Previous 1 2 Next 16 Replies Latest reply: Oct 13, 2009 5:23 PM by marconiusrex
sdschramm Level 3 Level 3 (500 points)
Hi, as the weather get colder, I was wondering if I should be concerned about keeping my MacBook Pro in the cold, for example, in a car.

The tech specs say "Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F and Storage temperature: -13° to 113° F.

So, im guessing it WOULD be safe if I kept my MacBook Pro in my car when it below freezing outside. As long as I don't use it until it warms up, I should be good, right?

Regards,
Scott

13" MacBook Pro/4GB RAM/320GB HD - 500MHz iBook G3/640 RAM/160GB HD/WiFi, Other OS, OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard on the MacBook Pro, and OS X 10.4.11 Tiger on the iBook
  • jlindh Level 2 Level 2 (270 points)
    Ever notice how a glass of ice water "sweats" when the glass is much colder than the surrounding moist air? If you live in a dry climate it might be OK, but I'd worry about the inside of my aluminum case sweating if there were much moisture present.
  • Gregory Mcintire Level 4 Level 4 (2,170 points)
    The problem will be if you bring it into a warm, humid room when it is still cold. If you can bring an other object into your house from that cold car, and that object does not have water condense on it the water will not condense on or in your computer either.

    If you put the computer into a plastic bag while it is still cold, seal the bag, then bring it in the house to warm, you will also be fine even if water condenses on the outside of the bag.

    Water will only condense on your computer if the computer's body is colder than the dew point temperature inside your house. The problem is, you don't know what the dew point temp is in your house, unless you bring something in your house that water condenses onto. At that point, you know you have something that is cooler than the dew point temp of the house,

    If water condenses inside your hard drive and you start it up, that is where you do the damage. Little if any damage is likely to occur otherwise unless you can see reasonable condensation on the computer. The hard drive is not sealed to the environment, it could not work if it were. It has to allow for air pressure to equalize, inside to outside. To build it otherwise would be cost prohibitive.
  • sdschramm Level 3 Level 3 (500 points)
    Thanks, both sets of information help!

    I also forgot to mention that I always keep my MacBook Pro in my Brenthaven case,
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/TS327ZM/A?mco=MTEyMjEwODc
    So that will keep it a little warmer not to mention more dry.

    Thanks again,
    Scott
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Keeping the computer a little drier while it's in the car is neither here nor there, because it's the temperature of the MBP and the moisture content of the indoor air that will determine the likelihood of condensation on or in the MBP when you bring it inside.

    Message was edited by: eww
  • sdschramm Level 3 Level 3 (500 points)
    but if it's zippered up in a tight fitting bag, it would be more cozy and dry then if it was just sitting in open air (in the trunk)
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    You miss the point. It isn't the moisture in and around the computer in the car that's going to condense on the computer and harm it; it's the moisture in the air indoors. If the temperature of the computer when you bring it indoors is slightly warmer by virtue of having been in a case in the car, that will help a bit, but if the machine is below the dew point inside the house, moisture will condense on it.

    If I were you, I would never even consider leaving my computer in a cold car unless I had no choice at all about doing so. Indeed, I wouldn't leave my computer in a car at any temperature unless I had no choice.

    Message was edited by: eww
  • marconiusrex Level 2 Level 2 (345 points)
    I agree with eww. I would not leave my MBP in a cold or freezing car interior or trunk. With the moisture created when bringing it back into a warm and more humid environment you run the risk of condensation that could possibly cause the internal moisture sensing tabs to turn red/pink. If this happens and they turn color and later on you need to take your MBP in for repair for any reason (under warranty) it will void your warranty. They may assume you "got it wet" or spilled water on it.

    M.
  • Bob Kakis Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    sdschramm wrote:
    So, im guessing it WOULD be safe if I kept my MacBook Pro in my car when it below freezing outside. As long as I don't use it until it warms up, I should be good, right?


    You would be 110% good.

    I think "left in a car" should be clarified.

    Left in a car for a few hours is no problem at all. If you are a working professional of any kind living in a place that experiences winter, this is inevitable.

    Left in a car overnight, or for a few days, is where there MAY be problems that would be resolved by leaving the notebook inside at room temperature.

    It is a notebook. It is meant to be used anywhere.
  • Gregory Mcintire Level 4 Level 4 (2,170 points)
    Bob Kakis wrote:

    It is a notebook. It is meant to be used anywhere.

    Anywhere? According to Apple it is not even meant to be used on your lap.

    The laws of physics don't care where or when or how we would like to treat our equipment nor what is convenient.

    If your hard drive platters are colder than the dew point temperature of the environment they are in then moisture WILL condense on them. The read/write heads fly much less than one thousandth of an inch above the platters. How much condensation can they afford to have on them?

