Special FX - Fog Machine Buying Guide

by : John Morris

One of the best ways to enhance your holiday or performance light show is with fog. It makes a perfect prop to enhance your decorations and set the atmosphere for some spine-tingling fun. Of course, most of the time, we're not fortunate enough to have low-lying, natural fog. So we need to use other means to produce it, most commonly, the fog machine.

1. Fog - One Of The Oldest, And Best, Effects

Fog machines are used to create special effects on stage to complete lighting, for drama, performing artistes, bands, at concerts and for vocal artistes. It is also ideal for dramatic plays, for instance in a fighting pirate sequence, when you want to create an atmosphere of gunpowder, heavy smoke and fog such that the stage appears to be shrouded in a thick fog. As the fog clears, the scene unfolds. Fog machines produce a very believable effect, and the fog produced is completely harmless.

2. Avoid Homemade Fog Machines

I have seen plans for building homemade fog machines on the internet but doing it would be very dangerous. First, if the fog fluid is heated above a certain temperature it could produce toxic fumes. Second, there is always the chance of electrical dangers. Remember, since fog machine manufacturers are selling to the public, they try to design the machines as safe as possible. It's simply not worth saving a few bucks to take a chance. The risks of attempting to build a homemade fog machine simply does not outweigh the price of a commercially designed and manufactured fog machine.

3. Shop Around

Before buying, do some comparison-shopping. By arming yourself with some information about fog machines. Here are a few tips that would hopefully save you and help you from losing a lot of cash. We sometimes see used fog machines for sale or being auctioned online. The problem is that like any electrical/mechanical device, fog machines are subject to wear and tear, and even if it looks like it's never been used, you actually have no idea how much run time it has had. Also, re-sold fog machines usually have no guarantee or warranty. So remember, you get what you pay for!

4. Things Of Importance

Don't Buy A Fly-By-Night Brand -

You may not be able to find the right fog fluid the following year. Fog fluid is not interchangeable and most machines require fluid of the same brand. Buying a popular brand insures that you'll be able to find replacement juice very easily, whether it's at your local store or online.

Fog Machines Do Make Some Noise -

The sound of the pump as it moves fog fluid from the reservoir to the heat exchanger, and the sound of the fog coming out of the nozzle. In general, the more expensive fog machines are quieter, and the less expensive ones louder.

Don't Operate It Manually -

Better yet, look for one that comes with a timer that you can set to turn the machine off. These remotes allow you to set the intervals at which the fog machine will come on, how long that interval will last and the volume of fog to produce. Operating a machine that's out of fog fluid can harm your machine, so this is one way to save your machine - and your time. The wattage of the heating element can be a good indicator of how well a fog machine will perform. Most consumer fog machines generally range from 400 to 1300 watts. With a higher wattage rating, the fog machine can not only produce more fog, but equally as important it will not have to go into a re-heat cycle as often because the heat exchanger has more power available.

5. Be Aware Of Your Output Levels

Rated output is the cubic feet of fog per minute the manufacturer says the fog machine will produce. But just because one fog machine claims to produce 5000 cubic per minute doesn't mean that a different machine that claims only 1000 cubic per minute doesn't produce more useable fog. This is because there are no industry standards on what exactly a cubic foot of generated fog is. The numbers shown in manufacturer descriptions are only useful as a guideline. Find out how the warranty is handled before making your decision. Almost all fog machine manufacturers offer a one year warranty on all parts and service, and a lifetime warranty on the heat exchanger.