Ice arena, skating rink design

By: Accent Refrigeration  09-12-2011
Keywords: Ice, energy efficiency, system design

Refrigeration System Design Considerations

The primary purpose of a recreational ice refrigeration system is to safely and efficiently provide a high quality sheet of ice under all normal operating conditions.

There are many styles of refrigeration systems and each of these systems serve a useful purpose for a particular application and none of them are equally suited for all applications. Careful consideration must be taken to ensure that you get the system that suits your facility.

At Accent Refrigeration Systems we will work through the options with you to ensure that you are making the best long term solution for your facility. The following is a basic list discussion points that will be encountered in your journey to build a new ice facility. We can provide you with in depth information and recommendations on each point during the design process.

Basic Venue Consideration

Is the facility to be an indoor ice facility or an outdoor ice facility?

Outdoor Ice Surface

If you are planning an outdoor ice facility there are a tremendous amount of sub-base design considerations that are important to ensure the long term integrity of the concrete slab. This has to be done properly or it will almost always create long term problems.

Outdoor ice rinks by their nature can have extremely volatile load profiles, ranging from no load at all during times of cold still air to extremely high loads on warm windy days. Designing a refrigeration system becomes a balancing act between providing sufficient refrigeration capacity to accommodate high load conditions and yet keeping the installation costs within a practical budget. More often than not, a larger refrigeration system will be required for an outdoor ice arena.

Will the ice surface and refrigeration system be in a permanent location or moved each season. This decision will change the style of system that would be best for you.

It is always a good idea to install a sunscreen or roof over an outdoor ice rink to minimize the impact of the sun, rain, and snow.

Indoor Ice Surface

Most ice facilities are indoor venues and will have spectator seating ranging from none at all to professional venues with seating for over 20,000 spectators. The quantity of spectators will have a significant impact on the selection of refrigeration and ventilation equipment.

First cost

How important is the first cost of the equipment to you? What are you willing to give up to lower costs? Ice quality, energy efficiency, equipment lifecycle, safety?

With any new business venture, keeping your first cost down is very important in order to get the doors open. In an arena or curling club, your ice is your life and your refrigeration system is your life-line to that ice. It really has to be done right. We will show you how to do it right and we will show you how to spend your money in a manner that it will pay dividends for years to come.

Facility usage

Is your primary purpose going to be professional hockey, figure skating or community recreational skating? Each user group will have an optimum ice condition and a specific refrigeration requirement.

Will your facility be used year round or just seasonally? If your facility is to be used for ice sports more than 7 months of the year your will require sub-floor heating to eliminate the possibility of frost heaves.

Will you require a concrete floor for multipurpose or a sand floor for ice sports only. A concrete floor requires less ongoing maintenance.

Ice quality

How important is ice quality to you? Do you require unwavering perfect ice at all times of the year, even during unseasonably hot periods of heavy usage? How fast do you want your ice to recover after re-surfacing?


How important is it to provide back up capacity to maintain your ice in the event of a breakdown or during periods of maintenance? Are you planning any maintenance shutdowns or are you going to operate 365 / 7 for years on end. These decision points will have an influence on the style of refrigeration system you should select.

Energy efficiency

What will the cost of power be to operate your ice facility? What is the exact billing structure is for your area. Is there a demand charge? Is there a time of day or time of year premium? Are there any incentives for premium efficiency systems or gas driven equipment? How important is energy efficiency to you?

The cost of utilities is the second highest cost to operate an ice facility. Any reduction in energy costs will go straight to your bottom line.

We will show you the savings offered by various energy saving techniques along with the payback in your utility market.

Heat Reclaim

The entire refrigeration process involves moving heat from one area to another. There are a tremendous amount of applications for this valuable energy. Some of the more common uses are providing hot water for the Zamboni and showers as well as providing space heating in public areas.

During the design stage we will show you many new and very innovative ways to wring out every last bit of energy from your facility.

Environmental requirements

Are there any bylaws or restrictions in your municipality that will restrict the use of Calcium Chloride, Glycol, Ammonia, or Freon? Are there any noise level limitations in your area? Is there any health bylaws preventing or limiting the use of cooling towers or snow melt pits?

Emergency response crews

Is the fire department and emergency response personnel trained in dealing with emergency situations that might arise at your facility?

Operator requirements and ongoing maintenance requirements

Are there codes requiring mandatory supervision for an ammonia system or a freon system over a certain size? Are there qualified refrigeration operators in your area?

The longevity of your refrigeration system and cost to operate and maintain your facility is very dependant on your Operations Staff. We will provide you and your staff with the knowledge that is required to keep your facility operating at peak performance.

Ease of operation

Is the system laid out in a manner that is conducive to normal operator inspection? Will the operators be trained to fully understand the operation of the system?

Equipment room requirements

What are the requirements for the plant room construction and ventilation? What special safety equipment is required for each class of refrigerant?


Are there any water restrictions, sewage charges or poor water conditions that might limit the use of evaporative condensers and cooling towers?

Refrigeration Equipment Lifecycle

In most cases the lifecycle of most recreation facilities is at least 30 years. It is best to plan for the refrigeration system to last at least that long. Following good maintenance procedures, that should not be a problem with a well built system. How easy will it be to replace major components in the future?

Keywords: energy efficiency, Ice, Refrigeration System, Refrigeration System Design, Refrigeration Systems, system design,

Other products and services from Accent Refrigeration


Our Clients/Projects in Canada | Accent Refrigeration Systems

Strachona Gardens Three Sheet Arena Campbell River. ONEnergy Management and Computer Control System. Port McNeil Arena & Curling Club Port McNeil. Canadian Forces Base Comox Arena Comox. Juan de Fuca Swimming Pool Colwood. Bear Mountain Arena Victoria, BC. Port Hardy Arena Port Hardy.


ice arena, skating rink operators, energy efficiency training programs

Over the years we have discovered that a lot of the handed down information such as "The Correct" temperatures, humidity levels, operating pressures, etc have morphed themselves into industry rules of thumbs that are just not correct for your facility and will cost you tens of thousands of dollars in efficiencies.


Services | Accent Refrigeration Systems

At Accent Refrigeration Systems, we are passionate about the ice inustry and we are always excited to work with facility operators and other vendors who share our passion. We are much more than just about making Perfect Ice. Complete Mechanical Design Service and Installation. Dehumdification System Design and Installation. Facility Audit and Lifecycle Planning.


Plant Evaluation and Energy Audits

Price does not include taxes, travel, room and board and any external analysis or testing that might be required. Review of utility bills and method of billing. Check sequence of operation and staging. Provide two energy efficiency workbooks. Conduct a refigeration system survey.