Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 


Weather Conditions

Under what conditions can I make real snow?

Simply put, the outside wet bulb temperature must be 27 oF (-3 oC) or below to make snow.  At that wet bulb temperature, the snow will be very wet and heavy.  The optimal wet bulb temperature for snow making is 20 oF (-7 oC) and below.  Wet bulb temperature is calculated with air temperature and relative humidity.  See the Weather Charts under Info to calculate wet bulb temperature.

Along with temperature, wind is a secondary consideration.  If the wind is blowing continuously at 15+ mph, snow making may be difficult.  Snow will be formed, but it will likely deposit somewhere other than your backyard.  If the wind is blowing, facing the water spray plume with the prevailing wind direction gives best results.  Spraying the water plume into the wind will significantly decrease the amount of snow accumulation where you want it.

Can it be too cold for snowmaking?

Technically speaking the answer is no.  Having lived for some years in Calgary, Canada, we can say that practically speaking, the answer is yes.  At extreme cold temperatures, you will likely encounter several limiting factors.  Compressor and pressure washer motors may freeze up.  Nozzle plugging and air hose freeze-up are other common problems.  If it is colder than about -10 oF (- 25 oC), you may want to wait…  Having said that, in all our snow making sessions over the years in the Salt Lake Valley, we’ve never been stopped by cold temperatures.

Snow Volume

How much snow does each system make?

The volume of snow produced from a snow making machine is dependent on wet bulb temperature and the amount of water (gallons per minute) running through the system.  With proper weather conditions, the amount of water running through the system will simply translate to more snow.  A BYSS system that runs 1.2 gpm of water flow will roughly make about 40 cubic feet of snow per hour.  2.4 gpm of water will make about 80 cubic feet, and so on. To put this in more perspective, our snow guns have a throwing distance of approximately 25 feet from the snow gun and a spray width of approximately 12 feet.  In an 8 hour run, with a 1.2 gpm pressure washer, the majority of snow will fill a space of 25’x12’ with 12 inches of snow. With a 2.4 GPM system the snow volume will be approximately 25’x12’x2’ etc. For more pictures, and videos showing time lapses and snow volume please visit our gallery.

How much snow does a BYSS snow gun make compared to a commercial snow gun used at a winter resort?

A commercial snow gun typically runs between 50 to 100 gpm, which roughly equates to about 20 times the snow volume of a BYSS snow gun.  The BYSS snow gun is designed with residential use in mind.  A typical home garden water faucet will flow 7 – 10 gpm at 30 to 80 psi water pressure.  To achieve water flow rates above 10 gpm, you need access to a reservoir, lake, or river with a high flow pump.  The cost of resort snow making systems are usually millions of dollars and include water reservoirs, high flow water pumps loops, underground water pipes, and commercial air compression.

BYSS Snow Making System

What makes the BYSS snow making system unique?

Pressure Washer Train System

In the early development days, we set out to increase snow output from our system.  The method to achieve this used by other residential snow makers was to use a larger, commercial style pressure washer or high pressure pump.  These units typically pump between 2 to 10 gpm, but the units are very expensive.  These pumps also typically require 220 v electrical power.  So the desire to go bigger was a major financial commitment.

We drew on experience from processing facilities that add smaller pumps together in “parallel” operation to increase flow rate.  This means that multiple pumps are operated side-by-side with the incoming water split evenly to feed the pumps, and the outlet of the pumps are joined together into a common outlet pipe.  This concept allowed us to increase the flow to our snow gun with the incremental cost of additional small pressure washers.  Our pressure washer outlet manifold includes high-pressure check valves to prevent damage that can occur at start-up and shut-down of the system.  If high pressure water runs backward through a pressure washer, it will be ruined.

One of the best things about a BYSS system is that it can grow with your needs over time.  Most beginner snow makers typically start with a system that runs at 1 – 3 gpm, which is usually the single, or double train package.  The nucleating nozzle is sized to operate effectively at system flow rates anywhere between 1 to 10 gpm.  That means that once you’ve made the investment in a good commercial air compressor, you’re good for any system upgrade (we been running our Campbell Hausfeld 20 gal. compressor for 8 snow making seasons!).  When you decide you are ready for more snow making capacity, the incremental investment will be an additional pressure washer (or two) and the inlet and outlet manifold piping.  You will also need new water nozzles that are sized to the new output of the system.  This allows you to double or triple the flow rate of the system at a fraction of the cost of the original system!

Nucleating Nozzle

The BYSS nucleating nozzle is a commercial grade air atomizing nozzle used in commercial snow guns.  The nucleation spray pattern is designed to match the width of the larger, flat-fan water nozzle plume.  At the contact point of the nucleation spray, and the water nozzle plume, full contact coverage is achieved.  This ensures that the full water nozzle plume will properly nucleate and achieve high quality snow crystal formation.  This means higher quality snowflakes and no ice formation.  For more information, see the Snowmaking Science page.

System Options

What are the advantages and disadvantages of gas vs. residential electric vs. commercial electric pressure washers?

As a general statement, gas pressure washers are more durable that their residential electric counter-parts.  In the snow making world, durability is important, since most snow making sessions run over many continuous hours.  Residential electric pressure washers are made for intermittent use.  Over the years, we have experienced that residential pressure washers die after 1 to 2 seasons (or more specifically after about 100 hours of continuous use).  Of course, some have died earlier, and a few hearty souls have lasted 3 – 4 years.

