As you may have read in one of my earlier posts, Dave Kimel from the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center in St. Albans, VT., is passionate about the energy his facility uses. He’s the facility manager for this large, high-school owned facility and I recently interviewed him for on how he managed his rink’s retrofit.

One of the other subjects we discussed was another big energy drain: the thickness of your rink’s ice.

Ice as an Insulator

Ice thickness is an issue because ice is an insulator and, because of that, it’s difficult for the cold to travel through. That’s why, for example, igloos work so well. And that’s why ice thickness is an energy issue.

Rink Magazine

Rink Magazine

Unlike a pond where the freezing taking place is air to surface,to make artificial ice the refrigeration works to remove heat from the bottom up. The greater distance away from the refrigerant under the pad, the more energy is needed. In fact, Rink Magazine estimates that for every half inch more of ice, the electricity costs go up between $1,000 and $1,4000 PER MONTH!!!

On a standard ice surface it will cost between $1,000-$1,400 per month more in electricity for EVERY ½ inch of ice you keep over and above the recommended 1-1½ inches of ice.

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How thick is thick enough?

So how thick is thick enough?

Size matters

How thick is your ice?

“Ice that’s one inch thick is a really safe thickness,” Kimel says. “That’s thick enough to make sure the skaters aren’t going to cut through it, which is ultimately what you’re trying to safeguard against.”

Colins Perley has only one pad of ice, but that doesn’t mean that Kimel doesn’t have his hawk eyes on it at all times. At the start of the season, he builds his ice up, to over 1½” – and then he works his way down from there.

He says ice thickness can get quickly built up.

“The ice buildup problem can happen quickly because most rinks are so busy they don’t have time to do rink maintenance throughout the week,” Kimel says. “That’s when the ice begins to build up.”

Jason Paquin, the Facilities Manager at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn, ME tells me what his team is aiming for at the beginning of the season is at least an inch’s worth of ice thickness on Maine’s only dual-pad facility.

“We try, for that initial skate, to have at least an inch out there,” Paquin tells me. “We will build it up to an inch and a half for the heavy skaters — that’s the cushion where they’re not going to go down to the concrete or sand.”

Paquin says that level is eventually reduced as the season goes on.

“As the teams get more into their groove, we’ll get it back down to an inch, and inch and a quarter.” Paquin says that educating your user groups is also key.

“We aim to have our users respect the facility like it’s their own. We want them to be conscious of the people who are stepping on the ice after them, so they can have cone drills, for example, but not so they’re grooving the ice down close to the concrete.”

A dedicated ice maintenance program is key, something we’ll be looking at in an upcoming post.