If you live in a perpetually cold locale such as Alaska or the upper reaches of Canada or the Netherlands, then you know how precious heat is. You also have found that heated jackets are a thing. I live on the East Coast, I’m hot-natured, and I pass the winters in jeans and a T-shirt.
There are January days, though, when walking to the grocery store in a heated jacket would feel marvelous. What are heated jackets? How do they work?
Are they safe? Well, we’re going to tell you all about it.
What Are Heated Jackets?
Carbon fiber elements wrapped in waterproof materials form heating elements as copper wire would. These are made into a grid with two over the chest and one over the shoulders in the back of the jacket. The intention of the design is to keep the core warm.
The wearer presses a battery-operated controller to increase or decrease the heat. The heating elements are somewhat flexible to allow for wearer movements, but they are more rigid than the jacket, after all. The jackets are designed to keep wearers warm and cozy but not become too hot.
The battery is generally kept in a pocket within easy reach. The jacket itself is a soft-shell jacket, some with a hood and some without it. Some heated garments include hoodies, sweatshirts, hats, pants, and vests.
You’ll even find heated mittens, socks, slippers, and scarves at specialty stores or online. Motorcycle riders and horseback riders, for instance, stock up on heated garments if they’ll be out in the cold for any length of time.
How Does A Heated Jacket Work?
Heated jackets take a few minutes to get warm. There are three temperature settings, managed by the battery pack inside a pocket. The battery lasts from two to six hours before running down.
If you’re working outside in the cold, it’s a good idea to let the jacket warm-up, and then turn off the battery pack to conserve the battery. The battery is rechargeable, and it even has a USB port for charging your phone. When the thermostat reaches the temperature you set, it automatically cuts off.
If, for whatever reason, the temperature shot over the one you set, the automatic cut-off kicks in immediately. Many heated jackets feature a button located somewhere on the chest. You’ll press the button to turn the heating element on.
You’ll press it again to adjust the heat. A third long-press will turn the heating element off. Remove the battery pack, and you have an ordinary winter jacket.
Are Heated Jackets Safe?
While it’s true that electricity and water don’t mix, that’s not true of heated clothing. The carbon fiber elements are wrapped in waterproof material before being sewn into the garment. You can sweat all day and not be any the worse for wear, because the electricity is totally separate from your skin.
The real magic of heated clothing lies in the lithium-ion battery pack. These have evolved into today’s battery pack that powers everything from cell phones to electric vehicles. They do not, however, contain enough voltage to electrocute anyone wearing heated jackets caught in the rain.
Another thing to remember if you’re considering buying a heated jacket is that a waterproof membrane is wrapped around the heating element in the jacket. There will be no danger of an electric shock to the wearer.
Built-In Safety Precautions
Add to all this the fact that safety precautions are built into heated jackets as well as any other heated clothing. These safety precautions include:
- Protection against short-circuits
- Excess voltage protection
- Smart voltage alerts
- Current overage protection
- Protection against over-charging and discharging
- Protection against short-cuts
- Protection against temperature overages
Standing in the rain won’t do anything to the heated jacket but annoy you. Being completely immersed in water like that found in a swimming pool or ocean isn’t going to happen in temperatures requiring heated clothing. If someone plays a prank on you and does something like chuck you into a pool, make sure to place the battery pack in a dry place such as a briefcase or purse.
Many people would question the fire safety of a garment as close-fitting as a heated jacket. Let me reassure you: carbon fiber filaments have to reach a flashpoint of 1800 degrees to catch fire. The battery packs only catch fire when they’re charging, not when they’re in the garment.
The safety precautions built into heated clothing cut the heat off before any such thing could possibly occur. Trust me, you’re safe wearing your heated jacket.
As with anything, you get what you pay for. Going with reputable manufacturers will net you quality garments, even if you have to pay a lot for them. Cheaper heated jackets will wear out faster and might not keep you warm enough.
Go with the best brands of heated jackets, and you’ll have a long-lasting, safe garment.
How Warm Do Heated Jackets Get?
Attending your favorite football club’s championship game, toasting marshmallows over a fire on the beach, or taking your bike to work if the car won’t start all have one thing in common. It’s cold, and you’ll need a warm jacket, gloves, and clothing. You’ll need a heated jacket.
Heated clothing offers adjustable heat temperatures ranging from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. While you might not be able to handle 131 degrees, it’s good to know that such warmth is available depending on (a) the power in the battery pack, and (b) the circumstances under which you’d need that kind of heat.
How To Clean Your Heated Jacket
You might think that a piece of apparel with heating filaments wouldn’t react well with water. You’d think your heated jacket would need to be dry cleaned. Well, yes and no.
If it makes you feel better, then, by all means, have your heated jacket dry cleaned. However, washing your jacket won’t harm the heating filaments. Remember, they’re wrapped in waterproof membranes.
Your jacket can be washed, but don’t pop it in the dryer. Hang it to dry, because the heat of a dryer can and will erode certain materials.
What To Do If The Heating Element Breaks
Depending on the length of time you’ve owned your heated jacket, you should know that the heating element can break or burn out. Repairing the garment would take an expert, along with a lot of money. The best solution would be to replace the garment altogether.
Charging Your Heated Jacket
As mentioned above, lithium-ion batteries heat your jacket. The batteries are usually good for around 500 charges. Charge the battery overnight for the first time.
It usually takes three to four hours to charge thereafter. The battery will shut off when it’s completely charged. Hook the battery up to the jacket’s heating element.
Long-press the power button to turn the battery on. Press the button until the desired heat is reached. Disconnect the battery from the heating element when it isn’t being used.
The power will slowly drain out of the battery if it isn’t used. Make sure there’s at least 25 percent on the battery when it isn’t being used and/or when it’s in storage.
Test it often in the off-season to preserve battery power.