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Smoke machines and special FX

CHOOSING A SMOKE MACHINE

Chosing a smoke machine for the first time can be quite a confusing ordeal. On this page we aim to assist you with guidance for the important decision.

This page focuses on the electromechanical water based fluid units predominantly, but reference is made to all types of machine. By no means is this a comprehensive list as new machines are being produced very regularly. The advice on this page should not be construed as recommendation, as we do not know the specific requirements for your application to give you a guarantee of suitability.

Essentially, there are two types of smoke machine:
Consumer units
(which have only really been around for a few years due to advances in technology) are small smoke machines which are used in the home for parties and the like. These units are generally simple in operation (on/off), have limited output and a dead-band, which is a period of time where the machine cannot be operated as the heating block is below temperature and being re-heated. Professional smoke machines are capable of much larger output of smoke and many have the option of continuous output (with no dead-band). Reliable professional units can cost upwards of £300.

Location, location, location!

Perhaps the most important factor when chosing which smoke machine to use is the location and environment the unit will be used in...

Clean room?
Building leak test?
Air flow test location?
Dark ride?
Theme park?
Nightclub?
Fire training?
Concert / stadium?
Theatre?
Outdoors for film / TV shoot?

* Electricity powered smoke machines are not designed for outdoor installation, but can be used outdoors, weather permitting.

Of course, you may wish to have more than one machine in use in any one area. When using low lying fog effects in large areas, it is recommended that several units are used that are carefully placed to optimise coverage.

If the smoke machine is being used outside in large open spaces, smaller units pale in comparison to the larger professional models. Wind is always a problem, especially with smoke machine useage outdoors. On a windy day, the smoke does not hang in the air and is blown away continually.

Note that to make smoke or fog hang in the air for longer, use fans or wafting units which will 'dilute' the thick white dense smoke freshly produced by your machine into a thinner fog (similar to haze) which will fill all corners of the room and take more time to exit.

Frequency of Operation

The frequency of smoke machine operation is important - will the machine be required to make smoke at parties every so often OR will it be generating smoke continuously 24/7/365?
In general, the more expensive professional models will offer infinite control and be able to operate for much longer periods with less maintenance than cheaper units. Pro units can run continuously for the duration of however much fluid remains in the tank.

For fixed intsallations in theme parks for example, running costs and reliability are the most important factors (which is why we only recommend one of our machines for these applications).

We hope this helps you a little on the way to making a choice of smoke machine. If you're really stuck, we can always help. Contact us.

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Pea Soup smoke machines, fog generators, hazers and fluid.