Best Fog Machines 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

 

best fog machineThere’s nothing that sets the tone of an event like fog and choosing the best fog machines – whether it’s a spooky Halloween effect, a way to highlight your DJ lights, kick off the party, or provide stage atmosphere. We’ve reviewed some of the best products by trusted companies including Chauvet, ADJ, and Froggy’s. To find the best fog machines, check out our top picks below.

 

Choosing the best fogger machine can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help! We’ve reviewed the top products, including low-lying fog machines, geyser effects, and mini machines that fit into any budget. And don’t forget to grab the best fog fluid – check out our article on the Best Fog Machine Fluid Buyers Guide!

 

To help you navigate the great options on the market, we’ve organized things into categories so you can quickly find what you’re looking for. We’re honored to help you choose the best smoke machine!

 

Name CategoryPrice
Chauvet Hurricane 1800 Flexbest smoke machineMost Versatilebest dj headphones
Chauvet Hurricane 1302best DJ fog machinesBest DJ/Partybest dj headphones
Chauvet DJ Cumulusbest fog machineBest Low-Lying Foggerbest dj headphones
American DJ Mister Kool IIbest fog machineBest Budget Low-Lying Foggerbest dj headphones
Chauvet DJ Geyser P7best geyser fog machinePowerful Geyser Effectbest dj headphones
American DJ Fog Furybest fog machineBest Geyser Effectbest dj headphones
American DJ VF Volcanobest fog machineBest Mini Geyser Effectbest dj headphones
American DJ VF 1600best fog machineBest Budgetbest dj headphones
TheeFun 400-wattbest fog machineCheapestbest dj headphones

 

1. Chauvet Hurricane 1800 Flex (Most Versatile)

best fog machines

 

The Chauvet Hurricane Series is unique for many reasons, including its flexible fog nozzle, LED-illuminated fluid tank, and sleek black finish. Not only does the smoke machine look awesome, but its performance lives up to the hype. It appears first on our list of best foggers because it’s the most versatile machine we reviewed.

 

The Hurricane 1800 Flex uses residue-free, water-based fluid, and feature a generous capacity tank with a quick heat-up time. Once fluid runs out, its advanced fluid sensors turn off the machine to avoid any damage. Other great features include a manual fog button (or use the included 15’ wired control), LED-illuminated fluid tank for enhanced operation and safety, and a lightweight design that makes it easy to transport to DJ gigs or parties.

 

 

Pros
  • Sleek design / well constructed
  • Flexible design aims fog exactly where desired
  • Residue-free
  • Includes remote for optimal fog control
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive than smaller models

 

2. Chauvet Hurricane 1302 (Best DJ/Party)

 

best fogger machineOn the hunt for the good type of drama? Then look no further than the Hurricane 1302 professional fog machine. One of Chauvet’s newest members of their fog machine lineup, this sucker delivers! It works to emit thick bursts of water-based fog to create a truly unique atmosphere for all who are in attendance.

 

The manual fog button gives easy operation so practically anyone can do it, and fog machine effects can be triggered on demand with Always Ready technology. With the 5.5 minute heat up time, you can get the party started in no time, without having to wait around. In addition, the LED-illuminated tank is not only safe, especially in places with a lot of foot traffic, but makes operation even more simple.

 

 

Pros
  • Emits thick bursts of fog at high volume
  • 5.5 minute warm-up time
  • LED-illuminated fluid tank
Cons
  • Might overwhelm small spaces

 

3. Chauvet Cumulus (best low lying fogger)

 

best smoke machineThe Chauvet DJ Cumulus is a trend-setter in the world of low-lying fog machines. If you’re serious about creating a ground fog effect, this is the machine for you! We love everything about this unit – from the sturdy housing, flexible fog hose, and wheels that make it easily transportable. Chauvet really thought of everything with this fog machine!

 

This fogger outputs an incredible amount of fog without any dry ice. Continuous operation ensures no wait-time or delays in performance. Housed in a rugged, durable road case, you won’t have to worry about this machine getting beat up during transport. Just wheel it in place, plug it in, and fog it up!

 

 

Pros
  • Wheels make this machine portable and easy to position
  • Housed in sturdy road case
  • Continuous fog output without delays
Cons
  • More expensive than smaller foggers
  • Heavier to transport to gigs

 

4. American DJ Mister Kool II (Best overall budget ground fogger)

 

best fogger machineAmerican DJ’s Mister Kool II is an affordable, yet powerful, machine that produces beautiful low-lying fog. This machine works best indoors (away from wind), but can be effective in more enclosed outdoor spaces also. You won’t need any fog chillers, or AC units and dry ice. Just load up the chiller box, turn it on, and go!

