Best Smoke Fog Machine For Your Budget 2022

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A smoke machine can add just the right aesthetic touch for a cinematic opening or a theatrical music video transition.

A smoke fog machine is an excellent option for everything from spicing up your product videos (and photos), adding an eerie atmosphere to the graveyard scene in your horror short film, and creating some exciting effects with colored lights in music video.

And with a smoke machine, you can easily create some fun for Halloween as well.

Editor’s Choice:
I found many smoke machines extremely affordable in my daring research but very limited in their features and versatility.

One particular model that stood out to me the most regarding price, quality, and capability is the Tengchang 1500W Fog Machine.

The Tengchang is the best bang for your buck because it’s an affordable option for people in need of a powerful machine.

It’s a low-lying smoke machine which is a new alternative to dry ice machines which can be pricey and challenging to maintain. Low-lying fog is excellent for light enhancement and area effect when using for productions and live events.

The biggest perk is the amount of area it covers at 18,000 cubic feet per minute. 

Finding the proper fog machine for your job can be difficult.

But fear not, I’ve fumbled through the foggy interwebs in search of the best deals for smoke machines from affordable to high-end, so you don’t have to.

1. Chauvet Lighting DJ 700 Hurricane Fog Machine

Output: 1,500 cfm

Warm-up Time: 2.5 minutes

Tank Capacity: .6 liters

Weight: 4 lbs

Dimensions: 8.5 x 7.1 x 4.9

Chauvet Lighting is a popular brand for top-of-the-line lighting equipment used for film and stage productions.

It’s your typical fog machine for basic use and not as powerful or durable as more expensive models.

While it’s a light, easy-to-use machine, it only covers 1,500 cubic feet per minute. So it’s best for smaller projects, like a product video.

ProsCons
Dirt cheap
Includes wired remote control
Quick warm-up time (2.5-minutes)
Lightweight
Better build options out there in terms of quality
Noisy machine
Not very powerful (1500 CFM)
Poor recharge time
Indoor use only

Check the current price on Amazon.

2. Theefun 400W Fog Machine

Output: 2,000 cfm

Warm-up Time: 3-5 minutes

Tank Capacity: .3 liters

Weight: 4 lbs

Dimensions: 9.06 x 4.33 x 4.53

After only a few minutes of warming up, the unit can produce unscented fog at 2000 cubic feet per minute for up to 2-3 meters.

It’s a compact, aluminum body, so it’s very inconspicuous and efficient for small sets or tight locations.

ProsCons
Low price
Lightweight
Great durability 
Quick warm-up time 
Easy to transport
Not very powerful (2000 CFM)
Indoor use only
No timer
Not ideal for larger events and spaces
Requires distilled water for cleaning

Check the current price on Amazon.

3. Rockville R1200L

Output: 3,000 cubic feet per minute

Warm-up Time: 3.5 minutes

Tank Capacity: 0.3 liters

Weight: 3.3 lbs

Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.1 x 4.3

Rockville is known for its high-end professional car, marine, and home audio. While there are more affordable options from Rockville, it makes sense to spend a little extra for the quality they can provide.

Unlike the previously listed machines, the Rockville R1200L can output 12,000 cubic feet per minute, covering more ground.

The Rockville R1200L includes the 16 feet wired/wireless remote combination and six three-watt, built-in LED lights, plus for stage productions requiring additional lighting.

ProsCons
Decent fog output
Fairly quiet machine
Light automatically changes color
Fog juice included
LEDs
Quick warm-up
Lots of control options
Works best with only water-based fluids manufactured by Rockville or popular brands.
Lights reduce fog output
Best for indoor use

Check the current price on Amazon.

4. Tengchang

Output: 18,000 cubic feet per minute

Warm-up Time: 4-5 minutes

Tank Capacity: 2 liters

Weight: 45 lbs

Dimensions: 29.92 x 16.14 x 14.76

The Tengchang is the best bang for your buck if you’re looking for a traditional fog machine.

It’s a low-lying smoke machine. What does that mean? It’s a newer alternative to dry ice machines which can be difficult to maintain.

Dry ice is more expensive but the ideal method for machines used for wide coverage. This safer option gives you the capabilities of dry ice effects without the costly cooling agent.

Low-lying smoke is excellent for light enhancement and area effect when used for productions and events.

Unfortunately, this machine is still recommended for indoor use and does not come with additional lights like other models at this price.

ProsCons
Both wireless/wired remotes included
Quick warm-up time
Wide area coverage
Dry ice effect
Voltage is limited
No LEDS
Heavyweight

Check current price on Amazon.

5. American DJ Mister Kool II

Output: 3,000 cfm

Warm-up Time: 5 minutes

Tank Capacity: 0.8 liters 

Weight: 19 lbs

Dimensions: 18 x 11.75 x 10.25

American DJ Products is a leader in entertainment lighting, LED video, and atmospheric effects equipment. If you’ve worked on any production size with lighting involved, you saw this brand before.

It can be a little pricier than other options mentioned before but based on the name alone, you know you’re getting a top-of-the-line quality machine. The downside is this particular machine has a weaker output.

The mixture of ice and generic water-based fog juice eliminates the need for any CO2 tanks or dry ice with a drainage valve and hose for accident prevention and easy clean-up.

ProsCons
Timer remote included
Versatile low-lying fog effect
Uses regular ice vs dry ice
Easy cleanup via the drainage system
Very low input
Indoor use only
Fog output weak compared to Chauvet Cumulus model

Check the current price on Amazon.

