Watch your electronics in humidity!

Key Takeaway:Take care of the humidity surrounding you and your electronics! Many electronics won’t work well or even start breaking down if it’s too humid or too dry. Also, using electronics immediately after transferring them from a cool place to a very humid one can cause them to short-circuit. Let it “cool down” for a short while before using it.


Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua
Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

More often than not, it’s very hot and humid here in Metro Manila, the hub of Philippine economy and politics, and its gateway to the world. As such, we rely extensively on air-conditioning: at home, at the office, in public buildings, everywhere. In the heat of summer, especially, the temperature difference inside and outside can be vast – perhaps as much as 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.

This is best seen by the foggy glasses effect, when condensation piles up on your glasses when you step from a cold place into a hot one. This is significant because the foggy glasses effect can also happen in electronics – with far worse consequences.

When you get an electronic device out from a very cool place – like an air-conditioned room or the car – into a warm and humid one – such as a warmer room downstairs or even outdoors – the same condensation forms. It can then coat circuit boards and other insulators inside – and when switched on, can lead to short-circuiting that in turn can lead to significant and even permanent damage. This is especially true for electronics with relatively more openings, such as laptops and printers.

It’s best to wait until the condensation has evaporated (a process called acclimatisation), but depending on the device, it may take as much as several hours. This can be resolved by blowing air through the internal circuitry, such as by through an electric fan – which can be done more easily for electronics where the outer case can be opened easily, like the CPU of a traditional desktop computer.

Many electronic devices have specifications for humidity level ranges within which they can operate. Too high humidity and moisture can cause the electronics to malfunction due to the insulators being conducted. Too low humidity on the other hand and they can become brittle, or cause static build-up to discharge, potentially wrecking your device as well. As such, it’s also important to know said ranges especially when you are in a place where the humidity level is either very high or very low.

Watching the humidity level and knowing your devices’ humidity ranges are two important things you can do to take care of your electronic things well. I myself discovered this only recently, so I am setting a mission for myself to learn about the humidity ranges of my things, and to be careful when transporting my things from cold to warm places.


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