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Ice Maker Shopping Guide
Ice makers all produce cooling cubes of frozen water to chill beverages or store food, but they can vary greatly from model to model. Check out our comprehensive guide to learn how to identify an ice maker that’s ideal for you.
How Much Ice Does It Make?
The first thing to consider when buying an ice maker is how much ice a given machine can produce in 24 hours. Smaller ice makers will be able to produce about 30 pounds of ice each day, but larger commercial machines can easily make hundreds of pounds. This latter variant is appropriate for restaurants or bars while smaller ice makers are better for home use or for smaller businesses.
You should decide how much ice you plan to go through each day before purchasing an ice maker for your home or business. If you purchase an ice maker that is too large for your needs, you’ll end up wasting time and energy producing ice that never gets used, as well as face a higher initial price tag.
How Much Ice Can It Store?
Next, consider how much ice a given ice maker will be able to store. Larger storage capacities are great for busy businesses or bars, as you won’t need to give the ice maker time to refill its supply during peak traffic hours. If an ice maker runs out of ice, it takes time to produce new cubes or chips.
Remember that a full ice maker will stop producing new ice temporarily, so you’ll never face an overflow problem. There really isn’t such a thing as too much storage space, but there is such a thing as too little.
What Types of Ice Does It Make?
There are several types of ice cubes or chips that can be produced by a commercial ice maker. Square ice cubes are the most common and are perfect for including with beverages or soft drinks. Half-cubed ice is normally used for food service industries, but you’ll also find it at self-serving machines. Half-cubed ice is great because it lowers the amount of liquid needed to produce cooling cubes for drinks. Crescent ice cubes are normally found in beverage dispensers and are great for soft drinks or for mixed drinks due to their cooling capability without using too much water. “Blake” ice or ice chips are normally used for displaying seafood or when used as part of snow cone machines. “Top hat” ice or gourmet ice is very high-quality and costs more to produce since air is eliminated during the freezing process to produce perfectly clear ice cubes. These are ideal for high-quality bars and cocktails. Finally, nugget ice is soft and chewable and is ideal for use with fountain beverages or specialty soft drinks.
How Is It Installed?
An ice maker may be installed in several different ways. Portable ice makers are easy to move around and can be plugged into an outlet. They produce ice when you provide fresh water to their tanks.
Built-in ice makers are seamlessly integrated into your existing cabinets or countertops and are ideal for restaurants or bars. These require a dedicated water line to provide them with a constant flow of fresh water.
Finally, freestanding ice makers are positioned on open space in your kitchen or dining room. These often have the highest capacities of any ice machine but take up much more room and are shaped like a refrigerator. This may not mesh well with a high-end restaurant’s aesthetic.
All ice makers need to drain, except for a few portable models that have removable drains you can empty from time to time.
Gravity drains are the most common found on many ice machines and require a drain on the floor or in a counter near an ice maker. Excess water flows down to the drain with gravity’s help.
Drain pumps are the second type of draining method. These are usually sold separately and escort water away to the nearest drain of your restaurant or business when the automated system detects that excess water in the ice maker has reached its limit.
Air Cooled or Water Cooled?
Finally, ice makers use air-cooled or water-cooled condensers to produce fresh ice. Air-cooled condensers have interior fans that whole cooler air from the outside the condenser coils on the interior of the machine. Water-cooled condensers use cool water from the water line to remove heat from the condenser coils.
Between the two, water-cooled condensers are more energy inefficient and require a large volume of water to operate effectively. But they may be more aesthetically pleasing or work well with your existing water line infrastructure in your restaurant or bar.
Trusting our Top Pick
Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.
Join the millions that have trusted BuyersGuide.org to help them make smarter buying decisions. We help our readers spend their money wisely and find the right product to suit their specific needs. Our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations empower you find the ice maker that's right for you.
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We leverage user data to understand decision-making and put the best products in front of each user. We tailor our comparisons to what matters to our user's needs, specific or broad. We keep our content up to date, we are constantly looking for new merchants and products to compare, and we are quick to remove any that are outdated or no longer meeting our standards. Our rankings change day-to-day based on our proprietary algorithms, that crunch data to identify top-performing products and tailor recommendations to exactly what our readers are looking for.
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