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I just recently organized all the assortments of components I own and it all currently resides in my garage. I live in Michigan, so our weather goes back and forth on both extremes of temperature and humidity.

Is it advised not to store certain common components outside in cold environments for longevity purposes/etc.?

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    \$\begingroup\$ My main worry would be corrosion of the metal parts. I think most climates would not be bad for the component. Ofcourse, repeated heating and cooling can have an impact on very high-precision parts, but I doubt that will be an issue \$\endgroup\$ – Joren Vaes Oct 3 '17 at 11:52
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This is answered in the datasheets of the individual components. Look up the storage temperature spec.

Most components don't contain anything liquid that cares whether it's below 0 °C or not. Resistors, ceramic caps, silicon ICs, and the like usually can be stored down to -20 °C or -40 °C. The limiting factor on these devices is differential thermal expansion/contraction causing mechanical stress. This is also why many hot/cold cycles is worse than sustained hot or cold. However, datasheets rarely go into this level of detail.

Probably the most cold-sensitive parts you have are electrolytic capacitors. These can vary considerably depending on what use case they were designed for. There is really no substitute for reading their datasheets.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm accepting this answer for both it being if not the first, but one of the first answers and for specifically giving an example of a "common component" that might be susceptible to the conditions I outlined. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – Erutan409 Oct 6 '17 at 19:50
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Many components have a storage temperature range of -40C (some are -65C) to between 100C to 160C.

The specifics of your components would need to be checked.

More to the point is humidity, as the Moisture Sensitivity Level determines how long the device may be exposed to particular humidity levels without damage at reflow.

If the exposure time is exceeded damage can occur at reflow. If you are hand soldering, it may still be a good idea to gently bake the components.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for linking to various resources for further investigating! \$\endgroup\$ – Erutan409 Oct 6 '17 at 19:51
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Humidity (low is better) is more important than temperature. If the leads get corroded the solderability suffers and they may no longer be easily or reliably useful. Maybe you could put them in air-tight plastic food storage containers with some fresh dessicant, though a basement would probably be better than a garage (cool and dry is best). Garages also tend to have a big door that (if opened) can let the temperature inside change rapidly, leading to condensation if the items inside are cooler than the dew point of the air that comes in. This is why a garage isn't a great location for machine tools - they tend to rust.

In you are reflow soldering, many parts should be baked to remove moisture from the plastic packages before they go in the oven, but that's not often a concern for hobby parts. Hand soldered (with an iron) J-lead parts are typically not a problem, but hot air reflow of QFN and similar packages could well be.

Parts can generally be exposed to long term outside air temperatures that exist anywhere in Michigan without damage. Some parts will tend to last longer if kept cooler, with most (especially semiconductors) it won't matter much.


Regarding baking, here is an excerpt from an article in Circuits Assembly magazine (MSD = Moisture Sensitive Device)- note also that the "packaging" referred to is the tape and reel or tray the IC is shipped in rather than the IC package itself:

  • Baking MSDs can permanently damage the plastic tape and reels, carriers, carrier tape, tubes and trays used to dispense the components. Damage can occur at temperatures as low as 45°C (113°F), making it impossible for placement machines to process these parts.

  • Baking exacerbates oxidization4,5,6 on the MSD’s solder terminations, one of the biggest causes of poor solder quality.

  • Baking takes a long time: up to 79 days for somewhat thick (2 to 4.5mm) components at the package safe low temperature of 40°C (104°F) to as little as 3 hr. at a package melting temperature of 125°C (257°F) for MSDs with MSL 2, with exposure time PAST the expired floor life less than 72 hr. Clearly the higher the temperature, the shorter the bake time, unless components can be unpackaged, baked at a very high temperature and then repackaged at a safer 40°C (104°F) temperature. At this safer temperature, bake times start at five days and can go up to 79 days.

  • Baking consumes at least 20 times the energy as that of simply keeping the parts dry.7 And, since most MSDs do not require baking unless they are MSL 6 or the floor life was mistakenly exceeded, it would more reliable and economical to keep the parts dry rather than bake them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Check the datasheet for your parts and lookup the "Moisture Sensitivity Level" (MSL) for the type of component package that you bought. The MSL will vary depending on what the component material is made of (encapsulated with). Some materials capture moisture, and can be blown apart during soldering ('popcorn-ing'); hence the need for pre-baking to slowly encourage the moisture to Get-Out-of-Dodge. The same can be true for bare PCB's that you intend to reflow. You should be concerned with anything with a MSL level > 1. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Knudsen Oct 3 '17 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, the issue is not limited to just semiconductor devices. Some smt relays can also be affected by high humidity & moisture ingress prior to soldering. Keep 'em dry! \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Knudsen Oct 3 '17 at 15:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ This was an excellent and elaborate answer. If I was allowed to accept more than one answer, I'd definitely accept yours, too. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – Erutan409 Oct 6 '17 at 19:51

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