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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I am planning on having to carry my laptop a lot and am worried about water damage when it rains.

My backpack currently has a small compartment for a laptop to go in, and additionally I will use a garbage bag to keep it out of the rain.

Will the garbage bag cause any kind of ESD that will damage the laptop? Is this a good enough transportation method through the rain?
 

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No problem with the bag, as long as you wrap it tight and make sure any openings are pointing down, you should be fine. :)
 
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An immersion (dry) bag is a bit more robust than a garbage bag.

They come in various sizes, and are generally reasonably cheap, so buy one that fits your laptop.


Or if in US ...

 

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That's probably overkill for just keeping a little rain of it. :)
 

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I don't see the need for an immersion bag, but I don't agree that a simple plastic bag is appropriate either. The OP is, and rightfully so, IMO, concerned about possible ESD damage from sliding the laptop into and out of a plastic bag.

While it may be remote, there could be a problem with the plastic bag. Sliding objects into and out of plastic bags can generate many 1000s of volts of static electricity. Just touching the laptop's exterior case [probably] would not be a problem, but you would not want that voltage discharged through a contact in one of the laptop's communication ports (USB, Ethernet, graphics, etc.).

If you slide your laptop out of a plastic garbage bag, and don't have Earth ground, a metal filing cabinet or a dog's wet nose nearby to discharge any static through, there is a possibility ESD damage to a laptop component might occur. So why risk it?

It is important to note that a Grand Canyon size trench (microscopically speaking) can easily be torched through millions and millions of transistor gates in high-density ESD sensitive devices from a discharge so tiny, we (as humans) cannot even see, feel or hear that a discharge (ark or spark) has occurred. So I would not take any chances.

Measure your laptop. Then buy anti-static bags large enough to completely contain it. I would get bags that are resealable, then make sure the bag is inserted in your backpack opening end down. This will not only protect the laptop from the rain, but also static build up too.

The good news is, if you are in a location where you are worried about rain, it is extremely difficult for static electricity to build up in high humidity locations. So it is more likely getting wet is a bigger risk than getting zapped by ESD.

I would not leave your laptop inside a sealed bag (any water-tight bag) for extended periods of time, unless you are sure it is totally dry inside. Should moisture get trapped inside the bag, I would worry that mold/mildew might form. That would not be good. I don't think it necessary to remove the laptop from the bag (unless dripping wet), just leave the bag unsealed when not raining to keep it aired out.
 
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I don't see the need for an immersion bag, but I don't agree that a simple plastic bag is appropriate either. The OP is, and rightfully so, IMO, concerned about possible ESD damage from sliding the laptop into and out of a plastic bag.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I don't see this as a huge risk. They're shipped in plastic bags!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't see the need for an immersion bag, but I don't agree that a simple plastic bag is appropriate either. The OP is, and rightfully so, IMO, concerned about possible ESD damage from sliding the laptop into and out of a plastic bag.

While it may be remote, there could be a problem with the plastic bag. Sliding objects into and out of plastic bags can generate many 1000s of volts of static electricity. Just touching the laptop's exterior case [probably] would not be a problem, but you would not want that voltage discharged through a contact in one of the laptop's communication ports (USB, Ethernet, graphics, etc.).

If you slide your laptop out of a plastic garbage bag, and don't have Earth ground, a metal filing cabinet or a dog's wet nose nearby to discharge any static through, there is a possibility ESD damage to a laptop component might occur. So why risk it?

It is important to note that a Grand Canyon size trench (microscopically speaking) can easily be torched through millions and millions of transistor gates in high-density ESD sensitive devices from a discharge so tiny, we (as humans) cannot even see, feel or hear that a discharge (ark or spark) has occurred. So I would not take any chances.

Measure your laptop. Then buy anti-static bags large enough to completely contain it. I would get bags that are resealable, then make sure the bag is inserted in your backpack opening end down. This will not only protect the laptop from the rain, but also static build up too.

