Air hockey tables are a staple in arcades and many games rooms, but how are they powered? In this article, I’ll explain how and why air hockey tables need to be plugged in so you can play a proper game.
The Quick Answer
Air hockey tables need to be plugged into a mains electricity outlet in order to provide power to the fan. The fan underneath the table pushes air through the perforations on the surface so the puck can move quickly. When the air hockey table is unplugged, the puck will move very slowly across the table.
Why Do Air Hockey Tables Need Electrical Power?
Underneath the surface of an air hockey table there is a fan which blows air through the holes in the surface. The puck essentially floats on this very thin cushion of air, which is why it moves very quickly because there is no friction from the surface acting on it. The fans underneath the air hockey table require electrical power to generate this cushion of air above the surface. Most tables have a 260W fan.
When an air hockey table is not plugged in and turned on, there will not be any power to the fan, so there will be no air blowing through the perforations on the surface. Therefore, the puck will not be able to glide along this cushion of air and instead will move on the table surface instead.
When the puck moves on the surface of the table, friction is generated which causes it to move more slowly than when it is levitating slightly on the layer of air generated by the fan when the table is turned on. It is still possible to actually use the air hockey table when it is unplugged, but the game will be very slow and feel completely different compared to when it is turned on.
Other components of the air hockey table also require electricity to function properly.
- Most tables have an electrical scoring function which usually goes over the top of the table and automatically records when each player scores a point. On some tables, the scoreboard may be powered by batteries.
- Commercial tables use a coin-mechanism or contactless payment system so you can pay to play which also requires power.
- Many air hockey tables have LED lights and sound-effects which again require electricity.
How to Power an Air Hockey Table
Air hockey tables are usually powered by mains electricity and need to be plugged into a mains power supply to operate. The table should come supplied with a mains lead so you can plug it into the wall to power the motor fan. Make sure you check the instruction manual of your air hockey table before plugging it into the main power supply and ensure you only power it as instructed.
Make sure that you turn off your air hockey table at the wall and then unplug it when it is not in use.
Table top air hockey games are usually powered by batteries instead of main electricity. Most table top versions of the game require around 8 x AA batteries to operate, but the type of batteries needed will vary from model to model so make sure you only power it as instructed by the manufacturer. Table top air hockey requires electrical power for the same reason as standard air hockey tables, to make the fan underneath the table’s surface to work.
Take the batteries out of your table top air hockey game when it is not in use and store them in a cool, dry place. This will preserve the battery life and keep the batteries in good condition.
Considering getting an air hockey table? Check out my guide to how much space you need for air hockey to make sure you get the right size table.
Air Hockey Table Power Problems
Air hockey tables are electric, and sometimes faults can cause them not to work properly. The main issues you can get are:
- The table won’t turn on when plugged in.
- The fan is either not turning on at all, or not working properly.
Make sure you turn off and unplug your air hockey table before inspecting it for issues.
If you’re struggling with the first issue, then the problem will be related to either your electricity supply, or usually the table’s motor. Sometimes the motors have a safety feature which means they shut down if they overheat. Often, you’ll be able to clean the fan’s motor and then reset it which can cause the table to turn back on. If this does not work then the motor may need replacing.
Another common issue is that the fan is dirty and needs cleaning. If you notice that your table has “dead spots” where there is no air flow out of the holes, then this usually means the holes need cleaning and unclogging, rather than that the table has an electrical issue.
Since air hockey tables are quite complex, it’s recommended that you get one with a long warranty so it can be replaced if there are any faults.
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