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Ask Slashdot: Keeping Personal Tech Cool In Extreme Heat? 165

An anonymous reader writes "I live in the Middle East. Summer temperatures occasionally reach 60C/140F, well over the operating specs for most consumer tech. Quite a number of work and residential compounds are secured, prohibiting everything from computers to cameras to phones to USB sticks to car remote controls. When I know that I'm visiting one of those compounds, I end up leaving all the tech I can at home or in the office, and only bringing a cell phone, and leaving it in my car. However, "only a cell phone" has quickly morphed into "only two cell phones, a car MP3 player and remote, and .... ooh, shiny... a new tablet... and an electric razor just in case I have to touch up before a party in a compound." I'm wondering what kind of technologies we have for keeping all this tech cool for four hours in the car. Overnight events might last longer, but won't be as hot."
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Ask Slashdot: Keeping Personal Tech Cool In Extreme Heat?

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  • Jet Airplane (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:23PM (#41196745)

    Get on a jet and get to where it's cooler!

    • ice. or a frozen lunch pack. done and done.

      • Re:Jet Airplane (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @11:43PM (#41197239) Journal

        Try put the stuff in the boot. There's no "green house" effect in the boot. It will get hotter than ambient, but it won't get as hot as in the passenger compartment: []

        If you want to test it out to be safe, put a candle (melts at about 60-70 C, beeswax melts at a lower point) at an angle in a container in the boot and in the compartment. If it melts or bends after the whole day that means it's probably too hot.

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          you are obviously a master of floppy candles sir..

        • I worked down in the Tampa Bay area for a while. I'd leave a frozen dinner on the dash when I went in to work and by lunchtime it was fully thawed and hot. In January. I had a thermometer stuck in a shady area. Its top reading was 140 F, but there were times when it was jammed up so hard against the peg I was afraid it was permanently stuck there.

          For small electronics and meltables (CDs, for instance), I've often jammed them under the seat, since it's shaded, and the lowest place in the car, although sittin

      • by plover ( 150551 ) *

        ice. or a frozen lunch pack. done and done.

        No! Using anything to cool it below the dew point is horrible advice! Keeping it colder than the dew point will cause condensation to form inside the device's case once it's exposed to ambient temperature air. Consider that if it would be cold enough to fog your eyeglasses, it's equally damp enough to damage the device. If the device isn't thoroughly dried out before being powered on the condensate will cause the circuits to short or corrode, and fail. (And yes, humid air can carry enough dust to ioniz

  • Not 60 C or 140 F (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:25PM (#41196757)
    • by Aranykai ( 1053846 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:32PM (#41196803)

      Official temperatures are always measured in shade. A car parked in direct sunlight, even with windows open could easily hit 10F above officially recorded temperatures.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I've measured 140F in my car on days that were only in the upper 90s.

      • Re:Not 60 C or 140 F (Score:5, Informative)

        by PrimaryConsult ( 1546585 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:52PM (#41196921)

        It is amazing how many people don't understand this. A car parked in sunlight all day, and they refuse to open the window for the first few minutes after getting in because "the A/C is on". It cools off a hell of a lot faster if you drive for a minute with the windows down so that you're starting with the cooler outside air as the baseline!

        • I think even more people believe their house cools down faster if they set the A/C thermostat all the way down to the lowest temperature. And they (e.g. my wife, my son) continue to do it even after you explain to them repeatedly how a thermostat works.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TheLink ( 130905 )
            It does depend on where the thermostat is. If it's in the airconditioner itself and not in the room, the airconditioner could switch from cooling at max once the temperatures around it becomes cooler even if the rest of the room isn't cool enough yet.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            What compounds the problem is when you discover it is so low and turn it back up, the house feels much hotter than normal because the AC has not been running for a while and the humidity builds as the temperature slowly rises. I catch my family doing that same thing all of the time. I normally keep the AC at 78-80, kids/wife crank it down to 72 or lower because they felt "hot" for some reason. I turn it back up and we all suffer until it gets to 79 and turns back on. I tell them to turn it down a single

            • I normally keep the AC at 78-80, kids/wife crank it down to 72 or lower because they felt "hot" for some reason.

