Introduction: Usb Heated Clothing

Picture of Usb Heated Clothing

hello world,

update: heat your head while biking;


today i would like to share with you a project anybody can make. winter is already here, are you staying warm.?

making heated clothing is as easy as sewing a piece of cloth on top of another piece of cloth, just like regular clothing


an $8 heated beanie, includes in price a rechargeable battery. it will reach upto 40C/100F for minimum 3hrs with the usb powerbank. or constantly on with any usb port - your laptop, a printer, tv, solar panel, phone charger, you can find a usb port on almost anything these days.


you will need;

50cm of 15mm width carbon fiber cloth

50cm minimum 2 pin wire, for power

usb male cable

conductive glue

conductive thread

on/off button (optional)


let's make..>

Step 1: Intro to Heated Clothing

Picture of Intro to Heated Clothing

heated clothing is a new chapter for anyone. we all must follow few simple rules while working with e-textiles. we will be seeing these all over the place very soon. tshirts, pants, shoes - anything.


how does it work?

imagine you are holding a piece of cotton cloth fabric. carbon fiber fabric. it can be used exactly like cloth. you can cut it with scissors, stitch it like any other fabric.

but unlike regular clothing, it is conductive. and when you apply electricity to it, the cloth gets hot. we control this temperature by either with the surface area of the material used. or by changing the voltage.


before posting this instructable, i have aimed to find the best amount of size needed for a certain temperature and long battery life. when applied 5V to carbon fiber cloth sizing 15mm(0.6") width and 45-55cm(21") length, it reaches about 40C/100F.


why usb?

because it is universal, very easy access for power, lots of portable rechargeable battery options, solar backpacks with usb etc. all usb outlets are designed to be at 5V and 1A(1000mA) minimum. yes you can make a heated blanket the same exact way you are doing this hat, but we would need much more fabric and more voltage (bigger power source)


so to keep everything simple, and give everyone an equal chance at understanding i decided to keep it small, simple and cheap yet very effective.



the carbon fiber tape is conductive, which means that when there is electricity going through it, there is a risk that you may get shocked when wet. this is why the tape must be sealed in some sort of non conductive material like plastic/rubber. a very easy fix that we need to watch out for and know about.


heated clothing already exists, what is the advantage of this new technology?

much much more cheaper, a very even heat distribution unlike heated wire. it can bend and be stitched just like cloth, a huge advantage over wire. much easier to work with. this technology is a game changer and you can use it today, right now.!!

Step 2: Sealing & Wiring

Picture of Sealing & Wiring


for this light duty beanie, i will be using packaging tape. cover the back of the cloth completely with tape

and also the front leaving a tiny surface area in each end to make the wire connections. these parts will be sealed too at the end. check out the wiring diagram above.

to make a more durable and better sealed cloth you can use silicone rubber, rubbing a thin layer all over the cloth.



on one end of the cloth we wire the - negative and the other end + positive lead of the usb/battery. to do this, we strip a certain amount of wire, so the bare wire is visible without the insulating plastic.

then we stitch the bare wire on the the carbon fiber cloth with using the conductive thread.

once we sew the wire and cloth together firmly, we use the conductive glue to make the final connection.

i use a tiny straw and my breath to push the glue down. get it thin and even;

and let it sit to cure, i usually leave it overnight just to be sure.

after glue is set, go ahead and tape the connections as well to seal them in.


now our beanie is ready to accept voltage. again at 5V it should draw 0.5A current (500mA) and reach 40C/100F. the size of the surface area is pre measured for this range. we dont want it to get too hot nor use too much electricity. you could give this piece of cloth 12V and it would get really hot, too hot for your head. and it would use lots of current over 1Amp. this is when we would change the surface area of the cloth to even out the extra heat. and move upto sizes like blankets/jackets.


the quality of our wire to cloth connection will decide how evenly and effectively our beanie will heat up. basically more surface area helps with better connection. you can get sewing help from others if you are new to fashion like me :) remember we are looking for electrical conductivity at the connection end points, not thermal conductivity. so thermal paste/glue won't work.



now stitch your wired carbon fiber cloth to your beanie just like any other fabric using regular thread, NOT conductive thread anymore, we are now just mounting the wired fiber together. you can re-tape over the final connection or sew another thin piece of cloth on top for apparel/comfort purposes.

