All You Need to Know About Heated Seats in the Car

Published on September 24, 2021
When the weather gets chilly, you may be looking for options to enhance your vehicle in the cold climate. A set of winter tires might be on your list, but those won't do much to help you stay comfortable. Along with the right exterior equipment, consider adding heated car seats to your ride. If you're under the impression that heated seats are only available as a factory-installed feature at the time of manufacturing, learn more about the various types of heated car seats and how to get them in your vehicle.

Heated Seat Technology

Heated car seats include an electrical device that connects to the vehicle's electrical system. The innovative idea of adding a heating element to vehicle seats dates back to the mid-20th century when Robert Ballard filed a patent for his idea. Ballard studied electrical and mechanical engineering and pursued a career in the automotive world. He worked for General Motors when he came up with the idea, but it took years to produce the concept. The 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood was the first model to feature heated seats.
The technology behind heated seats is similar to the tech features in hairdryers, electric blankets, and water heaters. A long strip of heating material, called a heating element, serves as the resistor, resisting the electrical flow. As the electrical current flows through the element, the energy converts to heat, which moves through the seat. When connected to a vehicle's electrical system, heated seats also include a relay, a type of switch that allows a small electrical current to control a larger one.

The Different Types of Heated Seats

Although some vehicles come with heated seats as a standard or upgraded feature, auto owners don't have to rely on the manufacturer to provide them. With three types of heated seats available, drivers can choose how they want their heated seats added to their rides.

Heated Seats Installed at the Factory

The first type of heated seats includes those installed at the factory during the manufacturing process. When installed at the factory, the electrical component that heats the seats connects to the vehicle's electrical system and relies on the battery to provide power. In lower-end vehicles, heated seats are often offered with the higher trim levels, while upscale models might include heated seats as standard with the base trim.

Heated Seats Added Later

The second option for heated seats in a vehicle is to have upgraded seats installed after purchasing the vehicle. Since a car's cabin has a design that only allows for specific seat sizes and styles, the owner would need to work with an automotive professional to get OEM-heated seats that will fit properly and ensure access to the controls and pedals.

Removable Heating Accessories

The third (and often least expensive) seat heating option is adding removable heating accessories to the seats in a vehicle. A heated seat cover with a universal fit is a popular option that doesn't require much effort to install. It simply slips over the seat and connects to the AC adapter or another power source within the vehicle.
When a driver or passenger sits on the seat, the individual can turn it on to warm the seating material. The cover will turn off when it no longer has a power source, and it won't overheat when the vehicle is off and parked.

The Advantages of Heated Seats

A heated car seat offers a lot to love, especially during the winter months. Climbing into a cold cabin isn't very appealing, but a heated seat warms up faster than the heating system within the vehicle to provide comfortable warmth.
Those who struggle with back pain and discomfort can also enjoy the benefits of sitting on a heating element. Heat is a proven treatment for back pain, helping to relieve discomfort and soothe aching muscles. Turning on the seat heater while driving might provide substantial relief for individuals suffering from chronic or episodic back pain.
It's easy to see why drivers and passengers love heated car seats within their vehicles. Even if a car doesn't have heated seats or a buyer doesn't want to pay for the upgrade, adding them later is a viable option.