              Well no wonder, 72F is still too hot.

              • 72F is hot?!? Where the hell do you live? Antarctica?
                    I live in Canada; not exactly the warmest country on the planet, and I still don't think 72F is hot.

            • by TheLink ( 130905 )
              You could feel hot or cold for the same ambient temperature, depends on how active you've been or where you've been.

              If you've been running around in the hot outdoors, you might prefer 72 while someone who has been sitting for ages might prefer 78.

              A workaround is to have an electric fan somewhere so that the people who have been running around can use it for extra cooling while keeping the airconditioner at a higher temp setting. Running at 50W fan for a while is relatively cheap.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          A lot of people just open the driver's window as well, which doesn't make the exchange of hot and cool air very efficient. By also opening the rear passenger side window just a little cool air will flow in at a much higher rate.

      • Official temperatures are always measured in shade. A car parked in direct sunlight, even with windows open could easily hit 10F above officially recorded temperatures.

        Could be hotter than that depending on color, size, number of windows, and where it is parked. Many military electronics have to be designed for hot storage up to +85C. An example situation is where a plane is parked in the sun, on the tarmac (which reflects more heat), in the desert, on the hottest day ever, in the early afternoon when air temperatures peak.

    • Texas never listed. Have personally recorded several days over 110. Couldn't be that Wikipedia missed something?
      • It only lists the highest temperatures for each country. The US temperature listed is from Death Valley.

        "North America: 56.7 ÂC (134 ÂF) Death Valley, California, United States"
      • All it takes to see that operating temps are crap is a year in Texas. Most of my electronics are rated for 32-100F yet Texas exceeds both ends. In DFW, I've seen the temp range from 15 to over 110. What is the point when most places easily exceed one or both limits?

        • Warranty / Liability.
          • That makes sense but wouldn't that be kind of like a car's operating specs being 30-60mph? There are speed limits lower and higher than that everywhere and you can't reasonably be expected to stay within that range.

      • Or that you didn't measure it in the shade.
    • by Cmdrm ( 1683042 )

      Temperature extremes for the USA are strangely absent from that list.

  • there will be an air conditioner outdoors next to the sun loungers, park the car under one.
  • No problem. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:27PM (#41196769)

    Personal tech is inherently cool, and makes you cool too. Don't worry about it.

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:29PM (#41196775) Homepage

    with the optional refrigerator in the rear, accessible through a panel in the rear seat. This was a factory option in the W140's.

  • Texas & iPhone 4S (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kenh ( 9056 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:30PM (#41196789) Homepage Journal

    I was in Texas at the end of July, and the average temperature was about 105 degrees F. I left my cellphone in the car to charge while I was out and about, came back an hour later and found my phone displaying the Termperature warning (which apparently kicks in at 113 degrees F [])...

    • The article mentioned the 3g & 3gs specifically, but I'm pretty sure it happens with all Apple phones - I have a dash mount for the iPhone 4, and in really hot weather with the sun coming through the window, in about an hour or two the device can get too hot and issue the warning.

      If you keep it down out of the sun, it usually cools off enough to operate in a few minutes. It will also let you make emergency calls too, but all running apps suspend.

  • by Aranykai ( 1053846 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:30PM (#41196793)

    Never owned one myself, but they claim they cool 40F below ambient. Not sure what kind of drain this would put on your battery, but perhaps a marine battery could handle it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Now we're talkin'. I wonder if they make a powerful one that will (eventually) recharge via PE panels. I can't imagine he/she will have trouble getting enough sunlight.
    • Just a cooler. (Score:5, Informative)

      by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @11:00PM (#41196959)
      For an hour or two an insulated lunch bag (under the seat) would be fine. For all afternoon a cooler (big enough for a 12 pac- er, nevermind) with an ice pack wrapped in a towel would do the trick.
      • I don't know what the availability is in that geographical region, but about 1/4lb (or less) of dry ice wrapped a few times in a towel and stuck in an insulated (lunch) bag would probably do the trick nicely. Maybe use a rubber band to make sure it doesn't unravel and deep freeze an LCD or something. The temps will stay low and there's no water involved...
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Yep works fine. This is what my uncle does, he works in heavy industry and in the very rare case when he has to do this that's what he does. He gets his backside shipped all over this rock fixing heavy machinery for the company he works for, and usually get treated by "x company" while there. Sometimes they have odd rules, one of the compounds he was staying at in Jordan no less, where they put him up to stay had a rule about no electronics inside. Which of course made no sense.

