How do Heated Jackets Work?
The interest in heated clothing and other textile products dates back to the early 1900s when we saw the inception of heated mattresses and blankets. All those early inventions played a revolutionary party in the textile industry, directly paving way for the integration with modern technology, then and now.
Cold winters, extreme sports, and alternative employment all led to chain reactions in which millions of people quickly adopted the new technology.
What is a Heated Jacket?
Simply put, a heated jacket is a conventional jacket, but one that is upgraded to be able to warm itself up. To understand the importance of heated jackets in today’s world, we need to look at activities that people partake in, activities such as snowboarding, skiing, facilitating in sports during rainy periods, working outdoors, trekking, motorcycle racing, surfing, and diving, just to name a few.
All these events render people cold, where they end up needing warmth, during or after their processions. A heated jacket does what a normal one does, just faster, where some are even known to be adjustable.
Although we are talking about jackets, heated clothing is generally designed to be assertive to the crucial body parts, the ones that are the most susceptible to frostbite, and the like. There are numerous types of jacket with heater inside, and all the different types aim to achieve the same results, only that they use different methods.
They are very efficient in what they do, where a thermal jacket can typically cozy you up in a minute, or two. They are designed to be very inconspicuous, wear they can be worn just like any other jacket. In pursuit of a more appealing look, the manufactures thoroughly design their jackets to be very attractive, creating one for just about any occasion and, or, event.
Heated Clothing History
Although heated clothing technology is now a widely appreciated find, its early inception generally wasn’t noticed as much. Understandably so, because an invention such as electric body warmers or battery-powered body warmers, no matter how brilliant, simply won’t attract as much attention as a spaceship, or light, or electricity.
You might be wondering why we went a bit further to explain this aspect. Well, we explained it simply because the actual information on the first heated clothing items is nowhere to be found. Rather, people have recognized and adopted the earliest known instances of such items, going on to assume them as the pioneering events of the invention’s history.
Now, way back in 1912, a physician who went by the name Sidney Russel, might as well have, created the first heated blanket. His under-mattress invention was, however, somewhat flawed and impractical. To such ends, renowned engineer and inventor George Crowley adopted Mr. Russel’s ideology and successfully turned what was a well-thought-out concept into a practical model.
In early 1930, he presented the world with its first thermostatically controlled electric blanket. This was a phenomenal feat, one that even he, the 80 patent inventor, greatly appreciated – as shown by how he went on to put one into use on his own bed. Unfortunately, tragedy struck on January 15, 2000, when the world-famous inventor died from pneumonia.
In 2001, the North Face MET5 was introduced to the general public, instantaneously becoming the first of its kind to be available for sale on the market. Truth be told, the blanket would have seen more impressive market purchases if it was not for their ridiculously staked sale price, marked at $500! Many other brands have suffered due to similar problems, where we have seen numerous market entries, followed by quick withdrawals.
However, if the technology is good for one thing, it would be its revolutionary capabilities, with virtually unlimited lengths to which it can advance. A lot of brands saw widespread success with the USB-powered heated jacket on the market, with new rechargeable, versatile and stylish versions being developed by companies such as 8K.
Types of Heated Jackets
With the fame of heated jackets continued to rise, manufactures are challenged to be more versatile, to create jackets to suit just about anything the wearer might do. Technically, the types of jackets depending on the function. This is because of the different uses of heated jackets, where some people purchase them for general use at home or work, and others purchase them for intensive must-have use.
To such ends, aspects such as intensity and capacity are forced to be different; it would not make sense to give a snowboarding jacket the same heat intensity as a regular home jacket, or vice versa. However, for the sake of continuity, we will not dwell too much on the type by function. Rather, we will talk of the type by mode of heating, where we have:
Electric Heated Jackets
These are the most common, using electrical wiring to produce heat. The interior of these jackets is strategically lined with conductive wiring. Specific wiring material is used, preferably one that converts a large portion of the electricity to heat. They are made with their own electricity supply, that is, rechargeable cells that are slotted right there along with the wiring. Among the most used electric types are 5 volts, 7.4 volts, and 12-volt jackets.
