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ki4jgt
October 20th, 2011, 07:19 AM
Was wondering if you guys could recommend a heater for a laptop which is exposed to sub zero temps from time to time (during local Winter). I was wondering if they made special heaters for laptops (I found a heating pad for $129 dollars, but I could buy a heating pad at Walmart for $10). So, does anyone else have to take their computers outside in Winter? How do you keep them warm?

Paqman
October 20th, 2011, 07:53 AM
Can you be a bit more specific? Do you want something that would keep it warm when it's being stored or used? What power supplies would you have available (12V DC or mains)?

The most efficient thing to do would be let the waste heat from the laptop heat itself. Assuming it comes from somewhere warm that you're storing it it should be able to boot up before the battery gets too cold. If there's nothing available on the market I would just get a neoprene sleeve and cut enough holes in it for ventilation.

ki4jgt
October 20th, 2011, 08:07 AM
Can you be a bit more specific? Do you want something that would keep it warm when it's being stored or used? What power supplies would you have available (12V DC or mains)?

The most efficient thing to do would be let the waste heat from the laptop heat itself. Assuming it comes from somewhere warm that you're storing it it should be able to boot up before the battery gets too cold. If there's nothing available on the market I would just get a neoprene sleeve and cut enough holes in it for ventilation.

The only power I have is from the USB ports and the 120 AC in my housing. The laptop is off while not in use and I recently read (10 minutes ago) that cold weather also messes with the screen. Other than the heating pad, I couldn't find any other products on market :-(. I'll try the neoprene sleeve idea though.

My main office has been moved to my garage and it hasn't got the budget for a heater yet. I remember last year when my aunt turned on her computer in sub zero temps and her hard drive developed a ticking sound. Not long after, it crashed. She has since bought a heater for her computer room and turns it on about 30 minutes before using her computer.

Paqman
October 20th, 2011, 08:21 AM
My main office has been moved to my garage and it hasn't got the budget for a heater yet.

Right. I'd just keep the laptop in a heated space in the house and then take it out to the office after it had booted up. It should be able to keep itself reasonably warm, the cold might actually do it some good, as the fans won't have to work as hard to keep the chips cool.

The risk of damage is due to thermal stresses caused by large swings in temperature. By having the machine at a comfortable temperature before boot you're reducing this. Batteries really don't function well at very low temps either.

Do you really want to work from an unheated area in cold weather though? I'd consider some insulation and a heater for your garage a good investment for your health.

ki4jgt
October 20th, 2011, 10:21 AM
Right. I'd just keep the laptop in a heated space in the house and then take it out to the office after it had booted up. It should be able to keep itself reasonably warm, the cold might actually do it some good, as the fans won't have to work as hard to keep the chips cool.

The risk of damage is due to thermal stresses caused by large swings in temperature. By having the machine at a comfortable temperature before boot you're reducing this. Batteries really don't function well at very low temps either.

Do you really want to work from an unheated area in cold weather though? I'd consider some insulation and a heater for your garage a good investment for your health.

The cold actually stimulates my thinking. It gives me a jolt of energy by getting my blood pumping and getting my body to secrete adrenaline. The house isn't mine though. We're renting. The landlord is VERY picky about things done to the house and the garage has been made the dump area of the house so housing budget doesn't have room to support the luxury of the junk we throw back here. :-( Unfortunately, It's the only place in the house where wifi works (that doesn't take up valuable counter space in the kitchen) and at any rate, I've found a heating pad. My battery stinks. It's been unable to hold charge for the last year, so that's not really a concern anymore. But I generally come back here during the Winter anyway (with a blanket and hot cocoa.. The cold helps me work out my life issues. Thanks for the concern though. :-)

HermanAB
October 20th, 2011, 12:13 PM
The processor etc is not a problem. It will work fine in sub zero, since it will heat itself. The screen will however stop working at about -20 Celsius and there is no easy way to heat that.

red_Marvin
October 20th, 2011, 12:54 PM
Moving the computer from a hot to a cold room while running may not be the best of ideas because of condensation.

koleoptero
October 20th, 2011, 01:57 PM
Moving the computer from a hot to a cold room while running may not be the best of ideas because of condensation.

