender connection on the bike as well. This is what "Instructables" is about.

bennelson (author)Haymaker0072012-12-02

If you are on a vehicle anyways, you can run your heated garment to the power source on your vehicle. That way you don't have to worry about battery run times at all.

skwoorl (author)2012-12-01

This is great! Not sure why I haven't done it yet as I have 2 of those massagers. I'm going to attach mine to the zip in liner on my leathers. Maybe put some in the fold over finger covers on my winter riding gloves too. Anything I can do to extend the riding season is awesome. Thanks for the ideas.

caitlinsdad (author)2012-11-30

1. Don't wear this to the airport.
2. Maybe some kind of reflective fabric layer (metallic mylar space blanket) on the outside would reflect more heat or have a bean/rice pouch act as a heat sink for the heater coil for better heat.
3. Check into the dangers of using a Lithium-ion powerpack through a straight discharge on the heating coils. I think you need some control circuitry to prevent it from becoming the exploding laptop battery problem.

bennelson (author)caitlinsdad2012-11-30

Hee hee. True about the airport.

I like the bean/rice concept! Do a bit of thermal flywheel effect in there.

I DID check the manual for this particular battery. The battery has built-in circuitry for limiting both amperage and temperature. In the one photo of the battery, you can see the terminals, including the ones for charging. Next to those is one marked "T" where the charger interfaces with the temperature control inside the battery. In general, lithium batteries have a lot more "smarts" inside them than NiMH or lead-acid ever did.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2012-11-30

Awesome! Wish I had one of these when I was living in Minnesota!

danner (author)2012-11-30

Very nice I'm going to try with my deer hunting coat Thanks

About This Instructable




Bio: Ordinary guy with no special skills, just trying to change the world one backyard invention at a time. See more at: On ... More »
More by bennelson:DIY Solar GarageMedieval Coloring BookPrincess Castle Bunk-Bed
Add instructable to: