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Hello all,

Can't seem to find any thread several pages in regarding fog chillers and I had sort of gone out of topic on a fogger thread.. so figured I'd kick this off for anyone that wishes to participate.

I built a gotfog chiller (Fog Machines - Your Guide to using Fog Machines for Halloween) a couple years back, but didn't do much research beyond finding that site and thinking how cool that would be. Little did I know there were better designs already in the works both being sold and DIY projects.

While I didn't get to use my chiller for long... my fog machine busted a few hours before night time two years ago (last year we were away).. it did "ok" and I thought it was pretty good until this year when I started seeing other designs that appeared to put out thicker longer lasting fog with 400 to 700 watt machines bought for like $20 to $50. So having bought a new fog machine (Chauvet 1250.. due to come in tomorrow)... I revisited youtube (didn't use this two years ago) to see various fog machines in action. That is when I started seeing the different fog chillers.. the most notorious are the garbage can ones and the igloo 48/60qt cubed ones. Both were putting out a lot of good thick low lying fog. Naturally this depends on the size of the chiller and the output of the fog machine.. but most videos I saw showed 700 watt machines, a couple showed pretty expensive 1000/1300 watt machines.

So.. after joining this forum, reading about the potential problem with the Chauvet I bought and am waiting for, a few of the people in that thread had indicated they had several foggers, chillers, etc.. so I asked there.. and hence moved here due to that being the wrong thread.

So what's the best design? Well, it appears it's a tossup between the Vortex designs.. both sold comercially for a pretty penny and the DIY versions, as well as the trash can design with long dryer tubes being used.

Today, I finally caved and decided my old gotfog design was not as good... so I first set my sites on reworking it a little bit. It's in a 48qt long length, short height ice chest... so I took my measuring tape and realized.. crap, I have 4" holes on this sucker. If I modified it the way I was going to.. which was remove the rounded mesh I had from input to output ports, put a mesh "table" over the ports and have one port bend up 90 degrees thru the mesh to the top (the output port in the vortex design).. well.. there simply wasn't going to be any way to do this. The mesh table sitting on top of the existing 4" holes would end up leaving about 1/2" or so for ice and a huge chamber below for air... not exactly a good idea.

So.. shoot, I already got the new/good fogger coming (assuming the thread regarding the Chauvet 1250 only using 800 watts of its reported 1200 water heater turns out to be ok), and I want a good chiller as this is the unit I'll use to fog my entire grass/graveyard scene. I have a smaller 400 watt cheapie I can use for other things if need be.

So I caved.. I went out and found the 60Qt igloo at walmart for $26. I got the 2" PVC pieces.. aobut $25 worth including 2 2' long pieces, the venturi piece for the input (just in case.. going to try using it and not.. see which works better), and the elbow to turn the inside up 90 degrees, as well as the 3/4" pvc tubing to mount the mesh table on for the ice to sit on, and the roll of mesh. I am hoping that is all the right stuff. I also plopped about $45 on tools since I didn't have them. I got the 2 3/8" hole cutter for $13, and the drill bit that it ounts to.. which was like $12! (ouch!). I also bought a pair of mesh cutters as I dont think I had some..that was another $14. While it cost a bit.. the tools were almost 1/2 the cost.. so assuming if I had those the parts list was about $50 total.. thats almost 1/3 the price of the Vortex you can buy on the internet.. not even sure if they charge for shipping. And.. as some other threads I read mentioned, I am using an ice cooler.. where as the Vortex design on the net is using a plastic kitty food container.. so the extra cooling capability of the igloo cooler should help somewhat.. but who knows for sure.

Now.. there is an interesting issue with the Vortex design.. it seems that many youtube videos show people using it backwards. That is.. they fire there fog into the port that elbos up to the top inside.. forcing the fog to hit the ceiling then float down thru the ice to cool.. finally getting into the lower chamber and out the port. The thing that strikes me odd here is.. the bottom chamber is there to help expand the hot fog even more.. and hot == rise.. so it should rise thru the ice to the top... with enough fog inside the pressure should help push the now cooled and ready to fall fog at the top, thru the top port and out the elbow joint. Supposedly this design "flash chills" the fog and makes it thicker and linger longer. The videos I've seen go the opposite way tho... so the question is.. which is better? Both seem to work well.. only testing will show me for sure. But I would think going into the bottom chamber to expand more and rise thru the ice to chill would work better than hitting that rounded elbow joint first before the fog is really all expanded. The videos do indicate, as well as the vortex manual says, put the fogger 3" away from the input port. The idea being.. as soon as the fog comes out of the nozzle, it has plenty of air around it to expand rapidly.

