Humidity has a big impact on the quality of the ice and on the energy consumed in an arena.

A high level of humidity provides a rugged surface with a lot of snow production when in contact with the sharp blades of a skate. Optimal humidity is in the range of 50-55%, this is especially important when you have a large crowd that often contributes to an increased humidity level.

Humidity enters an ice rink with incoming ventilation air, the opening of doors, from the use of showers, and through the normal respiration of the people within the building.

Arena operators consider factors such as the temperature and moisture outside, the expected event crowd and what time the game begins. Excessive humidity in the condensing moisture, releases a tremendous amount of heat into the ice surface. This heat must be removed by operating the refrigeration equipment for longer than would normally be required. Condensation could permeate the building insulation and this reduces its effectiveness, structural steel can start to rust and wood will start to rot, further reducing the integrity of the facility.

Up-to-date dehumidification systems help to keep humidity under control to keep excellent ice quality and save energy. Automated systems can be installed, which use sensors in and outside the facility, which helps arena operators adjust dehumidifiers at any time.

The resurfacing water that is applied to the ice surface plays a big role. By treating the resurfacing water and using unheated water, instead of extremely hot water, humidity levels can be lowered.

An alternative approach as described by Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) is to use a return brine loop in the corner of the ice rink.  Setting the brine to 22°F (apx. -5.6) will cause frost to form on the line and remove water from the air. Adding a defrost cycle to melt the frost and drain the melt water into a drain pit is required and will help to keep humidity levels under 50% and prevent cooling loads from increasing significantly.

Benefits: 

  • Better ice and less cooling energy needed

Savings: 

  • Electricity
  • Systems and building maintenance

Web resources: 

 

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