You got that backwards.

PaulInBHC
October 20th, 2011, 02:29 PM
You got that backwards.

Anyone that wears eyeglasses in cold weather knows about that.

CharlesA
October 20th, 2011, 02:36 PM
Anyone that wears eyeglasses in cold weather knows about that.
It's the "Ack! I can't see" phenomenon. ;)

ubupirate
October 20th, 2011, 02:43 PM
You got that backwards.

It works both ways.

CharlesA
October 20th, 2011, 02:46 PM
It works both ways.
Yep, that's why a cold glass "sweats" on a hot day.

koleoptero
October 20th, 2011, 03:21 PM
It works both ways.
No it doesn't.

Yep, that's why a cold glass "sweats" on a hot day.
Yeah but a hot glass doesn't sweat on cold days... :P

If the laptop is cold and you get it to a warm room condensation will form and will damage it. If it's hot then nothing will happen. Instead of getting a heater do what's been mentioned already: Turn it on for some minutes before moving it to the garage. Maybe even play some crysis on it so it warms up nicely.

CharlesA
October 20th, 2011, 03:23 PM
Yeah but a hot glass doesn't sweat on cold days... :P


Well it does steam... :p

red_Marvin
October 20th, 2011, 07:44 PM
You got that backwards.

Warm air can contain more water than cold air, so when the air is chilled
condensation ensues. Wether or not this would be a problem in this case
would depend on if at first when bringing the computer to the cold area
would chill the air in the computer initially (=> condensation)
or if the computer would heat the air around it (=> no condensation)
My consideration was for the former.

Also, moving electronics between different temperature environments quickly
is usually recommended against, if not for condensation then for thermal
expansion. (iirc)

goldentony111
October 20th, 2011, 08:16 PM
can't you auto adjust the fan speed ? depending on the graphics cards ?

cariboo907
October 20th, 2011, 09:25 PM
I'd like to add my experience, as my server is located im my garage, that is fully insulated and dry-walled. Even though temps here get below -20C frequently during the winter, the temperature in the garage never drops below 10C even without the heater running. I use a 220V construction heater, but it uses quite a bit of electricity, so I'm looking at a thermostatically controlled infrared heater to save on utility costs.

Flymo
October 20th, 2011, 09:37 PM
The bits that will dislike the cold temps are the battery (wet stuff inside) LCD display (wet stuff inside) and the hard drive (precision mechanical stuff that changes shape with temperature).

If you're running off battery there is a chance that it will keep warm enough - especially if you wrap it in something that insulates well.

If not, then it may need a heat pad of some sort.

The screen is hard to deal with, the VF sort do get a little warmer than ambient, the LED flavour (still pretty rare) hardly change in temp at all.

If you have an older display then insulation will help to keep it warmer. Good insulation on the back of the display is easy enough, but there is that bare panel you need to look at with the vulnerable liquids inside. LCD is, after all, Liquid Crystal Display!

So a 'secondary glazing' approach should help - clear plastic sheet a mm or two from the screen will help. A heat pad on the back of the screen would improve things.

Trouble is we don't know exactly how severe the problem is - I'd say that a reasonable goal would be to avoid the screen getting near freezing point of water - it may go lower, but....

Batteries typically need to be warmer than that....

Hard drives? They like 20 deg C, in my experience, but pre-warming the machine indoors should help that. Don't be tempted to blank the air flow to the fan! It's possible to cook the CPU at the same time as the screen freezes!

Ducting the hotter air from the fan past the screen and/or battery might be more difficult than it at first appears. Best approach might be a flow of warmed air between screen and clear plastic 'secondary glazing'.

