Smoke machines are one of the best things you can buy to add that extra something to a photoshoot, concert, live performance, or even a Halloween party. But how do you know if you’re getting the best smoke machine for your money? Don’t fret - we’re here to help!
When investing in any smoke, fog, or haze machine, there are a few things you should consider before making a purchase. There’s a good market out there for smoke machines, and a lot to choose from. If you’re looking for something portable that can be used in any location or climate, you might want to consider a battery-powered device. Although the majority of smoke machines are plug-in, there is a good number of products available that rely on batteries.
In This Article
Today, we’re going to give you all the ins and outs of battery-powered smoke machines, including what to look for when you shop, how to choose between products, why one works better than the other, and how they can be used in different scenarios or conditions. Basically, we’ll help you pick the best portable fogging machine for your preferences.
Let’s get started!
What Is A Smoke Machine?
Let’s start with the basics. A smoke machine - sometimes known as a fog or haze machine - is a device that produces thick vapor that closely resembles smoke (or fog).
You’re most likely to see a fog machine used in the entertainment business, maybe at a concert or theatrical production. Different types of machines produce different kinds of smoke, depending on the design and the type of fogging liquid used. You can find machines to produce light weight hazy smoke that fills a room, machines that produce dense, thick fog emission, or add a fog chiller (or cold fogger) and the right solution for a fog that lies close to the floor.
While you may assume that these devices are meant for large venues like arenas, concert halls, and blockbuster movie sets, nothing could be farther from the truth. There is such a variety of smoke machines out there that you can even find models small enough to integrate into a wearable cosplay costume.
That said, there is a slew of smoke machines on the market designed specifically for smaller venues. People are starting to invest in smoke machines for personal use more and more. Whether it’s for small-scale parties, personal photoshoots, or just plain fun, these smaller models are growing more and more popular for people outside the entertainment industry. Below, we’ll show you some of the best options on the market.
How Do Smoke Machines Work?
So, how do smoke machines work?
Smoke machines need special liquid, affectionately called “fog juice”, to produce smoke. The most common fog machine design uses a heater to heat the liquid until it becomes a gas.
Within these heated machines, the fog juice is stored in the fluid reservoir, and then pumped into a heat exchanger, where it is heated to the point where it becomes vapor. This vapor is then expelled from the machine through a nozzle. When the heated fogging vapor hits the cold air, it condenses and forms a smoke or fog effect.
Another type of fog machine uses an aerator to eject a fine mist into the hair. These machines are commonly known as “haze machines”, because the smoke resembles a light, transparent haze.
Because it doesn’t use heat to create the vapor, the characterization of the steam is a little different. Aerosol fog machines create more of a mist than fog, but the effect is still really awesome, especially when the light reflects off of the smoke filling the room.
Fog liquid is perhaps as important as the machine itself. In order to create quality smoke, you need to use quality liquid. Many underestimate the importance of quality liquid, and purchase inferior brands. High quality liquid will be made with non-toxic ingredients, and won’t cause any stains or damage to surfaces around your house.
When purchasing fogging liquid, everything depends on the kind of machine you have. Each machine comes with instructions as to what type of fogging liquid is compatible with it.
Don’t ignore this advice - these products are your best bet for creating your desired fog effect, and work the best with whatever machine you’ve chosen. If you choose an alternative liquid, you have to be sure that it’s compatible with your machine. Using the wrong liquid can cause your smoke machine to under or overheat, which can cause some safety issues. Read the manual carefully and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Types of Fog Machine Smoke
One of the main advantages of using a different fog juice is to create a different fog effect. You’d be surprised at the many effects you can create with fog machines. Here are the most popular effects:
Haze: Haze is meant to be the most transparent type of fog, and is created with a haze machine. Haze is sometimes barely noticeable on its own. It’s primary purpose is to amplify lighting effects. DJs and entertainers run a hazer in combination with their light shows, because the light creates a very neat effect as it cuts through the haze.
Medium Density: Medium density fog is thick and noticeable, but not thick enough to obstruct vision. It’s great for events because it creates a noticeable foggy ambience without being an outright distraction. It’s great for a wide variety of purposes.
High Density: High density fog, as you can probably guess, is the thickest type of fog. It’s great for theatrical uses and special effects, because it creates a very noticeable, thick fog effect that will amplify the situation. It’s not quite as ideal for parties and gatherings, because it can obstruct vision to the extent that partygoers may not be able to see each other.