There are two other pieces to the puzzle that I hope someone can answer. I bought the psuedo venture ABS piece "just in case". Some designs show it to be there and supposedly the force of more powerful foggers like the 1250 I got coming, should help "pull air" in thru that angled port and thus chill and expand the fog even more.. whether it chills it at all.. or helps in any way.. I am not sure. But with that in mind.. do you put the fogger nozzel all the way into the ABS input.. or still leave 2 to 3" of room between the nozzle and the input? My thought was that with the venturi port.. you put the nozzle all the way in.. and the force at which it is coming out would help suck air in from the 2nd port.. basically achieving the same affect.. if not maybe a bit better.. as putting the fogger back 3". But then I ask.. if the fog expands before it even enters the chiller... why such a large chamber with no ice.. from what I read it helps the fog expand.. giving it "more" fog. If that is true.. great.. but I would love to know if that really works.. or if that chamber really doesn't do much. I ask this because some stuff I read says the longer/more contact with ice.. the more thick/better laying/long lasting the fog is. If that's the case.. why not fill the bottom with ice too.. so that the fog enters the chiller and blasts into the ice right off? Only thing I can think of is maybe too much ice, not enough air would chilll the fog too fast and slow its output.. maybe even keeping it from expanding as well. So does that air chamber really help and if so.. does the venturi or using the 3" gap offset the need for that chamber.. or just further enhance the overall fog output?

The second issue I have is the fog going up thru the ice chills.. supposedly very fast. This is great.. but does any of it fall back thru the ice.. hence not all of it makes it out the top port? Or is there some magicaly pressure buildup that ensures all the fog that passes thru the ice and chills all goes right out the port at the top and thru the elbow joint and out? Another thought occurred to me.. the gotfog design indicates the "mesh" that stretches the length of the chiller provides a guide path for the fog. This sounded great. Maybe.. using the vortex design, if we put a sort of "scoop" at the top output port that helped scoop (and compress a bit) all the fog that makes it to the top into the 2" hole. I don't know if it's easy to visualize.. but ideally in my 60qt cooler, there is about 3" on any side of the port.. its aobut 8" across (or close to it). The port hole is only 2". If I could put a sort of hood ram piece that sort of guided all the fog as it hits the tops inside coming up thru the ice.. to guide it thru the 2" hole.. and not scatter around it.. I am wondering if that would give mroe fog output? I may try this.. although I don't quite know how the heck I'll make something like this.

Ok.. so there may be some that prefer one design or the other.. or one way of using a given design over the other. But.. fog machine manufacturers can measure output of a fog machine.. as CFM. Is there any way to maybe do the same.. monitor CFM, but also maybe chec the density.. like parts per million of fog gas to air or something.. to indicate the density of the fog.. and ofcourse the timing of how long it stays around.. and one more thing.. if it stays low like real fog.. or gets kicked up when people walk thru it.. aka they warm it up a bit.

I plan on wetting my grass.. although one poster said it's supposed to rain for us on halloween..which would really suck given all the time/money I've put into this project! But.. can't do much about that. I'll try to make the best of it.

Ok then.. look forward to replies.
 

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Nice job summarizing the situation. I too am planning on making a fog chiller and also went with the Walmart 60 Igloo Cube. Was getting all the parts together and then heard about the rain (in same boat as you) so have figured no point rushing to complete it for this year.

I ended up getting a Walmart Black & Decker 5pc hole saw (includes 2 inch and 2-1/8 inch hole saws and comes with drill mandel (sp?)) for about $8.50. It says it cuts through plastic as well so we'll see how well it does once I start. I questioned whether I really needed to purchase the 2-3/8 cutter (more costly and also bi-metal) and my dad said you can always file down the PVC a little if it's a little tight. I'm pretty Halloween broke at this point so went the cheaper route.