    If your bag is well insulated and the MBP is in Sleep mode, all the better, because it generates heat in that mode. If it is shut down the heat it generates is immeasurable.

    You might get away with the cold car storage for a month or two or three then all of a sudden, one night it gets just a bit colder or for a bit longer, or the house is a bit more humid and botta-bing! There you go. Time to replace the drive and restore it with the cloned copy of it that you keep warm and dry.

    As stated earlier, if it is a airtight bag in the car then brought inside and allowed to fully warm before removing it from that bag, then no moisture is going to condense on it. If there is no bag then you would want to let it warm much longer because you need to be certain that the HD platters are dry. There is no way you can know when they are dry just by asking someone on a forum. It all depends on temps, time, humidity and bags.

    Whether or not the moisture indicators will turn color is just a guess. I have not seen any printed data showing how they operate and under what conditions it takes to activate them. And besides, if they tuirn pink that does not ruin your data it only voids your warrantee, and that is only a maybe.
  • Bob Kakis Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    I respect and appreciate your advice - and, for the record, I called a MBP a notebook, not a laptop -

    I'm sorry - to put a MBP in an air tight plastic bag etc. is just ridiculous, especially for those in business or school.

    The question was can a MBP be left in a car in cold weather. Of course it can. One just needs to be cautious of HOW LONG and MAY NEED TO WAIT BEFORE START UP

    What about college students who walk in the cold for long periods of time to class? Does this mean they should not be using their MacBook Pros, because they didnt put them in plastic bags?

    Working people leave their notebooks in the car (summer or winter) - it happens - there is nothing wrong with that and one doesnt need plastic bags.

    Yes, your solution is probably the safest, but it is becoming a little too OCD for a product that is meant to be used
  • sdschramm Level 3 Level 3 (500 points)
    Wow people, calm down!

    Thanks all for the info. I didn't think about the moisture stickers....that could be an issue.

    Also to clarify, I would only be leaving it in the car for about an hour. Maybe two hours tops and it is only one day a week. So its not like I'm leaving it over night or anything.

    The first time it is really cold, I will take it right inside normally and will take note if any condensation appears. If it does and it seems to be an issue, I can always set it in my breezeway/garage for a while as the temperature there in warmer then outside, but colder then room temp. So by leaving it there for a while, that would be a good "transition" to prevent condensation.
  • eww Level 9 Level 9 (52,975 points)
    Working people leave their notebooks in the car (summer or winter) - it happens...


    Yes, it does. That doesn't make it good, and it isn't true at all that "there is nothing wrong with that," especially not in the summer. The air temperature throughout a closed car in the summer can and often does reach 140-150°F, and any surface or object that's exposed to direct sun inside the car can get much hotter. A notebook computer's battery can be completely destroyed by a couple of hours of that, and it can be crippled and its useful lifespan dramatically reduced in an hour. Leaving a computer in a cold car is much less likely to have inescapable disastrous consequences than leaving it in a hot one, but both should be avoided whenever possible, and leaving it in a car parked in the sun for any significant length of time, even in moderate spring or fall weather, is a real mistake. This is all quite apart from the risk of theft to which a computer in an unattended car is exposed.

    As for college students walking to class, 1) college students' computers very often suffer treatment that working people's computers never encounter, with the result that college students' computers undoubtedly fail or are ruined much more often. Temperature extremes may be the least of the hazards to which those computers are exposed. And 2) college students walking between classes have often just been using their computers, which are therefore warm, and if stored in a padded bag or backpack will stay that way long enough to get to the next building.
  • Gregory Mcintire Level 4 Level 4 (2,170 points)
    sdschramm wrote:

    Also to clarify, I would only be leaving it in the car for about an hour. Maybe two hours tops and it is only one day a week. So its not like I'm leaving it over night or anything.

    Then why did you even bring up the question? Or at least why did you not be more specific? I was assuming worst case where you would leave the computer in the car all night and then take it to work/school in the morning again to use.
  • Bob Kakis Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Gregory Mcintire wrote:
    sdschramm wrote:

    Also to clarify, I would only be leaving it in the car for about an hour. Maybe two hours tops and it is only one day a week. So its not like I'm leaving it over night or anything.

    Then why did you even bring up the question? Or at least why did you not be more specific? I was assuming worst case where you would leave the computer in the car all night and then take it to work/school in the morning again to use.



    That is what I was getting at, no disrespect, Gregory.

    There is a trend in these discussions to take things to the extreme, when - for basic use - there is no need to.

    That is why I was trying to "soften" the intensity of this thread, so as not to scare others into thinking that they need some special, magic plastic bag for traveling with their macbook pros in the winter.

    Beyond this basic usage, Gregory's advice is the best solution - and it is very good to have people with his knowledge here.

    Cheers,

    Bob
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