GF sitting in a cold garage?


#1

Mapping out a future space for the GF… possibly turning the garage into a workspace / shop. The garage is not heated 24/7. I’m OK to work in the garage over the winter with some warm clothes and a space heater, but I’m concerned about the GF unit spending the majority of its time in the cold. We saw record cold temps in the northeast USA and around the country this year.

Is it OK to leave the GF in the garage - then warm up the room once a week to use it during a winter that might run -15 below some nights?

Cheers!


#2

There’s a long thread on the topic here:

https://community.glowforge.com/t/lowest-safe-temperature-for-storage-of-glowforge-coolant-does-it-expand-freezing-point/16157?u=markwal&source_topic_id=17673

I think we don’t have a definitive answer. I think that what Glowforge says is keep it above 40F for long term storage and warm it to 60F before operating.

The discussion in the topic I linked is primarily conjecture that since shipping temperatures are much colder than that and Glowforge doesn’t stop shipping when the temperatures are very low, the unit must be able to withstand colder temperatures for at least a short time. Problem is, I don’t think Glowforge tests long term storage below 40F so they don’t really know if it will be bad for the machine and if it does turn out to be bad for the machine, it won’t likely be covered under the warranty.

The thread also talked about some folks using heating mats to keep the interior of the Glowforge warm in case the problem is coolant in the tube. However, this technique is also not tested by Glowforge.


#3

Mine is in my garage and has gotten down to around 35F when it was -9F outside

I bought a heat mat for use with terrariums with a temp control and will try it next time it is bitter cold like that.

Still operational after that cold spell we just had. But my garage absorbs a lot of heat radiated from the house so that helps.

We know how cold it gets when UPS ships, at least -9 here in chicagoland maybe more this winter. But we don’t know how long the units are in the cold or if they’re simply going between truck and facility and if those temps are gaurenteed or not, I don’t know.


#4

Anticipating a bit of a thaw here in the snow capital of America. So, I’ll take the 3 blankets off tomorrow and get some work done. :sunglasses:


#5

Being paranoid, I put a remote thermal sensor in my garage in the exact location the GF was going to occupy, and monitored the temp difference between outside forecast and inside actual … having the data really helped my peace of mind.

There are many such sensors; I used the one from SensorPush:

https://www.amazon.com/SensorPush-Wireless-Thermometer-Hygrometer-Android/dp/B01AEQ9X9I/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1515646235&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=sensorpush

If your space routinely cruises below recommended temps, you could try a heating blanket that’s controlled by a thermostatic switch — farms need them all the time to keep animal drinking water from freezing, so they’re relatively affordable. For example:

https://www.amazon.com/Farm-Innovators-TC-3-Thermostatically-Controlled/dp/B0006U2HD2

You might then want to put another sensor inside the GF itself, at least until you get a sense of how the heating system is helping (or not).


#6

I don’t know anything about the Glowforge but I’d be very worried about the coolant freezing at -15F!

Here’s a pre-made laser coolant which claims protection to -5F. This was just the first thing I found, trying to get an idea of what is typical for similar products.

Maybe the Glowforge folks specified an even better coolant. Maybe -15F storage is no problem. But I would not want to bet on it.


#7

Wow. Awesome! Thanks everyone. I’m concerned about leaving a heat blanket plugged in - but the temp monitoring peace of mind would be helpful!