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An ideal operating climate for most devices is 0-35 degrees Celsius. Photo: Imaging by Raajan/Mint
An ideal operating climate for most devices is 0-35 degrees Celsius. Photo: Imaging by Raajan/Mint

How to keep your gadgets cool

Like you, your gadgets too fry in the heat. Here's how you can keep them cool

It was March and financial consultant Dilip C.G. was riding his Royal Enfield in Mumbai when his new iPad, strapped to the petrol tank, shut down with a warning: “iPad needs to cool down before you can use it".

Shocked, he parked his vehicle and tried to switch it back on. The iPad was scorching hot to the touch and would not respond. “I felt stranded," says the 33-year-old, who was using the iPad for maps, and to record his road trip. “I had no choice but to wait. Thankfully, it came back on after it had time to cool down in the shade."

Dilip was lucky that the iPad’s built-in heat sensor shut it down—otherwise, his expensive device would have become useless.

“Gadgets are designed to run at a certain temperature," says Bangalore-based Anandaroop Bhattacharya, a PhD research scientist who designs thermal management systems for electronic devices. “As you use a device, its temperature tends to go up, till it reaches a certain limit. Any higher than that and the delicate circuitry in the CPU will melt." For most devices, an ideal operating climate is 0-35 degrees Celsius. In summer, since temperatures are already soaring, overuse of smart devices would mean they reach the overheat limit faster.

It’s for this reason that laptops come with fans to cool them—something you can’t exactly fit on a smartphone. Bhattacharya suggests shutting off the Wi-Fi, 3G and multiple apps and sticking to your phone’s basic features whenever possible. “If your phone’s outer casing becomes hot to touch while talking, it’s time to give it some rest," he says.

What are the other things you need to know? Read on and find out.

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DO

Keep it dust-free. Dust particles cause the device to heat up faster by clogging ventilation. Open up your device once in two months and clean up the interior with a clean cloth. Clean up the battery area, the back cover and the hidden corners. In a laptop, don’t block the cooling vents with anything.

Seek shade. If you think it’s too hot to stand in the sun, it’s the same for your device. Direct sunlight heats up your device and can easily damage the components. So when you’re in the car and using the phone’s speakers, for example, don’t leave the phone in direct sunlight on the dashboard, keep it in a pocket instead.

Flush out the background apps. Social networks and other apps constantly connect to the Internet to push notifications on your devices. These apps use RAM even when you are not around your phone. That in turn causes the phone to heat up. To keep your phone cool in summer, switch off the automated background tasks that your phone might be doing.

Disable battery hoggers. Everything that drinks up the battery life of your device will cause it to overheat. That includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G and 4G connections. When not in use, switch them off. Get inside, in an air-conditioned space, and then use the phone’s battery-draining features.

Wait before you store. Many a time, we hurriedly switch off the laptop or tablet and put it in the bag without waiting for it to cool. This traps the heat which the running laptop is generating in the padded cell instead of releasing it into the air. This small action hurts your battery life as well as your device. Be it a tablet or a laptop, make sure it’s shut down completely and is cool to touch before you pack it away.

Switch it off. It might be a machine but it still needs rest. You don’t need your phone, tablet or laptop to be on while you are sleeping. Give it an hour’s rest or switch it off for the night. It reserves power and gives the circuits time to cool down.

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DON’T

Leave it in the car. A car parked in the sun without the air conditioning on is the easiest way to kill your smart device’s battery. The heat that collects in the oven-like, closed car can make your touch screen unresponsive, drain its battery and in extreme cases, even toast the battery. If there’s absolutely no choice, open the windows of the car 1mm so that the hot air inside can escape.

Hug it and sleep. Your body generates heat. Enough heat to warm up your device. Don’t keep your phone stuck to your body all day long. It heats up the phone and it might not be too good for you either.

Keep it on your lap. The heat generated from a laptop can be really uncomfortable on your legs—and worse, with a laptop, your clothing might end up inadvertently blocking the vents, causing the device to heat up even more quickly. Instead, keep your devices on cool, flat surfaces like tabletops. Increase the gap between the table and the laptop with a coaster or two. This will ensure that your device gets fresh air on all sides while you play.

Use bulky protective cases. Shockproof and waterproof cases may not be heatproof. They might save your phone or tablet from getting damaged but they act like overcoats in the summer for your phone. Leather, plastic prevent your phone from breathing, overheating it. For summers, get a cover in fabric that breathes.

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COOL TREATS FOR YOUR DEVICE

Foooit Air Duster

Dust blocks the laptop’s fan vents, needles its way into the ducts and outer casing and makes it harder for your device to cool down. Foooit Air Duster reaches the vents and with a single spray, removes dust, dirt and microscopic debris, allowing the device’s lungs to breathe and keep cool. The spray is highly flammable, so it is recommended you switch off the device when you use this. Also, read the safety measures carefully and keep it away from children.

Foooit Air Duster, 350, at www.foooit.com

Deepcool E-Desk

Useful as both a flat space for your laptop or tablet as well as a cooling pad, the Deepcool E-Desk comes with a built-in 200mm fan which blows air instead of sucking it, so your laptop or tablet cools faster.

Deepcool E-Desk, 1,450, on Flipkart.com

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HANDLING HEATSTROKE

If your device gets too hot to handle, you need to cool it before its circuits fry. Here’s what to do immediately.

1. Shut the device down. Fifteen minutes of beauty sleep should cool it down.

2. Take any covers off the device. The covers might prevent your phone or tablet from scratching but just contribute to the build-up of heat.

3. If your device allows it, remove the battery. Seal it in a moisture-free cover and put it in the fridge. As an extreme measure, you can do that with your phone as well. Just make sure the cover is dry.

4. Unplug it if it’s charging, even if it’s shut down. Charging transfers electrons from an AC source to the battery, producing heat.

5. After it has cooled down, switch the device on and use it for a little while. If it overheats again, contact a repair service company.

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