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Old 07-14-2010, 12:59 AM   #1
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Default Looking for a fog machine?

I have seen a lot of threads about fog machines, and I am going to try to be helpful by putting as much info as I can into one thread.

I do lights for my friend who DJs so I use a lot of fog machines



Amazon.com: Eliminator Small Application Fog Machine - EF-400: Electronics
Amazon.com: First Imperial 400-Watt Fog Machine with Remote: Electronics

I see links to those two fog machines pop up a lot on LPF, probably because they are cheep. I do not recommend those. No $30 fog machine is going to last long. Even while you are using them, any 400 Watt fog machine is going to output little fog, and it is going to "under heat", which I will talk about soon.

The guts of a fog machine
  • Tank
  • Pump
  • Heating element

How they work
Fog machines use "fog juice" which is water and glycol. Different colors indicate different water to glycol ratios, more glycol means thicker fog. You add fog juice to the tank (duh), and push the button (duh). The pump fires up, and forces fog juice into the heating element. This causes the liquid to vaporize into fog. Under heating is caused by the fog juice cooling down the heating element. With a 400 Watt flogger, generally, once the heating element hits a temperature a thermal relay shuts off the heating element. Yes, that it right, it shuts it off. So if you let it sit for 5 minutes it under heats. So the heating element turns on, but during that time, you can not use fog. With a flogger >400 watts, it will heat up quicker, and they generally monitor the temperature, and adjust the wattage given to the heater, making it almost always ready to shoot fog.



Fogers vs. Hazers
If you are looking on a website that sells fog machines, you will almost surely see a hazer or two. Foggers shoot clouds of well... fog. You generally can not see past the fog. A hazer disperses the fog, and creates a lot of light fog. If you have ever left fog in a room for a while, you have "haze".


Lasers and fog
Whenever people take "beam shots" they almost always use fog or haze. Haze is better for beam shots because it does not block your view of the end of the beam, and it makes the beam visible. Hazers are almost always are more expensive, but you need haze for a good beam shot. The simple solution: a fan and a fogger. Place your fogger by the intake of your fan, put the fan on high, and fire some fog. It works great as a hazer.

Cleaning
Some fog machines need to be cleaned or drained. A common source of fog machine death is the copper tube becoming clogged with fog juice. I clean my fog machines when I am not going to use them for >1 month. The cleaning procedure is as follows:
  1. Remove fog juice and replace with distilled water
  2. "fog" until the fog stops and it starts steaming - STOP!!! It is not good for the pump to not have fog juice for to long
  3. Shut off fogger
  4. Stop here if you are storing it, otherwise if you are cleaning it, continue
  5. Add fog juice
  6. Pump fog juice through, until the steam is replaced by fog

Recommended foggers
I have a OmniSistem Pyrofog Junior, and if you are looking to spend $200 on a fogger, 100% recommended

look here for good fog machines

Summary of fog machine brands

Eliminator - Cheap, low quality
American DJ (ADJ), medium cost, good product quality, but not always high product specs
OmniSistem - medium cost, good quality, good deal
Antari - Expensive, high quality, amazing specs

I recommend OmniSistem. Guitar Center sells their products, and they offer prices better then ADJ and they have better products. I have a Antari snow machine. Yes, fake snow. It is amazing. Their machines are insane, if you have the money, get the Antari Hazer. You will get the best beam shots ever with an Antari hazer.


To sum this up, I would go with this based on the average fog machine budget:
American DJ Fog Storm 700W Fog Machine



FAQ:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
I've heard that foggers leave an oily film on everything, which has prevented me from getting one to use in the house. Is there truth to that, does it depend on the juice, and what would not leave any residue? I've burned incense to get a light haze, but would rather have a fogger. Thanks!
I have found that to be true only when my fog machine is spraying directly onto a surface. When it is spraying into the air, it does not seem to cause that problem. I use OmniFog Peach scented fog juice. It comes as a concentrate. You can choose your water:fog juice ratio. I use 3:4, but if you want less oily, use 1:1. I would not recommend diluting regular fog juice, and when you do dilute it, follow all instructions and never exceed the max water:fog juice ratio, otherwise you risk clogging your machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by qumefox
Rememeber there are TWO types of fog 'juice'. Glycol based, and mineral oil based..
That is true, as a followup to the previous FAQ, I use water based, it smells better, and does not leave as much of an oily film. I do not recommend any type of fog juice that is not water based

