What happens to electronics left in a car in hot weather?
Most electronic devices will have standard operating temperatures. For example, there might be information that came with your device that would let you know to store the device where the temperature is between -4 to 113 degrees (in Fahrenheit). And not to leave the device in your car, because temperatures in parked cars can exceed these temperature ranges.
At 70 degrees on a sunny day the temperature inside a car is 104 degrees. If temperatures outside range from 80 to 100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can be between 130 to 172 degrees. Well over the standard operating temperature high of 113 degrees. Computers or laptops or other electronic devices are more likely to become damaged from heat than cold. A computer will often operate much more efficiently in cooler conditions. But, taking a computer that has been in a cold temperature, like your airconditioned office, to a warmer temperature, like your car, can cause condensation within the computer and damage it.
Using some devices, for example an iOS device, in very hot conditions can permanently shorten battery life. You might even get a temperature warning screen that says: iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.
Flash drives may “melt” a little but might still work when left in a hot car. It truly depends on the brand and how good they are made. The cheap ones seem to fail the abuse of being left on a car dashboard in the sun.
- Operating ambient temperature: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C)
- Nonoperating temperature: -4° to 113° F (-20° to 45° C)
- Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
An iPad much like a laptop is more likely to become damaged from heat than it is cold. In fact computers will often operate much more efficiently in cooler conditions. However, taking an iPad that has been in a cold temperature, say -12°F when it was left in the car overnight, to a warmer temperature can cause condensation within the computer, which can cause damage. Move your iPad into a warm building and do not power it up immediately. Wait until the iPad has warmed up some. The people at Apple say any "damage" is usually temporary except for the battery. Leaving your iPad in the very very cold will over time degrade your battery. So, be safe and bring the electronics inside when it gets to negative temperatures outside.
A computer or laptop is more likely to become damaged from heat than it is cold. In fact a computer will often operate much more efficiently in cooler conditions. However, taking a computer that has been in a cold temperature to a warmer temperature can cause condensation within the computer, which can cause damage. A good example of how this may happen is leaving your laptop out in the car during winter overnight and then moving it into a warm building and powering it up immediately.
To help prevent this situation from occurring, don't leave your laptop in a car for any length of time during cold or hot weather. When working in cold conditions or transporting your computer through colder weather, keep it in its laptop carrying case. If you're working in extreme cold weather (e.g. -5°c or 23° F or lower) and moving the computer to a warmer room, we suggest letting the computer remain off for a few minutes before turning it on.
Finally, whenever working in any place with extreme weather, it's always a good idea to consult the computer documentation or manufacturer for their recommended operating temperatures. Not all laptops and computers are the same, and each component in them can react differently to temperature.
Example the temperature range for a Dell Latitude E6530 is:
0 °C to 35 °C (32 °F to 95 °F)
–40 °C to 65 °C (–40 °F to 149 °F)