The 5-volt ones are compact, as are the 7.4 ones, though they last longer. The 12-volt jackets, on the other hand, are made for intense use. They are designed to operate in tandem with other electricity-producing units, the likes of ATVs, motorcycles, etc. They are very powerful and quite bulky. They incorporate other features such as protruding extensions to which heated gloves, socks, and many others can be attached.
Heat Storing Jackets
Using small packages, these jackets produce heat for the wearer. The jackets themselves are not self-heating. They allow the use of other objects to facilitate the heating. The manufactures design them with small pockets or pouches into which people can place the heating packs, or otherwise directly deposit hot fluid.
The packets are filled with highly potent liquids; usually gels of some kind. The idea is to heat the packets, in a microwave or pot, then slot them in the jacket. This can be done for however long the wearer likes.
Chemical Heating Jackets
It should be no surprise that people are generally wary of these jackets. As the name suggests, they work by inducing chemical reactions that produce heat. The same idea works with these as the one for heat-storing jackets. To some extent, these are not reliable, in both intensity flexibility and endurance.
How Does Heated Clothing Work?
To understand how heated clothing works, we must first do a quick dive into the physics of the phenomenon known as heat, and how it applies to making us warm. Heat particles travel from regions of high concentration to regions of lower concentration, a process known as convection – and before you say anything, YES, the air is technically a fluid, one in which convection can occur.
Now, our bodies generate heat, heat which then leaves our person to escape into the surrounding environment. Conventional textile designs work by stopping that heat from escaping and trapping it, thereby keeping us warm. Their material is insulated to facilitate this, where the relative density of the insulation determines how ‘warm’ the clothes are.
That said, with the many different activities that people partake in, the efficiency of clothing items that rely on body heat can be impeded. Heated texture material traps heat alright, but the heat that they mostly produce on their own. Specific workings can be better described upon taking the most prominent types out there, as follows:
- Electrically heated clothes are the most common, and they work by generating their own energy using conductive wiring lined inside them. Upon being created, the heat is then trapped by the material’s insulation.
- Chemically heated clothing works by using chemical reactions that produce heat. The heat is then trapped by the insulation layer.
- Heat storing clothing makes use of small packages that contain highly insulating fluids or gels, where even the containing material is highly insulating as well.
How Long Does the Battery Pack Last:
On a full charge, the inbuilt battery’s lifespan before running out is somewhat debatable. Just like any other short-term sustaining electrical device, the battery life depends on usage, capacity, and intensity. The most commonly used capacity in jackets is the 7,4-volt battery. It lasts for anywhere from 3 to 8 hours.
How Long do Heated Jackets Take to Heat Up?
This varies depending on the type, though the heating process generally starts immediately. Other aspects that affect the build-up are insulation and the surrounding environment. That said, most jackets, while in moderately cold weather and on a full charge, take 12 to 37 minutes to reach maximum intensity. The idea is to gently warm the body, not to blast it with heat.
Are Heated Jackets Safe?
Mostly yes. Electricity and chemical reactions are already known to a danger to the body. As such, manufacturers take all the necessary steps to warm you up, while separating you from the possibly harmful components.
- Very comfortable
- Suited for a lot of activities
- Can be very expensive
Heated Jackets F.A.Qs
Where can I buy one?
They are available on Amazon, eBay, etc. If you require specific brands you can try their respective websites.
Are they water-resistant?
They are but to varying extents. Do not regularly immerse a regular home jacket in the water. Intensive jackets that are made for extreme sports are water-resistant, they simply have to be.
The cold can be a major hindrance, one that puts all outdoor activities out of reach. Luckily, you can now cope with the low temperatures, using heated jackets – and other heated clothing items too!