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06-14-2016, 06:44 AM   #1
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Keeping camera/electronics cool in a hot car

I'm going to be camping in the Nevada desert in June. What do you recommend for keeping electronics (camera, laptop, etc.) cool in a hot car? I was thinking of sticking them in a cooler with no ice or anything, but I'm not sure if this would be enough or whether you guys have better ideas.

06-14-2016, 06:48 AM   #2
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Styrofoam cooler. Cheap one so nobody thinks to steal it.
06-14-2016, 06:59 AM   #3
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depending upon how much equipment you have; if I am traveling light that day, an insulated lunch box works, too...
06-14-2016, 07:02 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
I was thinking of sticking them in a cooler with no ice or anything,
Oh yeah, you don't want to cause problems with moisture/condensation.

Cooler, in the trunk, beneath layers of clothes.
I think we have quite a few members here from hot countries/states, maybe they can chime in how their gear holds up in the hot months. We have people from US Arizona and Texas, from Australia, even a couple from various parts of Africa.

06-14-2016, 07:13 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I think we have quite a few members here from hot countries/states, maybe they can chime in how their gear holds up in the hot months. We have people from US Arizona.
I don't do camping, so the logistics may be different, but my camera gear never ever ever sits in a car. We take it into restaurants, fast food, grocery stores, wherever.

I would imagine if I did camp, the bag would be in the tent with me. I'm thinking if the tent is safe enough for me, it's safe enough for my camera gear. Otherwise I'M sleeping in the car....lol
06-14-2016, 07:26 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
I'm going to be camping in the Nevada desert in June. What do you recommend for keeping electronics (camera, laptop, etc.) cool in a hot car? I was thinking of sticking them in a cooler with no ice or anything, but I'm not sure if this would be enough or whether you guys have better ideas.
How long are you going to be out there? If you are going to leave the stuff IN the car then make sure you put it in the trunk inside a cooler and you should be fine. Just try to keep from storing it out of direct sunlight particularly in places like the back seat or whatever where the greenhouse effect will kill your lenses.

It also might be a good idea to just toss some absorbent material (old cotton t-shirt, a dish or bath towel etc) in there with them. While my experience in the desert is minimal but it does cool off substantially at night and you will have a lot of condensation and dew everywhere depending on where you are at.

But the cooler/bath towels/in the trunk thing should be more than enough.
06-14-2016, 08:02 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
It also might be a good idea to just toss some absorbent material (old cotton t-shirt, a dish or bath towel etc) in there with them.
At a workshop, we were told that if we had to leave our gear in a hot car, put it in an ice chest along with a chilled soda or bottle of water and use a t-shirt or towel to keep it away from your gear. I'm not sure I'd go off and leave it for a week that way, but it ought to be fine for several hours.

06-14-2016, 08:33 AM   #8
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What are the dangers of leaving camera gear in a hot car? Anybody ever had their gear damaged that way?
06-14-2016, 08:41 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Edgar_in_Indy Quote
What are the dangers of leaving camera gear in a hot car? Anybody ever had their gear damaged that way?
Excessive heat can damage electronic equipment.
I lived in Phoenix for five years. You leave NOTHING in your car out there if you value it.

---------- Post added 06-14-16 at 08:42 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Outis Quote
I'm going to be camping in the Nevada desert in June. What do you recommend for keeping electronics (camera, laptop, etc.) cool in a hot car? I was thinking of sticking them in a cooler with no ice or anything, but I'm not sure if this would be enough or whether you guys have better ideas.
A cooler would be a good idea. I would also put desiccant packs in with it to control moisture.
06-14-2016, 09:38 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sarge Quote
Excessive heat can damage electronic equipment.
I lived in Phoenix for five years. You leave NOTHING in your car out there if you value it.
I wondered if there was something special about DSLR's and lenses when it came to high temperatures. As a general rule, I don't leave them in a car due to theft concerns, but I will leave my camera bag in the trunk occasionally on a hot day when I'm out and about. But I assume a trunk does not get as hot as the interior of the car, what with the greenhouse effect.

But I've always left various other electronics such as laptops, compact cameras, cell phones, MP3 players, etc. in the interior of cars year round, and I've never noticed any ill effects.

My work car actually has a laptop installed in it, and it's just a normal HP EliteBook, not something rugged like a Panasonic Toughbook. I turn it off when I'm not in the car, and it does not seem to be bothered by the heat buildup when parked during the summer. Of course, I don't live in Phoenix, but it will still get up to the mid 90's in the summer around here (approx 35 C).
06-14-2016, 09:38 AM   #11
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Most camera backpacks are padded, and because of that, offer a thermos effect upon heat/cold.

When I go to a location that is going to be hot - and I will have to leave some gear behind in the car - I make sure I air condition down the car and make sure that the gear that is going to stay behind, is behind the front seats on the floor.

Why?

I can direct the cooling vents to cool that area, and get the gear pretty cold.
I then take a towel and soak it, so it's damp, yet not dripping.
I cool that too, if possible, and when I leave I put the damp towels over the gear - which are inside camera bags.

That setup keeps things reasonable for hours.

Of course, parking in the shade also helps.
06-14-2016, 09:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by LaurenOE Quote
Most camera backpacks are padded, and because of that, offer a thermos effect upon heat/cold.

When I go to a location that is going to be hot - and I will have to leave some gear behind in the car - I make sure I air condition down the car and make sure that the gear that is going to stay behind, is behind the front seats on the floor.
Wouldn't the trunk be cooler? Also, less chance of theft there.
06-14-2016, 10:13 AM   #13
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Keep in mind that any type of insulation, whether it's a styrofoam cooler or fiberglass in your walls, only slows down the heat transfer process, it doesn't completely block it. If you put a car in a 100 degree oven, the temperature inside a cooler in the trunk will eventually get to 100 given enough time, though that may take many hours. One thing that may help some is covering the cooler with shiny aluminum foil. It will block (reflect) infrared heat rays that come through the trunk lid. A silvery shade designed for the windshield does this; you could lay one across the cooler in the trunk.

Excessive heat could damage the cement used to glue lens elements together, warp plastic parts, degrade seals, and wreak other havoc. Your camera's manual probably has a temperature range listed in it. Ignore it at your (financial) peril.
06-14-2016, 10:25 AM   #14
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A couple years ago I went to work and forgot my phone in the car. It was a normal 105 degree june day and the phone was in my center arm rest console where I normally keep it, so it wasn't even in direct sunlight.

After work, I tried to turn on my phone. It never did, despite many varied resuscitation efforts. I could also see where part of the lcd under the glass had liquefied in a couple corners.

I'm not subjecting my DSLR, lenses et al to that kind of heat.
06-14-2016, 10:41 AM   #15
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My suggestion based on reading on this topic is to either get a Pelican style case that is oversized and foam filled and cut it to fit your gear - OR get a YETI or similar cooler and foam fill it in the same way as the Pelican case. You can then probably get away with a long day without worry. Your mileage may vary.

From what I read from California and Texas photographers most don't worry too much and haven't had too many if any issues. But those that take precautions use the Pelican case or a cooler - some fill with foam some don't. Another option is to use a small amount of ice and wrap the gear in plastic bags with dessicant packs that are fresh and have color changing indicators. Then store the cameras high in the color off the ice on a shelf wrapped up. This method takes a lot of effort to ensure that you don't infiltrate the camera with moisture and get condensation issues. Personally I'd be buying the pelican or yeti.
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