I’m sure that we can all agree that air hockey is a ton of fun. All of us have had those heated battles against a parent, friend, or sibling, often ending with some sort of close call at the end. I’ve put together this guide to try and help you find the perfect air hockey table for your family. I’ve seen some of the other guides on the web and they’re basically unhelpful for most part, just some regurgitated product information that doesn’t tell you anything. I do have some affiliate links in this guide, if you find the information helpful I’d appreciate you buying through the links, it costs you nothing extra and helps support this website. If you prefer not to support me, that’s totally cool too, hopefully this information helps you out either way.
Choosing your Air Hockey Table Type
There are three main types of air hockey tables, commercial arcade quality, home versions, and commercial multipuck versions. Most people are familar with the first two, the last one is kind of a new thing that has came about the past few years. As far as playing them, the commercial versions are usually far superior in quality and fun factor. The main reasons they’re better is because:
- they are heavier duty so the playing surface is very solid
- the air on the surface is usually a lot more even, stronger, and without dead spots
- the playing surface is usually a lot bigger
- the puck stays on the surface a lot better
However, the residential versions do have a couple advantages, basically:
- they’re much lighter, so you can move them around in your house easily
- they’re much cheaper, sometimes 1/5 to 1/10 of the price
New vs Used Air Hockey tables
The other thing to decide is whether you want a new or used air hockey table. The advantages of buying a used one are:
- cheaper, especially the commercial ones. Commercial air hockey tables are often very cheap on the used market. That is because nobody wants to move one (because they’re so heavy). Putting a commercial used model in your basement is extremely difficult.
- a lot easier to try out. A lot of the better new models are only offered online, so you have no chance to play them ahead of time. With used models you can make sure everything is to your liking ahead of time.
New ones have their own advantages, mainly:
- They come with a warranty, so if something breaks you’re covered for quite a while. With a used one if something breaks the next day you’re out of luck.
- If something does break, you can still get parts for them. A lot of times parts aren’t available for older used models.
Personally, if it was me, I would first look on craigslist to see if there’s a good used option available before looking into the new tables. There aren’t that many parts to break on an air hockey so broken parts don’t concern me as much as some other game room items. I would personally look for things in this order:
- used commercial table for cheap (if I had the ability to get it into my home)
- used residential table for cheap
- new residential table
- new commercial table
I’ll now cover what I’d look for in each of those areas.
Used Commercial Air Hockey Table
If I was buying a used commercial table, the first thing I would look at is trying to find a Dynamo air hockey table, the leader in commercial air hockey tables. There are usually one or two of these floating around depending on your area and time of year. I’ve seen them as cheap as $400, they’re one of those things where the size and weight really hurts the resale value (kind of like pool tables). If I couldn’t find a Dynamo, I would try and find one of those two player multipuck tables where every so often the game spits out extra pucks for a challenge. I actually like those multipuck ones even better than the normal ones, but find a used one is highly unlikely since they don’t make very many of them.
The good thing about buying a used commercial one is that parts are usually readily available for them. The blower motor is the main thing that can go out and may be expensive.
Used Residential Air Hockey Table
Residential air hockey tables are a lot harder to judge since there isn’t a clear leader in the area. There are a bunch of decent tables but nothing that stands head and shoulders above the rest of them. If I was looking for a used one, I would look for:
- one that has a scoreboard unit over the playfield
- that is 7 foot or larger
- one that is easily moved
- the newer the better
- not beat up too much
As far as brands go, I would look at MD Sports, Brunswick, or a Gold Standard table. There are a lot of cheap games out there that don’t work particularly well. The last thing you want is the puck to fly off your cheap table and hit someone in the face. Like the commercial tables, the blower motor is the main point of failure. The other point of failure is the playing surface, sometimes if they’re not properly cleaned there can be a lot of holes plugged up creating dead spots.
New Residential Table
There are a few tables I would recommend as far as new tables go. Unfortunately, they’re all over $500, but this is one of those areas where you get what you pay for. If you have to spend less than $500 I would recommend buying a used one instead, you’ll get a lot more for your money that way and it should still be of pretty good quality. Here is my list of new tables I would recommend:
There are probably some others that would be ok as well, but I wouldn’t buy anything that didn’t have at least 4 out of 5 stars. The Brunswick Wind Chill Air Hockey is a pretty good value in the category, I think if I had to pick one of the three I think I would go with that one. Brunswick also makes the Shutout Air Hockey Table, which is a slightly cheaper and lighter model below:
New Commercial Table
This is the expensive area. Everything listed here is going to cost you thousands of dollars but it’s also equipment that’s going to last a lifetime. All of these tables were designed for tens of thousands of plays in an arcade over a couple years, in home use it’ll never get close to that amount of use.
Here are the commercial air hockey tables I would recommend:
Check out the descriptions, you can see why they’re so hard to move at 500 to 600 pounds. If you buy one of these plan on needing at least 4 people to move it, maybe more.
Multipuck Table Options
Other than Namco Pac-Man Smash Slim Line Air Hockey Table at over $12k, there aren’t many multipuck options right now. My favorite one was a Sega one from like 20 years ago. It used to shoot out a couple extra pucks during the game, was pretty awesome. The Pac-Man one is a similar concept but in my opinion, it’s a little bit too much of a good thing. I like the mulitpuck but with the Pac-Man one shooting out so many of them, it’s just over the top. Basically, it’s fun for a little bit, but not fun to play over and over.
I’m sure some of you are wondering where some of the cheaper options like Sportscraft and Harvard are. I’ll try and go over them here as well.
Sportcraft are mainly sold through your local stores. Unfortunately, none of them have particularly great reviews. This one below:
Was the best reviewed one I could find. Generally, the comments on most of their models are of poor build quality, assembly issues, scoreboard breaking, etc. Basically, if you buy one and you have any of these issues, don’t be too surprised. These are generally better for younger children, older kids may strain the construction too much.
Harvard you can barely find any new tables for sale anymore. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but none of the big box retailers appear to stock them anymore. Perhaps they stopped making them, I’m not sure.
One of the major game room players Carrom used to make bigger air hockey tables but now their models consist mainly of two tabletop models.
Reviews are a little mixed, but for the most part they’re fun for kids to play with and pretty affordable as well. If I was looking for a small one to keep little kids busy I probably would go with a Carrom.
Hopefully this article has helped you figure out what kind of air hockey table you want to buy. It’s too bad that the commercial ones are so heavy, if they were lighter they’d be a lot more viable option. I have seen where they’re starting to make some commercial like tables only a lot lighter but none of them have gotten that popular yet. If they do I’ll update this guide with them.