Is a laptop OK in a hot car?
Laptops and Temperature Extremes
Electronic devices suffer from temperature extremes. Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) of laptops, phones, and PDAs really do freeze. Laptops have been designed to work within a safe temperature range, typically between 50 to 95 degrees F (10 — 35 degrees C). This range refers to the optimal usage temperature of the outside environment and the temperature the laptop should be warmed to before using. Careful Storage Never leave a laptop, or other devices, even in a well-padded and insulated case, in the trunk of a vehicle in cold or hot weather for long periods of time. The device could freeze, which can result in the loss all data contained within the device. Heat may also damage components. Let It Warm Up Once you bring a laptop in from the cold (or heat), allow it to return to room temperature before booting. «Ruggedized» laptops are designed to work under extreme weather conditions. Standard issue Hampshire laptops are not «ruggedized.» Protect Your Display Do not boot up an LCD display device if you suspect the display is frozen. Don’t use heating pads or other external sources of heat to warm up or thaw the display. Allow your device to warm on its own. Incorrect Warming/Cooling Methods Do not use tools such as mug warmers or pocket warmers to heat or keep a laptop warm- likewise, refrigeration of a hot laptop subjects components to too rapid cooling. Devices not designed for this purpose can create problems as they will not distribute temperature correctly. They could heat the wrong parts or generate too much heat and melt internal components. Do not use your laptop while it is still inside a laptop bag. There is no room for air to circulate, and you will get heat build-up. Laptops, cell phones, and other mobile devices are tools to help manage the details of life. Don’t leave your tools out in the wet and cold. Proper care and maintenance of your digital devices is as important as maintaining a car’s breaks—both keep you from crashing.
- Don’t use portable computers on squishy surfaces, such as beds, couches, or even your lap. (Look around and you’ll notice that computer makers no longer refer to their computers as «laptops,» but instead use the term «notebook.»)
- Don’t block the air vents on your computer with, for instance, sticky notes.
- Turn your computer OFF before putting it in a bag; even a sleeping computer generates heat and can easily overheat in the padded compartment of a carrying bag.
- Do not place other components, such as printers, directly next to your computer. Leave enough room to ensure that the heat from one is not affecting the temperature of the other.
- Do not allow your computer to sit in a closed, hot car. If it does get hot from where it’s sitting, let it cool down before using.
- If your workspace is unavoidably hot (unfiltered sunlight or heat from a radiator, for instance), consider purchasing a cooling device for your computer. Many retailers offer stands that incorporate fans and air vents.
- If you follow all of the advice above and still find your portable computer running hot to the touch (all computers will feel warm, we’re talking about HOT), it may be time for a professional to look at it. If it’s a Hampshire-owned computer, contact the help desk at 413.559.5418; students can bring their computers to the Student Diagnostic Center, 413.559.6602.
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How to Keep Your Laptop Cool in a Hot Car
Just as you suffer on hot days, so do your electronic devices. If your car is locked and there is no air circulation, your laptop may heat up even without exposure to direct sunlight. At high temperatures, the inner components of your laptop, such as the hard drive and the motherboard, may get affected, resulting in long term defects. Furthermore, high heat levels are also harmful for your laptop’s battery and there may even be a risk of explosion.
For these reasons, it is important to know how you can keep your laptop cool inside a hot car. If you must leave your computer in the car, it is best to put it in the trunk since the temperature there is the lowest. Under no circumstances should you leave your laptop on the front seat, this where the chances of it getting overheated are the highest
How to Keep Your Laptop Cool in a Hot Car
Keep Your Laptop in an Insulated Bag Pack
First of all, getting a nice laptop bag is a worthwhile investment. It makes mobility a breeze and if you get one with an insulated pocket, it will really help keep your laptop cool in the summer, especially if you have to leave it in your car. These pockets also provide protection against road bumps and water. However, you need to be careful when choosing the color. Dark colors do not provide protection against heat. The same goes for cell phones and tablets, if you have several devices on you then it is a good idea to use a cooler bag without cooling cartridges.
Switch Your Laptop Off
You should turn your computer off completely if you plan on leaving it in the car. Electronic devices continue to generate heat in standby mode and the risk of overheating multiplies. If for some reason you need to leave your computer on, at least put it in airplane mode since the device functionality then goes down resulting in less heat production overall.
Allow Your Device to Ventilate
The ventilation system of laptops is usually present on the side or on the underside. Regardless of whether you are in a car or indoors, you should always be careful not to cover up the ventilation. If your machine is off inside a car, then it won’t generate any heat so at that point you can leave it in your bag pack. However, if it is turned on, you need to make sure there is ample room for ventilation.
Don’t Force the Cooling Down Process
If your laptop has been in the heat for the entire day, you should allow it to naturally cool down to room temperature. If you take your device inside an air-conditioned room too quickly, condensation can form on the inside. Under no circumstances should you put a device that has become very hot or has already switched itself off in the refrigerator: electronic devices such as laptops cannot tolerate large temperature differences.
Back Up Your Data
If your laptop is often exposed to higher temperatures, you should regularly back up your photos and other data. An external hard drive that remains in an air-conditioned room can be useful for this. Most manufacturer warranties do not cover damage caused by heat.
If you are planning a beach holiday, you should know that in addition to the heat, you will also encounter sand which is damaging for laptops. So, while you’re out on the beach, it is best to leave your device indoors. If you do plan on taking it with you, make sure that you only use it while you’re away from the water and always have it covered when you’re done using it.
If for some reason you use your computer for navigation purposes inside a car, keep in mind that it can get really hot directly behind the windshield. Additionally, the corresponding programs put a lot of stress on the devices. Therefore, switch on the air conditioning and if possible, use it in the back seat, away from the windshield.
Have you ever seen people frying eggs on the hood of their car in the summer? Solar panels for hot water production work in a similar fashion. Water is heated in a pipe under a pane of glass (similar to a greenhouse). So, if the computer has a matt black housing and if the closed car does not have the AC on, your laptop will get hot pretty quick.
Higher temperatures can lead to an increased self-discharge of the battery and the device will also age faster. A heated device should not be switched on because it does not have a cooling mechanism. In the worst case, a black computer in a locked car can get so hot in the blazing sun that the housing warps. Since the materials used have different coefficients of expansion, even cracks may occur.
It’s a good idea to leave your computer at home instead of leaving it in your car. However, when you run into that situation, just follow the steps mentioned in this article and your laptop will be fine!
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