AIR CONDITIONED SEATS
I may be the only one who has this problem but I sweat a lot when it is hot. I was not cut out for 90 degree weather when it is 90% humidity. Of course since the summer is the -only- time I drive the car (I do drive in the rain but not in the snow) it makes it tough to be comfortable when you are driving. Air conditioning helps but is not the answer. The problem is the seats get hot when you are parked in the sun (black leather will do that) and when you sit down you end up with heat burns on your butt/legs! Seriously!
My original solution to the problem was a seat ventilation system I purchased at Sharper Image. It slipped over the seat and used a front mounted fan to blow air on your back/legs. It actually worked great but didn't look good. It was also uncomfortable as you actually sat on a mesh cover.
So, I did what I always do and searched the web for months trying to find a solution. I found that Recaro made a seat ventilation system but had recently discontinued it. The other draw back was it didn't use air to blow on the driver, it sucked air through the seat to pull moisture away. This may have worked but I already had used the cover that blew air and really liked it. So, more searching!
Finally I found Seat Comfort Systems who made a ventilation system that looked like it would work. I really liked my stock seats anyway and figured this would be the way to go. Another benefit is they came with seat heaters. Why is this a benefit to a car only driven in the summer? If you have ever driven a convertible on a cold afternoon you would know why it is a benefit. Imagine! The best of both worlds!
After talking with the people at Seat Comfort Systems I found that the center of the seat had to use either cloth or perforated leather. I had the choice of paying an upholstery shop to modify my existing seat covers or to buy a new set. Seat Comfort Systems recommended Katzkin covers as they had perforated leather as an option so I ordered a set.
I guess along with the good you have to take the bad right? Well the Katzkin covers where made with a very nice leather but the stitching was so crooked it looked like a drunk had put them together! I tried to work with Katzkin but they refused to take care of the problem. If I had to do it all over again I would have just had the shop build new covers - it would have been less expensive and they would have done a better job.
Of course I had a wonderful upholstery shop to fix the problem (Precision Auto Upholstery). They took new perforated leather material and sewed straight lines and fixed the problem. They also did all the work of installing the ventilation system and the new covers. The pictures you see are of the assembly process.
Since the seats require new switches to control the heaters and ventilation I had to find a place to mount them. I don't like switches mounted where everyone can see them but they needed to be easy to access. I finally found that they could be mounted underneath the arm rest in the center console (see picture at bottom of article). This provides easy access to the controls without cutting up the dash or installing them someplace where they are painfully in the open.
So, how do the work?
Remember I said that I had a cover that had a blower on it before? The point is I had some experience with a prior system so I had some expectations in the new system. The net result is they work very different.
The new system is very quiet. The 4 fans in each seat make less noise than the single fan on the old system. They are also multi-speed fans (high/low) and even on high they are much quieter than the old cover. This gives a mental perception that they are not working. I don't think this would be a problem for someone who had never used a system before.
The air flow from the new system is actually much less noticeable than the old seat cover. This surprised me as I expected that the 4 fans would blow more air than the previous one single fan. The difference is the new system feels like it covers more of your body than the old one - especially the back.
The net result is with the new system you don't really notice it is even on and working. The only thing you notice is that after a while of driving you are still comfortable even though you know you would have been uncomfortable before. You also notice that after the seats have been exposed to hot sun for a while they don't feel as hot - even with the fans off. this must be due to the perforated leather but possibly due to the color (blue -vs- black). I have driven in 90+ degree weather with the new system and have to say that I am satisfied. If you think about it the whole goal should be to not notice - if you are too hot you notice, if you have an uncomfortable seat you notice, if you have wind blowing hard on you you notice, if you are just comfortable you don't notice! Funny but true -
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