You may not be aware of this, but there are many types of ice rinks, each with its own specific requirements and uses. Here are the four main kinds, what they’re used for, and what to expect from each one:
Indoor rinks are the most commonly used for major sporting events and ice shows. This is because they are the most controlled and efficient of all ice rink setups. They also tend to be in use year-round. One of their major advantages is their energy efficiency—the ice rink chillers do not have to fight against ambient outdoor temperatures to keep the ice smooth and solid. Most indoor rinks can be thawed and used instead as solid, dry sporting arenas—frequently doubling as the venue for multiple types of sports. The chillers are usually located out of sight underneath the bleachers or in a separate equipment room. Because of their reliability, they are commonly used as training areas for skaters and hockey players.
When we refer to outdoor rinks, we don’t mean lakes or ponds that have frozen over for winter. We mean controlled man-made settings that let you enjoy ice skating in the outdoors. Large-scale outdoor rinks use the same technology as indoor rinks, but are clearly more at the mercy of the weather. Their chillers can deliver a consistent icy surface for up to five months of the year in temperate areas, but they are usually shut down when spring arrives. The chillers may be in an equipment house or may be fenced off beside the rink. When the ice is thawed, the same space can be used as a track, basketball court or other sporting space.
Permanent residential rinks
Residential rinks are becoming more common, especially with the surge in popularity of ice hockey. Many professional NHL players grew up with access to a residential rink, and this extra ice time contributed to their skills in the game. When a permanent residential rink is installed, the setup is similar to a larger outdoor rink: pipes are laid under a permanent pad. Generally, the chillers are smaller and use less energy because of the smaller square footage, and the pad can be used for other activities in the summer.
Temporary residential rinks
Temporary rinks are the only ones that do not require piping and a fixed surface. Instead, the rink is rolled out like a mat over any flat surface, and the chilled fluid runs through tubing inside the mat itself. This allows for recreational use of a rink without the commitment of a permanent year-round arena.
What kind of ice rink is best for your needs?