In our modern society, we have become very dependent upon our electronic gadgets and appliances. Most households (in the U.S) have Personal Computers with an Internet Connection. If we solely looked at the Personal Computer, we do a lot of thing with this product.
- We communicate with our friends, family members and business associates.
- We conduct financial transactions (e.g., buy or sell products on line)
- We create all kinds of documents (which are very important to our personal and business finances/operations)
- We store and play music (in the form of *.mp3 files)
- We (increasingly) store pictures that have sentimental value (and could be tough to replace if lost).
For many people, anytime their “computer dies”, it becomes a major inconvenience in their lives. If you were to look at some other electronic systems that we typically have in our homes, such as
- DVD Players
- Gaming Systems (e.g., Playstation, X-Box, Nintendo, Wii, etc.)
- Audio Entertainment Equipment
- Video Recording Equipment (for you people that like to post videos on YouTube.
- Appliances (such as Central Air Conditioning Systems, Heat Pumps, Microwave Ovens, etc.)
- HDTVs (e.g., LCD or Plasma)
All of these items entertain us, enlighten us and provide us with comfort. These products each require a considerable amount of money to purchase. Further, repairing and/or replacing these products is also quite expensive. Hence, I am quite amazed that people do not do more to protect their investment (in these electronic systems) and do whatever they can to extend the operating life time of these products.
In general, there are three (3) different destructive mechanisms that will either destroy or greatly reduce the operational life-time of your electronics. These three destructive mechanisms are
- Electrical Surge/Spike Events, and
- Electrical Noise
In this article, we are going to talk about HEAT. As we discuss Heat, we will cover the following topics.
- How is Heat destructive to your electronics?
- What can we do about heat – How to Protect Your Electronics from Heat and Extend the Operating Life of our Electronics?
2.0 HOW IS HEAT DESTRUCTIVE TO YOUR ELECTRONICS
Heat is an artifact of electronics. All electronic systems generate heat. Electronic systems accept electrical power (current and voltage) from the power line (via the electrical outlet). The electronic system uses a portion of this electrical power to perform work (e.g., the function that you want it to perform, e.g., play a DVD, cook a bag of popcorn, etc). The remaining portion of this electrical power is converted into heat.
However, heat is also an enemy of electronic systems. Few things are more effective in reducing the operating life-time of an electronic system, than raising the operating temperature of the electronic circuitry within your electronic system. If you were to speak with an Electronics Device Reliability expert, he/she would tell you that for every 10 degrees (Celsius) that you raise the operating temperature of an electrical device; you reduce the operating lifetime of that device by 50%. The impact of heat (in shortening the operating life) of your electronics is “huge”.
3.0 WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT HEAT?
As I mentioned earlier, all electronics generates heat. There is no way to prevent electronics from generating the very thing that can destroy it. However, there are a couple of things that you can do to prevent this heat from doing so much damage.
1. You can work to remove this heat from the electronics (as quickly as it generates it), or
2. You can do things to try to help the electronics to not generate so much heat in the first place.
I will address each of these approaches below.
3.1. REMOVING HEAT FROM THE ELECTRONICS
Many consumer electronic systems were designed with “Heat Removal” in mind. Some of these electronic systems (like desktop computers) contain “internal fans”. These fans were designed into these systems so that they could blow air through the area in which the system electronics resides. The intent behind having these fans to is blow the heat away from these electronics and to help keep them cool.
Other electronic systems contain “vents” (in their outer case) to provide an “escape path” for heat. Many of these vents are located at the top or in the “back-end” of the electrical system. On this basis, I have the following recommendations to permit the removal of heat from your electronics.
Make sure and keep papers, books, dust and other items from “blocking” the vents of these systems.
Leaving these items on top of your (DVD Player for example) will block the vents, and will not allow for heat to escape from your DVD Player. This will cause the temperature (surrounding the electronics) within your DVD player to rise; which will (in-turn) reduce the operating lifetime of your DVD player.
Make sure that the “back-end” of the electronic system is not “butt-up” against the wall or an entertainment cabinet.
It is important to make sure that there is sufficient air/ventilation space between the vents (in the back end) and the wall/cabinet to allow for Heat Removal.
Make sure and have your appliances (like your Central Air Conditioning system or Heat Pump) serviced.
Whenever these appliances are serviced, the service professional will do various things (like clean out dust and debris from ventilation path), therefore maintaining an unobstructed path for heat to escape from these systems.
Make sure that the fan (inside some of your systems) is working.
If this fan stops working, then you need to get it repaired quickly. Failure to do this will result in your electronic system having an early meeting with the “grim reaper” or an electronic waste disposal site.