        All of his schematics are

    • by tylernt ( 581794 )

      Tried one. Useless. You'd also come back to a dead car battery, they draw a lot of current.

      • by zugmeister ( 1050414 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @12:15AM (#41197425)
        When I was much younger, I had a truck with a second deep cycle battery in the back. Wiring went from the hot side of the alternator to a battery isolator (think two big diodes) so when running both batteries charged, but they couldn't draw off each other. I could run the deep cycle battery completely dead and not affect the starter battery at all. Once I even trickle charged the starter battery from the deep cycle and effectively jump started myself by jumping the isolator terminals.

        There's probably more practical ways of doing it for a once-off but if this was a regular occurrance a large secondary deep cycle (or trolling) battery hooked to a cooler set to a moderate temperature may fit the bill.
    • by Maow ( 620678 )

      Never owned one myself, but they claim they cool 40F below ambient. Not sure what kind of drain this would put on your battery, but perhaps a marine battery could handle it.

      I have one of these, works great.

      A photovoltaic solar panel to feed back into the battery (and maybe a 2nd battery) should work wonders.

      Some "space blankets" shading the windows not blocked by a PV panel and it should work magically. Just watch for condensation inside the cooler - maybe put your devices inside a paper bag.

      I think mine (mini fridge size) is about 50-60 watts, so it can run 4-ish hours on a well charge battery.

      It may be a good idea to get a timer to keep it from actually freezing (not likely

  • I live in Texas and worked in a prison where I could not bring my cell phone. I sealed it in a plastic bag and put it in an ice chest.

  • Keep it out of direct sunlight, and crack the windows. 4 hours isn't too bad at 140 F. It's the direct sunlight that you should fear.

    But you're keeping things our of sight for teft protection, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2012 @10:47PM (#41196895)

    You don't even need ice in it. Just the insulation will keep it far cooler than the rest of the car.

    What's the next Ask Slashdot going to be, "How might I keep some refreshing beverages chilly at the beach?"

  • Get a big ass cooler, and start freezing liter bottles of water. LOTS of them. When you roll out, swap your ice packs. Park with your kit in a diving-style ziplock. The ice will melt quickly, but we're only aiming for, say, 40C, not actually cold.

    • Even better: Wrap your ice in an insulating bag, then put *that* into the cooler. It will slow down the melting of the ice, and obviously won't cool your items as effectively, but should still keep the temperature below the point of destruction.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      Don't use ice but use something solid and heavy.

      With the exception of some exotic materials the thermal energy stored in a material is related to it's weight.

      The main advantage of an ice is that there is additional energy needed for the solid to liquid transient, something you probably don't want to try with a rock or piece of steel...

  • Get a cooler bag and an ice pack. Amazing technology.
  • How about a block of ice in a tub in the passenger seat? You'll have to drill a hole in the floorboard for drainage from the tub, but that's a small price, right? Requires no battery and no gasoline, and if you park next to a garden or flower bed even the drainage will be doing some good! As a bonus you can chip some off to keep your thermos of Dr. Pepper cold.

  • If you can, park the car so your windshield will be facing the sun most of the time. Then take one of those reflective sun shades, affix some decent (but not terribly strong) magnets to it, and put that on the OUTSIDE of the windshield. This way, the heat that would go into the windshield is reflected before it even enters the car. I would also crack the windows a bit, and maybe try one (or several) of those solar powered fans that go in the window. You obviously want to keep your goodies locked in the glov
  • by ( 245670 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @11:07PM (#41197003)

    Small cooler with dry ice. Put it in the trunk. No worries about melt-water as it sublimates straight from solid to gas. Oh, and crack the windows FFS.

  • In Arizona, with a115F day, my truck can heat up pretty good... I use a small 12V cooler to store anything that can't handle the heat. I have a very heavy duty battery so the drain is not an issue. I always crack my back windows a bit to help keep the truck cooler and park in the shade if it is available.

