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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Macbook Air frozen (literally)

Macbook Air frozen (literally)
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Feb 16, 2013, 07:50 PM
 
I thought I would share this...

I'm used to the Macbook Air being a delicate machine. I keep it in a neoprene case and with hard plastic shells, and a keyboard cover and palm rest, and I rarely ever put weight on top of it.

This past weekend, I went on a winter hiking trip, and the plan was to change over from my work setup to my mountaineering setup, so I shut my computer down before I went over.

But in the chaos... I absent mindedly left my whole pack (with computer and case) in my car for a night and a half. The temperature got down to 9F deg, so my computer literally froze.


When I came back from my trip, I took it out of my car and brought it inside... I let it sit but saw condensation building up on the shell...I wasn't sure what to do, I panicked, thinking, the computer is going to short out from condensation *gasp* so I put it by my blast furnace and waited 15 minutes before using it. I also wrapped some paper towels around it.


I came back, opened the lid, pushed the power button...


...and it started up like a brand new computer.
Every key works, the screen is still perfect, sleep works, the hard drive works, I can process videos and get the CPU nice and warm... so the computer is fine.

I had most of my data backed up before the trip, but I did it again anyway just to be sure.


This is just a reassuring story that I wanted to share, so enjoy the moment. It really makes you think that someone out there must be very forgiving.


Macbook Air Summer 2012
Frozen February 15, 2013
Reborn February 16, 2013
This one time, at Boot Camp, I stuck a flute up my PC.
     
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Feb 16, 2013, 09:18 PM
 
There's not much of a reason for cold to damage a computer, especially not one that is almost entirely solid-state except for a cooling fan.

If you ever are in a situation where your computer or other electronics become very cold, just make sure that you don't move them from cold to a high-humidity environment where moisture in the air will condensate on the device and possibly get into the internal electronics. Otherwise, just bring it inside and wait until it's not cold to the touch, and you should generally be fine.
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 04:45 AM
 
What is the effect of cold on rechargeable batteries? I know that they don't work properly in the cold, but is this really just a temporary thing?

Can the cold actually *damage* the battery?

Does it actually reduce the charge in the battery, or just reduce its ability to give off the charge until it's warmed up? Coverage of the NYT/Tesla story seems to suggest the latter.
     
And.reg  (op)
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Feb 17, 2013, 10:49 AM
 
I have no idea what the NYT/Tesla story is... isn't the Tesla a plug-in car? I have no idea how to describe the operation of a Macbook Air battery in the context of its comparison to a car battery, because the Tesla uses an oversized battery pack, whereas the Macbook Air has a very small space for a battery and does not need to be engineered with combustable fuels.

But it seems like the cold did not hurt the battery. Currently I am typing this with 72% charge and, with web browsing and photo printing I have 4 hours and 30 minutes of battery left. I let the computer (hence, also, the battery) warm up before I turned it on.
This one time, at Boot Camp, I stuck a flute up my PC.
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 11:59 AM
 
Since charging / discharging the battery is a chemical reaction temperature matters. But unless the materials actually freeze there shouldn't be any harm to the better itself. (Note the freezing point of stuff in the battery is not the same as water.)

I suspect his benefit came from the full shutdown and / or a power manager reset.
     
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Feb 17, 2013, 03:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Andrej View Post
I have no idea what the NYT/Tesla story is... isn't the Tesla a plug-in car? .
http://forums.macnn.com/89/macnn-lou...-nyt-reporter/
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 04:18 AM
 
Glad to hear that the Mac is OK. Actually cold isn't too bad for computers - especially now that our storage is no longer based on spinning rust.

Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
What is the effect of cold on rechargeable batteries? I know that they don't work properly in the cold, but is this really just a temporary thing?
Only temporary. An old trick with non-rechargable batteries is to store them in the refrigerator - they last much longer on the shelf that way.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 04:49 AM
 
My trick is to leave it running the whole time. The cold seems to have little effect on the computer if you never shut it down.
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Feb 18, 2013, 05:41 AM
 
Holy signature overload, batman!
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 12:48 PM
 
Yeeeah....can we enforce the old sig rules?
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 02:22 PM
 
... I don't know why they're bunched up like that, they're supposed to be in a 40 pixels tall row.
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:18 PM
 
I thought it was something like 40 x 200, single image, non-animated, plus a single line of text?
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:19 PM
 
I don't know exactly what the rules are. I looked and couldn't find anything. So I made my sig subtle enough, it just stacked the images vertically instead of horizontally at first.
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:25 PM
 
Searching the forums for "signature rules" gives this thread as the second hit:

http://forums.macnn.com/61/feedback/...-rules-repost/

Our current signature rules give you two options:
an image (200x50px max, 10KB max, non-animated) and up to one line of text, OR
no image, and up to four lines of text.


In either case, blank lines do count, and lines must be of reasonable length so they don't wrap on most screens (think 900px browser window width). The SPOILER tag should also not be used in your signature
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:27 PM
 
Any rules regarding intentionally broken images in sigs?
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:29 PM
 
Not that I know of.

I didn't INTEND to break it, not did I break it. Apple did.

(Working on a suitable replacement, no worries. Need to get my hosting figured out.)
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:30 PM
 
Also why are we talking about sigs and not frozen macs?
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:48 PM
 
Some batteries actually seem to like the cold and will gain a charge just by being cooled a bit. I don't think you can really freeze the newer Lithium Polymer batteries anyway, just cool them down. As far as I know they are solid state though I think they can give off fumes if they are punctured or otherwise ruptured and then get warm. I don't think cooling them will do any harm at all.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Feb 18, 2013, 06:50 PM
 
I had an iBook out side in my shed for two winter seasons. I don't know what kind of battery it had, but when I put it out there, it lasted about an hour reliably, then it would randomly shut off at some point during the second hour. After two winters outside in the cold (or sometimes heat), it seemed to have no effect on the battery at all. The screen was kind of hilarious though, if you'd go wake it up on super cold days when it was maybe 10°. More on screen ghosting than a brand new powerbook circa 1994.
     
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Feb 19, 2013, 07:07 AM
 
I ran my iPod through the clothes washer and dryer a few months ago. I let it air dry a bit and turned it on to see the display all FUBARed (looked like some water still in there after running in the 200F dryer for an hour) so I put it in a bowl of uncooked rice overnight. You couldn't tell it was ever in water...everything was perfect.
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Feb 19, 2013, 02:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
There's not much of a reason for cold to damage a computer, especially not one that is almost entirely solid-state except for a cooling fan.

If you ever are in a situation where your computer or other electronics become very cold, just make sure that you don't move them from cold to a high-humidity environment where moisture in the air will condensate on the device and possibly get into the internal electronics. Otherwise, just bring it inside and wait until it's not cold to the touch, and you should generally be fine.
Maybe this is true now, but Apple used, at least, to issue warning about not only the altitude range (presumably for HDD head clearances) but also the temperature limits (because of screen technology tolerances) of its PowerBooks, and I once damaged a PowerBook 180c display because the temperature in the tent at 9200 ft got below freezing --- in the middle of the summer in New Mexico.

Those caveats are still there, even for the SSD MacBook Air 2012:

Operating environment: Operating your MacBook Air outside these ranges may affect performance:

Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)
Storage temperature: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
Relative humidity: 5% to 90% (noncondensing)
Operating altitude: 0 to 10,000 feet (0 to 3048 meters)

So 9F was within the storage temperature range for the 2012 MacBook Air.
     
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Feb 19, 2013, 07:42 PM
 
Cold extends the life of a battery, heat shortens it when it comes to overall life span of a battery. Best thing you can do to a battery is discharge it to 60% place it in the fridge when not using it for a extended period of time.
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Missed 2012 by 3 days, RIP Grandma :-(
     
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Feb 19, 2013, 09:36 PM
 
Living in the Lake Tahoe area and often leaving the laptop in the truck my (2006, 2011) MBPs have been frozen scores of times with no ill effects. Always cold dry to warm and dry however, very low humidity.
     
   
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