 

A water drainage valve system facilitates easy and quick cleanup. The water drains right into the included plastic bag, so there’s no mess involved. For operation, they’ve included a non-removable timer remote with an on/off switch, allowing the Mister Kool to operate with minimal maintenance.

 

 

Pros
  • Creates stunning ground fog effect
  • Conveniently uses regular ice, not dry ice
  • Simple cleanup via drainage system
  • Comes with wired remote control
Cons
  • Not great for outdoor use – especially windy conditions
  • Fog output moderate compared to Chauvet Cumulus

 

5. Chauvet DJ Geyser P7 (Most powerful geyser)

 

best fog machineChauvet fog machines are an industry standard for good reason – the Geyser PY is no exception! It features  7x 9-watt penta-color (RGBA+UV) LEDs for crazy color capabilities. It can create two-tone bursts of fog which look both beautiful and impressive. Color mixing allows you blend mix red, green, and blue LEDs to create any color you’d like.

 

This fogger is DMX-compatible, giving you full control over your light show. If you’re looking to add that head-turning wow factor to your light show, look no further. Go beyond a normal fog/pyro effect – mix it up with the fun colors and features of this machine.

 

 

Pros
  • Creates pyrotechnic-like effect
  • 6 tri-color RGB LEDs
  • LEDs capable of seven colors and color mixing
  • Creates 2-tone fog bursts
Cons
  • Not ideal for small spaces

 

6. American Fog Fury (Best geyser effect)

 

best fog machineIf you’re looking for a powerful geyser effect, this machine produces bursts up to 25 feet! It features 12 3W RGBA LED bulbs with DMX compatibility. We’ve chosen this light as our top pick for vertical fog machines – its features are fantastic but it also won’t empty your wallet. This fogger is perfect for life on the road, but can also be installed for longer periods of time in any venue.

 

The unit features Thermo Sensing Technology to monitor heat levels, which helps prevent overheating as well as clog prevention. You can mount this fogger in any direction – in order to produce fog up, down, or horizontally. If you’re interested in picking up a powerful vertical fogger at a reasonable price, look no further!

 

 

Pros
  • Shoots fog up to 25 feet
  • Mountable so you can aim fog in any directionFast warm-up time
  • Thermo-sensor to ensure safe operation
Cons
  • Not ideal for small venues

 

7. American DJ VF Volcano (Best budget geyser)

 

top fog machinesIn the world of fog machines, there is nothing quite as cool as the geyser effect! It adds excitement and thrill to any light show, mobile DJ setup, party, or Halloween scene. The ADJ VF Volcano allows you to pull off this effect at a very reasonable price. The unit stands out with its white, compact, vertical design.

 

The machine works to mix color into the fog produced from 6x 3-watt RGB LEDs. Despite being so affordable, the way it produces a dry, even blast over an impressive 15 feet is not even that common by more expensive models’ standards. To prevent any clogging or more serious issues, they’ve included a specially-designed heating element which utilizes an oil-type transmission throughout the pipeline.

The top-notch pump system gives maximum output, as well, so you don’t have to worry about weak fog production, and their Electronic Thermo Sensing (ETC) keeps heat levels optimal with a quick warm-up time.

 

 

Pros
  • Great low price for an awesome effect!
  • RGB LEDs illuminate fog as it blasts
  • Produces dry, even blast over 15 feet
  • Efficient pump system to prevent clogging
Cons
  • Fog blast not as powerful as larger models

 

8. American DJ VF 1600 (Best overall budget)

 

best fog machinesNo matter if you need one of the best fog machines for Halloween, or are going to be taking it to one of your gigs – the American DJ VF1600 can get it done. Equipped with a high-efficiency heater, it does burn quickly through fog liquid, but also heats up in under a mere 8 minutes. In typical form, American DJ has created one of the best foggers on the market, for a reasonable price.

 

It comes with a generous 2.3 liter external fog fluid tank that has a fluid level indicator so you can always see where you’re at. The Halloween fog machine even comes with a convenient wired remote control to change things up at a moment’s notice. If that weren’t enough, a DMX control. Electronic Thermo Sensing (ETS) for ideal heating levels, and a low fog fluid shut off sensor is also included.

 

 

Pros
  • High-efficiency heating element
  • Large 2.3 liter external fluid tank
  • Convenient fluid level indicator
  • Comes with ETS and wired remote control
Cons
  • Warm-up time could be slightly faster

 

9. Theefun 400-watt Fog Machine (Best mini fogger)

 

best fog machinesSometimes all you need is a small and compact machine to create a big impact. The Theefun 400-watt Halloween fog machine is perfect for inside or outside use, and will create a spooky scene no matter where you place it! Perfect for accenting lighting on the dance floor, fogging up a haunted house or porch, or including in your DJ setup!