    I use a couple silicon packs in it to absorb moisture. Similar to what you put into safes to keep moisture out. I keep it unplugged if not using it. Coolers using Ice cause moisture and if you forgot

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A good thermal insulator coupled with some inherently endothermic reaction will suffice.

    A multilayer design of styrofoam, or better insulation, coupled with ice, does wonders for beer.

    In your case, perhaps you'd want to consider a vacuum thermos? They can keep coffee or soup hot for like a day or more. Or ice cream cold.

    Back in college we used to catch the helium exhaust from the SQUID, created when the liquid helium evaporated, in a vacuum thermos. Then when the thermos was nice and cold, we'd set it do

  • There is a difference between "operating temperature" and "storage temperature".

    When the ambient temperature is high, the temperature inside the device is higher (because there is thermal resistance slowing heat transfer from the device to the ambient environment) and deep inside those little plastic chips that dissipate all the heat, temperatures are higher still.

    The classic harm from high temperature is that semiconductor impurities in silicon will migrate, and the other mash that makes up some other comp

  • by joelsanda ( 619660 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @11:24PM (#41197123) Homepage
    I can't believe people in the Middle-east don't already have tablets, MP3 players, and mobile phones. What are they doing? When in Rome ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What are they doing?

      Their women folk carry all the family's tech gadgets under their burqas. There is plenty of room under there, and nobody frisks a women in the Middle East. Well, at least no one who wants to keeps his hands.

      And folks in the Middle East don't leave their women folk alone in cars outside the compounds either. That would cause a public outrage. So the women folk get to carry all the tech gadgets into the air conditioned compounds, and have geeky LAN parties by themselves, while the men folk are hobnobbing

  • Middle East, eh?

    Attach a solar panel to a actively cooled compartment (mini-fridge or otherwise), and store your devices there. More complicated solutions include aerogel insulation and a battery to store extra charge.

    Shouldn't be an issue, because if the sun isn't shining it probably isn't going to be as hot.

    • by baegucb ( 18706 )

      AK-47 and ammo over in the fridge --->
      IEDs in the freezer over yonder. ;)

    • by nmos ( 25822 )

      Thermoelectric coolers use way too much current for a reasonably sized solar panel. A standard, well insulated cooler would probably be fine. Wrap it in a blanket if you need more insulation.

  • by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @11:56PM (#41197313)
    You can dig a big hole in the sand, park in there, then cover the car. I think you can keep the temperatures down a lot. With a bit of trial, error and luck, you can even learn to hide the whole setup from terrarists and unsolicited aerial vehicles.
  • Since, as others have pointed out, the ambient temperature isn't likely at 140 degrees outside the car, how about a solar powered fan that sucks cool in from beneath the car and blows it through your electronics storage compartment?

    Cut a hole in the bottom of the trunk as an air intake, and set up the blower to suck in the "cool" air from beneath the car. Use a 30W solar panel (or pair of 15W panels) to charge a battery that runs your fan so it will continue to run for a while after dark until the car cools

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When you dive the hole in the trunk allows exhaust fumes (carbon monoxide) to enter the car and kill the occupants. There is a reason that manufacturers don't put holes in the bottom of the car.

  • I assume that you are talking about storing the devices in the car, not running them (you say "operating temp" so I'm not entirely sure...)

    Put sun shades on the car, and get a solar fan... if it's as hot as you say (i doubt it - hottest temp ever recorded is under 60C, and even that would be a very rare event) then these should be readily available - you open the window a bit and the fan sits in the gap and helps move air through the car, keeping it a bit closer to ambient. The result will be a bit more ple

  • For most devices, the safe non-operating temperature range is substantially broader than then operating range.

  • I like to go on long rides on summer weekends here in Iowa. I keep my lunch/dinner in a jando pack on the back rack. The box is black, so it heats up pretty fast on the outside.

    The walls of the box have a 1/2" foam stiffener in them, which works a bit like insulation. Inside the box I place my food and drink, and I use a 1 liter bottle for cooling. Just take an empty 1L bottle and fill it mostly with water and freeze it. You can keep several of them in the freezer so you always have one or two froze so

  • Aside from cracking open a window, some tech is designed to withstand this sort of conditions.

