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Air hockey is one of the most enthralling and fastest table games ever. For years, the trademark ‘ping’ of pucks bouncing on air cushion has provided the soundtrack for all arcades and bowling alleys in the country.

Here’s how air hockey tables work.

Working Principle of an Air Hockey Table

In this game, airflow is generated by durable air pumps within the table.

These propel the air upward via thousands of little holes in the playfield, producing an airstream that lets the puck float on the surface.

With least friction restraining the puck back, it slides smoothly and can move at a speed of light with a powerful shot.

Players will stand at the ends of the table using a pusher to knock the puck targeting their opponent’s goal.

The playfield is bordered with rails that are constructed to push the puck back into play.

A big part of air hockey skill is learning to use these rails to confuse your opponent and outsmart them by playing from surprise angles.

What Really Is an Air Hockey Table?

Air Hockey was established in the 1970s. The tables were devised to look similar to hockey rinks.

The motive for the development of air hockey was to allow people to be able to replicate their experience of playing on a hockey field.

Air-Hockey-Table Physics

When it comes to finding out how air hockey works with the help of science, you’ll undoubtedly encounter different opinions. We will give an idea here, and if you oppose it, that’s fine.

Moving a 2 ½-inch puck that doesn’t weigh much doesn’t depend on the number of air holes it covers when it glides through the table. It’s also not the dimension of those holes that counts.

What matters is the quantity of air pressure emanating from those holes. This pressure should be even, but it’s not always the case.

The equation for finding out how much pressure it takes to lift and move of this size and weight is as follows:

P = .040466 lb / (pi/4*2.5^2) = .00824 psi

Air Hockey Tables

Home or Commercial

Air hockey tables fall into two groups; home tables and commercial tables.

Home air hockey tables, as the name implies, are meant for use in your house.

This would be intended for easy use by a family or the likes, where fun and value are the main focus.

At times, tables for home use are not bigger than 6ft., though some seven-foot models are available, and sometimes they are merged with other games to form a multi-games table.

The fans are quite strong and lift the puck on an air cushion so that it glides smoothly and quickly.

Commercial air hockey tables are constructed to the standard of arcades.

This means that they’re sturdy, well-designed and built for excellent play, with powerful fan motors providing plenty of buoyancy.

They can be put at home if you want a high-quality game, but we recommend not installing a home table in a commercial building.

The tables are structured in a different way. Commercial tables are usually built from durable plywood, frequently with a stainless steel playing surface.

The rails are also made from solid steel, and these tables typically have an arch above the table where a scoring unit is attached.

Air blower is powerful centrifugal fans, which are designed to provide uniform airflow for many hundreds of hours of operation.

Home tables are lighter. Some of such tables make use of a centrifugal fan, related to the commercial tables.

However, others utilize a more straightforward flat fan.

The costlier home tables may have an arch that has a scorer affixed on it, but many have none, and alternatively have a small scoring component mounted somewhere on the side of the pitch

When deciding on the table to buy, determine who will be making use of the table and how frequent it will be used.

If you’re buying the table for young children, for example, a simple 5ft or 6ft home air hockey is ideal.

Regular abacus-style scorers will replace the costly electronic scorers, and the size or height of the table will be appropriate.

Larger home tables 6 or 7 feet high, are a good deal if you have grownups or older children who’d like to play too.

But if your table is expected to be heavily used and potentially abused by public members, consider a more durable commercial table, especially if you plan to charge for game credits.

Hockey Table Buying Guide

When searching for a hockey table, there are some features to consider. Every table has several features that distinguish it from others.

Remember these characteristics when you’re looking for a puck that will suit your needs. Then, plan to buy a table that has the attributes you want most.

How Much Space Do I Need?

For players to play, air hockey tables need enough space at both ends.

All players must have a minimum of one-meter distance between the edge of the table and obstacles such as walls.

This gives you enough space to move around and return hits without any problem.

In contrast with pool tables, air hockey tables can be placed along a wall, which means they can be squeezed into a smaller space.

Table Size

When purchasing an air hockey table, size is an essential factor to consider. On average, the size of an air hockey table for a tournament is about 8 feet.

We recommend an air hockey table of 10 feet long by 7 feet wide if you want to buy a full-size table.

A small air hockey table is between 4 and 7 feet long. Procuring a small table is advantageous as it’s transportable and can be used wherever.

4-foot hockey tables well suited for younger kids. For people with limited space in their room, this could be perfect for you.

Electrical or Battery Tables?

There are 2 kinds of air hockey tables.

Tables operated by battery are handy in areas without electricity. One of the advantages battery-powered tables provide is mobility.

For example, bendable air hockey tables need batteries. This means that you can carry the tables wherever you want since you’ve batteries.

Otherwise, you might want to use an electrically powered table.

Electric tables offer the advantage of working with powerful fans to stimulate an arcade-air hockey-table experience that you’d want in a recreation room.

Using electric tables is recommended if you’ve a guaranteed place to live.

Financial Plan

Air hockey table is approximately worth between $200–$5000. Although the price shows the value of an air hockey table, it shouldn’t be the determining factor.

Find out what qualities you want from an air hockey table and plan to buy a table in your price range that best suits those needs.

Table Top or Table

One thing to look for in an air hockey table is firmness. Air hockey is a game of force being exercised and people standing over the table.

Also, get a table with adaptable levelers so that the table doesn’t stand crooked.

If your family regularly plays air hockey, we recommend you get a table air hockey board.

However, getting a professional air hockey table is excellent, though they’re costly.

You can purchase a medium-sized board that will provide a stable playground.

If you’ve limited space, then it’s advisable to buy a tabletop air hockey board.

Tabletop tables offer portability, which means you can carry them with you on camping trips.

Puck Size

The size of your puck determines the quality of your game. The lightest and smallest pucks are usually delivered with smaller tables, where the playing speeds have a tendency to be slow.

They’re perfect for those little tables, where the emphasis is on an entertaining game rather pure shooting power.

Larger pucks are required at larger tables because the additional weight prevents them from ricocheting off the table.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Certain Brands To Look for?

As for home tables, there are lots of manufacturers that construct air hockey tables. Amongst the most popular ones are Strikeworth, Tekscore, Buffalo, and BCE.

For a commercial table, the top manufacturers are SAM Leisure and WIK.

Which Is the Best Playfield?

Home tables mostly have wooden or plastic playing fields with a soft, low-friction vinyl wrapping.

These tables work well for fun games and occasional use, especially on tables purchased for kids or family games.

Commercial tables usually have playing field made of metal, mostly a highly-polished steel which is very long-lasting and impervious to damage.

Which Rails Are the Best?

The rails are the parts of the table that’s surrounding the playfield. They’re the ones that give the puck a good bounce and also generate the ‘ping’ from the collision.

For home tables, the rails are mostly made of plastic, while some higher-quality home tables, such as the Strike worth Pro Ice, are equipped with metal rails.

Commercial tables have thick metal rails for optimal play.

Wrapping up

Air hockey is an entertaining game that combines competition and social commitment.  The tables are available in different sizes to suit several skill levels and gameplay.

When searching for an air hockey table, ensure that the table is long-lasting enough to be played for long periods. We do hope this guide has enlightened you on how air hockey tables work.


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