Last edited by Jacob32123; 01-21-2012 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:58 PM   #2
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

Thanks for the great info! I do have one question which I asked in another fogger topic, that never got answered. I've heard that foggers leave an oily film on everything, which has prevented me from getting one to use in the house. Is there truth to that, does it depend on the juice, and what would not leave any residue? I've burned incense to get a light haze, but would rather have a fogger. Thanks!
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
Thanks for the great info! I do have one question which I asked in another fogger topic, that never got answered. I've heard that foggers leave an oily film on everything, which has prevented me from getting one to use in the house. Is there truth to that, does it depend on the juice, and what would not leave any residue? I've burned incense to get a light haze, but would rather have a fogger. Thanks!
JhonD

I have a fogger and it does infact leave a film. It is not oily but slightly sticky. It is basically excess moisture from the fog that settles on anything thats dry. It does not harm anything and does dry. It only happens if you use excessive amounts of fog.

Anyhow lmk if you have any more questions :P
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

thanks, have been thinking about getting one, but it seems the way to go in terms of ease of use is smoke pellets you can burn/ignite.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

For people who are low on funds. You can even burn some incense or white sage to make haze. It works quite well if you do not want to invest in a fog machiene.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

Actually there is a lot of confusion on the subject of fog machines and hazers in most circles.

There are basically three types.

Fog machines: These use a heat exchanger to vaporize the fluid into a thick dense fog.

Fazers (this is really what all the 'cheap' hazers are): Pretty much just a fog machine with a fan.

Hazers: Actual hazers aren't extremely common because they're usually not very cheap. They however produce a much smaller particle size than fog machines or fazers though.
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:11 AM   #7
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnD View Post
Thanks for the great info! I do have one question which I asked in another fogger topic, that never got answered. I've heard that foggers leave an oily film on everything, which has prevented me from getting one to use in the house. Is there truth to that, does it depend on the juice, and what would not leave any residue? I've burned incense to get a light haze, but would rather have a fogger. Thanks!
Added to main post
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

Something else I just spotted in the main post..

Rememeber there are TWO types of fog 'juice'. Glycol based, and mineral oil based..

I'd advise NOT watering down oil based fog fluid heh.

And FYI, best fog machine on the market is by far the high end systems F100.. Owned two of the beasties back when I did lighting. Probably a tad overkill for most hobbiests though.

In all honesty, when I had to deal with it, actually a minimal amount of particulate in the air gave the best beam shows. If it actually looked foggy, it was too much. It doesn't take much to bring out the beams, and they look so much better when they stand out in apparent 'clean' air, than they do in a 'cloud'. It's one of the reasons I feel real hazers are better for beam shows. the smaller particle size lets you actually put more reflection sources in the air without it being as thick looking.
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by qumefox View Post
Something else I just spotted in the main post..

Rememeber there are TWO types of fog 'juice'. Glycol based, and mineral oil based..
Good point, you forgot water based, but added to main post

Quote:
And FYI, best fog machine on the market is by far the high end systems F100.. Owned two of the beasties back when I did lighting. Probably a tad overkill for most hobbiests though.
I prefer DF-3000 Fog Machine (OmniSistem DF-3000), same output better price

Quote:
In all honesty, when I had to deal with it, actually a minimal amount of particulate in the air gave the best beam shows. If it actually looked foggy, it was too much. It doesn't take much to bring out the beams, and they look so much better when they stand out in apparent 'clean' air, than they do in a 'cloud'. It's one of the reasons I feel real hazers are better for beam shows. the smaller particle size lets you actually put more reflection sources in the air without it being as thick looking.
I tried to make that point, but failed, you succeed!
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Old 07-15-2010, 07:23 PM   #10
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

I didn't forget water based. That's what the glycol fluids are.
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Old 07-15-2010, 10:39 PM   #11
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

I was under the impression that < 50% glycol was water based and >50% glycol was glycol based
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Old 07-15-2010, 11:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: Looking for a fog machine?

It's used interchangeably. Glycol dissolves in water. Technically both are correct. If you want to know the concentration you just have to read labels. It's the only real way to know what your buying.
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