How do heated and cooled seats work?

Cooled (or air conditioned) seats work by confining cooled air directly in the seat where the passenger is seated. Different car makers achieve this in different ways, but here is the most common method:

  • The seat is made with more porous material than traditional car seats, which are made to allow air to flow through them
  • The porous material of the car seat by itself allows your body to breathe, making it feel cooler and less sweaty
  • Multiple fans are put within the seat to provide air circulation.
  • The air from the fans blows through a diffusion layer to spread the cool air throughout the seating material, cooling the whole surface.
  • The cooling air from the fans also serves to carry the heat from the surface of your body away, rather than trapping it as traditional car seats do.

The benefit of these seats is they use energy to cool the passenger more efficiently than traditional car air conditioning, which improves the car’s fuel efficiency and reduces its emissions.

Heated seats, meanwhile, use the same technology as electric blankets or other appliances and gadgets that use electricity to create heat. It uses a long strip of a heating element through the material of the car seat called a resistor that heats up when an electrical current is run through it.

The way heated seats work means that the longer the seat warmer is left on, the hotter it will get… even to the point of being extremely uncomfortable for the person sitting on it. This is why most cars that have a seat warmer also come with a kind of thermostat which will allow you to set the level of heat that the car seat can reach.