Phones need cool too!


By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Smartphones have become an important part of our daily lives, and keeping their batteries charged helps us to stay connected. But have you ever tried charging your phone in a hot car only to find out that it won’t? You may have even seen a warning icon, notifying you that the phone is too hot to operate.

That’s exactly what engineers at GM found while designing a wireless phone charging system for the 2016 Chevrolet Impala. They noticed that some devices would go into suspend mode or even shut down due to overheating from high temperatures inside the cabin.

Some phones will suspend charging or even shut down if they get too hot.

Some phones will suspend charging or even shut down if they get too hot.

To help with this problem, Chevrolet has come up with a system they call Active Phone Cooling. It will be available on several vehicles, including the 2016 Impala and Malibu when equipped with wireless charging.

Connected to the vehicle’s HVAC system, an air vent will provide cool air at the wireless charging bin to help lower the phone’s temperature. Active Phone Cooling will only operate when the driver turns on the HVAC system.

A cold air vent helps keep smartphones cool.

A cold air vent helps keep smartphones cool.

Active Phone Cooling will be available in several 2016 Chevrolet models equipped with wireless charging, including the Impala (shown here), Malibu, Volt and Cruze.

Active Phone Cooling will be available in several 2016 Chevrolet models equipped with wireless charging, including the Impala (shown here), Malibu, Volt and Cruze.

We did a little testing of our own here at MACS, and found that indeed temperatures can get very high inside a parked vehicle. I keep a thermometer in the vent of all my cars, and when I went outside to check my Jeep at 11:00 a.m., the temperature was already over 100°F on an overcast day. By the time I went to lunch at 12:30pm, temps climbed to almost 130°F!

Even on a cloudy day, interior temperatures can reach over 120°F. This can potentially cause smartphone charging issues.

Even on a cloudy day, interior temperatures can reach over 120°F. This can potentially cause smartphone charging issues.

Taking things a bit further, we wanted to find out just how hot that phone became. The easiest way was with our infrared thermometer, which measured 135°F on the back (the phone’s battery temp) and 129°F on the front. Picking up the phone, you could immediately feel why it entered cool down mode. It was hot!

Battery cover temperatures measured 135.8°F, which felt very hot to the touch.

Battery cover temperatures measured 135.8°F, which felt very hot to the touch.

The front of the phone was hot too, measuring 129.5°F. Even though the screen would turn on to display the warning message, it was not at full brightness. The screen was quite dim, although still legible.

The front of the phone was hot too, measuring 129.5°F. Even though the screen would turn on to display the warning message, it was not at full brightness. The screen was quite dim, although still legible.

Verifying tool accuracy is important too. Here’s a comparison of temperature measurements being made between an infrared and a standard kitchen thermometer.

Verifying tool accuracy is important too. Here’s a comparison of temperature measurements being made between an infrared and a standard kitchen thermometer.

How hot was that dash panel? It was one of the hottest surfaces inside the vehicle, measuring 145.7°F. No wonder that phone overheated!

How hot was that dash panel? It was one of the hottest surfaces inside the vehicle, measuring 145.7°F. No wonder that phone overheated!

Luckily for me, my phone didn’t take long to cool down. Just a few minutes out of the vehicle, and the display changed, indicating “Phone has exited Cool Down mode. Normal Operation has resumed.”

Luckily for me, my phone didn’t take long to cool down. Just a few minutes out of the vehicle, and the display changed, indicating “Phone has exited Cool Down mode. Normal Operation has resumed.”

Want to learn more about interior temperatures, and the potential issues that can arise? Click the link below to read Ward Atkinson’s feature article in the June 2015 issue of ACTION™ Magazine. “The heat is on…” is an in-depth technical study on why you shouldn’t leave your kids, pets or chocolate candy inside a parked car.

Figure 10 june2015actioncover

Figure 11 Video capture

Click here to watch the full version of GM’s Active Phone Cooling video on the MACS Worldwide YouTube Channel.

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About macsworldwide

Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Founded in 1981, MACS is the leading non-profit trade association for the mobile air conditioning, heating and engine cooling system segment of the automotive aftermarket. Since 1991, MACS has assisted more than 600,000 technicians to comply with the 1990 U.S. EPA Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment. The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide’s mission is clear and focused--as the recognized global authority on mobile air conditioning and heat transfer industry issues. www.macsw.org
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One Response to Phones need cool too!

  1. Ricardo Villaverde says:

    THANKS    FOR  THESE  INFO..

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