Preparing to Use Your Snow Gun
Here is the Routine:
1. Screw the snow gun onto the sprinkler tripod (available at garden supply stores).
1b. Place the snow gun and tripod in the area you want to cover with snow and make sure that it is secure and stable. Do not place it where it can fall over, this can happen when the air pressure is turn on.
2. Connect a standard garden hose to the water hose connector on the bottom of the tripod and then connect the other end to an outside water spigot. We recommend using a check valve to prevent air from backing up into the water lines (found at any home center).
3. Connect the air hose to the snowgun with the quick connector and then connect it to the compressor.
4. Make sure the water valve is in the off position on the snow gun and then turn on your water supply at the spigot. Make sure you allow the hose and gun to fully charge with water pressure before turning on the air supply (Don't open the water valve on the snowgun until the air supply is on).
5. Turn on your compressor and let it run until the meter reads 30-40 psi. Slowly begin opening your air ball-valve so that you maintain fairly steady pressure in your air tank.
6. You can also adjust the output psi by adjusting the regulator that comes with most compressors. Now slowly open the water valve on the snowgun until you get a mix of both air and water flowing though the nozzle. You don't want the water to overpower the air so open the valve just enough to get a mix, it looks like a heavy mist. If the gun starts spitting water only, reduce the flow by closing the valve a little at a time until the mist returns. You need to play with both ball valves and get a feel for the mist. A light mist will create snow at higher temperatures and a heavier mist will create more snow, but only at lower temperatures. If after you try this you can't get over 35psi on your compressor, then you may need to drill a smaller hole for your end cap and try again. If you have an air pressure that is too high, you need to drill a larger hole for your end cap and try again. This is largely dependent on how strong your compressor is. If it puts out only 4cfm@40psi.. then your hole may need to be as small as 1/16th of an inch, 6cfm@40psi, 7/64ths of an inch 8cfm@40psi, about 1/8th of an inch, you will have to experiment with this.
7. Water pressures differ from home to home. While the instructions above will work in most cases, you may have to fiddle a bit to match the water pressure with the air. By regulating the air at the gun or at the regulator of the compressor, you can increase the air pressure in 5-psi increments until the air overpowers your water, then back it down to the last setting that allowed the water to mix in the snowgun. This is your optimal setting for air pressure and you should write it down so you will know where to set you air the next time you make snow. You can also buy an inexpensive water pressure gauge that will connect to a water hose that will tell you what the pressure is. These can be found at most home improvement centers.
8. If you already know your water pressure then set you air pressure to around the same pressure as the water. The rule of thumb is not to exceed the water pressure by more than 5-10 psi. Example: 45 PSI water pressure = 45-50 psi air pressure
9. If it is cold enough, you should be producing snow (mid to upper 20s and colder). In order to make sure you are producing quality snow you must test it. This is a very simply process, simply walk under the snow plume (about 10 to 15 feet away from the snowgun) and hold out an arm. The snow should land on your arm. If it seems real wet, reduce the amount of water mixing into the gun. If it seems dry and just blows off, add water. It best to make a slightly wet snow as it is more durable and will last longer than a dry snow. Also you can make more wet snow then dry snow in the same amount of time. If you are not producing any snow and it is cold enough, try again with a smaller hole in your cap (buy more than one cap) and try to keep the water content as low as possible. Snow and mist sometimes evaporates on windy, dry days and you have most success when the wind is light. Keep the height of your snow gun lower if there is any wind at all. Depending on the size of your compressor, you should be able to make between 1/4" and 1" of snow per hour in roughly an 8' x 14' area.
10. One of the most common problems snowmakers encounter is freeze-ups. High humidity is usually the culprit. When the humidity is high and the temps are low, moisture from the compressed air can build up in the air hose and form rime ice. Having a spare air hose is the best insurance against this problem ending your snowmaking session. Another common problem is the freezing of water in the water hose, snow gun or sprinkler tower if you leave it outside unused for any length of time. Careful attention to our shut-down instructions and a spare water hose will help.
Note: You can only make snow when the temperature is under 28 F. You can occasionally make it when it is warmer than that (even just above freezing) if there is low humidity. If the temperature is 22 or less, you will make dry, high quality snow every time. You can test your snow gun by making a light mist when it is too warm to make snow.
NOTE: There are risks involved in this procedure and you must make yourself aware of them before operating your snow gun. WHDH-TV cannot be held responsible for any injuries, accidents or misuse of this experiment.