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.
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.
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!
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!
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.