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Question Can electronics components get damaged during travel in extreme cold weather condition?

anandtechreader

Senior member
Apr 12, 2018
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My CPU, RAM and other components are on their way across North America. In my area, it is like -20c to -30c. I am concerned that during transportation in such extremely cold wheather, my components may get damaged. Do I have to worry about this?
 

LTC8K6

Lifer
Mar 10, 2004
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There tends to be more static electricity in the winter. Hopefully they are ESD safe in their packaging.

You can also get condensation when cold parts are brought indoors. Moisture can form. Best to leave them indoors for a while before powering them up.
 
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Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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There shouldn't be any issues, if you let the components get to room temperature before you plug them in. It can be a good idea to unpack everything, so you don't get condensation all over your gear. Just open the antistatic bags, don't take anything out, so any moisture can get out. Most antistatic bags do include a small amount of silica crystals to help with moisture, but they can get overwhelmed.

Be particularly careful with HDDs. They are susceptible to a very quick failure if you start them too cold. I've lost some HDDs to that on vacation in colder climates.
 

EXCellR8

Diamond Member
Sep 1, 2010
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CPU and RAM should actually like the cold but I'd still be careful not to heat them up too fast, as others have already pointed out. I'd be more afraid of cracks in PCB due to rapid heat up but I'm not sure you'd even be able to get that to happen unless you put a heat gun directly on the component so I wouldn't worry about it.
 
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Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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Generally the opposite to this. You leave it wrapped till it warms up, so the condensation doesn't form when warm moist indoor air hits cold components.
Agreed. Leave item's packed in whatever they are packed into until they have hit room temperature. Then bring them out to the warm air that can being storing humidity. HDD's can be sensitive to freezing. Less now than before and like other things most problems are from extremes (running them while freezing). Any thing with an LCD in it I would do what I could to avoid having it out in the cold. Like a drinking glass extreme changes are the worst for them, but the compressing nature of things when freezing can cause LCD and other glass and glass like objects to crack.
 
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anandtechreader

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Apr 12, 2018
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Thanks. I just leave them in the original boxes and wait for 1-2 days before taking them out to install into the computer. Is that alright?

One board was supposed to be delivered yesterday but due to what they called "weather condition", it was not delivered. Then they said that they would deliver it today but again not delivered. So that board might have been in the delivery car for the entire two days.
 

scannall

Golden Member
Jan 1, 2012
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Thanks. I just leave them in the original boxes and wait for 1-2 days before taking them out to install into the computer. Is that alright?

One board was supposed to be delivered yesterday but due to what they called "weather condition", it was not delivered. Then they said that they would deliver it today but again not delivered. So that board might have been in the delivery car for the entire two days.
As others have noted, condensation is your only worry really. And it isn't that big. A little air dry and you're good to go.
 
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ehume

Golden Member
Nov 6, 2009
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. . .One board was supposed to be delivered yesterday but due to what they called "weather condition", it was not delivered. Then they said that they would deliver it today but again not delivered. So that board might have been in the delivery car for the entire two days.
Wow. Sounds like it has never been opened. You're in luck! Just give it two days to "thaw out," to equilibrate to room air, and you should have no problems.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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Generally the opposite to this. You leave it wrapped till it warms up, so the condensation doesn't form when warm moist indoor air hits cold components.
Generally I'd agree. When we're talking temperatures down in the -20C's, it's pretty much guaranteed that -some- condensation will form either way if you bring things straight into room temperature, and the best way to get rid of it is ventilation.

A morning in an unheated (well, hopefully the driver compartment is) delivery van is enough to cool down things considerably.

Another factor if the bags are sealed with silica crystals. If they are, that usually enough to trap anything formed inside the bag. But they can get overwhelmed, if they are electronics doesn't appreciate a good soak.
 
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PeterScott

Platinum Member
Jul 7, 2017
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When we're talking temperatures down in the -20C's, it's pretty much guaranteed that -some- condensation will form either way if you bring things straight into room temperature, and the best way to get rid of it is ventilation.
I live in Canada. It's been -15C to -20C nearly every day for almost 2 months. I deal with this all the time.

When I take my pocket camera outside, I bring a ziplock and make sure it stays in the ziplock when I return until it warms up. If any condensation forms it will be on the bag, not the electronics. I moved cross country in late December. Everything stayed in the moving truck overnight at ~-15. I just left everything electronic in packaging for 24 hours (including my PC and Laser printer) There was no condensation on anything.

Just leave it packaged until it warms to room temperature.
 

anandtechreader

Senior member
Apr 12, 2018
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I live in Canada. It's been -15C to -20C nearly every day for almost 2 months. I deal with this all the time.

When I take my pocket camera outside, I bring a ziplock and make sure it stays in the ziplock when I return until it warms up. If any condensation forms it will be on the bag, not the electronics. I moved cross country in late December. Everything stayed in the moving truck overnight at ~-15. I just left everything electronic in packaging for 24 hours (including my PC and Laser printer) There was no condensation on anything.

Just leave it packaged until it warms to room temperature.

Tonight it will be about -30c with windchill. The board was supposed to be delivered two days ago but today is the third day, it is still not delivered. There is also no update in status for a day. Don't know if Purolator just have it in the car all the time or put it back in storage room in the evenings. Last month, Purolator lost two GPU. Doesn't seem to be a very reliable courier company anymore.
 

PeterScott

Platinum Member
Jul 7, 2017
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Years ago I stopped dealing with couriers and use postal services (Canada Post) instead. I don't care if I have to wait longer.

In winter I typically use the option to leave it at the local Post Office for pickup so there is no chance they will leave it in the snow.
 
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Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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I live in Canada. It's been -15C to -20C nearly every day for almost 2 months. I deal with this all the time.

When I take my pocket camera outside, I bring a ziplock and make sure it stays in the ziplock when I return until it warms up. If any condensation forms it will be on the bag, not the electronics. I moved cross country in late December. Everything stayed in the moving truck overnight at ~-15. I just left everything electronic in packaging for 24 hours (including my PC and Laser printer) There was no condensation on anything.

Just leave it packaged until it warms to room temperature.
Again agreeing with Peter here. The science behind condensation is that warm air with water molecules comes in contact with an item that is cold enough to cause those molecules to collect and phase change back into water (collect enough molecules at a temperature where H20 is a liquid and not a gas). If the object was packed in low humidity and like almost all electronics packed with silica. There is no moisture inside the containers and then none inside the wrapping. So moisture will only possibly exist on the outside of the package. You shouldn't need to wait days. Couple hours probably 4 at max at 72 F should allow it ample time to come down from the extreme cold.

Edit: Remember that these objects generally make their way over here on container ships, with no climate control, on top of ships getting blaster by unfettered ocean winds. They can generally take a day or two siting in a cold warehouse or the back of someones van.
 
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anandtechreader

Senior member
Apr 12, 2018
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Thanks all for the educational info. Are condensation and possibility of cracking the LCD screens the reasons laptop manufacturers list the range of operating temperature. I think it is like not to use laptops below around -15c?
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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Correct. Specially LCDs. As soon as the start powering up a screen can go all the way up to 90F in a hurry. That extreme change will almost certainly crack.
 
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