6. American DJ Fog Fury

Output: 20,000 cubic feet per minute

Warm-up Time: 9 minutes

Tank Capacity: .9 liters

Weight:16 lbs

Dimensions: 15.5 x 12 x 7.5

This model is low maintenance, high-velocity vertical fog machine that can produce bursts of fog up to 25 feet in any direction with interchangeable mounting options.

A built-in color mixer with twelve three-watt RGBA LED bulbs adds color effects without any extra equipment.

The Thermo Sensing technology monitors the heat levels and prevents  clogging and overheating.

ProsCons
Powerful fog stream
Decent output
Fast warm-up time
Thermo-sensing technology
Laptop control
Long warm-up time
Noisy machine
Not suitable for small venue

Check the current price on Amazon.

7. Chauvet Hurricane 1800 FLEX

Output: 25,000 cfm

Warm-up Time: 5 minutes

Tank Capacity: 3.8 liters

Weight: 19.6 lbs

Dimensions: 20.4 x 11.9 x 10.8 inches

If you’re tired of replacing your cheap fog machine every year, the Chauvet Hurricane 1800 FLEX is a significant upgrade for you.

The tank has a larger capacity, and with minimal fluid consumption, you’ll find yourself going a long way with a half-gallon of fog juice.

This model comes with a three-pin and five-pin DMX control, allowing it to operate with other lighting equipment, which is essential if working on stage and event productions.

ProsCons
Great flexible design
Residue-free
DMX control
Slightly more expensive than other models

Check the current price on Amazon.

8. Antari IP-1500 Indoor/Outdoor Fog Machine

Output: 20,000 cfm

Warm-up Time: 9 minutes

Tank Capacity: 1 liters

Dimensions: 18 x 8.74 x 9.84

Weight: 29.76 lbs

So many fog machines have great output and quality but are for indoor use only. Indoor use only imposes a problem if you’re looking for versatility in your location use.

This newer waterproof model of the fog machine is for indoor or outdoor use even when it’s raining by detecting the surrounding temperature and adjusting its settings accordingly. 

In addition to outdoor use, the machine consumes less electricity than other devices in its size class. The only downside is this is probably one of the most expensive machines on the list.

ProsCons
Outdoor Use
Waterproof
Covers ground
13% less electricity than other similar class foggers
Price

Check the current price on Amazon.

9. Chauvet Lighting DJ Cumulus

Output: 10,000 cfm

Warm-up Time: 3 minutes

Tank Capacity: Fog Fluid Tank .9 gal (3.25 l) | Water Tank 2 gal (7.6 l)

Dimensions: 25 x 16 x 18

Weight: 58.8 lbs

We’re going to start and finish this list with the Chauvet DJ brand to show the range of fog machines on the market. 

The Cumulus is a top-of-the-line fog machine entirely out of the range of the other models listed.

If you’ve been to a concert before, it was more than likely a machine of this caliber on stage producing the fog effects.

ProsCons
Great portability (wheels)
Heavy-duty road case
Continuous output; no delays
Expensive
Very heavy

Check the current price on Amazon.


Buyer’s Guide: What you should look for when in the market to purchase a new fog machine 

Fog machines are great for adding some atmosphere to an otherwise boring room.

Fog machines are a simple, plug and play device that takes little to no advanced experience to operate.

Grab yourself a bottle of propylene glycol, triethylene glycol, and glycerin (aka “fog juice”), press the power button, let the machine warm-up, and you’re good to go.

Look for the right wattage and Cubic Feet of fog per Minute (CFM)

Whether you’re filming on a small set or a large production, you need to consider capacity, overall power, and the machines’ functionality.

The wattage of the fog machine determines how fast and how much area it can cover. Fx 400-watt machines produce around 1,500 Cubic Feet of fog per minute (abbreviated CFM) vs. a 1000-watt having 4,500 cubic feet of fog per minute.

Higher wattage machines not only produce a thicker fog, but they tend to last longer than lower wattage fog machines.

A bigger reservoir means longer fog time

A small smoke machine can be great for things like filling small rooms with smoke for a horror indie short or product videos and toy photography.

The capacity of the fog machine determines how much fog juice the reservoir can hold. A more extensive reservoir can hold more fluid, but it means a bulkier device.

It’s essential to always keep the reservoir full during operation because an empty reservoir can damage the machine.

Additional features to keep in mind when buying a fog machine

Larger scenes — like in a music video — needs bigger resevoirs and more power. Also, keep in mind if you want the smoke to fill the room or stay near the floor.

The functionality of the fog machine determines which modes are necessary for your production.

If your budget allows, go with a more expensive machine with a timer mode, so it requires less supervision and more flexibility.

If you want low fog that stays near the floor, you need a fog machine with a fog chiller and cool fog fluid.

Additional features to pay close attention to include the mounts, the warm-up time, LED lights, transportability, and especially for filming that requires minimal sound onset, the noise level of the machine itself.

Heated vs. Chilled Machines

The more common heated fog machines use a hot liquid (usually containing propylene glycol, mineral oil, water, and glycerin) that vaporizes into a thick fog. If the fluid contains toxic ethylene glycol, it’s not suitable for indoor machines.

Chilled machines use a combination of dry ice, liquid air, nitrogen, and compressed CO2. Chilled creates a low-lying, thicker fog but is a more expensive but efficient option.

Conclusion

There are various fog machines out there whether you’re looking for something small or heavy-duty machinery. 

The varied prices are about the three factors mentioned before:

  • Power and wattage
  • The capacity of the fluid reservoir
  • The functionality of additional features like LED lights and haze

Don’t let the number of options out there intimidate you, and purchase the most practical machine for your production.


Myke Thompson is a freelance writer, screenwriter, and humorist based out of Los Angeles. When he’s not working on his own projects, he supports other artists as a creative manager in music, art, film, and television.

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