Step 3: Usb and Battery/power Options

Picture of Usb and Battery/power Options


now we have a beanie with 2 wires hanging out of it. all we have left to do is to solder these 2 wires to a male usb jack.

learn how to solder

learn more about usb power hacking


solder the - and + wires from the hat to the far outside legs/pins of the male usb jack. the polarity (negative/positive) doesn't matter. get soldering help from others if you are not experienced or lack the tools - it is very easy to learn skill and very helpful in the long run.!!


battery / solar / AC

by choosing usb power as source, we unlock lots of opportunities to stay warm. look around you in the room. it must have at least 2 usb outlets.

you can already purchase or DIY make solar chargers very easily, velcro tape it on your shoulders/backpack and plug your usb hat into it while walking around.

sitting on the couch you can use your laptop or usb phone charger on the wall with AC

but most exciting are these rechargeable usb powerbanks. they come in different sizes/shapes. charge it like a cell phone and carry it in your pocket to turn on your heated beanie, charge your cell phone. power up anything usb;


small capacity, lasts 3hrs - $3 included in price

- single cell 2600mAh

medium capacity, lasts 3-5hrs - $7

- double cell 5600mAh

large capacities, lasts +10hrs - $15+

- 10000 mAh

- 20000 mAh

- 50000 mAh

Step 4: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

i have 2 beanies and a scarf at the moment that I have been using for over a week now. biking in the cold. works so well that you have to see it for yourself. its just great stuff :)


i have been using a single cell, double cell and a big capacity with double usb outlet powerbanks. all serve different purposes and range at proce from $3-$15 and you can get minimum 3 hours to upto 10+hrs with this very beanie. i can also power up my hat and scarf at the same time from the same powerbank this way.


the closer to your skin it is, the warmer you will feel. you will require more heat to heat up a jacket hoping that it will reach to your body through all the layers of clothing you may have on. this is why little patches of heated fiber, strategically placed around the body under all the layers. this will be a much more efficient way of staying warm.


to get more information about this material and other amazing examples of heated clothing, please follow instructable author shenzhen. he is very helpful and is providing very informative work on here.!

to further your learning, you can look into basic electronics & e-textiles / wearables.


love & peace



LeonC52 (author)2017-11-16

Instead of using conductive glue would I be able to use a hot glue gun and instead of conductive thread would I be able to use normal thread?

turgan (author)2016-03-29

hi Akin, selamlar. I'm trying to build a small propagation greenhouse at home using a large Ikea box. I'm looking for a solution for heating. Do you think these can be used to heat up that kind of a space? Ideally they would heat a 30" x22" x17" box from 15 degrees to around 22 degrees

Akin Yildiz (author)turgan2016-03-29

yes it will work great.!! i use them for the same reason too. place them under my seedling pots, it's very promising. give it a try. you can get it wider and use a bigger power supply. here is a chart to see length vs temperature; (scroll down for graphs)

deerhunterjo (author)2016-01-08

I have a small problem. I made heated gloves out of res. wire. it draws .5 amp. at 5-6 volts. how can I hook this up to 12v source. I thought I could add a 3 ohm get it up to about 3-4 amp. draw. I can not find a res to take that kind of watts. any ideas. I am new at this and it is fun learning new things

Akin Yildiz (author)deerhunterjo2016-01-10

i dont have any experience in using wire to make heat, only the cloth posted above. i am not sure if i understand your question correctly. you want to use 12v instead of 5v with what you have created. wouldn't just adding that much power already draw more current and using a resistor would lower the current.? what are you trying to make, heated clothing.?

deerhunterjo (author)Akin Yildiz2016-01-10

I am making inserts for my snowmobile gloves. I will just plug into 12v source on my sled. 12v gives my to much current for the resistance wire I am using. it only draws .5 amps. how do you measure resistance in the carbon fiber cloth. maybe I will have to use that instead of wire.

