Is there any disadvantages in storing electronics in cold storage (min. temperature about -30 °C/-22 °F)? I am speaking about non-assembled components and assembled (consumer) electronics.

I am aware that condensation is a problem, but it can be avoided. I'd like to know what kind of effects low temperature might cause, like solder joint cracks due different thermal expansion coefficient.

  • 1
    Datasheets sometimes specify acceptable storage conditions. – Phil Frost Feb 23 '14 at 18:20
  • ^^^ Data sheets almost always specify acceptable storage conditions, unless they're very badly written. – John U Feb 24 '14 at 9:23
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most electronic components are rated to withstand storage temperatures of -25°C or lower, so -30 might be a bit on the low side for a few parts, at least according to the data sheet limits. Electrolytic capacitors and batteries are among the items which may have issues.

It's usually thermal cycling that causes problems rather than cold temperatures per se. As little as a few thousand thermal cycles can cause problems in some cases.

Many parts can withstand cooling to 77K (-196°C) or 4K (-269°C) a few times without damage.

Assembled units (and I think especially with Pb-free solder, which seems to be more brittle than Sn-Pb solder)- I would be particularly wary of extreme cold with units incorporating BGAs, just because of my personal experience with failures and due to the difference in CTE between ceramic and FR4 PCB materials. TQFP and other packages have a bit more 'give' (available compliance motion) in that the leads can bend a bit.

  • To add to your answer, FR4 and similar epoxy based substrates have issues at extremely low (< -40°C) temperatures, the bonding epoxy starts to crack and the glass fibers get separated. – Lior Bilia Feb 24 '14 at 9:35
  • @LiorBilia Do you have a reference for that? We use G10 and some FR4 extensively at liquid helium temperature (4.2K) and I've not seen much of that. – Spehro Pefhany Feb 24 '14 at 14:51
  • Only my own experience, of problems encountered in a 25 years old project. – Lior Bilia Feb 24 '14 at 16:01

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