While there are some exceptions depending on make and model, the average personal laptop should only be used or stored between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
I’m an avid laptop user who’s owned countless computers over the years. That experience gave me a great understanding of how the devices operate, what they can stand, as well as the best ways to keep them safe.
This guide goes into greater detail on those points by looking at what temperatures the average laptop is able to take. It does so by breaking down their weaknesses, going over the best ways to protect them, and showing how they are affected by hot and cold weather.
- Laptops are best used and stored in average or mild temperatures, typically anywhere between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The best way to protect your laptop in colder climates is to only use it indoors, store it in an insulated case, and never leave it in an exposed environment for more than an hour.
- In hot weather, it’s best to make sure your laptop is well-ventilated and that you give it breaks every now and then to prevent overheating.
Laptops in Mild Climates
Laptops, even the sturdiest models, are electronics. That means they are sensitive to both cold and hot temperatures to the point where keeping them in extreme weather can damage their parts. If things get too warm, they can melt or break. If things get too cold, they can freeze.
Most computers have some built-in protection from the elements, but that doesn’t mean they’re impervious. In fact, the machines tend to be best at moderate temperatures. With a few rare exceptions, they do best between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
That temperature range may seem a bit mild, but it makes sense as it’s the temperature that puts the least amount of stress on the laptop shell or its internal components.
Keeping it inside that Goldilocks range ensures you won’t have to worry about things like overheating, and it prevents the screen from freezing. It also increases your machines’ longevity. The less pressure put on the parts, the less chance of long-term damage.
How to Protect Your Laptop In Cold Weather
Both low and high temperatures can harm your laptop in different ways. Even so, you’re not always at the mercy of the elements. There is a wide range of steps you can take to better protect your computer in extreme climates.
If you use your laptop in cold or below-freezing temperatures, you should only take it out or operate it inside. Even if you’re just going a short distance or only using it for a short period of time, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
That gets a bit trickier when traveling. If you’re on the road, don’t just put your laptop into a car or set it on the backseat. Doing that may not seem like a big deal, but it can get incredibly cold inside a vehicle. So cold that your device may not recover.
To protect the computer, it’s best to keep it inside a well-padded, insulated case. That will protect it from any physical damage, like dings or dents, while also ensuring that the components stay safe no matter how low the temperature drops outside.
Going off of that, where you store your laptop matters as well. Even if it’s in a special case or has proper protection, you should avoid leaving it in an exposed space (including a trunk) for long periods of time. Even an hour can cause lasting damage to the screen or battery.
One more aspect to keep in mind is, if your computer does get exposed to freezing temperatures, you need to let it warm back up before using it. Allow it to sit for fifteen or thirty minutes, as that will allow it to acclimate to a new climate.
If you don’t do that, the inside hardware or screen may become irrevocably damaged.
How to Protect Your Laptop in Hot Weather
Protecting your laptop in the cold is incredibly important, but you want to ensure it doesn’t get damaged in the heat either. That’s especially true if you’re someone who uses your device inside a hot office or likes to take it out on nice summer days.
Always avoid putting laptops into direct sunlight, and, as with the cold, don’t take it outside if the temperatures are above ninety degrees. Putting it into such situations may not cause a lot of issues right away, but internal damage builds up over time.
Accessories like cooling pads and stands also help keep it up off of surfaces and give the vents proper space to cool. If you don’t have access to such products, avoid using the laptop on beds or couches. Fabric can block the vents and lead to overheating.
Try to take breaks and don’t push your computer too hard. If you’re playing a graphics-intensive game, for example, stopping every now and then is a great way to give your machine a rest and let it reset its temperature.
Here, I answer some of the biggest questions about laptops and cold weather.
Can Laptops Really Freeze?
Yes. Though it’s a rare occurrence, all laptops suffer if things get too cold. Anything with a liquid crystal display (LCD) will start to see real issues if the outside temperature starts to dip down below fifty degrees Fahrenheit.
Can a Laptop Sit in a Cold Car?
While your personal computer will be fine in a cold car for roughly an hour, it’s not a good idea to keep it there much longer. That’s because freezing conditions, even inside a vehicle, can cause permanent damage to both the battery and the screen.
Does the Cold Drain Laptop Batteries?
Laptop batteries tend to function fine in cold conditions, and won’t drain any faster than normal. However, while storing the devices in colder temperatures is preferred over heat, too much cold can kill it permanently.
Laptops are great devices, but they aren’t made for the elements. Cold and heat both harm them in different ways, and it’s best to keep them protected at all times. As long as you follow the above steps, your computer should be fine no matter the weather.
Have you ever had to protect your laptop from the cold? What was the situation, and what did you do? Let us know in the comments!