Peripheral comfort zone?
May 20, 2012 7:55 AM   Subscribe

What ambient temperatures are safe for typical consumer electronic devices?

I have a mess of computer-related devices which I'd like to keep out of sight in a closed cabinet: WRT54G router, Synology DiskStation network drive, Motorola cable modem and a Brother laser printer (always on standby but used very lightly). Some have integral fans and others are passively cooled. The cabinet was not designed to house electronics, so I'm concerned that the environment inside it might get a little too warm. I can monitor the temperature and build in some sort of ventilation if necessary, but I don't know what ambient temperatures such devices can tolerate without risking damage or shortened life. Do you?
posted by jon1270 to Technology (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
All those devices should have a manual that tells you what their ideal operating temps are.
posted by Runes at 8:37 AM on May 20, 2012

Best answer: Anything will deal with 110F just fine. Realistically, 140F counts as the point that you'll start seeing some things fail early (and mechanical parts will suffer more than "pure" electronics, for the most part). As runes pointed out though, the manuals will tell you the recommended min/max operating temperatures.

I would suggest that "out of sight" doesn't need to mean "in an enclosed space" - For example, I keep most of my AV gear in a TV stand with doors on the front, yet it has the back wide open. You can also carefully aim any fans present (such as on the printer) to intentionally move warm air away from the hardware.
posted by pla at 8:47 AM on May 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the specific numbers, pla. I'll peruse the manuals and see what I can find.

I would suggest that "out of sight" doesn't need to mean "in an enclosed space"

I know, it's just that I want to use space in some cabinets that are already built into my house.

Thanks again.
posted by jon1270 at 3:27 PM on May 20, 2012

I'd agree that anything should deal with 110F just fine, but.... stuff stacked on top of stuff and near other stuff can get pretty warm pretty quick. If the ambient temp in the cabinet is 110F, you might find some considerably higher temps inside some of the stuff, and that's where you could have early failures.
The cooler things are kept, wiithin reason, the fewer problems you'll have.
posted by drhydro at 8:40 PM on May 20, 2012

Is the network HD used a lot? Hard drives get really hot, really quickly. From an image search it looks like it has adequate cooling on its own, but the fan on the back is going to be blowing hot air into an enclosed space and it won't dissipate efficiently. Definitely keep that thing somewhere else if it's a wooden cabinet.

Also, I had a WRT54G. Two, actually. The first one had some reliability problems, which I suspect were related to overheating -- it got really hot after low-volume but sustained usage (never more than 10% capacity), then it would stop responding. The second also got hot, but not really hot, but it didn't have nearly as many problems. So be aware of that. My Motorola SB 6121 gets warm to the touch, too, but I haven't had any issues.

Dust might be an issue, too. Give everything inside the cabinet a once-over with a can of compressed air every month or so.
posted by clorox at 11:03 PM on May 20, 2012

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