Another conversation I had with Les Quinton was about compressor run time hours.

I know that run time hours is something that all ice arena managers track — those numbers act as an early (or immediate) warning system to indicate problems with the system. Quinton puts all his monthly numbers into a spreadsheet where he also indicates anything special that happened that year.

What Impacts Run Time Hours?

This is nothing new: he’s been tracking these numbers since 1998, which was the year he started working as the Parks & Recreation Manager for the Town of Black Diamond, Alberta. That year, the Oilfields Regional Arena, a seasonal single pad, recorded its highest-ever run time — 2,388.6 hours. Last year, it was down to 1,769 hours — which is pretty amazing when you consider that since 2011, this indoor ice arena’s season is now eight months long — open an entire month longer than what Quinton started tracking in 1998.

That’s something I know — not just because he told me, but because it’s noted down in the spreadsheet. The numbers and notes mean that anyone with access to the spreadsheet can get a picture of exactly what might have made a difference to the run time hours in any given year.


  • in 2002 when insulation was added to the walls — and the bleacher heaters were set on 60-minute timers.
  • in 2003 when the low-e ceiling was installed.
  • in 2010 when the energy management system was installed.

Overhauls Matter

The spreadsheet also details, as you might expect, when all the compressor overhauls have been performed. It’s clear that overhauls make a difference in run time: an overhaul in Year X corresponds with lower run time hours in Year Y. And there’s one very interesting note in 2008 stating the period between overhauls would now be increased from every three years to every four years because of the reduced number of hours on the compressors. Quinton tells me that the reduced run time hours which mandated a longer overhaul interval has, in fact, already saved them the cost of one overhaul, which in 2017 cost the Town $20,980.81.

In the past seven years, the lower run time trend can also be attributed to the energy management system from Guest Automation — and I’ll write more about that in an upcoming post.

Paid Usage

How many hours your compressors run don’t tell the whole story and because of that, this particular spreadsheet doesn’t just track the run hours, but the hours of paid usage too. That data is combined with the run time hours to determine how much run time is needed per hour of paid usage each season. That number had an all-time high back in 1998 at 1.64; it had a low of 1.00 back in 2009 when there were only 7 months of ice; last year that number was a very healthy 1.09. In addition to the paid usage numbers, there are notes in the spreadsheet to remind others why usage may have dropped due to the addition of new rinks in the neighbourhood. Since 1998, 7 new indoor ice surfaces have been added to surrounding municipalities, although the hours of paid usage at the Oilfields Regional Arena hasn’t suffered.

Finally, electrical consumption is also tracked, although those numbers were not available for several years and only became available on a consistent basis in 2006. What stands out is how improvements, like the energy management system and the REALice cold water resurfacing system (2017) impact energy consumption. From a high of 260,000 kWh in 1999, the Oilfields Regional Arena is now open 8 months a year and consuming 203,417 kWh.

See What Happened — and Why

The tracking is ongoing, and all the data is right there, on Quinton’s computer, so he can compare months to months, or years to years.

“If you don’t track, how can you know if the things you’ve done have made a difference?” Quinton asks.

Good question!

Do you track your run time hours in a way similar to what is being done in Black Diamond? Do you track differently? Let me know!