Home > Snowmaking 101
However big and complex a snow skiing, snowboarding or snowtubing center,
every component depends upon one basic element for function and livelihood.
Snow! Enough snow! Enough snow in the right places! At the right time!
To thrive, a ski, snowboarding or snowtubing center must deal successfully with nature.
Snowmaking invades nature to eliminate the element of chance. Machine-made
snow can give a snow sports recreation area an earlier start, a longer season, and
the best guarantee of continuous operation. It is the only sure way to have a
profitable, thriving center of winter activity.
What Types of Snowmaking Systems does Ratnik Industries Design?
|What is Snowmaking?
Snowmaking is the process of creating snow by dispersing minute water particles
and air-under-pressure into freezing ambient air. This produces snowflake lattice
structure that is similar to natural snow. By regulating flake water content, snow can
be deliberately made from light powder to wet base snow, and to withstand higher temperature before melting. Snowmaking is a science that involves research,
engineering and economics.
A Simple Science?
Only the basic principle is simple. End results separate amateurism from
professionalism. Economic, logistic and engineering factors must be balanced
against each other. What areas should be covered? What are the climate conditions? What are the snowfall, hill contour, exposure, and solar loss factors? How many
skiers, snowboarders or snowtubing enthusiasts are expected to use the trail system?
Which type of snow machines to use? At what capacity? At what initial costs,
operating costs, and maintenance costs? The relationship of these factors is further complicated by varying characteristics and efficiencies of pumps, air compressors and snowmaking machines. Energy loss due to system inefficiency, and elevation and dimensions of areas to be covered affect the physical size of the system. Energy
factors must be correct.
In calculating cost, one must consider operating expenses. Costs of operation include
the size of the labor force needed to operate the system, daily supplies required for operation, maintenance costs, and most important, the efficiency of the system. An inefficient system will cost you profit in every phase of your operation. Everything
depends upon your snow system. Yet, a proper snowmaking system will run only
15%-25% of a ski center's total operating expenses.
Ratnik Industries Inc.
Ratnik engineers have the foremost technical expertise in the design, installation and operation of snowmaking systems and equipment. Ratnik engineers have "Snowhow", which is what you need when you want to install a new snowmaking system, upgrade
an existing system, or design a whole new ski, snowboarding, or tubing facilty.
1. Typical Material Cost Breakdown of a Snowmaking System
2. Snowmaking Technology Energy Use Comparison
3. Typical Air Compressor Discharge Temperature
4. Calculating Friction Loss of Water in Pipe-lines
5. Calculating Air Pressure Loss Due to Friction
6. Calculating Horsepower For Water Pump
7. Calculating Operating Cost
8. Water Snow Relationships
3.2 Gallons = 1 FT³ of Snow
1 Gallon = 8.342 lbs
1 FT³ Water = 7.48 Gallons
1 Acre = 43,560 FT²
1 Acre Foot of Snow = 160,500 Gallons of Water
9. English to Metric Conversion Factors
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
Cubic Feet (FT³)
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)
Litres Per Minute (LPM)
Litres Per Second (LPS)
Cubic Meters (M 3)
How to Determine Snow Quality
One could collect fresh snow samples and determine weight per Cubic Foot or Cubic Meter and state the quality in density like pounds per Cubic Foot or density per Cubic Meter.
A far simpler and practical method is to test the snow on the ground in the production plume while snow guns are operating by doing a Snow Ball Test. The quality can be determined on a scale from 1 to 6 according to the table below:
The Snowball Test
be packed, powder
|Snow can only
be packed into a loose ball that falls apart
|Snow can be
packed into a ball that can be broken apart
be packed into a dense ball that does not change color when squeezed
can be packed into a dense ball that changes to a darker color when squeezed
but little or no water comes out
can be packed into a dense ball that discharges water when squeezed
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