    My Casio GZ'one Ravine 2 has (from casio's website):
    High Temperature MIL-STD 501.5 Procedure I 85C 96hrs
    Low Temperature MIL-STD 502.5 Procedure I -25C 96hrs

    among other things (theres also a Casio smartphone called the commando which has the same test results).

    Panasonic's stuff (Toughbooks) is also designed to deal with high temperatures: []

  • Move somewhere colder. Let me phrase that differently. Move somewhere where you can walk outside and stand there for 1 hour without dying. Animals are smart enough to do it but it seems some humans aren't.
  • What is the motivation behind the ban? It doesn't make any sense to me; granted I'm just an ignorant westerner, but that's why I'm asking...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What is the motivation behind the ban? It doesn't make any sense to me; granted I'm just an ignorant westerner, but that's why I'm asking...

      al Qaeda learned that these types of devices can serve as beacons for missile strikes. Hence, he can't bring them with him.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think your stuff will be fine in the car, just don't leave a laptop running. Chips are meant to get really hot, and as long as the phone isn't playing angry birds with itself, it should be fine.

  • When I'm traveling, camping, rafting, etc. I need to bring a supply of insulin pens and keep them cool. I've been using Frio Cooling Wallets for years and they do a good job of keeping my insulin within the acceptable temperature range, even under less than ideal circumstances. They are basically an inner pouch with a gel quilted into it and an outer pouch. You soak the inner pouch in water and evaporation keeps the pouches contents cool. The cooling effect lasts for days and you can reuse them over an
  • igloo box with icepacks? Enough and it should stay cool.

    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      Same as we used to keep beer cold in Australia since the 1950s. An "esky" (probably was a brandname, now used generically). A styrofoam box, metal shell for longer lasting. Stick ice in it (in plastic bags for when it melts), or some freezer packs.

      Obviously have waterproof box inside that for your gear. Be careful of the police in Saudi though, they will probably suspect you have beer in it.

  • by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Saturday September 01, 2012 @03:42AM (#41198131)

    only two cell phones, a car MP3 player and remote, and .... ooh, shiny... a new tablet... and an electric razor just in case I have to touch up before a party in a compound.

    I keep 2 iPhones, 1 iPod, 1 Pad and 1 iRazor in my car. Nothing happens to them coz Apple stuff are always cool.

  • Is it just me, or does this sound like the most awesome life ever? Staying holed up in secure compounds with armed guards searching for terrorists. Having awesome impromptu compound-parties full of fashionable people who carry toiletries with them to "touch up" first, all equipped with the latest personal tech. Driving between compounds at 2AM in high-speed convoys of black SUV's full of "touched up" partiers to get to the next venue. Danger. Intrigue. Slashdot-submitting geeks going to clandestine pa
  • I see people take their smartphone into the Sauna all the time where it's 200F. Then they shove it in their pocket which is soaking wet from the sweat or from the steam room they exited. Apparently nobody bothered to explain that these are outside of safe operating parameters.
  • I agree with the insulated lunchbox under the seat. Also, you might want to look into one of those units that you fit into your car window that uses solar panels to run fans to circulate the air in your car. If it's a 140f outside your car could easily go way over 200 internally.
  • Hold it tight to your body. You are about 98ÂF (37ÂC) so you're much cooler than the tech or the environment. You're Fonzy like coolness will rub off on the device making it look cool too. Other people seeing this will say, "Oooooo!"

  • solar panel to power a small peltier cooler, dumping the heat outside the vehicle with a small exhaust fan? []

  • If you can survive the heat, so can your electronics. Leaving it in your car is about the worst thing you can do. A car in the sun gets WAY hotter than ambient. If you can't keep them with you, make sure they are stored in a place that's in the shade and has free air circulation so it can't get much hotter than ambient.

  • No problem, as long as they are off because most of the components are going to be designed for much higher temperatures than 60C. The specified operating temperature is based a powered device, likely running at higher than normal power dissipation, and should have some head room for reliability for the weakest link (display, battery, processor, etc). If you turn the device off, than it becomes a matter of hot storage and not hot operating. Typically, in military electronics the hot storage temperature

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.