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Why Your Gadgets Hate Cold Weather

When it's cold out, it seems like everything moves a little slower or stops working, and your electronic devices are no exception. Why does this happen? We have the answer.

When it’s cold out, it seems like everything moves a little slower or stops working altogether. It’s hard to get out of bed, your car won’t start, the dog doesn’t want to go for a walk, and your electronic devices — smartphones, tablets, cameras, laptops — seem sluggish or stop working entirely. Why do gadgets hate cold weather?

Why Don’t Gadgets Like Cold Weather?

Most electronic devices, like touch screens, contain liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which can freeze if temperatures dip low enough. While thresholds vary from one device to the next, temperatures around 0º F will affect many electronics, meaning your LCDs may not power up until they are warmed up, or worse, the LCDs may stop working entirely.

Condensation is another issue to watch out for. As your devices move from warm homes to cold cars and back again, tiny droplets of water can build up on circuit boards or hard drive platters, which can cause shorts and other damage. If your electronics have been out in the cold car for a while, it’s best to let them warm up slowly before you use them again.

And, just like car batteries, the batteries in your electronic devices can lose power in the cold, too. Your best bet is to leave your devices indoors until your car warms up and take them back inside once you reach your destination.

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental and green living topics. Her article on woolly worm caterpillar folklore appears in the 2020 Farmers' Almanac.

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I totally understand batteries, but can the LCD displays on cameras cause a malfunction of the camera operation itself in cold temps?

Susan Higgins

Hi Roger, condensation is the true enemy of digital cameras. Take a look here:

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