Buying an air hockey table can sometimes be confusing as they are constructed support different styles of plays and intensities. Before you consider shopping for a table, you should familiarise yourself with the different table types and features that make a good table.
These are not permanent tables but are designed to sit on top of a dining table, for example, so are suited for casual intermittent gameplay. They are smaller than standard air hockey tables, but since they are made for occasional play, they are not typically made from strong materials. However, they are economical to buy and can be stored away when not in use.
The most air hockey table for those who take the game semi-seriously, at least, are the stand-alone tables.
These combine multiple games into one table, combining air hockey with pool and table football. This is convenient if you do not have enough space for 3 tables and want some variance in your games. However, while these tables are fine for casual gameplay, they are usually not as sturdy as their single-game counterparts. If you are planning to buy these types of table, check that the there is fan blowing air onto the table, as some of these tables have this feature missing.
They are made for heavy duty use to withstand the abuse found in arcades from the general public. So these tables are made from more solid materials and will withstand many years of use.
The commercial motor in these tables will make the air stronger, more even, allowing the puck to glide more quickly. Due to maintenance contracts, there are no dead spots.
Since they are typically full size, i.e. 8 ft, ensure that you have enough room to accommodate the table.
It is important to note how well the table is supported. It should have a sturdy base and legs made of steel or wood laminate.Rink Walls
The walls sustain the most abuse in air hockey games, and so need to be made from durable tables. Solid aluminium or thick nylon rick walls are recommended of the table is to last.Table Motor
A good quality, high power motor ensures that pumped air is distributed evenly across the surface of the table. However, the blower motor is usually the main point of failure, so a well-known brand will be easier to source replacement motors.Scoreboard
Another feature to look for is a digital scoreboard, that helps keep track of game scores. Though it is a nice to have feature, it is also another mechanical/electrical part that can breakdown.
Buying a second-hand commercial air hockey is a great choice since they will have the best construction, and top brands will have parts available, such as motors mentioned previously. Commercial tables are large, but this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The disadvantage being that you will need the room for a large table, as well as a means to transport a large table. But this disadvantage also makes it difficult to sell, give you the benefit of being able to purchase at a much lower price than the original cost of the table.
If a used commercial table is not possible, look for a good quality used residential table. Key points in a used residential table is that it should not be too old, a least 7 foot in size, and confirm that it is motorised, as some residential tables may not be. Again the size of the larger residential tables have the same benefits and drawbacks as commercial tables.