Choosing Your Ice Machine

Why purchase an ice machine?

An Ice machine is an imperative piece of commercial kitchen equipment and commercial restaurant equipment for a food service company. Ice machines are inexpensive and simple to operate and maintain. Buying an ice maker is a beneficial purchase.

Guidelines you should use when choosing the right ice machine for your business.

  • Size
  • Ice type
  • Cooling system type
  • Condenser type
  • Reliability
  • Other (miscellaneous)

Size of your ice machine: When deciding on the right size ice machine, think about the space you have available for the unit and the quantity of ice your business uses yearly. Remember, you will need to manufacture additional ice in the summer time and on weekends. Purchase an ice machine that meets your peak manufacturing needs. Conclude your ice machine purchase by analyzing the major and minor details. Base your final choice on your recent business flow and a potential business increase as well. Evaluate the spec sheets provided for each ice machine and carefully review production charts.


  • Space
  • Annual usage
  • Peak usage
  • Choose over-production instead of under-production
  • Review spec sheets

What type of ice is ideal for your business type? Types: Ice machines produce three different types of ice including different cube sizes and designs as well as flaked or nugget ice.

1. Cubes: Cube ice are available in two sizes; half dice or whole dice. Spec sheets provide information about the size of the cubes an ice machine produces. Considered the most popular ice making machines, cube machines manufacture a solid cube that melts slowly. Full dice ice machines and half dice ice makers are suggested for carbonated drinks, mixed drinks, ice retail, salad bars and ice dispensing.

2. Flakes: Flake ice makers produce small, hard bits of ice. Flakes rapidly cool foods and drinks all the while generating low production costs. An exclusive characteristic of flakes is they can be easily molded into any shape. Flakes are best used for salad bars, seafood, meat, produce, blended cocktails, and for hospital use.

3. Nuggets: Nugget ice makers produce a pliable, chewable textured ice that provides optimal cooling effect for drinks. Purchasing an agitator kit is crucial for a nugget ice machine since the ice can melt and stick together and cause clogging. Nugget ice’s recommended use is for blended drinks, carbonated, drinks, salad bars, produce and hospital use.

Which Cooling System is best for you, your business and the environment? There are two types of cooling systems:

  • Air cooling machines
  • Water cooling machines

An Air cooling machines: are effortless to install and low costing to attain, operate and sustain. The air cooling system works by using air and water temperature. They also need more space to function in order to avoid overheating. Air cooled commercial ice makers are environmentally friendly and the food service industry has considered this new system a key innovation. Water cooled machines: on an industrial level this system is more dependable and resourceful but it is also more expensive to operate because it uses more water. Water cooled machines produce less heat and will not affect your room temperature greatly nor do they require as much space for optimal performance to be attained. Overall, if you have limited space for an ice machine it is most convenient to go with the water-cooling system.

Condenser: Remote System unit The remote system unit is resourceful for bigger machines that produce more than 800 lbs every 24 hours. The remote system performs best when it is mounted on the roof of a building in order to minimize the amount of noise and heat it exerts.

Reliability What commercial kitchen merchandisers are leading the industry in ice machine dependability? Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice makers are the most dependable in the industry according to recent service reports.

Other considerations What ice machine capacity and design fits your needs?

  • Models
  • Connections
  • Plumbing
  • Energy efficiency
  • Standard Features
  • Key Kitchen Applications
  • Maintenance Requirements
  • Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials

There are two types of ice machine models:

  • Floor models (large)
  • Under-counter models

Floor-model ice makers are the larger of the two and produce anywhere from 300 to 2,000 lbs of ice daily. They average around 25″ in height and range from 22″ to 48″ wide. Floor models offer the option of stacking; increasing daily production. Undercounter ice makers produce anywhere from 100 to 200 lbs daily. Undercounter ice machine models normally fit in spaces that are 35″ to 40″ high. Updated models of countertop nugget ice makers produce larger amounts of ice while relying on a smaller amount of storage capacity providing superior efficiency. For businesses that require larger ice production rates, an ice dispenser is essential. Alternatives for dispensing include ice, water or ice and water in one. These high-capacity models can produce anywhere from 1,450 lbs. to 1,880 lbs. of ice cubes daily. Important consideration: Before ordering your ice maker, measure your doors, hallways and overall installation space for assured product convenience. When measuring these dimensions, add an extra 5 to 8 inches for clearance space above, behind and on all sides.

Connection features What types of connections do ice makers require?

  • Electrical
  • Water

Electrical and water connections next to your floor drain must be within 6 feet of your ice maker. Ice machines are available in a range of voltages to meet your ice manufacturing requirements. Ordering the right voltage is a critical step in order to meet local, state and national codes and laws. What are the Plumbing Requirements for an ice machine? Ice machines need to be connected to a cold water supply and have alternate drain lines for the machine and bin. It is important to manage the temperature of the water that runs to your ice maker machine; the lower the water temperature the better the capacity of ice production. Water temperatures should not exceed 90 degrees F.

The Innovation of Energy Efficient Ice Makers: Energy Star The environmental issues that we are currently facing have led organizations and businesses to opt for Energy efficient products. The food service industry has been successful in making steps towards progressing in the way in which energy is used. Energy Star is a program established through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy focused on supporting customers to collectively save money and the environment. With the use of energy efficient products and procedures this program is steadily expanding their services into the food service industry.

Choosing an ice maker that promotes Energy Star in their description will aid in the increase of energy efficiency within your business by an estimated 15% and water efficiency by 10% more than non- Energy efficient models. Air-cooled units typically meet Energy Star’s requirements of maximum potable water and energy expenditure limits. Energy Star qualified ice makers save businesses approximately 1160 kWh each year and $100 annually on water and electric bills. Health codes and Food Safety: It is obligatory to maintain sanitation and hygiene within a food service business. Search for ice machines that come standard with automatic, internal self-cleaning systems along with built-in sanitizers and cleansers. These are the best steps to take in order to avoid violation of health codes.

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