Ice rink chillers are the heart of an ice rink. They’re also expensive. If you’re investing in renting or owning ice rink chillers, you need to make sure they’re worth it and that everything will operate smoothly. Here are four potential problems and how to avoid them:
- Refrigerant leaks. Refrigerant leaks are costly for an ice rink because ice rink chillers depend entirely on maintaining a strong charge of refrigerant to keep operating. Even a small refrigerant leak can lead to decreased efficiency, higher energy bills and eventually a lack of performance. There are two main ways to avoid refrigerant leaks in an ice rink chilling system. The first is to use indirect chilling whenever possible. With indirect chilling, the refrigerant stays in the chiller instead of running through the tubes under the rink, so it’s more contained. There are less opportunities for a leak. The second is to use chillers that are in good condition and inspected and maintained regularly.
- Can’t handle warm climates. If you operate an ice rink during summer months or anywhere that isn’t as cold as, say, Canada and the upper Midwest, your chiller is fighting against nature to keep your ice rink cold. That means that there is no one-size-fits-all chiller for the job. Ice rink chillers have been developed that effectively keep ice rinks ice cold even in a California summer—and you need to get these units. If you use a unit that doesn’t have the capacity and design for your typical temperatures, you’re going to see massive energy bills and quite possibly a decline in the quality of your ice surface.
- Humidity problems. Humidity problems are also primarily a warm-climate issue, at least for ice rinks. It’s also a problem that primarily plagues indoor rinks. When a rink is enclosed, the temperature inside the rink building is different than that outside, and air can hold more moisture if it’s warmer. In a warm climate, warm humid air drifts in through the doors and then cools over the rink. The result is water condensation on surfaces throughout the ice rink building, which can cause damage and safety hazards. The correct solution is to first of all track humidity in the building, and use a dehumidification system as needed to control it.
- Doesn’t freeze fast enough. Your ice rink should not take days to freeze. If the freeze time is slow, consider whether you have sufficient chiller capacity. It may be worthwhile to inspect your chiller units and also test their refrigerant charge.
What do you look for in ice rink chillers?