Akin Yildiz (author)deerhunterjo2016-01-10

you should check out the excel graph on this webpage, find 12V for 15mm and 44mm width tape. it will show you how much amp draw based on surface area used;

deerhunterjo (author)Akin Yildiz2016-01-11

thanks for the info I will check it out

abatista2 (author)2015-12-07

Just a Warning, when Energy passes through the wire it generates a eletromagnetic field that can damage your brain is the same thing that passing all Day with a magnet near your head. Just one more Warning it can cause dizziness and headache Thanks

Akin Yildiz (author)abatista22015-12-09

is there a way of testing this, do a study of some sort. for example, compared to a cell phone or wifi router/signal.?

Shenzhen (author)abatista22015-12-08

Well you will get a very small emount of electromagnetic radiation. You can
check it with a compass only and you will see it will be very very little
because of very big length of carbon tape and very small current at the
same time.

Shenzhen (author)2015-12-05

Thanks for the detailed description.
This is a good example of quality and thoughtful work.

Akin Yildiz (author)Shenzhen2015-12-06

thank you for everything Shenzen, and for keeping the world warm :)

timmg08 (author)2015-12-05

Hey you should hook this up with a pid temp controller. then you'll have some definite personal climate control.

Akin Yildiz (author)timmg082015-12-06

the "optional" button shown above can be set for different power settings right on the clothing. so you can actually turn the heat up/down by pressing on your hat.

however a desktop adjustable power source is best to do tests on your patch of cloth before sewing it on for sure.

qazwsx406 (author)2015-12-06

would this work if I used regular wires instead of carbon fiber cloth??

Akin Yildiz (author)qazwsx4062015-12-06

hello. using wire is the old way of making heated clothing. it is uncomfortable, can't bend like cloth. it won't heat up evenly like the carbon fiber cloth. probably is the reason why many people don't already use currently available heated clothing.


both from a fashion point of view and engineering (efficiency, ease of use, effectiveness) carbon fiber cloth is superior. and it is actually very very cheap

jimmyf (author)2015-12-06

Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

Akin Yildiz (author)jimmyf2015-12-06

thank you for your interest jimmy.!!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-12-05

Awesome project. But you might want to make a note that if you use a computer's USB port, you will only get 100 mA out of it. A computer's USB port starts out only outputting 100 mA. USB devices that need more power have to go through a process called enumeration where the USB device basically gets permission from the computer to supply more power (up to 500 mA. But a simple resistive loads can't do that. So that can never go above 100. So if you want the most power, you need to plug it into a USB power supply.

that's very interesting. does this matter with newer/older computers. i feel as if it is working equally as good as powerbank. usb 3.0 can go upto 2A i believe. the most heat i reach with this amount of material is when i plug it in to AC with the little usb plug. but that rates around 5.6V, that's why.
i did apply 12V to the same size mentioned in this instructable and it gets really hot and draws 1.2A if i remember correct. way too hot to have it that close to your skin. holdable, but not comfy

Newer USB port can have a higher maximum output but you still run into the problem of limited output without a microcontroller to process the enumeration.

For your description it looks like your fabric is about 10 ohms (R = V / I = 12 / 1.2 = 10). So for a 5V supply, you could get up to 0.5 amps with a USB power supply. But you probably wont get more than 0.1 amps just plugging it straight into a computer. The difference isn't the extra 0.6 volts, it the fact the USB power supplies aren't current limited the way that computers are.

Although, one trick that you could try is hooking it up in parallel with a USB device such as an Arduino. That way the USB device will process the enumeration and get you access to the higher level of power.

Ultra-Indigo (author)2015-12-05

looks great, are you going to do heated socks those are a classic? I like the idea of using the power bank it takes a lot of the complexity out of making it, and can be swapped if you forget to recharge, and just unplugged if not needed.

Akin Yildiz (author)Ultra-Indigo2015-12-05

:) i would love to do socks as well, right now the only part i have left cold is my feet. head and neck area are nicely warm, it works really well. yes usb power option is a game changer.. thank you for your interest. hope you will get to use this material

rednax718 (author)2015-12-05

How long does it take to heat up?

Akin Yildiz (author)rednax7182015-12-05

almost instant. so you can actually turn it off/on as needed, which i do. and if you choose to use the optional button, you can set power settings - %25-50-75 to make it last longer. 40cm will get you more heat than 50cm. also the thickness of your beanie material affects how well everything is insulated as well. so there are a lot of factors to calculate here. what climate do you live in, what is the outside temp. based on these answers you could adjust your optimum temperature before hand

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