Collecting vinyl records is a pastime that unites music lovers across generations. The unique sound quality and the physical connection to the music that vinyl offers are unparalleled. Popularity of vinyl records in UK has seen a massive growth recently. However, as with any prized collection, ensuring the longevity and preservation of these musical artefacts is of paramount importance. One commonly asked question by vinyl enthusiasts is: can vinyl records be damaged by the sun?
The answer is unequivocally yes. In fact, sunlight is one of the main environmental factors that can cause significant harm to vinyl records. This article will explore the effects of sunlight on vinyl records, why it happens, and how to prevent this damage to keep your collection in pristine condition.
Understanding Vinyl Records
Vinyl records are produced from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which, under normal conditions, is a stable and durable material. The grooves imprinted on the vinyl are what carries the sound. When the needle of the record player traverses these grooves, it translates the imprinted patterns into electrical signals that are then amplified into sound. The delicacy of these grooves is what makes vinyl records susceptible to damage, including that caused by exposure to sunlight.
The Detrimental Effects of Sunlight
Sunlight, specifically its ultraviolet (UV) component, can cause two primary types of damage to vinyl records: warping and degradation of the record’s material.
Warping is the most immediate and visually noticeable damage that can occur due to exposure to heat and sunlight. Vinyl records can begin to warp at temperatures as low as 140°F (60°C), and prolonged exposure to sunlight can easily cause temperatures to rise to this level, especially in enclosed spaces like a car or near a window.
Warping distorts the flat surface of the record, causing it to bend or twist out of shape. This distortion directly affects the grooves on the record, making the needle jump or skip while playing, resulting in poor sound quality. In severe cases, the record might become entirely unplayable.
2. Material Degradation
Prolonged exposure to UV light can also lead to the degradation of the PVC material of the vinyl record. UV light is energetic enough to break the chemical bonds in many materials, including PVC. Over time, this process can lead to discoloration and brittleness, compromising both the aesthetic and functional aspects of the record.
Preventing Sun Damage
Given the potential damage, it’s clear that protecting your vinyl records from sunlight is crucial. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Proper Storage
Store your records in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The storage area should also have consistent temperature and humidity levels to prevent damage from thermal expansion and contractions. Good quality vinyl storage cases can protect your vinyl records from sun damage.
2. Correct Handling
Always handle the records by the edges to avoid smudges or scratches that could be exacerbated by heat exposure.
3. Protective Sleeves
Use protective sleeves for your records. These not only shield the vinyl from dust and scratches but can also provide some protection against UV light.
4. UV-Protective Measures
If your records are stored near a window, consider using UV-protective film on the windows or keeping the blinds closed during the sunniest parts of the day.
In summary, sunlight can indeed damage vinyl records, both by warping the record due to heat and degrading the material due to UV exposure. However, by taking proactive measures to protect your collection from sunlight, you can ensure that your records remain in good condition, preserving their sound quality and value. Like any prized possession, vinyl records require care and attention, but with the right preventive steps, your collection will continue to bring you joy. .NeoOnline has one of the best vinyl record cases.