Smoke machines and haze machines have long been used mainly for the same purpose - to maximise lighting effects. Modern lighting effects rely on beams of light and patterns and lasers moving around, this effect is enhanced when the light hits haze or smoke particles making the effects more pronounced, visible and aesthetically pleasing.
When deciding what machine you want to purchase it is important to think about what purpose you will be using the machine for and what effect you want to create.
Haze is mineral oil based this make it less "cloudy," it creates a fine and subtle haze that can remain in a room for long periods of time without users having to continuously run the machine. These machines are typically used to compliment laser shows when the user wants the audience to have a clear view of the venue. Haze is much delicate than smoke and it is a cold process as there is no heat involved. It is not as visible as smoke but doesn't smell, and when used appropriately, doesn't leave residue.
These machines have a fan permanently running and the haze is released into the fan chamber and smoothly blown out from the machine. This is a much quieter and less noticeable effect. They produce a smaller particle size in comparison to smoke machines and therefore are less visible in the air and can be less visible to smoke detectors, this may reduce the risk of setting off fire alarms.
Smoke machines can be used as a special effect itself, such as on Halloween for a spooky effect, as they create thick white smoke and are very noticeable when used. They create low-lying fog that usually doesn't go above your knees.
The smoke from a smoke machine is forced directly out of the heater nozzle, which quickly throws the smoke out in front of the machine. This can produce a loud noise during their operation which is something that should be considered when purchasing a smoke machine. The basic operation of a smoke machine is to heat the fog fluid in order to create the smoke. They use a fluid that is pumped into a thermostatically temperature controlled heat chamber and vaporises the fluid into thick clouds of fog.
Most smoke and haze machines come with a remote control either in the form of a single push button or a remote timer controller. From this, the volume of fog or haze can be controlled as well as the duration allowing the user to set intervals at which the smoke or haze will be distributed.
Smoke machines need time to stop and reheat before they can make smoke again. This is generally a continual automatic cycle during their operation. More premium models, however, can generate fog continuously without the reheat cycle in between, meaning that the user has even smoke distribution.
Smoke and haze fluids both come in low and high density versions. The lower density fluids lie thinly through the air and disperse quickly. High density fluids produce a thick mist and linger in the air for longer. Smoke machines and haze machines both use different fluid and it is important to make sure that the correct fluid is used. Using the wrong fluid can damage the machine and it can even release dangerous gases.