Best Ice Makers in 2020 Buying Guide – Everything That You Need To Know

Ice makers are simple devices whose sole purpose is to produce ice. Ice in the form of cubes, flakes or in any other shape is very much necessary these days.

Everyone is aware of the fact that, a drink cannot be enjoyed without ice cubes. And without the best ice maker, the quantity of ice that can be produced in the freezer of a refrigerator is quite small, right?

Also in many homes or restaurants freezers are required to store many goods which otherwise would get spoilt. This creates a dearth for ice cubes.

Purchasing the best ice maker is sometimes a lifetime investment and does not even cost much!

Types of Ice Makers

Ice machines are available in various shapes and sizes. While the small portable ones are sufficient for a house or a small office; commercial establishments or people who entertain friends and family frequently should buy an ice machine that suits their need and budget. The four commonly available ice making machines are:

  • Modular Ice Machines

SPT IM-600US Stainless Steel Under-Counter Ice Maker, 50-Pound

This is the best ice machine for small commercial establishments and also for houses and offices where a large quantity of ice is required every day. This device can be placed atop an ice machine bin, an ice dispenser or a soda dispenser. Depending on its size, it can produce around 1000 lbs of ice every day.

Modular ice machines can be used to produce ice but they do not provide storage. In order to store the ice, you have to purchase a storage bin or dispenser, which are stackable and can be kept beneath the unit.

Modular ice machines are perfect for businesses that require a moderate to very high ice production, such as hotels, restaurants, bars, hospitals, or large night clubs.

When compared to under counter ice makers, modular ice machines produce larger quantities of ice. They are ideal for commercial use such as in bars, restaurants, and hospitals. Since they do not provide storage, you need to buy a separate unit for ice collection and storage.

You can purchase a storage bin that can be used to collect the ice and keep it ready for serving. The storage bins can be stacked and kept below the modular unit. Modular ice makers are the perfect choice if your daily ice production requirements is above 300 pounds.

They also qualify as ENERGY STAR certified because the condenser can be cooled using air or water and most of them use up only less water and electricity to produce ice.

  • Undercounter Ice Machines

Whynter UIM-155 Stainless Steel Built-In Ice Maker

If you wish to have a small bar in office or in the place of your business, this is the ideal choice for you. They also have an ice bin inbuilt inside the device along with the ice maker. It can produce up to 350 lbs of ice every day.

These machines come with a front ventilation and can be built-in or placed in between cabinetry. They require a permanent water line and sometimes a drain line too. For this reason you will need the services of a plumber to install the appliance.

Undercounter ice makers can make and store larger amounts of ice than a portable ice maker. They can also keep the ice frozen for a longer period of time.

Undercounter ice makers, as the name suggests have front ventilation and are built in or placed between cabinetry.

The service of a professional plumber is required to install these units.

For little bars, bistros, or organizations that don’t require as much ice, an undercounter, or independent ice machine might be all that is required. These little ice makers consolidate the ice machine with a capacity receptacle, and fit under most 40″ high counters.

Ice yields for the most part top out at around 350 lbs. every day, however a couple of higher limit models do exist.

Unlike the portable machines, they can store a larger capacity of ice and require a permanent water line, in some cases, a drain line too. Also, the ice stays frozen for a longer period of time.

Under counter ice makers are a bit more expensive but they are totally worth the money and a great investment for your home.

  • Portable Ice Makers

NewAir Portable Ice Maker 50 lb. Daily, Countertop Design, 3 Size Bullet Shaped Ice, AI-215SS, Stainless Steel

When compared to a freezer, portable ice makers make larger quantities of ice within a short period of time. They are relatively smaller in size and designed to sit right on top of the kitchen counter top. You can store the appliance away inside the kitchen cupboard when not in use.

Portable ice makers are not freezers, which means the ice will not stay frozen for a long time. The ice melts and the resulting water is reused by the machine to prepare more ice. These machines do not require a permanent water line and they can be easily carried around. They can accompany you on camping trips, boating trips, picnics, parties or other outdoor events. They are reliable, efficient and cost-effective too.

These types of sonic ice makers have a compact size that can fit on your countertop without taking up much space. They do not require a permanent water line. You just have to pour water into them to operate and they make ice very fast, hardly takes more than ten minutes.

These portable units are frequently found in human services settings, residential, outdoors, and campings and may administer water as well. They have a little container yet can in any case deliver up to 400 lbs. of ice every day, making them an awesome little business ice producer. They additionally as a rule administer piece style ice, which is less demanding to bite.

The most important thing to understand about these small ice machines is that they do not function as freezers and therefore the ice will not be stay frozen for a long time. As the ice melts, the water is recycled by the machine to make more ice. One of the best advantages of using a portable ice maker is that it can be easily moved from place to place because of their small size.

  • Countertop Ice Dispenser

KUPPET 2 in 1 Countertop Ice Maker Water Dispenser, Ready in 6min, Produces 36 lbs Ice in 24 Hours, LED Display (Black)

These are considered to be well suited for medical establishments. They can produce nugget styled ice and even water. They have the capacity to produce up to 400 lbs of ice per day. The icemaker price varies $100 to $400.