HTH! Ben

wirepuller134
October 21st, 2011, 05:20 AM
This is my experience with building units to run in harsh environments, just food for thought

We have close to 2400 units running right now at this minute in various locations all below 30 degrees F. 4 of them in blast freezers at -20 degrees F. Our units are in sealed stainless steel boxes though. They have to be water resistant due to high pressure washdown environments. They are subjected with up to 2k water pressure at 140 degree F while in a room that is from 20 to 30 degrees. During the sanitation shift the room will climb to about 60 degrees for 5 1/2 hours or so daily. We are using standard LVD screens with a clear stick on plastic overlay with keyboard under the screen.
We had more issues with condensation inside of the boxes when we were using heating strips in them. Around 2009 or so, we quit doing this and have had very few failures since then. We have lost 2 LCD screen only though over the whole time (both due to water permeation), the main failure we have had is cable ends corroding off at the bottom of the box. This is due to the chemicals used in the foam, during sanitation in the plants.
Our service laptops go from extreme to extreme daily, the main failures we have with them is getting washed down with high pressure water or simply dropped.

wolfen69
October 21st, 2011, 06:35 AM
Sub zero temps in Kentucky?

krapp
October 21st, 2011, 08:51 AM
Thought I was the only who saw that...

keithpeter
October 21st, 2011, 11:54 AM
Hello All

I have no direct experience of this (temperate British Isles) but some years ago I was looking for information on customised XP installs, and I came across a web page / forum page by Canadian laptop users.

They left laptops in unheated cars and wanted to boot from USB sticks to avoid problems with mechanical hard drive lubrication.

Cheers

forrestcupp
October 21st, 2011, 12:31 PM
You could probably get an energy efficient space heater at Walmart for around $20. It wouldn't heat the whole garage, but it would warm up the area where you are sitting and the computer is. That would probably do better than a pad that isn't going to be covering your screen.

ki4jgt
October 21st, 2011, 01:10 PM
Sub zero temps in Kentucky?


Was wondering if you guys could recommend a heater for a laptop which is exposed to sub zero temps from time to time

Yes, I can remember a time in almost all of the previous Winters here where the temp has fallen below 0. Didn't want to take the chance that I was heating it for above 0 and then run upon a sub zero temp night (or in the year before last an entire week of freezing temps which also knocked power out for several thousand homes. Luckily we had backup generators.) where I was unprepared. It also gets colder in the country where people aren't as close together to keep each other warm and a collection of energy and energy absorbing materials aren't in use. None the less, freezing is 32 (sea level, which we are above), not 0. I just covered 0 as a precautionary measure.

krapp
October 21st, 2011, 02:31 PM
(temperate British Isles)

Latitude 50+ degrees north!
It's an outrage.

Mr. Jay
October 21st, 2011, 02:53 PM
So, does anyone else have to take their computers outside in Winter? How do you keep them warm?
I don't, because they don't have to be kept warm. Semiconductor devices actually run better when cold.
You just have to be careful when getting back inside. Simply put the laptop into a plastic bag, then condensation will occur only on the surface of the bag.

|{urse
October 21st, 2011, 03:00 PM
Your best bet is something ruggedized and moisture resistant (if not moisture-proof)

http://www.barcodegiant.com/panasonic/part-cf-u1gqgxz1m.htm?aw&adtype=pla&gclid=CLmlw730-asCFUqFQAodxmQN9A

Panasonic's Toughbook uses (along with a ton of other testing methods) MIL-STD 810F Testing Method 502.4 which basically means it performs nominally if not faster in freezing conditions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIL-STD-810

Unfortunately your current notebook will always need fresh air intake which means condensation intake. Unless you can find fanless replacement parts and make the chassis airtight.

LowSky
October 21st, 2011, 03:26 PM
Yes, I can remember a time in almost all of the previous Winters here where the temp has fallen below 0. Didn't want to take the chance that I was heating it for above 0 and then run upon a sub zero temp night (or in the year before last an entire week of freezing temps which also knocked power out for several thousand homes. Luckily we had backup generators.) where I was unprepared. It also gets colder in the country where people aren't as close together to keep each other warm and a collection of energy and energy absorbing materials aren't in use. None the less, freezing is 32 (sea level, which we are above), not 0. I just covered 0 as a precautionary measure.

Actually freezing is 0 using Celsius, which everyone outside the US uses pretty frequently.