Gas pressure washers are usually much louder than an electric pressure washer.  If you live on a farm, no big deal.  If you live in a subdivision, and run your snow machine at night, noise should be a consideration.

Gas pressure washers need to be refilled with gas…  If the pressure washer runs out of gas and the water keeps running through the system with no pressure, you’ll have a lovely ice pile.

Gas pressure washers must be run outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  An electric pressure washer can be run inside of the garage with the door down to cut down on noise.

Our overall recommendation is to invest in a commercial electric pressure washer like the AR 610.  These units are made for industrial, continuous use.  They should last for 5 – 10 snow making seasons with proper care and maintenance.

System Operation

I’ve never made snow before.  This all seems technical and involved.  Can I really make snow without a major hassle?

Fair question.  We try to put a lot of detailed information on the website so you can avoid common pitfalls in snow making.  In our early days, we had several struggles, but as we’ve improved designs and procedures. Now, we very rarely have problems.  If you are willing to invest some time to read and absorb our experience and follow our advice, the system is quite simple to operate.

Why does my electrical breaker trip when I turn on my system?

The simple answer is that you’ve overloaded the amp capacity of the breaker.  The solution is to connect each pressure washer and the air compressors to electrical outlets that are on separate electrical breakers.  The pressure washers and the air compressor use high amp motors, but they are sized to run individually on a residential electrical breaker.

We know this is the downside of running several small pressure washers.  For a quadruple train system, you will need five separate power extension cords, running to five separate outlets (remember that some outlets are on the same breaker, so you have to find outlets that are on different breakers).  Of course, the benefit of this system is that it is quite cheap compared to having an electrician come out and install a 220 v breaker and outlet and investing in a large pressure washer.

Is the system safe to operate?

Any time high pressure is involved in a system, safety must be a priority. This system is very safe if the instructions and common sense are followed.  Modifying the system with components that are not rated for high operating pressure can be dangerous.  All of our products are pressure rated and tested before they are sold to ensure safety.  Caution should always be taken when connecting air and water hoses and blowing out the system.

One specific note on safety:  this one goes in the common sense category.  In cold temperatures, water droplets in the air hose will freeze and form ice crystals.  These crystals may plug the air line, and/or nucleating nozzle.  When the air hose is disconnected from the snow gun, do not look at the air stream to see if it is plugged.  Ice crystals coming out of the air line are invisible and exit at very high velocity and could cause major eye damage.  We recommend always using safety glasses when operating the snow machine.

System Design

I see the BYSS nucleation nozzle uses internal mixing, where other residential snow machine designs use external mixing.  Should I be worried?

The simple answer is no, you shouldn’t be worried.  In fact, you should feel confident that you are getting a commercial quality nucleating nozzle.  Nearly all commercial snow guns use an internal mixing system for nucleation because of its superior mixing capability of air and water and consistency of nucleation droplet size creation.  For more information, see “Snowmaking Science”.  We provide a high pressure check valve on the air side of the nucleation nozzle.  This prevents any possible backflow of water into the air system.

Commercial Issues

How will the system be shipped to me?

All BYSS products will be packaged and shipped together. However, all drop-shipped items (pressure washers and air compressors) will be shipped separately from BYSS products.

Why does BYSS drop ship pressure washers and air compressors? 

BYSS pressure washers and compressor drop shipping is done as a service for our customers.  We offer a small range of pressure washer and compressor options that are size to match our systems. These products will be ordered by BYSS and shipped to your provided address, with a copy of the receipt emailed and included in the package.

If I have a warranty issue with a pressure washer or air compressor, what do I do?

You will need to contact the supplier directly and reference the sales receipt that we provide. 

Can I use my own pressure washer or air compressor with a BYSS system?

YES!  You can directly purchase one of the air compressors or pressure washers that we recommend with our systems.  You can also use any other air compressor rated for 5 CFM or greater at 90 psi, or any pressure washer rated at over 1,000 psi.  If you use your own pressure washer, the connection on the pressure washer hose may be different than our pre-selected options so an adapter may be needed.  These adapters are usually available at a local hardware store.

What is the Return Policy

All returns must be received by BYSS within 30 days of the original ship date.  The customer will be responsible for the outgoing shipping and return shipping cost plus a 10% restocking charge.  All items must be returned in “near-new” condition.  If items are damaged, or show significant wear or abuse, we reserve the right to discount the return further.

What is the Product Warranty?

We warranty all BYSS items for 2 years.  If any item has manufacturing or assembly defects, or shipping damage, we will replace the defective/damaged item with like components.  The warranty covers damage or failure due to normal operation and conditions.  If required, we will pay for shipping the item(s) to our Utah based facility for repairs and return shipping to the customer.  Items will not be replaced if they show excessive wear or abuse, or if the system has been altered by the user, or if the system has been operated outside of its design parameters (for example connecting a 3500 psi pressure washer at twice the flow of the designed package).

BYSS will not be responsible for any warranty claims for pressure washers or air compressors.

What are the considerations for Canadian Customers?

BYSS will ship all offered products to Canadian addresses except for pressure washers and air compressors.  You can use the referenced specifications for our package options to purchase these items from a local Canadian supplier.  Also, any additional GST/PST and border duties will be payable by the customer.

Can you ship outside of the USA and Canada?

Yes.  Please email us for a shipping quote.  Like our Canadian customers, you will be responsible for any additional taxes or duties.