What is the Difference Between a Smoke Machine, Haze Machine and Low Fog Machine?

News/What is the Difference Between a Smoke Machine, Haze Machine and Low Fog Machine?
What is the Difference Between a Smoke Machine, Haze Machine and Low Fog Machine?

We are often asked what the difference is between these three special effects machines. So, we thought we’d put together this quick guide to explain what the key differences are & which machine you should use to create the effect you want.





Smoke machines, also referred to as fog machines, use special fluid to produce thick white smoke to create an impressive visual effect. They often come with a remote control to control the volume of smoke produced as well as the duration.  Smoke machines produce a similar effect to low fog machines, however the heated smoke produced by smoke machines rises and dissipates around the room, whereas low fog machines produce cold liquid particles and the fog remains close to the ground.

  • Input: Smoke fluid
  • Output: smoke
  • Particles: smoke
  • Use smoke machines for: shows, concerts, parties, spooky effects. Use when you want the whole room to be smoky, rather than just on the ground (low fog machine).


A low fog machine (similar to dry ice machines) produces a thick, opaque fog that remains close to the ground to create a ‘walking on air’ effect. Fog machines create this effect by cooling fluid to liquid particles. A low fog machine usually creates an intense burst of fog rather than a subtler diffusion, like a hazer. The effect of a low fogger is similar to that of a smoke machine– they are both designed to create a visual effect / impact, whereas a haze machine is designed to emphasize other effects such as lighting beams or lasers.

There are two main types of low fog machine:

  • A dry ice machine – this uses solid dry ice and water. It is a simpler method but does not have the length of run time as the cryogenic machine.
  • A cryogenic machine – this uses a liquid such as liquid CO2 gas and has a longer-lasting effect.
  • Input: Dry Ice or Liquid CO2 Gas (depending on the type of machine)
  • Output: low lying fog
  • Particles: liquid droplets
  • Use a low fog machine for: weddings (especially for the first dance), shows, theatres, Halloween parties.


Haze machines, also known as ‘hazers,’ can be oil-based or water-based and are used to complement lighting effects. Haze machines create a fine and subtle haze with a long ‘hang’ time – the particles linger in the air for a long time before dissipating making them ideal for use at shows and concerts. They produce a much finer and less noticeable effect than smoke or low fog machines, as they are designed to emphasize the effects of lighting allowing you to see rays and patterns you would not normally see.

  • Input: Haze fluid
  • Output: fine mist / haze
  • Particles: liquid droplets
  • Use haze machines for: shows, concerts, festivals and anywhere you want to emphasize light effects or create a misty atmosphere. Perfect for when you don’t want the thick, opaque effect of a smoke machine or low fog machine.

For any of these machines, there is a big difference between the cheaper versions and the professional-grade machines. If you want a quality and reliable performance at your event, make sure you go for the latter. This does not necessarily mean that you need to pay more, but you will definitely get better value for money. Professional-grade machines usually have a continual automatic cycle, meaning that they can operate continually, without needing to stop.

For more information on smoke, low-fog or haze machine hire, contact our friendly team today.