There’s nothing that sets the tone of an event like fog and choosing the best fog machine – 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 machine, 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!
|Chauvet Hurricane 1800 Flex||Most Versatile|
|Chauvet Hurricane 1302||Best DJ/Party|
|Chauvet DJ Cumulus||Best Low-Lying Fogger|
|American DJ Mister Kool II||Best Budget Low-Lying Fogger|
|Chauvet DJ Geyser P7||Powerful Geyser Effect|
|American DJ Fog Fury||Best Geyser Effect|
|American DJ VF Volcano||Best Mini Geyser Effect|
|American DJ VF 1600||Best Budget|
1. Chauvet Hurricane 1800 Flex (Most Versatile)
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.
2. Chauvet Hurricane 1302 (Best DJ/Party)
On 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.
3. Chauvet Cumulus (best low lying fogger)
The 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!
4. American DJ Mister Kool II (Best overall budget ground fogger)
American 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!
5. Chauvet DJ Geyser P7 (Most powerful geyser)
Chauvet 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.
6. American Fog Fury (Best geyser effect)
If you’re looking for a powerful geyser effect, this is the best fog machine for the job. It blasts 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.
7. American DJ VF Volcano (Best budget geyser)
In 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 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.
8. American DJ VF 1600 (Best overall budget)
If you want the best fog machine 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.
9. Theefun 400-watt Fog Machine (Best mini fogger)
Sometimes the best fog machine comes small and compact, but still has 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!
How do fog machines work?
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?
The best fog machine is a safe one! Many wonder if fog is safe to breathe, 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
On The Ground: One of the best fog machine options is low lying fog! 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!
Geyser: 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
There 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
Many 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?
Perhaps 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.
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 the best fog machine on the market. Get creative, have fun, and get fogging!