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Info: When does condensation occur?

post #1 of 8
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With computers generating more heat than ever before, enthusiasts are trying out new, more exotic forms of cooling. Many ideas would potentially allow the processor or perhaps the entire computer to operate at sub ambient temperatures. The biggest concern with these projects tends to be condensation however it seems people do not really know when or how condensation occurs.

First condensation can only take place if an object is cooled below the ambient air's dew point. Here is an example (from a reply I posted in the forums)...

If the ambient temperature of the air is 20 degrees Celsius and humidity is set at 90% condensation will occur on any object that is 18C or lower. If humidity is 70%, condensation will happen on objects 14C or lower.

As you can see humidity levels change the dew point temperature. The dew point can rise as high as the ambient air temp (100%) however it can never go above that.

Many projects discussed in this forum (and abroad) talk about ducting cold air into a computer or placing a computer into a fridge (which will not work), etc. No doubt someone will sooner or later talk about condensation but it is not really an issue during the test.

Let's take the fridge idea, someone places the basics parts of a computer into a fridge in an attempt to lower temperatures. Condensation would not be an issue because none of the computer components would be operating below the dew point let alone ambient temperatures.

If you however say place a block of dry ice into a fridge, condensation would definitely occur since it has a temperature of approx. -78C. The DI is colder than ambient temps and below the dew point, the computer runs hotter than the ambient temp.

Where condensation might be an issue is after the project is completed. By removing the components and exposing them to the air in the room, it is very possible that the items would be colder than the room temperature and below the room's dew point.

There is a rather simple fix for this though. If you try something like the above, place the items in a zip lock bag ASAP and remove as much air inside the bag. Now the water vapor will condense on the plastic bag instead of your components. Let your components warm back up to room temperature and then take out your stuff.

Hopefully this will open the eyes of a few people so we do not hear people scream about condensation so quickly.
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post #2 of 8
My favorite tip is that you could also put a dehumidifier in your room and set it to ~35% Humidity, that will let you go further below ambient quite a bit.
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post #3 of 8
Are you speaking of 'humidity' or 'relative humidity'?
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post #4 of 8
Edited for content
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post #5 of 8
I meant in the FAQ, not your comment. The dehumidifier is normal humidity.
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post #6 of 8
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post #7 of 8
Oh, sorry. I'll edit that out.
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post #8 of 8
http://quarin.net/condensationchart.gif

here is a very helpful chart i found maybe icorperate it in the FAQ?
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