In some states, the weather is ideal for outdoor ice rinks.
For instance, Minnesota has more than twice the number of rinks than Massachusetts, Michigan, or New York.
Whatever the reason, you’ll need to answer some key questions:
- Where will I build it?
- What will I need to create it?
- Will it be temporary or permanent?
- Will it be refrigerated, natural, or synthetic?
Yes, you read that right.
Synthetic ice rinks are growing in popularity, but a large contingent does not know these rinks exist.
Let’s compare the types of rinks and explain why your first or next ice rink should be synthetic.
Refrigerated vs. Synthetic Ice Rinks
When you think of ice rinks, the image of Marv from Home Alone 2 ice skating in Central Park comes to mind.
Or The Flying V formation on The Mighty Ducks.
The rinks featured in these movies contain refrigerated ice.
They also use artificial ice during some scenes, like our PolyGlide Pro-Glide Panel that was used during this pond scene below (30 sec mark):
Refrigerated rinks require large chillers that run on electricity continuously.
Pipes containing brine water are placed on the surface.
For permanent or long-term rinks, the lines are built into the concrete.
The brine water helps freeze the filtered water almost instantly when the rink is filled.
The water is added in layers, providing an even surface.
The refrigeration system keeps the brine water at a consistent temperature, so the rink remains frozen.
Refrigerated ice was once only available to large commercial or NHL rinks.
Now, you can install refrigerated rinks in your home backyard or any open or indoor space you choose.
Synthetic ice, on the other hand, is a unique material that mimics the look and feel of natural ice.
It’s made from polyethylene, a plastic panel that’s been around for decades and has continued to evolve throughout the years.
Through research and special manufacturing, these panels are capable of withstanding metal blades.
In the early days most all synthetic ice panels required a glide enhancer agent to make the panel skate-able.
We here at PolyGlide Ice created our infused Pro-Glide panel that provides a slick surface, while others need the agent added to the surface occasionally.
In the old days, these panels were primarily found being used only in commercial spaces like malls, hotels, exhibitions at museums, and amusement parks.
Now, you can get synthetic ice customized to fit any space.
As a result, they are now famous for both indoor and outdoor use in homes across the country.
Here are six reasons why installing an outdoor rink may be the better option and how you can go about doing it.
1. Easy installation and uninstallation
Refrigerated ice rinks - and even rinks that require water, plywood, and Mother Nature - are challenging to install.
You need to have knowledge of refrigeration and place the underlying pipes in the right places, so the rink freezes evenly.
It’s the reason why most rink owners will outsource this task to the rink supplier.
However, if you wanted a do-it-yourself option, look no further than synthetic ice.
First, You must measure your desired space and ensure the ground is level.
Next, get the required square footage of synthetic ice for the area.
With the help of a friend, connect each piece to the other in the space, using a soft mallet to ensure they are secure.
Synthetic ice has dovetail grooves that allow them to lock in place, so they are safe to skate.
Then you’re done! Add your rink walls as needed, and you have a professional-looking outdoor rink.
When it’s time to uninstall, lift up the tiles and place them in storage.
If you have limited storage space, synthetic ice is a better option than storing refrigeration equipment.
2. Twelve months of skating.
What if you could skate 12 months of the year?
Refrigerated outdoor ice rinks have limits on how long they should be used outdoors.
Yes, they will last longer than your wintertime backyard ice rink.
But as the weather heats up, it will require more effort to keep them running, forming a Law of Diminishing Returns dilemma.
Since synthetic ice is not governed by the laws of Nature, you can use them in the summer and wintertimes.
They tend to expand with heat but provide the same skating experience as in the cold.
Now, we get customers asking if they can use their rollerskates on synthetic ice. Genius!
3. A scalable rink
What if you wanted to expand your ice rink?
You have the outdoor space, but what will that take?
For a refrigerated rink, you’ll need to invest more time and effort to expand the area, adding coolant, pipes, and water as needed.
More importantly, you may need a larger refrigeration unit, which adds up to operating costs.
Synthetic ice, however, can scale with ease as it'd extremely versatile.
Want a bigger rink?
Get some more tiles to cover the required square footage.
Are you thinking of downsizing?
Remove some tiles and redesign the rink from a square to a rectangular shape.
There is no limit to the shape and style since the tiles are movable.
4. A 5-10 year runway
How long does your synthetic ice last?
Most synthetic ice tile products last multiple years depending on the thickness of the panel.
Our PolyGlide Ice Pro-Glide infused panel is designed to last many years and would save tens of thousands of dollars more than any refrigerated surface.
This is because synthetic ice products can withstand the power and sharpness of the best ice skate blades on the market.
Once you perform proper maintenance (cleaning shavings and dirt, for instance), your panels will stand the test of time.
You can then flip them over to get many more years of quality skating.
5. Long-term cost savings
Synthetic ice’s durability and longevity mean that you save on your investment in the long run.
You will probably rent a refrigerated rink and bear that cost each year.
If you own the rink will need to pay maintenance costs, electricity costs, get a Zamboni, replace pipes, and much more.
Comparing the two for ten years, the upfront investment of synthetic ice far outweighs the continuous money pit that can be a refrigerated rink.
6. An environmentally-friendly option
More and more Americans are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
Even business owners are looking to be more socially responsible.
Add the rising fuel costs, and it will be financially wise for anyone to ‘go green.’
Synthetic ice is a fantastic option that allows you to do your part in keeping things green.
It won’t require constant energy outputs to run.
Keeping your rink for years helps you do your part in your own way.
Build your rink the right way
Building outdoor ice rinks is a great way to earn income, maximize the use of space, and connect a community.
It always warms the heart to see people come together to skate recreationally or compete in hockey.
When deciding on a rink, synthetic ice looks like a long-term solution everyone can enjoy.
And as the rink owner, it can save you time and money.
Best of all, they are easy to install and uninstall, so you still have use of the space for other activities with no damage to the surface.
As synthetic ice pioneers, we provide tiles and panels for any outdoor rink project.
Contact us for expert advice on rink building and finding the best synthetic ice for your needs.