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Ice machines keep your customers satisfied by ensuring their drinks are cold and refreshing. But with so many different options, it can be difficult to decide which commercial ice machine is best suited for your particular establishment. This guide can help you make an informed decision when choosing which ice maker is right for you.

Different Types of Ice Machines

Ice machines keep your customers satisfied by ensuring drinks remain cold and refreshing. There's a lot to know about ice machines and their accessories, but this guide contains all the information you need.

Modular Ice Machines

Also known as ice machine heads, these units sit atop ice machine bins, ice machine dispensers, or soda dispensers. Usually rectangular in shape, modular ice machines are most commonly 22”, 30”, or 48” wide. Although their ice output ranges from 300-1850 lbs. per day, these units do not contain storage bins. A notable benefit of modular ice machines is they can be easily repaired without removing their ice making systems.

Undercounter Ice Machines

Compact enough to conveniently fit under commercial counters, undercounter ice machines both produce and store ice. Perfect for bars, these commercial ice makers have a wide range of ice output per day. While the most powerful models produce up to 200 lbs. of ice per day and store 50 lbs., more modest units generate up to 58 lbs. and store 36 lbs. These machines produce the least amount of ice per day but are ideal for smaller establishments where space is limited.

Ice Dispensers

Safe and sanitary, ice dispensers contain built-in storage bins and sometimes include water valves. Most of these commercial ice machines dispense easy-to-chew nugget or flake ice. Enabling easy access to ice, these dispensers are activated by a lever, button, or motion sensor.

We offer both hotel and countertop ice dispensers. Hotel ice dispensers are significantly larger and consequently have more ice storage capacity. These units  require ice machine heads, which are sold separately, to be mounted on top for ice production.

Countertop ice dispensers are compact in size and commonly found in healthcare facilities. As countertop ice dispensers do not produce ice, these units also require compatible ice machine heads.

Combination Ice and Water Dispensers

Combination ice and water dispensers are available in a variety of styles and sizes. These commercial ice machines are ideal for establishments that frequently need easy access to both ice and water.

Ice Types


Considering the type of ice a machine produces is essential when determining which commercial ice machine is right for you. Our helpful guide explains which ice style best suits your establishment.

Full-Size Cube Ice

Measuring 7/8” x 7/8" x 7/8,” classic full cube ice melts slowly and is ideal for cocktails. Full-size cubes are also great for bulk cooling.

Half-Size Cube Ice

Half-size cubes measure 7/8” x 7/8” x 3/8.” The most versatile type of ice, half-size cubes are perfect for keeping drinks cold or selling as bagged ice. Ice machines that produce half-size cubes are the best-selling models, benefitting from popularity among hotels and restaurants.

Hoshizaki Crescent Ice Cubes

Hoshizaki’s exclusive crescent ice cubes boast a curved side that enables them to take up more space in a glass. In doing so, these crescent cubes reduce the amount of liquid that fits in the glass and create more profit for restaurant owners.

Nugget Ice

Slow-melting and easy to chew, nugget ice retains the flavor of whatever beverage it keeps cold. Also known as “Chewblet ice,” “Cubelet ice,” and “Pearl Ice,” nugget ice is small, irregularly-shaped, and popular in healthcare facilities. The ice rapidly cools drinks and boasts an extremely high liquid displacement. This means the drinks you serve will have less liquid and consequently net you more profit.

Flake Ice

Soft and moldable, flake ice is commonly used to display seafood and meat. This type of ice is also perfect for ensuring a salad bar maintains an appropriately cold temperature. Due to its soft texture and tendency to melt quickly, flake ice is frequently used by hospitals because it does not pose a choking hazard to patients. Flake ice is also ideal for shaping around an injured extremity.

Condenser Types

Commercial ice machines are available with air-cooled, water-cooled, and remote-cooled condensers. It’s important to understand the differences between the three, so you can make an informed decision when choosing your ice maker.

