The heat of summer is upon us, and that means you may be tempted to take your laptop on the go. Whether you’re headed to the beach or just want to relax in the park while you work, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when exposing your laptop to high temperatures.
To understand why this is so important, it helps to know about how heat affects your computer. There are three main components that keep a laptop running smoothly: the battery, CPU (central processing unit), and hard drive. Any one of these can be damaged if they get too hot.
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If damaged, they will likely become less efficient at best—and completely unresponsive or unusable at worst. There are also other components such as fans and thermals (little doors that open up) which help regulate temperature. These can also be damaged by excess heat, which puts even more strain on the already overheating system.
Use your battery until it runs low.
You should use your battery until it is almost empty and then plug it in. Using a battery will keep the laptop cooler than using an electrical socket. You will get more energy out of a charged battery than you put into it, so it’s an effective way to store energy when you don’t need the laptop.
A charged battery uses less power than being plugged in, but will slowly discharge over time if not used. Use the laptop when you want to be mobile and conserve the charge until you can plug it into an outlet for long periods of time.
Laptop batteries typically take about two hours to charge fully from empty, though how long this takes depends on how much charge is in them at any given time, as well as what type of charger is being used (e.g., AC or DC).
Keep the laptop covered when it’s not in use.
When you’re not using the laptop, make sure that it’s covered in some way—either by a case or cloth, which will help insulate the laptop from the heat of your car.
You don’t want to leave your laptop out in the open, but you also don’t want to keep it turned on for hours in an attempt to shield it from the sun. If you do decide to cover it with a blanket or something else that is heavy and might trap heat against the computer, at least try and stay nearby so that you can check up on how warm its getting under there.
Keep the laptop in the trunk of the car with windows open to keep air flowing.
You can keep the laptop cool by making sure that it’s in the coolest part of the car. The trunk is usually the coolest part of your car, as it’s quite far removed from the sun and is not exposed to direct sunlight. Additionally, if you open your windows slightly, this will allow air to circulate, which will also help keep the temperature low.
If you’d like to access your laptop while out of your vehicle, this method isn’t practical. In that case, you could simply put your laptop bag on the backseat with all its windows rolled down instead of placing it in the trunk.
Use a cooling pad designed for laptops to regulate its temperature.
Use a cooling pad designed for laptops to regulate its temperature. Laptop cooling pads are portable and can easily be set up in any car.
They direct airflow over your laptop, helping reduce its temperature by providing a space between the laptop and the desk it is sitting on. Cooling pads are usually made of plastic, which is a good conductor of heat and allows heat to transfer away from your laptop into the air, so it can cool down faster than if it were resting directly on a flat surface such as a car seat or floorboard. Cooling pads work especially well if your laptop has vents on the bottom.
Store your laptop in a padded case to keep it safe from temperature extremes.
Store your laptop in a padded case to keep it safe from temperature extremes. The padding protects the laptop from bumps and hard falls, and if you have a quality case, it will also protect your computer from temperature extremes. Look for cases with insulation that is designed to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.
This type of insulation will also help keep your laptop at a normal temperature—even after baking in a hot car all day.
Avoid leaving your laptop for long periods of time in cars, especially during summer months if you live in a hot place.
Don’t leave your laptop in a hot car for more than a few minutes.
If you accidentally leave your laptop in the car, retrieve it as soon as possible. Be especially careful if your car has a sunroof, which can allow even more heat to pour into the vehicle.
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It’s best to keep your laptop at room temperature (72 degrees Fahrenheit). If you must take it out on an extremely hot day and don’t have air conditioning, make sure to put it somewhere shady and avoid direct sunlight.
Laptops can get extremely hot and be damaged if left unattended in hot cars, so be sure to plan ahead.
There are a few ways to take care of your laptop.
- The best way is to leave it at home or in the office, where it can reach optimal performance levels.
- If you must take your laptop with you, keep it out of the car and bring it inside wherever you go. Computers are designed for use in air-conditioned environments, so keeping them cool will extend their lifespan and improve their performance.
- If that’s not possible, heat can be damaging if temperatures exceed a certain threshold—usually somewhere between 80°F (27°C) and 90°F (32°C). This varies by computer model, so check your manual to see what temperature is safe for your model. In general, the internal components of laptops aren’t designed to handle high temperatures over long periods of time; they may become damaged if exposed to such conditions for more than an hour or two.
A hot car may not be the ideal environment for laptops, but there’s no need to leave your computer at home because of the weather. With these easy tips for keeping your laptop cool in a hot car, you can take it with you wherever life calls. Just remember that heat is no friend of laptops or humans, so avoid cars that feel like saunas or straight-up ovens whenever possible.