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?

 
Air/Water Systems

  • Air and water pipelines are located on each trail with air and water hydrants

  • Air compressors, water pumps, and cooling systems are in a permanent building, usually at bottom of the mountain

  • Air/water snow guns can be manual or automatic, and are available tower mounted or sled mounted

  • Recommended for use in all locations worldwide that require reliable snow
Advantages

  • Can make snow starting at 31°F
    (-.5°C) wet bulb temperature or typically at 36°F (+2.2°C) and 30% relative humidity, or 34°F (+1.1°C) and 40% relative humidity

  • Requires less maintenance than other systems

  • Machinery is all protected in buildings

  • Air/water snow guns have no moving parts

  • Ratnik Snow Giant guns are widely used in air/water systems


Low Energy Air/Water Systems

  • Air and water pipelines are located on each trail with air and water hydrants

  • Air compressors, water pumps, and cooling systems are in a permanent building, usually at bottom of the mountain

  • Uses smaller air compressors and higher pressure water pumps than air/water systems

  • Can be installed as a stand-alone low energy system, or combined with air/water or fan gun systems

  • Systems can be manual or automatic

  • Recommended for use in all locations worldwide

Advantages

  • Uses 70-75% less compressed air energy than air/water systems

  • Lower noise level than air/water systems

  • Ratnik Sky Giant guns mounted on towers are widely used in low energy systems



Water Only Systems

  • Water pipelines are located on each trail with water hydrants

  • Water pumps are in a permanent building, usually at bottom of the mountain

  • No air pipelines, air compressors, or air cooling systems are required

  • Systems can be manual or automatic

  • Recommended for use in all colder locations worldwide
Advantages

  • No compressed air is required

  • Uses less energy than all other systems

  • Lower noise level than all other systems

  • Very low maintenance

  • Ratnik H2Snow guns mounted
    on towers are widely used in
    water only systems



Fan Gun Systems

  • Water pipelines, water hydrants, electrical distribution lines and electrical outlets are located on each trail

  • Water pumps and electric power distribution systems are in a permanent building, usually at bottom of the mountain

  • No air pipelines, air compressors, or air cooling systems are required

  • Fan guns have on-board air compressors, usually on wheeled carriages or towers

  • Systems can be manual or automatic

  • Ratnik designs fan gun systems in combination with air/water and low energy snow gun systems
Advantages

  • Fan gun systems use less compressed air energy than air/water systems

  • Noise levels are lower than air/water systems
Disadvantages

  • Snow cats are required to move fan guns on the mountain because fan guns are heavy

  • Electrical distribution on the mountain is expensive due to high copper costs

  • Fan guns require colder temperatures than air/water guns
    for operation

  • Snow inducer water injection additive is usually used for fan gun operation

  • Fan guns require fair amount of maintenance





  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.


Cost

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.



BASIC FORMULAS

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

  English Units

Gallons (GAL.)
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
Gallons Per Minute (GPM)
Acres
Acres
Feet
Cubic Feet (FT³)
Horsepower (HP)
Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI)
Gal/Min
Hectare-M
Multiply By

3.785
3.785
0.0631
0.40469
4046.9
0.3048
0.0283
0.7457
6.895
0.2271
10,000
Metric Units

Litres (L)
Litres Per Minute (LPM)
Litres Per Second (LPS)
Hectares
Meters²
Meters
Cubic Meters (M 3)
Kilowatts
Kilopascals (KPA)
M³/HR



  10. 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

  Snow Quality
Description
 
 
1
Snow cannot be packed, powder
 
 
2
Snow can only be packed into a loose ball that falls apart
 
 
3
Snow can be packed into a ball that can be broken apart
 
 
4
Snow can be packed into a dense ball that does not change color when squeezed
 
 
5
Snow can be packed into a dense ball that changes to a darker color when squeezed but little or no water comes out
 
 
6
Snow can be packed into a dense ball that discharges water when squeezed


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