Finding the optimal thickness of the ice and the thickness of the concrete slab beneath are critical factors in refrigeration efficiency. Ice and the concrete act as insulators, resisting the transfer of heat to the refrigeration system.

If the ice is too thick, it will dramatically increase compressor load and energy costs. The thicker the ice and concrete, the harder it is for the refrigeration system to maintain a desired ice surface temperature. Each additional 1 inch (25.4 mm) of ice adds approximately 10,000 kWh/yr to the required energy to maintain the ice surface.

Vigorous skating during a typical hockey practice will damage ice that is too thin. It will also require more resurfacings. On the other hand, thick ice is inefficient because it increases the energy requirements of the refrigeration system.

Most rink facilities maintain their ice thickness between 1 1/4” (apx. 3.2 cm) to 1 1/2” (apx. 3.8 cm) as an industry accepted standard.

On a side note: players dumping the leftover water bottles down the boards at the player’s benches at the end of the game is a prime contributor to ice build‐ up along the boards. The ice resurfacer because of its design cannot cut tight to the boards. This requires significantly more maintenance using a specially designed tool to cut the ice away.


  • Keeping the ice between 1 1/4” to 1 1/2” (apx. 3.2 cm – 3.8 cm) is optimal


  • 10,000 kWh of electricity if the ice was 2 1/4” (apx. 5.7 cm) and now is at 1 1/4” (apx. 3.2 cm).

Web resources: 

Optimization of ice and concrete slab thickness, RFABC


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