Ever since hockey players have discovered that they can build and create their own ice skating rinks at home life has never been the same. With the installation of synthetic ice panels anybody can have the luxury of ice skating without ever having to leave the house.
Although there is a significant difference between skating on real ice and skating artificial ice, there are plenty of benefits that synthetic ice has over traditional ice. Not that anybody would ever completely replace real ice, but that there is a sensible solution for being able to ice skate in any weather, at any time, at any part of the year.
Here are six advantages that synthetic ice has over real ice that may change the way you feel about ice skating forever.
1. Does Not Need to be Frozen
One of the largest advantages that synthetic ice has over true ice is that it never has to be frozen in order to be an effective platform to ice skate on. In fact, artificial ice is made out of polymer plastic which can be formulated to endure even the harshest environments.
If you were to take a frozen water ice skating rink and pull it outside into the sun where it is over 100 degrees outside, it would not take long for the ice to turn into a big puddle of water. It is only obvious that when you try to ice skate on water, you will not be successful.
Even if you were to try and skate on an ice rink outdoors when it is 40 degrees it would be problematic for skaters to function on ice skates.
As the ice skates glide across the surface of the ice they cause a small amount of ice to melt. The friction the ice skates cause brings enough heat to the surface to melt a little bit of the ice. This tiny bit of melting causes the rink to become slick enough for the skates to easily glide across the surface. Since the ice skates will melt the ice on contact, when the ambient air around the rink is not cold enough to re-freeze the water, all that will be left is an ever growing collection of water on top of the surface.
Unless the temperature outside reaches a point where the whole Earth would become extinct, synthetic ice will not melt, or become less effective as a suitable platform to ice skate on.
2. Reduces Use of Energy
If an ice rink is in an area where the temperatures remain under the freezing point throughout the entire winter there will be a difference between the energy used in a rink that is in an environment that does not stay frozen. However, if you take into consideration that an indoor rink will be in a building that would most likely be heated in the winter time, there would be a much larger amount of energy needed in order to keep the water frozen.
A frozen ice rink will consume between 600,000 and 2,000,000 kilowatts per year. Although this may not seem like much, even the most efficient ice rinks that use over a half of a million kilowatts in a year, the average household home uses around 10,000 kilowatts per year. What this means is that, at the lowest energy usage one skating rink would use as much power per year as 60 homes.
If you consider the amount of energy that it takes to keep a large area refrigerated enough to maintain a solid block of ice through an entire year, it is easy to imagine that it is a lot. Imagine your home air conditioner keeping your house cooed below 70 degrees when it is over 100 degrees outside. Imagine a step further how hard it would be to get that home under 32 degrees. You would have to have a specially built air conditioner and a stellar insulation structure in order to maintain temperatures that low.
Synthetic ice can be installed in any weather, it does not have to be cooled or heated. The amount of energy that it would take to maintain an ice rink made out of artificial ice for 100 years would be extremely close to zero.
3. Can be Installed Just About Anywhere
The one thing about synthetic ice that makes it so awesome is that it is so lightweight and easy to install that it can be put into action just about anywhere.
The best results, of course, would be to install the ice panels on a flat, hard surface such as a concrete platform or somewhere just as solid. However, with the help of plywood and some ingenuity the average person can implement a synthetic ice rink with the greatest of ease.
If you wanted to build an ice skating rink on grass, or carpet all you would have to do is lay down a bit of sub flooring to build the rink on. This can be done simply by laying down plywood where you want to put the rink.
The ideal way to install the subflooring on grass would be to cut through the grass into the dirt with a pick axe and clear out the entire area until it is flat and even. However, if you were to place the subflooring down on the grass and build the rink on top of that it would work for a decent place to ice skate.
4. Costs Much Less than Ice Rinks
If you were to build an ice skating rink out of synthetic ice that is approximately 280 square feet, assuming that you already have a place to build it, it would cost somewhere around $4,500 at the most.
If you were to install a traditional ice rink it would cost, at the lowest, approximately $11,000 for the premade rink alone. This does not calculate how much it would cost to install the rink, buy any extra parts and accessories that you would need to make it work, or how much it would cost per year to keep it frozen.
You could build yourself a large in-home ice skating rink out of artificial ice panels for less than $5K, but the cost of building your own ice rink with traditional ice could cost upwards of a few million dollars.
5. Lightweight and Portable
Where traditional ice is merely frozen water, it is not lightweight at all. Yes, you could drain all of the water from the rink into a container and haul it to another location, but it would not be lightweight.
Synthetic ice panels are very light and easy to move around. When you want to move your rink from one place to another all you have to do is pull the panels apart and reinstall them in the other location that you desire.
Many of the high quality ice panels that are available today have interchangeable sides. This means that you can use the panels for several years and when they start to wear out, you can simply flip them over and get another several years use out of them.
6. Lasts for Decades
Synthetic ice panels are made to last. Since they are designed to be able to withstand the sun’s damaging rays, and be outside during the rain, snow, heat, or whatever they are automatically durable. It is not uncommon for a synthetic ice rink to last over 20 years. There is not much to maintaining a synthetic ice rink other than to keep it clean throughout the years and scrub away any buildup or scuffing that may happen to become present.
As for a frozen water ice rink lasting for decades, it can happen, but only under the constant maintenance of a team of people that have to work hard at maintaining the rink.
It is not hard to come to the conclusion that synthetic ice has a lot of benefits over real ice when it comes to ice skating rinks. From costs, to energy savings and everything in between installing a synthetic ice rink could be much more beneficial than building a traditional ice skating rink. However, if you have an endless amount of funds and don’t mind spending millions of dollars…by all means, build an ice skating rink and keep it cold.