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Brains... Brains!!
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Just wondering if the current drawn for heated vests will cause battery damage and/or rectifier/stater damage. Broke down a couple of times due to electical problems and i'm generally weary about plugging it back in. I love my heated vest (best $100 i ever spent, as they say) but don't want to dish out $200 for another new battery (which i have already done) or other parts or worse, get stuck on the side of the road again.
 

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1/ depends on the vest
2/ depends on the switch (on all the time, rheostat, widder controller?)

Depends more on the output of the motorcycle's alternator, and your driving habits.
Usually only 50 watts or so for an averge vest, or about that of a headlight. However, lots of headlights and a puny alternator output, combined with trolling around town at under "maximum alternator output rpm," could drain the battery.
I've been using heated grips, heated jacket liners (Gerbing) and electric vests for 16 years in a row, without any issues.
 

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Hi Hobbes,

To do it right you first need to find the total VA output of the alternator. Then figure out the total draw of the bike with no accessories. The VA left over is what you might use for accessories. I for one would not use all the remaining rated VA.

Do you have all the specs?
 

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Brains... Brains!!
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Discussion Starter #4
Chumly said:
To do it right you first need to find the total VA output of the alternator. Then figure out the total draw of the bike with no accessories. The VA left over is what you might use for accessories. I for one would not use all the remaining rated VA.
Do you have all the specs?
So what you're saying is that the heated vests they sell at the shops aren't all compatible with most 'normal' sportbikes with 12V batteries? I figured it was plug n play, sorta speak.
 

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if you need a new battery, go to any one of the wholesalers around Boundary and 1st. You can also go to Bill @ 5th gear where he sold me a battery for around the same price as the wholesalers
 
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some times it is cheaper to put a smaller alternator in abike. sometimes a company will spec an overkill alternator. Touring bikes take things like accessories into account when they are speced alternatores. Sport bikes are more about minamalist, weight saving SPEED! So no not all sport bikes will be plug and play, could be more like plug and pray. :) You'll have to check the output of your charging system, subtract maximum bike draw, and what ever is left over can be used for accessories, but remember to leave lots of fudge room as charging systems can loose efficency with time. And yes a constant drain on the battery can kill it, so a heated jacket that turns on and off will be less likely to kill parts. I don't think your likely to hurt much more then the battery, but if you draw too much juice for too long.... well stranger things have happened.
 

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:cool A message from the Electrically Challenged People of Canada [ECPC]:

I love my vest & heated grips but after impairing a battery (ie: running it down with everything ON.. at idle :rolleyes) I now 'conserve' my voltage until I'm readin' higher RPMs and have been on the road at least 15 minutes. Similarly, everything gets shut off when I return to the city unless it's damn cold. Works for me ;)

Good Luck! :cheers
 

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Hobbes said:
So what you're saying is that the heated vests they sell at the shops aren't all compatible with most 'normal' sportbikes with 12V batteries? I figured it was plug n play, sorta speak.
Some bikes have robust electrical systems that can easily accommodate a vest and more, but some bike's systems are barely adequate for even the stock electrical loads. You really gotta check out the specs to be sure.

MxerMerin's post is right, and SkipTkt's method makes sense if there are any doubts at all.
 

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I would also suggest that you install a volt meter so you can see if the charging system is keeping up with the load or if if you are discharging the battery. I have heated grips installed on my VFR but before I installed them I add a digital volt meter so I could stay on top of this issue.
 

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Brains... Brains!!
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Discussion Starter #10
Voltmeters are my new best friend nowadays. I check the voltage when i throttle at neutral and see if the voltage dips or maintains. I'll do anything to prevent another breakdown on the highway.

On a side note, i test rode a friend's bike yesterday and it ran out of gas and stranded me just off the offramp from the Georgia Viaduct.

This stuff always happens to me.
 

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Never seen a vest wreck a bike's electrical . Skiptkt had some good advice.

Best thing is replace your plug in with a guitar style plug in.( much easier to use)

Get a reostat from Radio Shack and put it inline with the battery . This way you can contol the temperature it's really nice to have I swear by my electric vest best money ever spent.
 

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Best thing is replace your plug in with a guitar style plug in.( much easier to use)
Or a discreetly placed bmw style plug.

Get a reostat from Radio Shack and put it inline with the battery . This way you can contol the temperature it's really nice to have I swear by my electric vest best money ever spent.
This works too.
Although i prefer a widder, or gerbing style controller. not a rheostat (no wasted juice) but a controller, that times short blasts of juice to the vest.

Either way, a properly functioning electrical system should be able to take an electric vest.
Easily.
 

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Skiptck's got the answer.

Bike systems are typically weak to charge but easily have the ability to deal with reasonable extra loads without burning out. But it takes REVS to keep the charger working with the extra load. Heated vests and grips are not the things to be using if you're doing a lot of your riding in town with the usual lazy stop n' go traffic. The extra needs of the vest and grips WILL suck down your battery. But on the open road it's all good. Save the electric warmers until you get past the snail's pace stuff and you'll never have a problem. Basically the revs need to be over 2500 to 3000 rpm before the weak bike alternator has enough to deal with the needs of the extras.

Oddly enough adding a vest and/or heated grips is a GOOD thing for most regulators. THis is because most bike systems use what is called a shunt regulator. This is a rather crude method that controls the output voltage by dumping the extra voltage and current straight to ground. It's wastefull and generates a ton of heat and is largely why some regulators get hot and blow out. It's also why the ones that can survive have big honkin' fins on them.

Adding extra electrical devices to such a system actually just re-directs power that would have been dumped. And by sharing this extra power around you actually take some of the work and heat loading away from the regulator.

So as said by Skiptkt, switch off in town at low speeds and switch back on for the steady and higher speeds where the wind chill really hits.
 

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Really excellent points Tee Tee. My 1980 KZ 440 first came to mind when I said that the total VA output of the alternator plus a safety margin should be known before adding accessories. Or do you think even that old beast could take a sizable additional load if the RPM’s were up?

As to Dalma’s ‘02 VFR (I have the ‘04 ) there was a recall on the alternators on some of them due to the alternators burning out. The replacements - as I understand it - have a higher VA rating.

VFR’s have had a notorious record of failing voltage regulators, but I gather the 02’s and on up voltage regulators are less prone to problems. As to why the alternators failed I suppose it could be that the voltage regulators overtaxed the electrical system.

The new VFR’s ('02 and up) are however quite prone to main wiring harness area meltdowns, which again could be from the voltage regulator shunting.
 
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