U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Science and Technology > Computers
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 03-17-2009, 09:32 PM
 
Location: WV
617 posts, read 1,913,808 times
Reputation: 416

Advertisements

Thanks for all the advice.

The computer was sitting on a desk at my mom's and on my kitchen counter when it was here. I understand about air flow so I always prop the laptop up so air flows under it. This might sound odd but I use a little white plastic "table" thingy that I got from a Papa John's Pizza. I think it's used to keep the inside of the box from smashing the cheese on the pizza. It looks like a miniature 3-legged table and it keeps the computer lifted up but still at a usable angle.

I took the laptop to my mom's this afternoon and set it up in her basement. First, I just plugged it in without turning it on. An hour later the bottom was still cool. Then I turned it on with no software running and just let it sit there for an hour. The bottom was a little warm but not hot. Also, when I tried to open Firefox, it opened right up, no slowness or lag. It ran in my mom's basement the same as it did in my house.

If old wiring wouldn't cause the problem then I'm not sure what it is about my mom's spare bedroom that had such an effect on my laptop. I realized while there today that the signal booster that was in that bedroom no longer works at all. I don't know if the two are related but it was enough to convince me to leave the laptop in the basement.

Thanks, everyone for the suggestions and education!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-17-2009, 10:05 PM
 
16,308 posts, read 25,273,417 times
Reputation: 8302
Does the laptop have anti-virus software installed? Most of these programs do a periodic scan of all files. This would cause disk and processor activity that would cause the laptop to become warmer, and it would also explain sluggish response when you try to launch a program.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,573 posts, read 55,502,062 times
Reputation: 32361
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville Native View Post
No, what you described is an SPS, (standby power supply)

A UPS provides regulated voltage at all times. The power from the wall simply keeps the battery charged. In a UPS when the power fails the only thing that happens is that the battery is no longer being charged.

What is UPS? - A Word Definition From the Webopedia Computer Dictionary

But this is totally unnecessary on a laptop, as that is what the laptop and it's battery are doing anyway.
Sorry to be disagreeing, but I have my certificate from Bestpower as a certified reseller, have worked with setting up various networked mission critical computer systems, etc. etc.. I appear to be describing something you are not familiar with.

There are various levels of UPS protection - the strongest (level 9) is complete electro-mechanical isolation - the power line drives a motor that drives an electrically isolated alternator that charges batteries and the batteries then go to an inverter that provides clean power. That is an "on-line" high-end UPS, and yes, it does provide regulated power at all times (within the limitations of the components). Variations have been around for over 100 years, in the form of motor-dynamos and other devices.

The consumer grade UPS units (level 3) have a small battery charger that charges an internal sealed battery (usually at a trickle charge). The line power bypasses the inverter circuit during normal operation, keeping the cost of operation minimal. There can be some surge protection in the circuitry, but the mode of operation is that when the power drops below a certain level, the unit switches within nanoseconds from the mains power to backup inverter power and maintains that power for the 5 to 15 minutes that the battery can last. This allows the user to do an orderly shut-down. In a low voltage situation, this type of UPS will either cycle on and stay on, or continually switch on and off while beeping and being annoying. It does NOT provide clean and regulated power at all times, merely clean enough power that most equipment doesn't object. They are not designed for use in brownouts. A level 5 or level 9 UPS is required for that.

In situations where the power isn't clean, or is subject to low voltage, that is often not the correct solution to power issues, and most of the time a full on-line UPS is far too costly and overkill. In those situations, a brown-out protector (aka line conditioner) is used. As the voltage drops, it interactively boosts the voltage, when it gets to high, it drops it. It does this without resorting to the use of any battery and can supply larger amperage that the small UPSs. This is an example of a line conditioner:

LS606M - Line Conditioner / AVR System - Automatic voltage regulator / AC surge suppressor

A properly set-up computer that is powered through a line conditioner is far more stable than one that operates off a UPS or surge protector. The switching power supplies in the computers are forgiving, but under certain conditions enough line noise and fluctuations get through that programs can lock up, networks drop out, and component life be affected.

Now, why did I suggest the possibility of brownout protection here? Many electric and electronic devices are designed to work within a particular voltage range. When the voltage is low, they compensate by drawing more amperage. The greater the amperage the more potential for damage and overheating.

If the laptop was overheating at that location, and not at others, one possibility that exists is bad power. Hence, a voltage conditioner may sometimes be the answer.

FWIW, I have one customer that has a networked computer system near the Florida Everglades. That system has been plagued with spotty power since installation. I tried a number of UPSs on the server computer without much success, then added a line conditioner and had almost all of the problems disappear.

