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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > Operating a Mac in Cold Temperatures

Operating a Mac in Cold Temperatures
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Oct 31, 2000, 12:52 PM
 
Let's say I want to have a Mac out in the garage. It gets cold out there in the winter; below freezing wouldn't be uncommon. I see from various Apple hardware specs that the temperature threshold for shipping is from -40 to 140 F. So, having it sit out there apparently isn't a problem. But, the operating threshold is much less tolerant, from about 40 to 90 F.

What's going to happen if I start up a monitor/computer that's been sitting out there for a week and the temperature has been around 20 F? Will the stress of turning it on, it heating up, turning it off, it cooling down, (repeat many times over the winter) end up damaging it in the long run? What about things like PRAM battery life, fan/hard drive lubrication thickening? What if I put my tongue on the metal case? Just kidding.

I want to be able to use a computer out there, but I don't want to have to cart it back and forth from the house to the garage all the time, either.

Your experiences are appreciated.
Matthew

You can never have too many Macs.
     
SpinyNorman
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Oct 31, 2000, 01:14 PM
 
Well I ain't no meteorologist, but I supect that moisture/condensation would be your worst enemy (and I mean worst). The condensation that would form on all those electrical parts would prove fatal over time.
     
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Oct 31, 2000, 03:49 PM
 
The worst problem is the spin up of the hard drive. If it's frozen and it tries to spin...so long hard drive.

------------------
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You do not really understand something unless you can explain
it to your grandmother."
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Clinically Insane
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Nov 1, 2000, 02:35 AM
 
You'd prob need to give it a defrost period, to warm up, before you used it every time, in the house or something...
I just say keep it in the house if at all possible.
What kind of Mac is it, btw?

Cipher13
     
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Nov 1, 2000, 08:26 AM
 
Heat the garage. Forget the mac, why would you want to freeze your butt off working in a cold garage? :-) All kidding aside, if the garage temp can be moderated in some way, I would think your mac should work fine. Condensation problems probably are a factor with sudden temp swings. I know one of my hard drives "screams" at start up when I've turned the heat down too low the night before.

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Warren Westbo
     
mkuehn  (op)
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Nov 1, 2000, 10:24 AM
 
It could be any Mac I have that's just sitting around: LC/LCII/LCIII, Classic II, etc. It could even be an old PC, for that matter, I would just like to be able to do things from out in the garage so I don't have to run back and forth to the house to use the computer for whatever reason.

I was thinking it would be nice to be able to access the network from out there, hop on the Internet for whatever reason, play some MP3s while I'm working, rough out project plans in MacDraw, keep maintenance records, that type of thing.

Maybe it won't work out after all, but it sure sounds like it would be useful...

You can never have too many Macs.
     
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Nov 1, 2000, 01:15 PM
 
MacDraw???? Do you have electricity?
     
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Nov 2, 2000, 01:46 AM
 
The low temperature should be considered a temporary condition. As soon as you are powered up your computer should keep it's internal temperature above 40 degrees anyway.

Electronics in general benefit from lower temperatures. The serious overclocking crowd often goes for subzero temperatures for the CPU and support chips like the L2 cache, sometimes for the entire motherboard.



Analog electronics may have problems with low temps, but should straighten out once the internal temp gets up a bit. Any problems will likely be with the mechanicals like the hard drive and superdrive. Fans are probably not going to be troubled by low temperatures, they are not manufactured to tight enough tolerances to have problems.

Condensation would form only if your computer is colder than the air temperature, of if humidity reaches 100%. This is normally not a problem in a closed garage - does condensation form on anything already in the garage? As long as your computer is a bit warmer than air temp, there will be no condensation.

My suggestions: Send the PC in. If it survives, then put one of the Macs in and stick the PC back in the closet. If the PC croaks, then put one of the Macs in. Cover it when it is off. Use an electric blanket or warmer set on low. This will stop any condensation and will keep the drives warm enough to start up and run OK. Oh, and afterwards put the croaked PC in the trash. It will fit nicely.
     
mkuehn  (op)
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Nov 2, 2000, 11:05 AM
 
Originally posted by scdean:
MacDraw???? Do you have electricity?
Yes, actually the garage is wired for 220V service.

I suspect that you are poking a bit of fun at my choice of vintage drawing programs? I guess for as much as I use it, and for what it cost me, it is the perfect solution. Besides, do you really need the latest CAD software in order to make woodworking plans, etc?

You can never have too many Macs.
     
   
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