The good news is, if you are in a location where you are worried about rain, it is extremely difficult for static electricity to build up in high humidity locations. So it is more likely getting wet is a bigger risk than getting zapped by ESD.

I would not leave your laptop inside a sealed bag (any water-tight bag) for extended periods of time, unless you are sure it is totally dry inside. Should moisture get trapped inside the bag, I would worry that mold/mildew might form. That would not be good. I don't think it necessary to remove the laptop from the bag (unless dripping wet), just leave the bag unsealed when not raining to keep it aired out.
Thank you for the information, I do have a poncho that I can wear that will go over my whole body and backpack if needed so I might not need to go to the extremes of getting an anti-static bag or even a garbage bag.

In the case I do need to use my garbage bag I have a metal ruler.

How does discharging exactly work? Do I just touch the metal ruler and then I can carefully slide the laptop out of the bag?
 

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Just touching a metal ruler will not help. You need to touch something big that can absorb the static, or something that is already grounded to Earth ground.

I would say if it is not raining, don't put your laptop in a plastic bag.

I you lived in the arid Arizona desert, preventing and eliminating static buildup would be a big concern. In your case, I think just being aware that static could be an issue is already a big step. When removing the laptop from the bag, reach in and grab the laptop case, being careful not to touch a port. Perhaps peel back the bag instead of sliding it out.

It is also important to understand that laptop makers are fully aware of the hazards of ESD too. So the most sensitive components are not exposed. So again, damage from static discharge is a pretty remote possibility. If you wear your poncho when raining, you likely don't need to put your laptop in a bag. And if you get caught in a sudden downpour, your backpack is not going to fill up with water. You can just dry the laptop off before powering it up.
 
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Make sure when you put the laptop in a bag or case that it is TURNED OFF and doesn't just have a black screen while the computer is still running. The heat buildup around the laptop can get severe when ventilation is gone and the computer is still operating, even if it is just in Sleep mode. Agree than an anti-static bag is the best choice. To discharge yourself before touching or removing the laptop, touch something that is likely to be grounded... a large appliance like an oven or refrigerator or dish washer or a water faucet (if it installed with copper pipe rather than plastic/rubber hoses), a fire hydrant, metal parts on a microwave oven. Products with 2-prong electric cords are never grounded. That includes most receivers and TVs these days (so they aren't good grounding sources).
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Make sure when you put the laptop in a bag or case that it is TURNED OFF and doesn't just have a black screen while the computer is still running. The heat buildup around the laptop can get severe when ventilation is gone and the computer is still operating, even if it is just in Sleep mode. Agree than an anti-static bag is the best choice. To discharge yourself before touching or removing the laptop, touch something that is likely to be grounded... a large appliance like an oven or refrigerator or dish washer or a water faucet (if it installed with copper pipe rather than plastic/rubber hoses), a fire hydrant, metal parts on a microwave oven. Products with 2-prong electric cords are never grounded. That includes most receivers and TVs these days (so they aren't good grounding sources).
Thanks, I do shutdown my laptop every time I put it back in my backpack.

The special compartment seems to have some kind of padding for protection and the inside is some kind of soft wool/fabric, do you think sliding the laptop in and out of the compartment is generally safe if I give it space?
 

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Yes, putting the laptop into the backpack "bare" should be completely safe. I wouldn't slide it in and out many times... THAT can create static. But one time into the backpack... resting in the back pack for 5 minutes or more, then taking it out again is fine. Sliding it in and out 10 or 20 times per minute would be a bad idea!
 

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Laptops are specifically designed to be portable and carried in a variety of ways. All of this angst over static is a bit over the top. I rate keeping it dry 100 times more important than losing sleep over the possibility of static damage. If the compartment mentioned in the backpack is for a laptop, I'd think the makers would have thought about damage from static if it were a factor.

I spent over 20 years designing and building electronics for commercial and military aircraft, and I do know a thing or two about ESD damage and protection.