 

Considering its compact size, this machine produces a surprising 2,000 cubic feet of fog output per minute, so believe us when we say you won’t be disappointed! With a one-pint fluid capacity, you won’t have to constantly be refilling, and can be enjoying the party, instead. The small fog machine also comes with a convenient 15’ wired remote for easy operation.

 

Pros
  • Easy to transport
  • Produces 2,000 cubic ft per minute
  • 1 pint fluid capacity
Cons
  • Not ideal for larger events and spaces

How do fog machines work?

best fog machine buyers guide That’s a great question! They look cool, but most of us don’t have a solid concept of how they actually work. First off, it’s important to note that water-based fog machines are the most common, for consumers and commercial use alike. Despite this, depending on the manufacturer and models, the machines can vary quite a bit in design and quality.

 

The “fog fluid”, which is typically a mixture of extremely pure glycol and water, is kept in the tank, which is then pushed through a heat exchanger by a high-pressure pump. The exchanger maintains a high enough temperature to ensure the fluid vaporizes, which is also known as “flashing”. During this process, the liquid quickly expands, which is what pushes the vapor through the machine’s nozzle. Once the vapor mixes with the cooler air outside, it immediately creates the opaque aerosol we know as the “fog”.

 

A fog machine typically consists of 5 components: a pump, a heat exchanger, a nozzle, remote controls, and the fog fluid. Let’s have a look at each one.

 

The Pump: The pump used is typically a piston pump, which is also responsible for the majority of the noise produced by a fog machine. It is a very important component, and is what transports the fluid from the tank to the heat exchanger.

 

The Heat Exchanger: Unlike the pumps, these vary quite a bit, depending on the model you settle on. A high-quality machine should feature a well-made exchanger in terms of safety and performance. Generally-speaking, however, it’s basically a block of metal (typically aluminum), featuring a heating element built inside to heat it up. The thermostat will regulate how hot it gets, and the channel inside the block lets the fluid make tis way to the nozzle. The power of the machines will generally depend on the wattage of the exchanger.

 

The Nozzle: The nozzle is where the fog actually exits the machine. They’re usually made of solid brass, and the hole is super tiny, so the fog is forced through at a high pressure. Never touch the nozzle, as it will become extremely hot during operation. Also make sure nothing that is flammable is placed nearby.

 

Remote Control: The majority of the machines will feature a simple ON/OFF switch remote control. Simply hold down the button for fog, and release to stop. However, this can be a hassle, as you can’t just leave it operate on its own; you have to be actively pressing the button for it to work. That’s why a Timer Remote Control is coveted, and lets you operate the machine hands-free. You select how long you’d like it to stay on, and voila.

 

Fog Machine Fluid: It’s important to keep in mind that fog machine fluids and the machines, themselves, are typically designed to work together, due to particular fluid formulas requiring a certain level of heat for optimum aerosolization. If a machine isn’t compatible with a certain fluid, it can result in a “wet” fog, which can leave residue. In contrast, if the machine is too hot, the fluid can “burn”, or decompose, which actually alters the chemical composition, and has the potential to create harmful byproducts. Nobody wants that.

 

Are fog machines safe to breathe?

This is a question many ask, and while we don’t encourage breathing the fog for long periods of time, the typical consumer-use fog is not considered dangerous to humans. However, if you have breathing problems or find that your throat is easily irritated by smoke, then you may have some issues, but not in the sense that fog machines are bad for lungs.

 

Fog machines and asthma are always a hot topic, and as previously touched on, if you find you’re sensitive to these kinds of products, try to avoid them. The machines themselves are not proven to cause asthma, but they can potentially trigger an attack if inhaled for an extended period of time. Keep in mind that fog can be drying or irritating, so try to keep exposure to a minimum, heat fluids at the lowest temperature possible, and always use the fluid that’s meant to be used with your machine. If used inside, ensure the room is well-ventilated.

 

Fog Machine Effects

best fog machineOn The Ground: Ever wonder how they manage to get fog to crawl creepily over the ground like a foggy evening? It’s actually quite simple science! As the fog that is expelled from the machine is hot, it rises. The easiest way to combat this, is to cool the fog with a Fog Chiller. These are pretty cheap to buy, and if you really want, making them isn’t too difficult, either.

 

Vortex: Another cool effect, is the swirling vortex. All you need for this, is simply a holiday image projector and the fog machine, and you’re all set for a creepy, easy effect.

 

Seeping From The Ground: This one is kind of similar to the first, but a bit more eerie-looking. The way to pull this one off, is by grabbing your fog generator, a flexible house, a couple clamps, and some PVC leech line pipe (make sure it has the holes in it). Attach the flexible hose to the fog generator, bury the hose under some loose top soil, leaves, or something similar, and the fog will seep from the ground!