Air-cooled Condenser

Air-cooled ice machines, many of which are Energy Star-qualified, do not require water and are the most cost-effective option. Needing cool exterior temperatures and good quality air circulation to function optimally, air-cooled condensers can burn out or increase air-conditioning costs if used in unfavorable environments. These condensers require at least 6” of clearance around air intake and discharge areas.

Water-Cooled Condenser

There are several scenarios in which a water-cooled ice machine is a better choice than an air-cooled model. If the temperature in your establishment is at least 80°F, a water-cooled condenser is a better option. A water-cooled ice machine would also fare better in environments whose air contains contaminants like grease. Lastly, a water-cooled condenser is preferable if an area has poor circulation or cannot satisfy the 6” clearance required by air-cooled condensers.

If your establishment does not meet any of the aforementioned criteria, then a water-cooled condenser is not your best choice. With much higher levels of water consumption, water-cooled ice machines increase operational costs and should be avoided when possible.

Remote-cooled Condenser

Remote-cooled ice machines utilize air-cooled condensers and are usually mounted outside on rooftops. Popular with grocery stores that require large amounts of ice and have an abundance of roof space, remote condensers are much quieter than water- and air-cooled units. The primary drawback of remote cooled ice machines is their high cost of installation and maintenance. Most establishments choose remote condensers because circumstances restrict the use of traditional condensers. Capable of saving energy and water, many remote ice machines are Energy Star-qualified and do not require air conditioning like air-cooled units.

Ice Sizing Guide

Ensuring your commercial ice machine is the optimal size for your establishment will help you operate more efficiently. Featuring data about how much ice is required for different scenarios, the following chart can help you choose an ice machine that best suits your volume needs.

Restaurant Meal 2 lbs. per meal
Bar 3 lbs. per patron
Salad Bar 35 lbs. ice per cubic foot
12 oz. Water Glass 6 oz.
10 oz. Beverage 4.5 oz.
12-16 oz. Beverage 8 oz.
18-24 oz. Beverage 12 oz.
Hotel Guest Ice 5 lbs. per room per day
Hotel Catering 1.5 lbs. per person
Hospital Patient Ice 10 lbs. per person
Grocery Store Display (Meat, Seafood, Etc.) 30 lbs. per cubic foot
Cafeteria 1 lb. per person

Ice Accessories

Our large assortent of ice accessories can help you get the most out of your ice machine.

Ice Bins

Ice bins are the preferred storage options when using modular ice machines that don’t include built-in storage compartments. Choosing a properly sized ice bin can help ensure your kitchen operates smoothly. An ice bin that’s too big will lead to wasted ice and the possibility of bacteria or mold growth. If your ice bin is too small, you risk running out of ice and leaving customers dissatisfied. Generally, it’s ideal for an ice bin to hold 75-80% of what your ice machine heads can produce in 24 hours.

Water Filters

Great for extending the lifespan of your commercial ice machines, water filters decrease the accumulation of harmful mineral deposits within your unit. A reliable water filtration unit will also lead to a larger output of high-quality ice while reducing energy usage. As the warranty on most ice machines can be voided as a result of using low quality water, a water filter ensures your ice maker remains serviceable by its manufacturer.

Ice Baggers

Perfect for convenience stores that sell ice, ice baggers enable you to quickly and easily bag ice. Offering affordable ice baggers that hook over ice bin openings, we also carry robust units that can hold over 1000 lbs of ice and dispense 120 lbs per minute.

Ice Buckets and Ice Scoops

Put your ice on display with an elegant ice bucket. Available in a variety of sizes, these ice buckets are constructed of durable materials like stainless steel.

Ice scoops make it safe and easy to remove ice from buckets and bins. We offer a large selection of scoops that vary in material and color.

Installed on the outside of your commercial ice maker, ice machine cleaning systems work in conjunction with liquid sanitizers to remove mineral deposits from your unit’s interior.