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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

Modular Ice Machines (Ice Machine Heads)

Best Uses: These types of ice makers 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. These units need separate units that can store and/or dispense the ice as they do not contain storage bins. A notable benefit of modular ice machines is they can be easily repaired without removing their ice-making systems.

Produces: Their ice output ranges from 300-1850 lbs. per day.

Undercounter Ice Machines

Best Uses: Compact enough to conveniently fit under commercial counters, under-counter ice machines both produce and store ice. Perfect for bars, these commercial ice makers have a wide range of ice output per day.

Produces: 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 among all the primary types but they 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.

Best Uses:  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. Countertop ice dispensers do not produce ice, so these units also require a compatible type of ice maker or ice machine head.

Dispenses: Countertop ice dispensers and makers have a small ice storage bin but can hold and dispense up to 400 lb of volumes of ice per day.

Combination Ice and Water Dispensers

Combination ice and water dispensers are available in a variety of styles and sizes.

Best Uses: These commercial ice machines are ideal for establishments that frequently need easy access to both ice and water. These establishments include offices, cafeterias, break rooms, and healthcare facilities.

Produces/ Dispenses: Capable of producing up to 500 lb. These machines often have a tiny footprint, allowing them to fit on any countertop without taking up too much space.

Types of Ice

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 is perfect for keeping cold drinks cold or selling as bags of 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 ice type, the crescent ice cubes, boasts 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.

Types of Condenser

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 an ideal choice over 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.

ITEM

NECESSARY ICE VOLUME

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 assortment 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.

How to Choose The Best Ice Machine 

Make sure there is adequate space and ventilation

Consider the size of ice machine as well as the space for it. Make sure you have enough space for the machine, bin, and filter, as well as adequate ventilation. Installing an ice maker in limited spaces such as a storage room or closet is not suggested because adequate airflow is required for maximum ice output. Even the best industrial ice maker in a bad location can cost you more in labor and utilities so make sure to plan out your floor space well.

Water Supply and Effective Floor Drain System

A cold water supply with a shutdown valve is required for your ice machine. It will also require a floor drain. Check your local codes for drain type and placement specifications.

Power Supply

Because many ice machines do not include a chord and plug, your electrician will need to hard wire the machine. Check that you understand and can meet the power requirements of the machine. Not all machines run on a conventional 110V electrical source. The machine's specification document will always include electrical requirements and any other particular installation considerations.

How Important is Water Filter for My Ice Machine?

To extend the life of your restaurant ice machine and boost client pleasure (remember, ice is food! ), we recommend utilizing a water filter with every ice maker. There may be chemicals or silt in it that might influence ice production and taste regardless of the hardness of your water supply.

A filter will prevent the accumulation of mineral deposits within the machine and ensure that your ice tastes fantastic. The advantages of using a water filter with your unit are numerous; here are a few examples:

  • Drinks that taste better
  • Increased ice production
  • Lower energy consumption since the ice machine can run more efficiently.
  • Reduce your water consumption.
  • Increased ice machine life
  • Most commercial ice machine brands' warranties will be void if the feed water is of poor quality.

To find out more about Ice Machine Water Filters, check out this article!

Maintenance: Ice Machine Cleaners & Sanitizers

It is critical to clean your ice machine. Even with the right filter kit, your machine's inside will eventually develop mineral deposits, reducing performance and efficiency. Chemical cleansers and sanitizers are suitable for use in all ice machines and will remove these buildups while protecting tin and nickel-plated evaporators! Learn more about the proper cleaning and maintenance of Ice Machines in this article.

Ice machines can also cause bacterial spread or fungus, particularly if used in a bakery, brewery, or another establishment that utilizes a lot of grain or yeast. Follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to keep your ice maker sanitary and ice safe to consume.