 

fog machine geyser effectGeyser: To create the coveted geyser effect that’s commonly seen in clubs and concerts, you’ll most likely need a special fog machine made for doing this exact function. Without them, you’ll just get bland little puffs of fog. You want powerful, dense, opaque fog, which is difficult to accomplish with your run-of-the-mill machine.

 

Different Locations: Sometimes, we don’t want the fog to come out where we place the fog machine. We’re not always able to place the machine where we’d like it – sometimes there’s just not space near the dance floor. In this case, you can get a shop-vac hose or something similar, that’s around 8 feet long, with the assistance of a fan to move the fog through it. We definitely recommend choosing a smooth hose over a corrugated one, and make sure you don’t attach the hose directly to the fog machine. Try to keep them an inch or so apart.

 

Strobe: One of our favorite effects is combining a strobe light and fog! To do this, simply take a strobe light(s) and aim it into the fog to create a cool, disorienting look. It’s usually executed better when aimed at an angle, rather than straight on, or above, below, or to the side.

 

Features to Look For

fog machine for halloweenThere are various traits to look for in a high-quality fog machine. Let’s take a look at each!

 

As we previously mentioned, having a remote timer controller is ideal, unless you want to be sitting there all night holding down the button every time you want fog. These controllers feature a timer, as well as a volume control that lets you set how often and how much is expelled. Try different settings until you get the effect you’d like. Don’t leave it up to the last minute.

 

Not only that, but take a look at the wattage of the fog machine. This will tell you how powerful it is. Sometimes people will just want very thin, wispy fog, but if you’re using it in performances, you’re almost always going to want to go for a higher wattage. Generally, they range anywhere from 400 to 1300 watts. The higher wattages will produce more fog, but it’s also essential they don’t go into a re-heat cycle as often because the exchanger has more power.

 

Finally, you almost always get what you pay for when we’re talking about fog machines. Make sure to get one that’s well-built and made with high-quality materials. If not, you could not just end up with a shoddy machine and fog, but unhealthy byproducts and safety risks.

DIY Fog Machine

best fog machineMany people are curious about making a homemade fog machine, and whether it’s worth doing that, or opting for a professional fog machine. We’re going to cover it all, so you know which route to take!

 

While you absolutely can build your own fog machine, we really would advise against doing so. First of all, the building plans of how to make a fog machine that you’ll find online are not regulated in any way, meaning that they could be potentially dangerous (and plenty are). Keep in mind that if the fog fluid reaches a certain temperature, it could produce toxic fumes. Not only that, but you also risk electrical hazards. As your fog machine will most likely be used in a place with a lot of people present, it’s even more important to have a machine that’s safe to use, and won’t put anyone or any building at risk.

 

Making fog fluid is also something we recommend against trying to create. Once again, fog fluids are generally made with the coinciding machine in mind. Manufacturers create their fog with a chemical makeup specifically for their machines. In addition, their fog is typically make with 99.9% pure, pharmaceutical-grade propylene glycol, triethylene glycol, and distilled water.

 

While it can definitely be fun and even satisfying to make your own products, as far as fog machines go, selecting a brand-new professional fog machine is safer, and will actually ensure you’re receiving a high-quality, properly-functioning product that will wow the crowd!

 

What criteria did we use?

best fog machine for djPerhaps it’s helpful to state what we didn’t do when choosing these foggers. We did not scour the Internet for the cheapest products we could find and copy and paste them here. That’s a waste of everyone’s time. You can definitely find cheaper fog machines out there, but most of them are sure to break down on you, perform poorly, and in the long run cost you more money when you end up buying a higher-quality fog machine anyway.

 

So what criteria did we use? How did we end up with this list of cheap fog machines?

#1 – Brand Reliability 

Not to be snobbish about it, but certain brands try to sell unreliable products and others deliver high-quality goods. We prefer the latter. The brands featured here are backed by years of reliable manufacturing and are used by professionals. 

#2 – Price

This one is pretty self-explanatory but still important. The amount of money spend will probably depend on what you’ll be using your fog machine for. If you’re planning to tote it around to gigs, invest in something a bit nicer, that can withstand the rigors of gig life. If you’re only planning to bust out the fog machine for Halloween or parties at your home, an entry-level fogger may suffice. 

#3 – Helpful Features

We highlight fog machines that offer practical features like fast warmup time, timer options, heating indicator, fog output, etc. Not only are these products affordable and efficient.

 

Conclusion

Fog machines are capable of so much today, so rest assured there is probably a machine that’s perfect for your context. We hope this buyer’s guide will quickly and helpfully orient you to some of the best fog machines on the market. Get creative, have fun, and get fogging! 

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