To be set up an office in a garage that is often too cold for normal human comfort doesn't sound like a good idea. I live in the Hudson Valley region of NY and would never want to work in my garage during the freezing winter. Forget about the computer and think about your fingers.

forrestcupp
October 21st, 2011, 04:08 PM
Actually freezing is 0 using Celsius, which everyone outside the US uses pretty frequently.
But since he's in the US, that's irrelevant. :)

bobbob94
October 21st, 2011, 04:17 PM
But since he's in the US, that's irrelevant. :)

Not entirely, when I started reading this thread the OP didn't mention any units, just sub-zero temperatures. I assumed they meant celcius, what with this not being a US only forum and all ;)

lightwarrior
October 21st, 2011, 04:25 PM
Electronic equipment usually print operating & storage temperatures.

Although generalized, usually these temps specs range between 0C to 40C operating ambient and -30C to 70C for storage.

If you plan to move computer around from cold to warm room, the plastic bag to avoid condensation is great idea. Let sit for 30 minutes when moving from cold to hot, to avoid condensation form inside electronics. Thermal expansion stress should not be a problem, as lower temps should leave electronic delta temps smaller. Usually electronic life extends significantly (about double for every -10C).

desktorp
October 21st, 2011, 04:25 PM
At first I wanted to say "Just run a Pentium 4 in the same room, because it IS a space heater" ..but then I noticed OP said they were actually going to be outside.

Also, I did notice that you said you found a heating pad. Obviously there are a gajillion kinds of heating pads, but at least this one has USB support :D

http://www.amazon.com/ValueRays%C2%AE-Warmer-Blanket-Computer-Infrared/dp/B002DWSEHY

HermanAB
October 21st, 2011, 05:05 PM
Well, I had to do some work on a tall building in Calgary in winter. My laptop screen would stop working almost immediately when I walked outside with it - walk back inside, and it worked again. I had to type the required keystrokes blind outside, then go and read the results inside.

keithpeter
October 21st, 2011, 05:32 PM
Latitude 50+ degrees north!
It's an outrage.

52.5 degrees actually, with occasional forays to 57.7 degrees, where you can see snow on mountains most of the time, but where its ok in the valleys.

Its that warm water coming up from the Gulf of Mexico... Same latitude on the mainland of Europe and its serious cold.

Paqman
October 21st, 2011, 06:46 PM
But since he's in the US, that's irrelevant. :)

Tbh, I assumed he meant Celsius too. Fahrenheit is deprecated in the entire world except for the US, so Americans should probably state it explicitly if they're going to use it on an internet forum.

forrestcupp
October 21st, 2011, 07:07 PM
Not entirely, when I started reading this thread the OP didn't mention any units, just sub-zero temperatures. I assumed they meant celcius, what with this not being a US only forum and all ;)

Everyone should have noticed that the OP is from Kentucky in the US and subconsciously made the proper adjustments. :)

I'm just joking, guys.

CharlesA
October 21st, 2011, 07:18 PM
Everyone should have noticed that the OP is from Kentucky in the US and subconsciously made the proper adjustments. :)

I'm just joking, guys.
But... but... converting from F to C is hard work! :p

keithpeter
October 21st, 2011, 07:20 PM
Everyone should have noticed that the OP is from Kentucky in the US and subconsciously made the proper adjustments. :)

I'm just joking, guys.

Would that be the same kind of adjustments as Gornal in the Black Country in the UK? :twisted:

[ definitely only joking, star student this year is from yamyam land ]

krapp
October 21st, 2011, 07:53 PM
52.5 degrees actually, with occasional forays to 57.7 degrees, where you can see snow on mountains most of the time, but where its ok in the valleys.

Its that warm water coming up from the Gulf of Mexico... Same latitude on the mainland of Europe and its serious cold.

Stealing my warm Eastern Seaboard American air...

keithpeter
October 21st, 2011, 08:01 PM
Stealing my warm Eastern Seaboard American air...

Not us...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_Stream

ki4jgt
October 21st, 2011, 11:37 PM
Sorry guys. . . My mistake. I keep forgetting that the Internet is not in Kansas anymore. :-( So, subzero here, is even lower than subzero in other places. It's still kind of hard to convert between C and F unfortunately but 32 F is 0 C so when I say subzero, I mean below -18 C.