Low-Lying: Low-lying fog is fog which keeps very low to the ground, as opposed to other fogs which disperse upward throughout the room. This effect is achieved by cooling the fog so that it is heavier than the air. It creates a very interesting, mysterious effect that is great for dance floors, various events, theatrical performances, and more.
The Science Behind Fog Machines (And Safety Precautions!)
Fog machine juice is usually made by mixing glycol (typically propylene glycol, triethylene glycol, or glycerin) with water. Some people fear that the ingredients in fogging fluid may cause lung problems, however, this is not the case. As long as you use the right fogging liquid at the right temperature, the process is pretty safe.
If the fog comes into direct contact with the skin, it won’t cause any damage. That said, please note that if your fogger overheats, it could create unhealthy chemical byproducts that may be more hazardous. In any case, people with allergies, asthma, and other breathing sensitivities may experience some negative effects but, generally, there’s nothing to worry about.
How to Choose A Smoke of Fog Machine That’s Right For You
The kind of smoke machine you should buy depends heavily on your budget. Naturally, the higher-end models cost a bit more. They use a lot of power and are better suited for large-scale events, celebrations, and functions.
If you want something a little more low key, there are several models available on Amazon. These models are great for small parties, holiday festivities, birthdays, and other small scale events. Some even have powerful built-in LED lights, a haze or bubble function, and offer multiple speeds. They are either controlled directly on the device or by using a wireless remote control.
All About Battery Operated Smoke Machines
Now that we understand the ins and outs of the smoke machine, let’s move onto a niche that we are very interested in – the portable battery-powered smoke machine.
Why would you want a battery-powered machine as opposed to one that you plug in? The biggest perk is that you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet, which means you can use it anywhere. But that’s not the only reason. Let’s take a look.
How To Choose The Right Portable Smoke Machine
When choosing between different models of battery-powered smoke machines, the best way to find out if you’re getting a durable, good-quality product is to check out the customer reviews. Amazon has a slew of them from people who bought various smoke machines, all of which are very helpful to prospective buyers.
Be sure to pay attention to not only the good reviews, but also the bad reviews. You want to get a full outline of the product before you buy it, and that includes perspectives that aren’t favorable.
Other than that, you should also keep in mind whether a product specifies that it’s made specifically for children’s usage. If so, it’s likely to be less durable and generally of lesser quality. This also means that products intended for children are a bit cheaper as they’re considered to be more toys than smoke machines for practical, festive functions.
How and Where To Use A Battery-Powered Smoke Machine
Here are a few examples of places where fog machines would add to the festiveness of the environment. Take a look at some of our top smoke machine Uses and try them out once you’ve decided on a product!
Portable smoke machines are great choice for a huge variety of outdoor events and parties. In fact, this is perhaps their biggest appeal. Their cordless nature makes them a great choice for busting out at even an outdoor event. Unlike a normal smoke machine, their usage isn’t tethered to a cord!
How about adding that little extra something to an outdoor wedding on a farm? Or how about livening that summer BBQ? They’re great for all sorts of uses, including birthday parties, lawn parties, beach parties, and more!
Portable smoke machines aren’t only great for events, these battery powered have found great utility for decorative purposes as well. Particularly, they’re great for decorating outdoor spaces – which are areas that were traditionally off-limits for smoke machines which relied on a cord.
Want to add some fog to a haunted house in your garage? Done. Need some smokey accents for a photoshoot in the middle of the woods? You got it. You’ll also have the most authentically spooky Halloween party of all your friends!
Some have even taken to smoke machines as Christmas décor by adding a magical layer of smoke to their wintry scene.
Portable smoke machines have found a surprising amount of use by savvy costume-afficionados. Particularly, the cosplay community has benefited from the ability to accentuate their costumes with a wondrous smoke effect. These smoke effects can complement a costume in so many creative ways – from dragon’s breath, to gun smoke, to robotics, to a “witch’s cauldron”, and much, much more.
Cosplayers are known for their creativity, and portable smoke machines are one of the most unique tools in their arsenal. They have even developed smoke machines which utilize tubing to traverse underneath their costumes.
Are you a serious photographer or videographer? Why not take a portable smoke machine to add mystique wherever you are shooting. Photographers use smoke effects to eliminate background distractions, and keep the focus on the subject. Videographers can benefit from a wide range of special effects, creating real fog effects to complement their scenes.
