Leaving ELECTRONICS out in the cold then bringing them in and turning them on

desteffy

Golden Member
Jul 16, 2004
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When an amp/other electronics are really cold and you bring them into a warm house some water will condence on some of the electronics. If you turn them on can this ruin them?

I was wondering this earlier today and decided not to risk it until the amp warmed up and the water evaporated.

This same question could go for computers etc.. anyone have any exp with this?:confused:
 

MrDudeMan

Lifer
Jan 15, 2001
15,069
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91
i think in theory it would be harmful, but many times i have done this and nothing went wrong. most PCBs have a clear coat on top of them, so those components should be ok.
 

desteffy

Golden Member
Jul 16, 2004
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i have heard of people ruining their motherboards because of some kind of insane cooling unit that made it below freezing and then water started to collect on it.

 

desteffy

Golden Member
Jul 16, 2004
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Originally posted by: Kelvrick
Wonder how they prevent this kinda thing in car electronics. Say, the stereo.

I imagine they are coated with some kinda stuff to anticipate this problem where as other electronics might not be.
 

Calin

Diamond Member
Apr 9, 2001
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Distilled water (as in condensation) is almost non-conductive, and certainly non-conductive for voltages on the mainboard. However, a switching power supply (or voltage regulator) could produce high transient voltages, and they might go thru distilled water.
I don't think this would be a problem. However, I don't want to find out if it is, so I choose to wait

Calin
 

ENTPTexan

Junior Member
Jan 18, 2005
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It's going to depend on three things:
  1. How well sealed the unit is.
  2. The humidity / dewpoint.
  3. Level of exposed wiring / solder points.

A well sealed unit should not have that much exposure. However, if it's designed with an open venting system, well... pray for very low humidity.
 

nineball9

Senior member
Aug 10, 2003
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Originally posted by: desteffy
I imagine they are coated with some kinda stuff to anticipate this problem where as other electronics might not be.

They are not coated, or at least the ones I've repaired were not. Condensation is not a problem; the ability to withstand mechanical bumps and vibration is an issue. Heck, in the 1950's and earlier, car radios used tubes with plate voltages at 150V or greater. (Anyone remember what the mechanical vibrator used to create pulsed DC was called? I used to know ...)

 

Eli

Super Moderator | Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
50,422
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In theory, it could cause problems... it won't most of the time in practice though, except in extreme circumstances.

I have had problems with it with my digital camera. Taking pics outside in the snow, then bringing it into the house.. It causes the lens to fog up. But unless the item is REALLY cold, and it's REALLY humid in the warmer area... it's going to be hard to build up enough condensation to actually short things out and do damage. It's not like it will be dripping like a glass of ice water on a warm day.
 

Insane3D

Elite Member
May 24, 2000
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Nope. I bring my system into work every night, and during the day it sits out in my car. It's a midtower, and a 17" LCD. I took them into work tonight and it's currently 4F out...fired it right up no problems. Generally, if the air outside is cold, it's not going to be humid enough anywhere to make enough condensation in most circumstances. Also, when you turn the system on, the fans start moving air around, which makes it harder for condensation to form.

IF you were to keep it in a freezer or something then brought it out into super humid eviroment, then you might have trouble, but in practice this would be unlikely to happen.

:)
 
Nov 5, 2001
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Originally posted by: Insane3D
Nope. I bring my system into work every night, and during the day it sits out in my car. It's a midtower, and a 17" LCD. I took them into work tonight and it's currently 4F out...fired it right up no problems. Generally, if the air outside is cold, it's not going to be humid enough anywhere to make enough condensation in most circumstances. Also, when you turn the system on, the fans start moving air around, which makes it harder for condensation to form.

IF you were to keep it in a freezer or something then brought it out into super humid eviroment, then you might have trouble, but in practice this would be unlikely to happen.

:)


I won't ask why you breing a desktop into work every night....
 

thermalpaste

Senior member
Oct 6, 2004
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Originally posted by: Calin
Distilled water (as in condensation) is almost non-conductive, and certainly non-conductive for voltages on the mainboard. However, a switching power supply (or voltage regulator) could produce high transient voltages, and they might go thru distilled water.
I don't think this would be a problem. However, I don't want to find out if it is, so I choose to wait

Calin

Let us presume that there are tiny specks of dust on the PCB. Then even if distilled water gets condensed on the components, it does conduct more because it mixes with the dust........
 
Aug 26, 2004
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Originally posted by: nakedfrog
I follow the "better safe than sorry" school of thought on this.

i try to as well...i used to have a setup with a insulated box that my mobo, cpu, vid card, and psu sat in...ac was vented straight into it...it would get down to about -8 to -10C in the box...whenever i would turn the system off i would unplug the ac unit and let it raise to room temp before i would open it...would take about 2 hours or so...made for some badass temps though...got my cpu up to 2.65ghz@2.05v...cpu temp was 31C under load :D

 

datalink7

Lifer
Jan 23, 2001
16,765
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Originally posted by: Insane3D
Nope. I bring my system into work every night, and during the day it sits out in my car. It's a midtower, and a 17" LCD. I took them into work tonight and it's currently 4F out...fired it right up no problems. Generally, if the air outside is cold, it's not going to be humid enough anywhere to make enough condensation in most circumstances. Also, when you turn the system on, the fans start moving air around, which makes it harder for condensation to form.

IF you were to keep it in a freezer or something then brought it out into super humid eviroment, then you might have trouble, but in practice this would be unlikely to happen.

:)

You bring your desktop into work every day? That's Insane! :p
 

Aharami

Lifer
Aug 31, 2001
21,294
148
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i would assume this would cause problems for electronics that arent meant to be left out in the cold. but I think car stereos/amplifiers are built with this in mind
 

TuxDave

Lifer
Oct 8, 2002
10,572
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Originally posted by: Calin
Distilled water (as in condensation) is almost non-conductive, and certainly non-conductive for voltages on the mainboard. However, a switching power supply (or voltage regulator) could produce high transient voltages, and they might go thru distilled water.
I don't think this would be a problem. However, I don't want to find out if it is, so I choose to wait

Calin

Although you're right that when condensation first forms, it is very much like distilled water, but I don't think it stays that pure for very long.
 

cKGunslinger

Lifer
Nov 29, 1999
16,408
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I know my dad bought my mom and himself a Sony DVD changer/Home theater receiver for Xmas last year and left the box out in the garage the night before and the thing wouldn't play DVDs on Xmas day. He took it back and got another one that played just fine.
 

Kelemvor

Lifer
May 23, 2002
16,930
7
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It's very unlikely for most electornic items to get that mch condensation that they'd fry. However, if a laptop LCD panel freezes and you then power it on, it can ruin the LCD screen.

EDIT: With DCD/CD players, it is possible for fog to build up on the laser part right when it's brought inside which can make it appear to be broken. But if you let it warm up for an hour or so first, then normally they work fine. What do you think happens when electronics get shipped to stores in the middle of winter? THey get just as cold as leaving something in your garage but they all still work fine because they are allowed to warm up.
 

psiu

Golden Member
Oct 1, 2003
1,629
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Originally posted by: cKGunslinger
I know my dad bought my mom and himself a Sony DVD changer/Home theater receiver for Xmas last year and left the box out in the garage the night before and the thing wouldn't play DVDs on Xmas day. He took it back and got another one that played just fine.

Well.....it was a Sony....