I'm going to use mine with a 400 W unit. Don't have a lot of space to fog and don't want to cause a traffic problem on the street.

I'll be happy to post my results once I've completed and tested it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Right on. I plan on taking pictures as I go.. posting them somewhere.. probably my facebook account. Not sure if I can put video up there tho.. or where I can.. youtube I guess and link it. lol.

I put the 2 3/8" cutter up to the 2" ABS I got.. its a perfect size match. With sealant.. it should work fine. I agree tho.. if you can get the 5-pc.. why not! Plus I paid like $25 or more for the one saw and the bit to hold it. I am dumb like that at times.. I just want to get the stuff and honestly with gas prices in the bay area... it's not worth another hour or two of driving around to save a couple bucks. I'll waste more in gas alone.. plus add time looking.. meh.. rather spend a few extra bucks and be done with it.
 

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I have two vortex type chillers and they work great. it never occurred to me to try them backwards though. I will try that on Halloween night and see what happens. good luck with your chiller. here are pics of my two.



 

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Hey Mark, that cooler above was what I was telling you about for the trash can chiller. It has the tray that sits inside the trash can and sits on that lip. The inlet will go in with a 90 degree elbow to the top through the tray. Then you put ice on top of that tray so the fog goes in and through the PVC and settles through the ice then comes out through another PVC on the opposite side of the can. That design will work better with your 1700w machine because of the CFM of your machine. Or you can do the duct work style like I sent you.
 

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Hello all,
Ok.. so there may be some that prefer one design or the other.. or one way of using a given design over the other. But.. fog machine manufacturers can measure output of a fog machine.. as CFM. Is there any way to maybe do the same.. monitor CFM, but also maybe chec the density.. like parts per million of fog gas to air or something.. to indicate the density of the fog.. and ofcourse the timing of how long it stays around.. and one more thing.. if it stays low like real fog.. or gets kicked up when people walk thru it.. aka they warm it up a bit.
The density of fog really is based on the type of juice you use not really the machine. You will get denser fog from one manufacturer to another. The most popular and denser fog of choice is the Froggys Swamp juice.
 

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The more CFM per minute the more area you will need to cool the fog.
Exactly! That is why I suggested the larger trash can chiller because the cooler one I have that I could have loaned you that is like the one above would not have been very effective. For a 1700w machine you need a larger chiller to get the best results.

Was the 30 gallon not enough? It works good for the 1200w but I haven't tested it with my 1700w. I was curious if I needed to build one from the 44 gallon.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well crap.. I am not sure what to do now... apparently we're going to have rain.. which means it's pointless to try to use outdoor fog.. or my thunder/lightning effect.. man.. I can't believe this.. finally a Friday halloween where they will stay out a little later.. more time to scare and have fun.. and it's going to rain. I really hope it waits a day! Or hey..maybe it will hit early and water my lawn then go away so the fog stays low longer. :D

So not sure if I should return the $80+ I spent on all the materials.. and keep my gotfog design.. or do what I really want which is scrap that one (in the trash it goes) and build the Vortex style chiller.

Question.. the 60qt I got today.. would that be enough for my Chauvet 1250? I would certainly hope it is...

By the way.. the Vortex site shows some special stuff you can spread on your ice that will double the fog output.. (maybe density..) anyone tried this and does it work?

I have a bit over 1/2 a gallon of Froggy's swamp juice from two years ago.. it's going to have to do.. too late to buy any more before halloween and I don't want any cheap crap in my new fogger.

Man.. I was watching the vids of those uber expensive foggers.. forget the name now.. they put out some serious fog.. continuously! But at $1200 to $2500 a pop.. they should! I like there co2 chiller..that thing is insane! Expensive too.. but probably about the best you can get.. may be why their foggers are used in so many professional venues. Wonder if my wife would shoot me for spending $5K on a fogger and chiller for our tiny rental house lawn. lol
 

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Just build a weather proof and tight box with a a/c vent mounted in it on each side to ventilate it. Then on one end of the box where you want the fog to output cut a hole about 3- 4" in dia. depending on the size of PVC you are using. Then insert about a 6" piece of PVC in the hole where you have 3" on each side. This will serve a couple of purposes. It will allow you connect a dryer hose to connect from the fog box to the chiller. Also it will allow the fog to flow into the tube to the hose and into the chiller and not the box. This way you can use the fogger outdoors. I have a couple of these boxes built for my foggers I use anyways just to conceal them.

t-o-t will come out raining or not as long as it is not a down pour and there is no lightning.

