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Ventilated seats vs. cool seats: What’s the difference?

minute read

    Quick insights

    • Ventilated seats and cool seats are sometimes referred to interchangeably but have technical differences.
    • Cooled seats circulate colder, conditioned air through the entire seat.
    • The air that circulates through ventilated seats normally is not conditioned to be cold.

    Air conditioning in cars is standard among the various features available in cars today. Stepping inside a cool place after braving the heat can be like finding an oasis in a desert of discomfort. When your car provides this relief, maybe you’ll be more willing to spend time in hotter destinations.

    Ventilated and cool seats basically take cold-air car tech to the next level. Let’s explore the differences.

    What are ventilated seats?

    Ventilated seats get their name because the perforations and fans in the seat make it act like a vent. The fans can circulate air so that it flows through the perforations. If you’re sitting in this type of seat, you’d feel some air around you and on parts of your body touching the seat.

    How do ventilated seats work?

    Ventilated seats use small fans inside a seat cushion and back rest to circulate air. The fans are located in strategic positions to distribute air to the seat surface. Fans generally blow air through carefully placed perforations in the seat.

    Ventilated seats often come with controls you can manage from the dashboard or console. You may be able to adjust the airflow’s intensity or temperature. In some cases, ventilated seats incorporate cooling elements, which is why this feature is often referred to interchangeably with cooled seats.

    What are cooled seats?

    Cooled seats can circulate air through car seats with carefully placed fans and seat perforations. However, there are usually cooling elements that regulate the temperature of a cooled seat’s surface. This often means a range of adjustable temperature and air-strength settings to enhance the comfort of your driving experience.

    How do cooled seats work?

    Similar to ventilated seats, cooled seats may use fans and perforations, but the air flowing through cooled seats is conditioned or refrigerated. It’s also possible that a cooled seat would be equipped with tubes instead of fans. If that’s the case, a special cold liquid can flow through the tubes to lower the temperature of the seat.

    Which seats are better in hot weather?

    In general, conditioned air is often more effective at cooling you off in hot weather, so cool seats might win this battle. Think of it this way: In extreme heat, would you rather have air conditioning or a fan? Air that is conditioned to be cold or cooler usually offers superior relief compared to air that is fanned at you.

    Nevertheless, ventilated seats would provide some air-flow and could cool you down when you’re feeling hot. Cool seats might just have a better chance lowering your temperature.

    Cars with cooled or ventilated seats

    These days, any type of car could come with cooled or ventilated seats. When buying a car, you can ask if the models you’re interested in have either ventilated or cool seat technology.

    Either technology could fall into the category of premium features. This doesn’t mean the feature is reserved exclusively for luxury or high-priced vehicles. However, a car with ventilated or cool seats may be considered part of a premium feature package and have a higher price point.

    In summary

    Ventilated and cooled-seat technologies have been developing for decades. The popularity of these features may have increased in recent years as automakers continue to find ways to enhance comfort and luxury in vehicles.

    Although ventilated and cool seats are sometimes used interchangeably, cooled seats typically have the cold-air technology. This can make them slightly better than ventilated seats at providing relief in hot weather. 

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