I first started wearing a heated vest and using heated grips back around 1999 as I found myself becoming more committed to year-round commuting on my motorcycle which, at the time, was my Honda CBR1100XX. The heated vest worked pretty well down into the 40’s for my somewhat short 40-45 minute commute and the heated grips were great so long as you never took your hands off the grips.
It was the grips shortcomings that caused me to get heated gloves and, well, the easiest way to get the wires out to your hands is through the internal wiring of a heated jacket. The jacket and gloves have been all I’ve ever needed for my commutes, even with the temps down in the single digits when mated with a one-piece, insulated suit. When Debbie started to ride with me on ‘Blue’ we put her in a heated jacket and gloves to extend our riding season.
However, last March when faced with temps in the high 20’s and low 30’s for our 9-hour ride down to Daytona Beach, I decided that insulated insoles would be a necessity and like the gloves, the best way to get the wiring down to your boots was to attach them to the internally routed wiring on heated pants. It was definitely the right call, as we remained toasty and comfortable for the entire ride.
Debbie’s new found affinity for heated apparel has now spilled-over to heated seats in our four-wheeled vehicles. Ah hah, I bet you thought I was going to be talking about heated motorcycle saddles! Yeah, well… not yet.
I’m guessing it has something to do with the aging process where tolerance for things like dealing with a cold butt for the first 10-15 minutes of a morning commute in the winter becomes less and less. Such was the case this past November when Debbie made mention of how cold she was driving to work in her little red Honda S2000 when we had a week of early sub-freezing temperatures. I put a small DC-powered electric blanket that I gave Debbie to use on long winter trips on her S2000 driver’s seat to see if that would make her drive a bit more comfortable and she loved it. Well, I thought about getting a heated seat cover and remembered that there were aftermarket seat heaters with carbon heating elements that could be installed in factory car seats and ordered a set for her Honda.
Last year I had to replace the foam foundation in her driver’s seat so I knew how to take apart the seats in her car and how the seat covers are removed. I just had to figure out which circuit to use for power and where to put the High-Low-Off switch where it wouldn’t look too out of place.
I ended up using the auxiliary power outlet circuit since it was rated for 10A — more than I’d need for both seat heaters + a phone being charged — and decided to install the switches inside the cup holder where they’d be easy to see while driving, but also inconspicuous or hidden when the cup holder door was closed. Other than the PIA hog hooks, installation was pretty easy since this wasn’t the first time that I’d ever removed and disassembled car seats as previously noted.
In fact, I installed one of the first two seat heaters I purchased in Debbie’s S2000 driver’s seat and the second one went in the passenger seat of the Toyota Tundra, making the assumption that she’d want to have a warm seat in it as well. Of course, as soon as I did that she ended up having to take the truck to work while her Honda S2000 was in for maintenance and she was not happy about giving up her heated seat, noting that it was only the passenger seat in the Toyota that had the heating elements installed.
I quickly ordered a second pair of the seat heaters and installed one in the Toyota Tundra driver’s seat and the other went in the S2000’s passenger seat. The Tundra actually had a pair of switch plugs in the center console where the switches for factory-installed seat heaters would have been installed. So, I just modified those and installed the switches in the switch plugs for what I think is a pretty slick-looking installation. As with all things, the installation of the second pair of heating elements went a lot faster than the first ones.
I guess the only thing I can’t figure out is why I didn’t do this a long time ago! I didn’t think I’d use the seat heaters all that much, but have found that they are nice to have on cold days. I guess I never though about how much of your body heat was drawn away by the cold car seats in the winter. How that the seat heaters are installed it all makes perfect sense to have them. Although, I do find that I only need the seat heater on high for about 5 minutes and then on low for another 10 minutes before I shut it off completely.