As far as the 60qt cooler, you should be ok with it if you are going with the vortex design. If you use the Gotfog.com design the it might not have enough time to chill as the output of the fogger will shoot right through the cooling chamber.

The stuff Vortex sales I think is a ice saver that makes the ice last longer and suppose to make it colder. I don't think it will make the fog denser.

Those high end professional foggers that are $1200 to $2500 even if you had the money to buy one, you probably wouldn't have the power to run them. As it is now the 1700w foggers now are pushing just under 15 amps. Those other ones are pushing well over 20 amps which would require you to have a special circuit to run them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Fog juice woes

Well.. I got my Chauvet 1250.. started to fill it up with the remaining fog juice I had.. Froggy's juice from two years ago. After I filled it up.. I looked in the tank to see how full it was.. and crap if I didn't see a bunch of things floating around! Chunks of black stuff of something or another.. in my new fogger!!! Talk about being pissed! I gotta empty the tank.. rinse it out and empty it again... then I need to go find a gallon of juice from somewhere that is good enough to use in the machine.

Since I wont be able to order any Froggy's... anyone know of local stores that would sell it.. or should I just try to make my own since that's a wee bit cheaper. If I do make my own..what is recommended..
 

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I built a Chiller this year using a 60qt Storage bin. PVC inlet, PVC outlet with Chicken wire straight through. Used a 400wat fogger ( yes, I know small but room is not big ) Two bags of ice from 7-11. Worked well, fog dropped right out of the tube, but my auto-timer failed halfway through... Will be building a smaller version for next year with cat litter pail and save the 60qt version for a larger fogger
 

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Sweet! I am going to do the cat litter pail next year too for my 400 watter.. and going to build the 60qt today.. I hope! Wife is around and I haven't shared the news of how much all this cost me..er.. us.. and she wont be happy that I've spent almost $300 on a fogger and a chiller.. especially when I got this big ass gotfog chiller sitting in my garage for the past two years taking up space! If I hadn't used 4" ports on the old gotfog design, I could have reworked it to be like the vortex design.. but the tubes are just too big to make work right with the ice tray and elbow joint. Dang. Oh well.. only going to get to enjoy this for a few years.. you never know when you move into some new place that you cant set things up.. or they don't let you.. etc.
 

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Texan.. missed your last post.. cool info! I will build the 60qt igloo.. hoping it works well! Hell, if I have time.. I may try to get a kitty litter container.. but hate to spend money on a full pail of food. lol. Could use that for my smaller fogger tho.. but that's a manual button only.. so probably wont be using it.

So with the 60qt vortex.. I am wondering for any cooler for that matter.. does it help to "chill" the cooler for a few hours before using it? I know the fog goes thru the ice to chill.. but wondering if like in a fridge.. you let it on for a bit to get it cold.. then put stuff in.. maybe if I let it sit for a few hours.. then drain any water out and fill up more ice.. if that would help the entire inside be colder than filling it with ice right away. But.. opening the lid to replace ice would probably let most of that cold out anyway.. so not sure its really worth it.

Just trying to think of other ways to make it as cold as possible. One post said something like putting in ice/salt ahead of time.. even tho it will melt the ice.. maybe make it a little cooler initially..

Is there any benefit to having some ice on the bottom right before the output.. for example.. lets assume we modified the vortex design... probably woudl work better in a longer chest than the taller one I got now.. but when hot fog goes up thru the ice.. and then falls (chilled) down the 2" ABS tube.. after it hits the elbow.. what if that emptied into another "chamber" that had some ice in it.. then an output port.. so that the chilled fog might get some extra chill.. I was thinking that after its all nice and chilled and starts going thru the output tube at the top.. it may "warm up" a bit on the way down before it exits... the ABS tube itself is no doubt warmer than the ice.. so as the chilled fog goes out.. rubbing up against the ABS tube.. it probably warms up a bit again. So that's why I thought.. what if it went thru a 2nd batch of ice right as it exits.. to help chill it up again? For that matter.. if I use the bag on the exit.. to help spread it a bit.. what if I do what that one post said.. put ice to old the bag down.. which adds a bit ore chill.. is that basically the same thing as what I am suggesting?
 

