Is it Okay to Leave Electronic Devices in a Hot Car?

People often take their electronic devices with them in the car. They might have their smartphone, tablet, laptop, smartwatch, and other items. In the summer when the temperatures go up, it can get very hot inside the car.

It is not okay to leave your electronics in a hot car because the heat can damage them. Electronics contain circuit systems that work well at lower temperatures, and they can break down when the temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Smaller devices have less room to disperse the heat, and the small cooling systems don’t function well in extreme heat.

If you need to take your electronics with you, it is important to understand how heat can damage them and what you can do to keep them cool.

What Happens to Electronics in a Hot Car?

Your electronic devices come with standard operating temperatures. There are guidelines for the temperatures that your device can handle. If you have ever left an iPhone in direct sunlight, you may have seen the message on the screen telling you that it needs to cool down before you can use it.

When it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny outside, your car will be 104 degrees Fahrenheit on the inside. When the temperatures are between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature inside the car can increase to anywhere from 130 to 172 degrees Fahrenheit. Since most devices are designed to be functional up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the device can suffer damage in this heat.

If your devices are left on in very hot temperatures, it can permanently shorten the battery life of the device. If you are leaving a laptop in the car, it can damage the hard drive or the solid state drive. It can damage your processor, and humidity can cause condensation to build inside.

Should You Use Your Electronic Device When It Is Hot?

If you leave your electronic device in the car, wait until it cools down before you use it. You should allow it to cool down to room temperature before you turn it on. The humidity and moisture can cause permanent damage if you turn it on before it cools down.

Even when you put your laptop in sleep mode, the fans may run and the computer is still functioning. The laptop can easily overheat while it is in sleep mode in a travel bag, and it can cause damage to all of the components. It is important to remember that the fan runs in a laptop because it needs air circulation to function properly.

Hard drives are also sensitive to high temperatures. Heat causes items to expand, and the heat and humidity in a hot car can cause internal components to warp. Most electronic repair companies agree that leaving your laptop in the car can knock years off of its useful lifespan.

What to Do If You Need to Leave Your Electronics in the Car

It is always a good idea to take your electronics out of the car with you when you leave it. However, there are times when this might not be possible. You should try to limit the number of times this happens, and try any of the following to minimize the damage.

1. Turn Your Device Off

When electronics are turned on, they generate heat during operation. The more apps or programs you have open, the harder your device is working. You can minimize the amount of heat that your device creates by closing apps and programs you aren’t using or powering your devices off altogether. If you need to leave any electronics in the car, make sure that you aren’t charging the battery, and turn them off.

2. Use a Windshield Shade

You can lower the temperature in your car by using a windshield shade. These shades are reflective and direct the rays of the sun away from your car. In addition to protecting your electronics from direct sunlight, they will keep your car cooler while you aren’t using it. When you return to your car, it will be cooler and more comfortable for you as well.

Even if you aren’t able to use a windshield shade, it is important to keep your electronics out of the sun. You can place them under the seat or wrap them in an old T-shirt or a towel. This will protect your devices and prevent thieves from seeing them in your car.

3. Get a Solar Powered Fan

Solar powered fans are easy to get online, and they aren’t very expensive. They can help you keep your car cooler when it is parked, and you can take them with you when you are at the pool or the beach.

If you crack your windows when you use it, they will move fresh air around in the car. You can use one when you leave your electronics in the car to keep the temperatures lower and minimize the damage to them.

4. Keep a Cooler in the Car

This is a great option for keeping your electronics cool when you leave them in the car. You have to be careful because you can’t get your electronics wet. You can put some ice packs in the bottom of the cooler, and cover them with a towel. Then, when you leave the car, you can place the electronics on top of the towel in the cooler.

It is better to use solid ice packs and make sure that you cover them. You can also put your devices in a ziploc bag or a safe bag that keeps them dry under any circumstances. Another option is to get a cooler bag. These bags are insulated from heat, and they will keep your electronics cool.

5. Place Electronics in the Trunk

If you don’t have other options available, you can store your electronics in the trunk of the car. It takes more time for your trunk to get hot than the rest of the car because it is protected from the direct sunlight. You have the additional benefit of your electronics being safely stored away from the eyes of thieves.

6. Find a Parking Spot in the Shade

If you need to leave your electronics in the car, you should look for a parking spot in the shade. Parking out of direct sunlight slows down the rate that the temperature will increase in your car. It will still get hot, but it won’t heat up as quickly.

7. Crack Your Windows

When your car is parked and sealed with the windows closed, it is heated by radiant heat from the sun. All of the air heats, and it has nowhere to go to escape.

Although your car will still get hot with the windows cracked, it provides some air flow where hot air can escape and cooler air can mix with the air inside. It won’t necessarily cool your car off or prevent the temperature from increasing, but it won’t increase as quickly with the windows open.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t a good idea to leave your electronic devices in a hot car. Most devices are designed to operate best at room temperature (73 degrees Fahrenheit), and their built-in cooling can’t handle the extreme temperatures that occur in a hot car. If you have to leave electronics in the car, do what you can to minimize the increase in temperature.

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