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Battery operated electronics and water

  1. Jan 29, 2009 #1
    When you drop an iphone or some similar electronic device into water, why does it stop working since it operates only at 5V? Water is not a good enough conductor to short out circuit that operates at 5V so how could it damage the device? Does the iphone LCD uses an inverter?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 29, 2009 #2


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    Actually, many operate at LESS than 5V. Some electronics still have high voltage EL (electroluminescent) or CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps) backlights which often require high negative voltages generated through boost inverters or transformers, but I believer lower-voltage LED-based ones are becoming the norm.

    That tangent aside, electronics often *do* short out, largely because the water you spill on your electronics is full of impurities and ions that increases its conductivity. Because it still isn't a great conductor, the shorting usually isn't fatal. Assuming you remove the batteries and then wash your device with distilled or deionized water and allow it to completely dry, you can often turn the device back on.

    Why wash with distilled or deionized water? Once again, the impurities: the dissolved ions and contaminants, and (very often) the sugar, caffeine and/or alcohol that was in the 'water' that was spilled on the device (or, more often than not, that the device was dropped into). Clean up of water-spilled electronics:

    Unfortunately, not all electronics can be washed. Speakers with cardboard cones, or vented ICs, or paper/cardboard electrical insulators, for instance.
  4. Jan 29, 2009 #3
    I don't think harddrives and LCD screens are waterproof - They usually muck up from it. But the electronics themselves are usually unaffected by it. Flash drives can be thrown into the wash without any problem.
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