Best Fog Machines

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

26 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
182 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best fog machines

Last Updated October 2019

A must for spooky Halloween parties, a fog machine is also a great addition to concerts, school plays, birthday parties, and even everyday get-togethers.

While these devices were long relegated to the ranks of professional party planners and event coordinators, there are a variety of brands on the market now that are geared toward amateur party enthusiasts. Some of these machines even have additional features, such as LED lights, that were unheard of in fog machines of this type even a few years ago.

If you’re ready to take your party to the next level, a fog machine is the way to go. This guide examines some of the features and other considerations to think about while you shop for a fog machine. We’ve also included several models that we particularly like, and we give you the reasons why they caught our eye.

Some Halloween props are specially designed to easily accommodate a fog machine.

Key considerations

A fog machine is generally pretty simple to set up and run. It has a reservoir or tank that you fill with a special “fog juice.” Turn the machine on, let it warm up, and the fog machine turns the liquid into a gas and pumps it out via a nozzle.

Power

Most fog machines run between 400 and 1,000 watts, though some professional-level machines have a higher wattage. The higher the watts, the more fog the machine produces. A 400-watt fog machine can create around 1,500 cubic feet of fog per minute. These are best for smaller functions and house parties. A 1,000-watt fog machine pushes out around 4,500 cubic feet of fog per minute, which is a decent rate for larger parties or outdoor events.

Reservoir

A larger reservoir holds more fog juice, which results in you having to fill it less often. On the other hand, too large a reservoir means a bulkier fog machine, so consider size before you buy. Also look for a reservoir that gives you an easy way to tell at a glance how much liquid remains in it.

Modes

Most fog machines have either a manual or time mode, which determines how you’ll run the device.

  • Manual mode: This mode is best if you have the time to babysit the fog machine. With a remote, you can even do this from across the room. One perk of this mode is that you can more easily keep track of the juice level in the machine so it doesn’t run dry.

  • Timer mode: If you’re more interested in a “set it and forget it” approach, the timer mode is more your speed. With this, you can essentially set the machine so it runs for a specific period of time every few minutes. This provides you with a consistent amount of fog, and the machine will use less fog juice. It’s easy to forget the fog machine if you’re juggling several party tasks, which can result in the reservoir running dry.
DID YOU KNOW?

Due to the high pressure involved, most fog machine nozzles are made of brass.

Fog machine features

Type of fog: Unless the fog machine specifically indicates it is for creating ground fog, the machine will produce a sort of a “pea soup” fog: a dense, floor to ceiling cloud. Ground fog machines use a special kind of liquid and usually dry ice to cool down the fog as it leaves the machine, creating a creepy, floor-hugging layer that provides great ambience for Halloween parties and theatrical productions.

Warm-up time: All fog machines need to warm up for a period of time before they can start producing fog. This varies from two or three minutes up to ten minutes for some machines. If a long warm-up time will negatively affect your event, aim for one that works more quickly.

Mount: If you’re going to be mounting your fog machine or need to run it in a certain configuration, such as vertically, be sure any machine you’re considering supports this. The ability to mount a fog machine (usually through a screw hole in the handle) is pretty standard.

Remote control: Some fog machines include a remote control, which you can use to control all aspects of the machine without having to be near it. This is also a handy add-on if you mount the fog machine in a hard-to-access area. If a remote control is a primary feature for your needs, know the range of the remote, because they can vary considerably.

Lights: Some fog machines also have LED or other types of lights incorporated into them, essentially giving you two different party devices in one. These lights vary from machine to machine, from simply lighting the fog to more elaborate displays, so know what any lighting features bring to the party (literally) before choosing a machine.

Handle: Handles are standard on fog machines, both as a way to mount the machine and as a way to move the machine when it’s hot. Check that any handle is sturdy and fastened securely to the machine.

Noise: These machines can be loud, so if your event needs a quiet machine, try to determine how loud a given machine is before you purchase it. Check online comments for the product you’re considering.

Fog machine prices

Fog machines start at less than $50 and can reach $300 and much more. The upper range includes more professional machines with a number of advanced options, better build quality, and more watts to fog a larger area. Ongoing costs for fog machines include fog juice, cleaning fluid, and the power necessary to run them.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re not quite ready for a fog machine but still want a little fog effect, try a tabletop misting machine.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

For the spookiest ambience, consider picking up a ground fog machine.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Buy the highest wattage fog machine you can afford. This will give you more options in terms of where you can use it and cut down on the risk of producing an underwhelming “thin” fog effect. Also, due to the fact that fog machines don’t need to reheat liquid as much, a higher-wattage machine will tend to last longer than a lower-wattage one.

  • Carefully read all instructions before using the machine for the first time. Knowing what the machine can and can’t do will allow you to produce the effect you’re trying to achieve.

  • Don’t run the fog machine with an empty reservoir. This can damage the machine.

  • Add an aroma. From vanilla and cotton candy to “fetid” odors for Halloween, fog machines can also produce scented fog. If you want to use a scent, be sure to only use ones specifically designed for use in a fog machine.

  • Don’t overdo it on the fog! Some of these machines can produce enough fog to seriously impair visibility, which can lead to accidents.

  • Set up the fog machine away from flammable materials. These machines can heat up quite a bit when they’re in use, so be sure to set yours up well away from anything that could catch fire. And know that really dense fog can set off smoke detectors, so if this is the effect you’re trying to achieve, consider disabling any smoke detectors in the party area.

Other products we considered

We wanted to share a few other fog machines that caught our interest while researching this product. The Crenova Fog Machine features 400 watts and seven colored LED lights. It’s best used in a more compact indoor or outdoor space. The UpstartechREMOELECTRIC Fog Machine has a little more power and offers an affordable three-light option with a fast warm-up time. And when you’re ready to go into the party business, check out the Chauvet DJ Nimbus. This dry ice fog machine will set you back over a grand, but you could probably fog a small city if you really needed to. It also ships with a handy cart.

The fog will dissipate much more quickly if you use your fog machine outdoors instead of indoors. With outdoor use, prepare to run the machine more and go through more fog juice.

FAQ

Q. How much fog juice will I need to run my machine?

A. This largely depends on the power output of your machine. Generally, a 400-watt machine will go through about a quart of liquid every two hours, while a 1,000-watt machine will be double that, or around two quarts every two hours.

Q. Does a fog machine require any cleaning or maintenance?

A. Because the fog juice can clog up the nozzles and hoses of a fog machine, you should try to clean it after every 40 hours of use. To do this, purchase a fog machine cleaning liquid. Add the liquid to the reservoir, then run the machine for around five minutes. Do this regularly and the machine should last for years.

Q. Is the fog produced by a fog machine safe to breathe?

A. Fog juice uses a number of active ingredients depending on the brand you buy. These ingredients, which can include triethylene glycol, glycerin, or propylene glycol, are safe to breathe if used correctly. However, if they’re overheated, they can create byproducts that can be harmful. You can avoid this by going with a reputable fog machine that neither under- nor overheats the fog juice. People who suffer from asthma may also experience a reaction when exposed to fog.

The team that worked on this review
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    Bronwyn
    Editor
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    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
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  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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