We could go on and on, because these battery powered machines have functionality that is only limited by your imagination.
Pro Tip: You may also want to invest in a smoke chiller, depending on the look you’re going for. Do your research into what kind of smoke effect you want before impulsively buying a machine and hoping it does it right!
Purchasing Battery Powered Smoke Machines
There’s a lot of information available to you when it comes to choosing a battery-powered smoke machine, but how can you be sure which model to buy?
There are many different brands and types of smoke machines out there, each with their own special set of features — all at varying price points. Here are four impressive, well-reviewed, highly-rated models of battery-powered smoke machines to point you in the right direction.
The MicroFogger Pocket Fog Machine is a slick, professional, battery-controlled machine that creates gorgeous fog, haze, or a smoky atmosphere right from the palm of your hand. It creates many different effects and is really convenient, portable, and durable.
The MicroFogger features a single button operation and a rechargeable battery. It only requires a few drops of fog liquid, too. If your needs are on a smaller scale, we strongly recommend this model.
The Antari Portable Battery Operated M1 Fog Machine is a great option, no matter what your needs. It’s super portable, lightweight, and perfect for locations where there is no power source available, making it particularly suited for the outdoors.
There are light and heavy fog settings and the battery and fluid tank are built into the unit, so there are no external power cords or fluid lines to worry about. The Mobile Fog Machine comes complete with a rechargeable 12v battery and charger, fluid, and a heavy-duty flight case. It only measures nine inches long so it’s easy to conceal in your decor.
As far as battery-powered fog machines go, Concept Smoke Systems’ B1 Fog Machine is one of the best models around. The B1 produces instant fog with absolutely no warm-up time. It features simple operation, low fog fluid consumption, a dense and controllable fog output, and complete portability.
The device’s 400-watt heat exchanger control allows it to provide large volumes of safe, non-toxic smoke when power is unavailable. The 12vDC battery provides fogging that lasts over ten minutes on the maximum setting, although results may vary depending on the size and temperature of the room, as well as other factors. That said, you can also use an external battery if you need more run time. It includes a suitable battery charger, battery pack, fluid tank, and 500 ml of fog fluid.
This model from Froggy’s Fog is also handheld, allowing for maximum portability and precision. This little machine packs everything it can into one durable, handheld package. Considering its size, the amount of fog this machine produces is super impressive. This device allows for continuous fogging for up to ten minutes and includes a radio remote control, cable remote control, timer, and DMX box.
Go Cord-Free When On the Go
If you’ve been thinking about getting a smoke machine, you’re in luck. There are so many options to choose from, chances are you’ll be able to find one that works perfectly for your needs. That said, there are a lot of options out there, and it’s not always easy to make the right choice.
Corded fog machines are the most popular option, but they are somewhat limited. You can only use them close to an outlet and they’re usually a pretty good size which can be difficult to transport. That being said, they’re fantastic machines if you don’t need the portability.
If you’re decided that a battery-powered smoke machine is the best choice for you, there are plenty available to choose from. To make the right choice, take a look at some of the products we chose for inspiration.
No matter what machine you buy, it’s very important to stay safe. Only use the fogging liquid recommended by the manufacturer and read the instruction manual thoroughly so you know you get it right. Generally, these machines are pretty safe, but if they under or overheat, they could cause some health issues.
Before we wrap up this article, let’s check out some of the most commonly asked questions about portable fog machines:
What is the Difference Between a Hazer and a Fog Machine?
For a beginner, there can be a lot of confusion between the terms “haze machine” and “fog machine”. Many machines that look similar use these separate titles, and it can be difficult to tell if there’s an actual difference.
In fact, there is an important difference between a fog machine and most hazers. Haze is a variety of fog that is very thin and see-through. Usually, it will require a special machine to produce (the hazer). On the other hand, a water based fog machine will produce fog using a different method (that we covered above), and will produce denser, more prominent fog.
What Does Fog Consist Of?
Many first-time users wonder what is actually in the fog they use. Typically this is because they want to know whether it will be harmful to themselves or to any materials it touches. Most quality fog juices are made from non-toxic materials that won’t stain or damage surfaces. Quality juices are made from some concentration of water and glycol, which is completely safe. While they will leave slight residue, this residue will not damage surfaces if used properly.