A list of 9 common power problems is here:
9 Power Problems

A line conditioner will do a decent job protecting against problems 2,3,4,5,6,8,9
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 01:15 AM
 
40,293 posts, read 41,843,525 times
Reputation: 16806
Not too familiar with laptops but I'm assuming like a desktop the processor and other parts will have fans and heat sinks, over time these will become caked with dust. The solution is to remove it of course. I know my brother was having over heating issues with is and it was the first suggestion I gave him and it fixed the problem.

On a standard desktop generally you'd want to open the case every few months and spray some "air in can" around to dislodge the dust that has accumulated in and around fan parts and the heat sinks. You may also have a dust "filter" where the primary air intake may be that can be removed periodically and it's best that this is kept clean as well.

Of course that doesn't explain why it would overheat in pone location and not another assuming the environment is the same.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 06:29 AM
 
10,755 posts, read 18,015,770 times
Reputation: 10244
As stated above, if the CPU heat sink is beginning to get clogged, it may stay relatively cool without a load, but under load can get very warm, eventually when the heatsink becomes completely clogged it may run for only 5 or 10 minutes and shut down
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 07:41 AM
 
Location: WV
617 posts, read 1,913,808 times
Reputation: 416
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville Native View Post
Does the laptop have anti-virus software installed? Most of these programs do a periodic scan of all files. This would cause disk and processor activity that would cause the laptop to become warmer, and it would also explain sluggish response when you try to launch a program.
Yes it does but there was no scan at the time. Since it's a laptop and not turned on all the time, I just initiate a scan every time I visit my mom, about once a week.

The reason I didn't believe it had anything to do with the computer is because the bottom got hot (not just warm) when I plugged it in and didn't turn it on. The battery is in the front, right side. I felt the back, both right and left sides and they were hot. I suppose the battery could be at fault. I wish I'd thought to remove it at the time, but that still doesn't explain why I didn't have the same problem at home or in the basement at my mom's.

I'm hoping my husband can check the outlet in my mom's spare bedroom this weekend or next. I really think that's the problem.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 09:36 AM
 
16,308 posts, read 25,273,417 times
Reputation: 8302
Quote:
Originally Posted by scorpy01 View Post

I'm hoping my husband can check the outlet in my mom's spare bedroom this weekend or next. I really think that's the problem.
Perhaps if the polarity is reversed AND you power pack has either a 3 prong plug, or a polarized two prong (one blade is wider than the other).

Both of my laptop power packs have neither so an improperly wired receptacle could not effect it.

HOWEVER reversed polarity is a safety issue and must be corrected.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 09:44 AM
 
Location: WV
617 posts, read 1,913,808 times
Reputation: 416
Yes, it has a three prong plug. In fact, there is only one receptacle in that bedroom that accommodates a three prong plug. It was added to the room over 30 years ago when my mom had a fan installed in the attic. (Which did nothing to cool her top floor, but that's another issue.)

As to the safety issue, if nothing is plugged into that receptacle and the room is not used, is it still a hazard? Prior to putting the laptop there, no one really used that room at all.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,573 posts, read 55,502,062 times
Reputation: 32361
Here is an outlet tester. You can often find them cheaper in home stores or walmart.

Amazon.com: Gardner Bender GRT-500A Receptacle Tester and Circuit Analyzer: Home Improvement (http://www.amazon.com/Gardner-GRT-500A-Receptacle-Circuit-Analyzer/dp/B00004WLJV?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1211899304&sr=8-10 - broken link)

There is no way to safely answer the question "is the socket safe?" In general, if it hasn't burned the place down by now, it probably won't. I doubt the socket wiring itself is the cause of the overheating anyway, unless your power supply is unusual.

A couple of quick questions to eliminate possibilities. Was the laptop near a window and possibly in the sun? Was the area where the laptop was sitting over a heating vent or space heater? Is it possible that when your mother finished using the laptop she closed the top, but a program remained running and did not allow it to go into hibernation mode? Was the laptop plugged into anything other than the power - phone line, network cable, printer, etc.?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-18-2009, 12:13 PM
 
16,308 posts, read 25,273,417 times
Reputation: 8302
Quote:
Originally Posted by scorpy01 View Post

As to the safety issue, if nothing is plugged into that receptacle and the room is not used, is it still a hazard? Prior to putting the laptop there, no one really used that room at all.
Probably not, reversed polarity is a life safety issue when some appliances are plugged into that receptacle, as the exterior of the item (fan, heater, appliance) can be energized.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Science and Technology > Computers
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:53 PM.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top