Laptops, humidity and air conditioning: a fogging problem!

The situation

So we setup camp in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica. A small town in the middle of the jungle, close to the beach and a great climate. When the sun doesn’t shine (only 30% of the time),  it rains a lot. This means everything is nice and green but the climate is also very humid. Last week we had an entire week of rain and very little sun. I had been working in our room where the airconditioning was running because it was still hot and humid during the day. On an impulse I decided to go outside and sit on the balcony.

The problem

I left the room, sat down to open my laptop again and BAM: the screen goes black on doesn’t come back on. I tried to stay calm but this computer is more or less my life line so I freak out a little bit. As digital nomads we pay the bills using our computers so this black screen is kind of a problem. I started googling on my phone what this problem could be and I find very few people with this problem. After some research I find the, very logical, explanation for my problem: something in de computer fogged up. Just like glasses will turn foggy when you enter a steam room. Because of the big difference in temperature and the added humidity, my macbook just got pretty fogged up;)

The solution

I read online that people had attempted various way to bring their computer back to life. Of course you have to get rid of the fog on a place where you can’t clean it. This is what I found out:

  1. Flying. The easiest is to just wait till the flight home and in the airplane the air is dry and cold and the computer will just startup. But since I will not be flying soon, this was not an option.
  2. Back in the fridge. Other people dragged their computer back into the airconditioned room in order and left it there for days hoping it would fire up. For some people this worked. I tried this, cost me five days and did not work:(
  3. Use a blow dryer. With a simple blow dryer for forty seconds it supposedly comes back on. I tried forty second, fifty, up till a couple of minutes without result. At this point I was slowly beginning to shop for a new computer.
  4. Leave it in the sun. This worked!!  I left it under our roof that lets some of the sunlight through but in this way it is not direct sunlight. I left the macbook out for about thirty minutes, after that I hooked it up on the power supply and  it came back on:)  The good thing also is that it  worked just as before. No damage nothing, just a fogged sensor or something that created the black screen.


So as a final warning to all you remote workers out there on exotic places: be careful walking out of an airconditioned room with your gear. I had a similar problem changing a lens on my DSLR that had no yet adjusted to the outside temperature and it caused severe problems in my camera as well. And recently people even saw their phones die because of this difference in temperature and humidity.

Steven Zwerink
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1 Comment
  • Ice
    Posted at 17:58h, 28 March

    dit is wat er vorig jaar met mijn Mac ad hand was… toen ik jullie keyboard mocht lenen 🙂
    never again! 🙂

    Mis julliee!!! xxx Ice