As temperatures intensify across Northern California, we are asked a lot about the damage extreme heat can do to electronics. Most systems tend to run 10°C to 20°C degrees hotter than room temperature. But what if you leave your laptop in a hot car in brutal heat?
In general, you want to avoid extreme temperatures as much as possible, Most of the laptop components will be fine if left for a short time. However the Hard Drive and Solid State Drives (SSDs) will not like hot temperatures.So no, we wouldn’t recommend leaving it in your car. Here’s a bit more detail on what temperatures your laptop or smartphone are safe at.
You probably know that heat is not good for your laptop or smartphone. Heat can fry the processor but it can also lower your battery’s life. Humidity can also wreak havoc, building up condensation inside. Heat can be a bigger problem as sensitive components like the CPU, Memory, and Storage have thermal limits. When those limits are reached, the device will not work right or may just shut down to save its self.
The temperature that each component can safely operate is different. But it is always better to try and keep your computer, your phone, and your laptop as cool as possible to prevent damage.
If the temperature goes above 125°C (as defined by the operational range of the capacitor), for example, chances are that the capacitors become unstable and can start to melt. A car-trunk in full sunlight can reach that high a temperature, even higher if the weather outside is extremely hot. If you have an old computer, the capacitors in them have less tolerance to heat as well.
A good rule is the 90°Fdegree mark. Start sheltering your smartphone or laptop once the weather outside hits this level. Your car will be even hotter, even it it’s not quite 90°Foutside just yet. Your best bet is to keep your laptop or smartphone with you or leave it at home.
Cool Down Period
If for some reason you do expose your device to extreme heat, don’t try to use it right away. Instead, let it cool down to room temperature before you turn it on. This will help protect your laptop from more lasting damage from things like humidity and moisture. Use common sense. If your computer feels particularly hot to the touch before it’s even on, you probably shouldn’t leave it alone in that weather.
What about my hard drive in heat?
Even though HDDs don’t consume nearly as much electricity as the CPU or GPU, they are very sensitive to temperature changes, and excessive heat can irreparably damage your hard drive.
A simple fact of physics: cold makes things contract; heat makes things expand. Through heat transfer, thermal expansion can warp the internals, meaning discs might not be read properly. This is an extreme example, but the HDD would need replacing.Most people agree that heat can reduce your hard drive’s lifespan. National Instruments reports an increase of just 5°C above room ambient temperature can take up to two years off a drive’s life expectancy.
Laptop Ice Chest
Let’s say you absolutely had to leave your laptop in a hot car. We recommend using some cold packs and a cooler to hold it and keep it at more moderate temperatures.
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