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Is there a common solution to protecting electronics from water by coating conductors in dielectric material?

I figured you could just cover everything in thin layer of hot glue, but there might be a more added mass -effective way, like spraying hot silicone on the electronics.

I heard a few years back some company in the US provided a service of coating Iphone insides with a silicone spray or something, which made them water resistant to some extent. I don't live there, so I didn't have a chance to try it myself, though. Anyway, this is a service, and I'm looking for something I could apply myself.

I don't visit home depot nearly often enough to keep up with the technological advancements, so maybe I just missed it.


marked as duplicate by Kaz, Dave Tweed, Joe Hass, Nick Alexeev, Daniel Grillo Dec 28 '13 at 21:42

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    \$\begingroup\$ Conformal coating is what it's usually called. I'm not aware of it being sold as a product aimed at consumers but some places sell it in fairly small quantities. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Dec 28 '13 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm pretty sure that there are manufacturers that make conformal coating materials in small packages. For example Kontakt Chemie Urethan 71 can be used to protect against moisture and is sold in small aerosol cans. I'm sure that there are many other similar products as well. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo Dec 28 '13 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if this will solve your problem, but the video for Ultra Ever Dry hydrophobic coating is pretty cool. \$\endgroup\$ – user35648 Dec 28 '13 at 23:29

User reported results of the 'secret' and VERY expensive coating were very variable and some had zero success. A TV program showed an iphone being trashed by dunking after coating.

Conformal coatings, as mentioned by PeterJ & AndrejaKo are a "good start". These are usually aimed at PCB level protection and are usually applied during manufacture.

As Tony says (deleted response) coatings of silicone do not block water 100%. What is not widely understood is that NOTHING that is used as a add on costing blocks water 100%. [There is a special coating - Parylene and similar names - applied via vacuum deposition of vaporised coating which changes its molecular arrangement during the process, which is as good as you get, not perfect and very much not a do-at-home treatment]. BUT water permeates through and coating. A good coating works by having very low % water dissolved in it and by forming an aggressive voidless bond to the target. This means mainly only water vapor is present and lack of surface micro-voids which can form liquid water pockets means corrosion rates are far far far lower than otherwise. More on such below.

When applied as an after-market treatment ALL conformal coatings have the potential to degrade performance or do damage. This is usually at the "obvious enough" level - use your brain, look carefully and think ahead. Covering any screen with a coating will usually be a bad idea. Getting goo that sets on any electrically connecting surface will be a bad idea. If it is meant to move (hinge, keyboard flexure, ...) then gumming up the motion is liable to be a very bad idea. Sounders/beepers/speakers that make noise may make different noises if plastic coated. Thinks that get hot and are cooled by air movement usually get hotter and are less cooled when coated. Holes that allow airflow may vanish ... . Once such 'little things' have been addressed, a range of coatings MAY help.

Dow Corning make a material named Dow Corning 1-2577, which does a better than most job. It can be brushed sprayed or dipped and air sets to about a 0.1mm layer. It is not cheap, contains enough volatiles to be used in a fume hood or outdoors and you are unlikely to see it in retail sales. A "low VOC" version exists.
[VOC = Volatile Organic Compound -> try not to inhale this stuff].

Dow Corning conformal coating products here

Dow advertised a PV6100 material a few years ago that sounded like it would be ideal (aimed at solar cell encapsulation) but they have "gone all quiet" re it recently. May yet be available.

The older Dow Corning "Sylgard 184" is much used by the DIY PV panel manufacturing community with good reported results. Also see slower setting Sylgard 182

Note: I have no involvement with Dow Corning, except as a satisfied user of their products.

"Silicone spray" will provide a degree of protection against water but is far from ideal.

Clear polyurethane plastic spray (sold as "lacquer" or "clear varnish") will do a passingly good job as an aftermarket conformal coating. You could spray in an excess and let it run to and from over semi inaccesible surfaces.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you just post an answer to a closed question? \$\endgroup\$ – user1306322 Dec 29 '13 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user1306322 - The system does not let youpost amswers to closed questions, so I can't have. Right? :-). Sometimes if you are in the middle of an answer 'people' close the question and the whole lot falls down around one's ears. On other such occasions it MAY decide you are already accepted and allow the post. What happens when seems to not have a pattern. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Dec 29 '13 at 6:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ My second thought was that you undeleted your previously deleted answer. Interesting. \$\endgroup\$ – user1306322 Dec 29 '13 at 6:59

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