LCD Monitor + Cold = ???
December 1, 2006 1:21 PM   Subscribe

What would happen if I left my LCD monitor out in the cold?

ok, here's the deal. I'm taking a semester off university, and I'm moving all my stuff back to the parents. It's a multi-day drive from where I am (Edmonton, AB) to where I'm going (Yellowknife, NT). So, with all that stuff in my car, I'd like to know if anything bad would happen if I just leave the monitor it in the car overnight. Of course, driving in this part of Canada means that temperatures at night can reach the -20 to -30 C range. So would this be a problem, or should I just bring it inside for the night?
posted by northernsoul to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Uh, the monitor might well break. -30 C is really pushing the storage temperature of an LCD monitor, and is significantly below the storage temperature of some models.

It's not like it's a 70 pound monster CRT. Is there some reason NOT to carry it inside?
posted by Justinian at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2006

General rule of thumb I was always given is that it's fine that these items are kept in cars etc over night (as they often are in trucks over night while in transit.) However, do not turn them on right away upon bringing them in. Being rather safe than sorry, I would allow them to sit unused for 24 hours to be sure that they are up to room temperature before use.
posted by horseblind at 1:34 PM on December 1, 2006

I forgot to mention that the advice I was given also assumes that they are in packaging or in such a state that things will not be banging up against these objects.
posted by horseblind at 1:51 PM on December 1, 2006

I'd be wary. I've had a couple of small LCD screens - Game Boys and the like - which became permanently discoloured as a result of exposure to the cold. LCDs are, well, L - unlike CRTs, there's a physical substance there which can and will change state based on temperature. It'd probably be a good idea to take the screens inside.

Also, hi from a former Yellowknifer! Go Irish and all that sort of thing.
posted by ZaphodB at 1:54 PM on December 1, 2006

It should say in your instruction manual. A quick Google seems to indicate between -20C -40C as the bottom of the range.
posted by cillit bang at 2:11 PM on December 1, 2006

if it gets really cold, then you bring it in, won't moisture condense in it everywhere?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:21 PM on December 1, 2006

When I moved from Yellowknife eight years ago, my monitor spent two weeks in a truck being driven all over God's back acre in the middle of January. (Apparently it went from Yellowknife to Hay River to Peace River to *Fort McMurray* to Edmonton before it got here.) Two weeks at temperatures below -30, and quite often below -45, did not harm it. In fact, it only gave out this last summer when we had a power surge.
posted by watsondog at 3:33 PM on December 1, 2006

The big danger is sudden change in temperature. Keep your heater low, and use external air.

The low heater setting has a dual effect — it will lower the effect of sudden temperature changes, and will reduce the risk of condensation due to evaporating melt-water and sweat. Being from Edmonton, you should know this already :) If you keep your car too warm while you're driving, or if you recycle air, then your breath and evaporations will frost the inside of your car. Long-time winter drivers manage to avoid frosty interiors, and thus there will be no condensation to worry about.

More importantly, do not recycle air. The biggest vapor source in the car is you. Set your car to heat the exterior air to a cab temperature of 10˚ max (the lower the better) and your monitor should be good — assuming that it is rated for shipping in -30˚. Be very careful carrying when it is cold because plastic is brittle at these temperatures, and you might crack the screen or housing

I would just bring it in though. My 22" LCD monitor is pretty expensive, and would not risk an overnight in a car at any time of the year. And cars with a full load tend to be targeted by thieves.
posted by clord at 5:15 PM on December 1, 2006

I have an LCD monitor that was lying completely unprotected on the ground (dirt, bugs, wet) for several months during the winter in Massachusetts (cold, snow, rain). Some idiot thieves had decided it was too heavy halfway home (or realized they had forgotten the power adapter back in the burgled house?) and just left it there.

After it was found, it sat inside for a while, until one day I tried to turn it on using the same power adapter the idiot thieves had left. It worked. After cleaning it up (dirt and bugs had left a huge mess all through the case), the only problems were some image discolorations where it looks like things hit the screen when it was thrown to the ground.

So if months of cold plus dirt plus snow plus bugs couldn't kill an LCD, then yours might just be fine. Then again, it might break.
posted by whatnotever at 10:13 PM on December 1, 2006

The screen on my cell phone never did work again after I left it in the car overnight at -40.
posted by limicoline at 11:37 PM on December 1, 2006

if it gets really cold, then you bring it in, won't moisture condense in it everywhere?

Yes. That is part of the reason horseblind's 24 hours is a good idea. Short term exposure to water isn't too problematic, as long as it is dry when you power it up.
posted by Chuckles at 6:37 PM on December 3, 2006

You really need to check the specs on your particular monitor for storage temperatures, after all some LCD devices are rated for _use_ down to -40 like factory in car dvd players.
posted by Mitheral at 9:35 AM on December 5, 2006

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