If you're mucking around inside the laptop, or any electronic equipment, ESD protection is near the top of the heap, sensitive components are exposed. It's a different story when you're handling the laptop in normal use, ESD protection is built into the design.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Laptops are specifically designed to be portable and carried in a variety of ways. All of this angst over static is a bit over the top. I rate keeping it dry 100 times more important than losing sleep over the possibility of static damage. If the compartment mentioned in the backpack is for a laptop, I'd think the makers would have thought about damage from static if it were a factor.

I spent over 20 years designing and building electronics for commercial and military aircraft, and I do know a thing or two about ESD damage and protection.

If you're mucking around inside the laptop, or any electronic equipment, ESD protection is near the top of the heap, sensitive components are exposed. It's a different story when you're handling the laptop in normal use, ESD protection is built into the design.
Thank you, I was looking through some of my old laptop case bags and noticed the newer one had the wool/fabric for the compartment while the older one does not and the whole interior is polyester/nylon.

Does the fabric provide some kind of protection and does it matter? I'm thinking that it will likely just attract more dust.
 

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I am "guessing" the wool/fabric lining is just to prevent from scratching.

As for dust - keep the case closed. In any case, not sure it matters. If you keep your laptop on your desk, it will still collect dust.
 
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Truthfully, I doubt that static electricity was anywhere near the top of their list designing these bags. While anything's possible, in general consumer electronics aren't that sensitive to ESD when they're fully assembled. I've used at least a dozen laptop bags over the years, and more than one of them were made of nylon fabric that would draw a nice arc if you rubbed it with a sleeve and then touched a ground.

My current laptop bag is one I got a number of years ago as a Microsoft MVP award, and it has the synthetic fabric that will draw an arc quite easily. Apparently, Microsoft wasn't all that concerned about giving it's MVP's something that would generate static to store their laptops in. ;) I started using this when I got the smaller laptop as it's sized for the 13" screen models.

Jeans Outerwear Dress shirt Sleeve Textile
 
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Truthfully, I doubt that static electricity was anywhere near the top of their list designing these bags.

I've used at least a dozen laptop bags over the years... .
As seen via the link in my sig, I've been a certified electronics technician for many years. I think I received my first of several formal training classes about ESD, ESD sensitive components, and ESD prevention way back in 1975, or thereabouts. My point being, ESD precautions has been almost second-nature through my professional career.

Not only do I totally agree with johnwill that static electricity prevention is NOT a priority with case designers, I also have used many laptop cases over the years and ESD prevention was never on the top of my list either when buying or using those cases. I just want to make sure there is enough padding, and pockets for my mouse, power supply and other extras I take with me.

For ESD prevention, I just merely avoid touching any of the pins and contacts in the ports when sliding my laptops in and out of the carrying case. Something I avoid with any electronics device I am handling. I also make sure that I have any cable connector properly aligned to the port, as best as my eyes can tell, before I press it in.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
As seen via the link in my sig, I've been a certified electronics technician for many years. I think I received my first of several formal training classes about ESD, ESD sensitive components, and ESD prevention way back in 1975, or thereabouts. My point being, ESD precautions has been almost second-nature through my professional career.

Not only do I totally agree with johnwill that static electricity prevention is NOT a priority with case designers, I also have used many laptop cases over the years and ESD prevention was never on the top of my list either when buying or using those cases. I just want to make sure there is enough padding, and pockets for my mouse, power supply and other extras I take with me.

For ESD prevention, I just merely avoid touching any of the pins and contacts in the ports when sliding my laptops in and out of the carrying case. Something I avoid with any electronics device I am handling. I also make sure that I have any cable connector properly aligned to the port, as best as my eyes can tell, before I press it in.
Thank you, as for orientation of the laptop in a case/bag I believe the lid should be facing toward you so there is less pressure there, and when placed vertically the charger & USB ports point up to not put pressure/friction on them.

However I'm not sure about how it should be oriented horizontally. Should the front or back of the laptop be touching the bottom of the bag?
What I mean: Screenshot
 

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I usually put them in with the heavy end down, balances better. That's usually the back where the battery is.
 
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just get a waterproof backpack :)
 
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