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Hospital Ice Machine Buying Guide

Feb 22nd 2022 - Moe Soloff Ice machine, 

Hospital Ice Machine Buying Guide

When we think of ice makers, we often picture domestic or culinary applications; but when treating patients, hospitals also need high-quality and reliable ice makers for several reasons.

There are dozens of different brands and models of industrial ice makers, so it can be difficult to find what works best for your hospital. The guide below will help alleviate some stress and clarify some confusion surrounding ice makers.

A couple of the endless reasons that hospitals need an in-house ice maker:

  • To treat injuries (swelling, scars, bedsores)
  • To treat fevers
  • For beverages served in cafeterias and to patients
  • For staff to use in their own drinks
  • For cold water dressings
  • For physical therapy needs

With so many various demands for ice in one building, it makes sense for hospitals to invest in their own ice machines. Below is a helpful guide to ensure you find the best ones.

What Kind of Ice Should My Machine Dispense?

Let’s start with the ice itself. There are two options for ice machines, and they are flake ice and nugget ice.

Flake ice resembles crushed ice that you may have received in a beverage before. These are smaller, irregular-sized chips that are easy to chew and swallow. Flake ice is soft, small, and malleable, making it ideal for icing injuries because it can mold to any shape. This ice is also easy to submerge items in (for example in the cafeteria or during organ or blood transfer) because of its moldability.

Nugget ice is bigger than flake ice and is also sometimes called cubelet ice. This is chewable as well, still soft, but because it’s a bit thicker, it has different purposes than flake ice. Cubelet ice may be more ideal for patients who are having trouble swallowing their liquids, as nugget ice will easily and quickly melt in their mouth.

How Much Ice Do I Need?

Most hospitals use approximately 10 lbs. of ice per patient per day. So your ice machine must be able to handle this high quantity demand and necessity. To figure out just how many ice machines you’ll need and what size they need to be, it’s good to start at how many patients your hospital has per day.

Don’t forget your cafeteria and visitor and staff ice needs as well. Once you know how much you need, you can start looking into ice maker sizes.

How Much Will It Cost?

Ice makers range anywhere from  $1,500 to $13,000. Finding the right ice machine for your hospital's needs is the most important step. It’s important to find great quality while also making sure you’re receiving the best value. Don’t forget to keep in mind costs for maintenance or repairs, cleaning, and water filters which will all likely be ongoing costs.

There are different methods of cooling the ice in an ice machine, and this affects the price. Generally, air-cooled ice makers are the cheapest. Whether the ice machine you purchase is new or used can also have a drastic effect on its price. Price also depends on size and brand, so every hospital’s price will vary.

→ Read Our Detailed Article on Ice Machine Cost. Click Here

Ready to Find the Perfect Ice Maker?

Manitowoc, Ice-O-Matic, Hoshizaki, and Scotsman are a few of the most used and preferred brands for hospital ice makers. There are, many other high-quality brands that you should consider. Below is a compiled list of some of the best and most frequently bought models for a hospital.

Best Overall:

Hoshizaki F-801MAJ-C Ice Maker

Hoshizaki F-801MAJ-C Ice Maker

This Hoshizaki is one of the bestselling ice machines on the market.

It will be perfect for the hospital because it dispenses soft nugget ice and output of 690 lbs. per 24 hours. This is a mighty output for a machine measuring only 22”, so it is both practical and efficient. This ice maker costs $5,817.

More Hoshizaki ice makers can be found here.

Largest Output:

Manitowoc SYF3000C 48" Quadzilla QuietQube Air-Cooled Cube-Style Ice Maker

If your hospital is busy and large, this is the perfect model.

This Manitowoc machine can produce almost 3,000 lbs of ice in one 24 hour period. It is pretty hefty, at 48”, but its output makes up for its size. Having one of these on each floor of your hospital would ensure you always have enough ice. This model costs just under $13,000.

More Manitowoc ice makers can be found here.

Best for Nugget Ice:

Scotsman NME1854RS-32 Air Cooled Nugget Style Ice Maker

Scotsman NME1854RS-32 Air Cooled Nugget Style Ice Maker

This Scotsman machine is highly recommended and one of Scotsman’s best-selling ice makers.

Its nugget ice cubes are perfect for patients who have trouble swallowing because they are very soft. It costs $10,000 and can output more than 1,000 lbs in 24 hours. This one is also on the larger side, at 42”.

With this Ice Machine you need to add the Scotsman ERC311-32 Remote Refrigeration Condenser Unit, which costs another $1,080.

More Scotsman ice makers can be found here.

Best for Flake Ice:

Hoshizaki F-1501MAJ 30"W Flake-Style Ice Maker

Hoshizaki F-1501MAJ 30"W Flake-Style Ice Maker

This machine from Hoshizaki dispenses nice flake ice, perfect for any of the above-mentioned uses like physical therapy, fevers, etc.

It costs $8,700 and has an output of 1,500 lbs per 24 hours. It is an average size, measuring 30”, and would be ideal for those looking for flake-style ice cubes.

More Hoshizaki ice makers can be found here.

Best Budget Option:

Manitowoc IDT0450A Indigo NXT Series Ice Maker

Manitowoc IDT0450A Indigo NXT Series Ice Maker

Coming in at just over $3,000, this ice maker would be perfect if your hospital is trying to save a bit of money.

This Manitowoc still functions well, is reviewed highly, and is clearly a premier choice for hospitals. The output per 24 hours is up to 500 lbs. and is 30" in size.

More Manitowoc ice makers can be found here.


Ice-O-Matic, Manitowoc, Hoshizaki, and Scotsman are great brand choices for your hospital ice maker needs. The five options listed above are only a small sampling of what these brands have to offer. Choosing the perfect ice maker for your hospital can be daunting, but this guide is here to help.

If you want to explore other options than those listed above, use the tools provided in this guide to help you search through the options at Culinary Depot.