Instructables
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: http://ecoprojecteer.net/
All of my clean transportation projects (electric car and more) are at: http://300mpg.org/

Step 1: 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
 
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clay71851 year ago
How long does the battery last?
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.
crazyg1 year ago
congratulations
bennelson (author)  crazyg1 year ago
Thank you!
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 http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/research/rflithiumionbatterieshazard.pdf)
thalass1 year ago
Thank you very much! This is going to save my life when i migrate to Canada with my wife. :P
kikiorg1 year ago
Thank you so much for this! I might add a heater to my daughter's car booster seat.
bajablue1 year ago
FAN.TAS.TIC!!!
DoItOrDie1 year ago
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.
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.
agis681 year ago
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
moin9371 year ago
this is good
How does the system of coat 200$
I am From iran
dublinrun1 year ago
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!
Osprey
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.
Snerdguy1 year ago
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)  Snerdguy1 year ago
The cigarette light plug cord has a fuse built into it and the tool battery has built-in current limiting.
maxhuey1 year ago
Maybe include the vibrating motor for added fun? I know some women does...
shocker1871 year ago
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 !
SienkRJ1 year ago
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.
jtmcdole1 year ago
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)  jtmcdole1 year ago
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.
Unfortunately, I don't have a car, so do you have a suggestion, where I can get all the electric parts?
bennelson (author)  ThamarBerber1 year ago
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.
Gordyh1 year ago
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)  Gordyh1 year ago
The battery doesn't list its capacity, but just looking at its size, I'm guessing a several hour run-time.
plyman51 year ago
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)  plyman51 year ago
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.
What about washing it? I'm a dirt "magnet" and get VERY dirty just walking outside!
bennelson (author)  Chuck_Reavis1 year ago
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.
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)  Haymaker0071 year ago
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.
skwoorl1 year ago
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.
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)  caitlinsdad1 year ago
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.
Awesome! Wish I had one of these when I was living in Minnesota!
danner1 year ago
Very nice I'm going to try with my deer hunting coat Thanks