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LoL....Man you sure are putting a lot of thought into this just for one night. It pretty much is what it is. You are only going to be able to do so much with a chiller and you can not get ice more much colder then if it was 32 degrees or 10 degrees. The results will be the same.

If you could find a way to trap the fog in the chiller for an extender period of time then release it when needed that would probably be the only optimal way. Just remember you can only get vapor so cold regardless of temp. I had a couple ideas for something like this but never got around to trying it out.
 

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Just got around to uploading the pictures of the fog chillers I built for this year. All three are Vortex designs built into Igloo 60 quart "Ice Cube" coolers. The shelf support is made from 1/2" PVC and the shelf itself is a cut down light fixture grate. All the pipes are 2" ABS.











A few items of note... I had to buy a relatively expensive hole saw to do this. The 2" ABS needs a 2 3/8" hole. I used a Rigid saw and mandrel from Home Depot (total cost around $30). The light fixture grate cuts easily with a set of wire cutters and was very easy to fit. I used a ratcheting PVC cutter which made things go very quickly as opposed to a saw. The coolers were painted with Krylon ultra flat black camo paint. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick very well and it's already peeling off.

I did one test with about a 1/4 load of ice. The fog stayed low and came out very cold to the touch. I expect these will work well when fully stocked. I'll be using all three with Chauvet Hurricane 1250 fog machines. One will pump fog out of a witch's cauldron. Another will pump the fog through around fifteen feet of perforated 2" ABS pipe behind one of the graveyards. The third will be in a van putting fog out through the open side doors.

I'll take pictures of them all in action and post them after Halloween.
 

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Man looks like you are set, should look really good. 1200w or should I say 800w..LoL In a cauldron should look sweet...LoL

I never thought about using that light fixture cover. Do you think that stuff will get brittle when it get cold? They look great. I always cringe when I have to cut into a cooler which is why I went with the trash can coolers. I can't bring myself to cut a perfectly good beer can chiller...LoL

One thing I would add to keep the ice from falling through as it melts is get some screen like you use on your windows and line the top of that grate. Might also help slow the fog down some too giving it more time in the ice. That stuff is super cheap and would keep the ice from going to the bottom of your cooler as it melts.
 

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That should work pretty well Mark. I bet a straight Vortex design in that size can would work about the same however. The additional ice creates a huge increase in surface area which is the biggest factor in cooling the fog down.

That reminds me of two things I forgot to add on my original post... I did not end up sealing the ABS pipes where they penetrate the cooler. They fit very snug and don't leak. Instead of weatherstripping the lid, I'm just going to tape it closed with gaffers tape.
 

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I like the idea, I think it would work great. The dryer duct should slow the fog down enough, then having it drop through the ice as well makes it even better. Only thing I am curious about is do you think there will be enough to force the fog out once it has dropped? I like the drain cover idea, that is slick...

Another thing I did that I just remembered. When I made mine, just below that lip on the inside where the ice tray sits. I put some 2" bolts in there to help support the tray in case it slid down or tried to. Since you are not doing an actually vortex design you won't need that though.
 

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Weather is usually our worst enemy here in the great white north. Normally it is very cool, so even a fog chiller doesn't help much, but that doesn't stop us from trying. This year the forecast is for a low of about 36 (2-3 celsius) which is not too bad. Still getting the fog really cold is of utmost importance if you want it to lay down at all. I used a vortex chiller last year (spent the money) but even that didn't do a very good job.

This year rather than focusing on longer chamber time or ice contact, I'm going with dry ice. The local 'gas' supplier sells dry ice in a cube/pellet form, which would provide the surface area I need, and it is of course way, way, way colder than regular ice.

This will of course require some special handling but I'm hopeful that this will solve my problem. Very interesting discussions about chillers, I'll post my results in a few days, and look forward to hearing how all the other plans worked out.
 
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