Everyone loves to have a good drink and no one likes it when ice is not available in a party. Hence ice makers have become an indispensable part of homes.

But not many are aware of the fact that…

…the taste of a drink varies based on the size of ice. Flakes, cubes and nuggets are the different types of ice manufactured by these ice makers. Ice is in the form of cubes is considered the best accompaniment to drinks as ice in this form melts rather slowly.

This is followed closely by nuggets and flakes. Nuggets and flakes are preferred for use in hospitals and in storing meat or sea food. Ice cube maker machine prices are dependent on the size of the device and your daily requirement of ice.

Buyer's Guide

best ice maker buying guide

Things to Consider When Buying an Ice Machine 

Portable ice making machines are much in demand these days as they are light in weight and easy to carry along within a house or while going out for camping, tailgating, boating and during RV Trips.

People who wish to buy an ice maker always have the following question in mind ‘’Where to buy portable ice maker?”.

It is no longer a difficult task to choose where to buy a perfect ice maker.

One can log in to some of the trusted ecommerce sites and choose the perfect one that suits their needs.

If you are one of those who has reservations about online shopping, you can check the reviews of devices online and shop for a good one at the local store.

Before a person decides to buy ice making machine, he should keep the following steps in mind:

  • Size – Portable ice makers or the ice makers that are designed for household use are generally small or compact in size.

    The only difference between multiple brands is the amount of ice a particular device can produce or store. If you do not mind transferring ice cubes to a freezer from time to time, go for the one with a smaller capacity. It saves space also.

    People who wish to travel or go camping with their ice makers should consider the ice cube machine price and the weight of the device. So that one does not end up chugging heavy loads while on a night out with friends.

    An ice maker that is too small cannot store the ice cubes and a bigger one on the other hand ends up wasting energy and space. So do your research accordingly.

    Production capacity and speed – The production capacity of an ice making machine is provided in the form of pounds of ice per day.

    A good ice machine should be able to manufacture ice very quickly in addition to storing it for a longer time. If you are one of those, who does not like to see the party guests or office staff waiting for a refill of ice cubes, you should consider purchasing a device with a higher production capacity.

    Also it is important to keep adding water from time to time if you want a constant supply of ice cubes

  • Cost – Ice machine price varies from model to model and plays a crucial role in choosing the ice maker machine.

    Portable ice makers are relatively cheaper and often offer the best value for money. The portable ice maker machine price varies anywhere between $100 to $250.

    If one requires a larger quantity of ice; he should be ready to pay more.

    Also a common factor that has come to light is that, cheaper ice making machines tend to break down faster, sometimes they do not even last the first year of purchase.

    If you are planning to keep the ice maker plugged in at all the times throughout the year, you should invest a slightly higher amount to get a product with a better durability. Occasional users or campers can make do with the cheaper ones in the market.

    Also some ice makers have built in features like intelligent water use feature, filters, easy to use controls etc. These additional features can cost more than their counter parts.

    As told earlier, machines with higher ice making capacity usually cost more.

  • Looks – Where can I buy a portable ice maker is the question that most of new customers ponder over.

    The answer is simple, if you want to check out a lot of brands or if you are one of those who gives importance to looks, ecommerce sites are your best bet.

    In these sites, you can choose from a plethora of options, including those that are available in other cities or countries. You can choose the best and the most affordable one of the lot.

    Colour and design of the ice maker is also important if you intend to keep it always in a single place at home or office.
    The colour and design should be chosen such that it blends in with the surroundings.

    But one should try to manage with the common colours of Black, white and stainless steel as these are commonly available in all the reputed brands. One should not compromise quality over the looks of a device.

  • Easy to Use – You should choose an ice maker that is easy to use. An ice maker is not a complicated device and hence most of the brands do not have any complex control features.

    While buying that perfect ice maker, a person should check if it has an intelligent water use feature. This feature is important because, it helps in filtering and refreezing the water in the device as and when required.

    This can save the time of refilling the machine with water and draining the unused ice once the party is over. Cleaning of the machine is still a necessity, but one can skip sometimes as the machine remains clean with all the ice draining out by itself.

    Apart from power socket, ice makers do not have any other installation requirements as such.

    Other controls that differentiate one machine from the other are control switches and other parts which differ in each and every brand.

  • Durability – Portable ice machines can generally last anywhere between a year to a couple more. Even the costliest ones are not built to last a lifetime.

    This is especially true in case of portable ice machines. But if you want the machine to run without any problems for more than a year, you should be ready to spend more.

    Some of the portable ice makers also come with manufacturer’s warranties. Some other manufacturers allow customers to purchase a warranty or will have some ongoing scheme such as not charging the replacement parts etc.

    These in turn can help you to choose the right device and give a certain peace of mind to the customer as well. To choose the best brand which is durable and hassle free, one should invest time to read the buyer’s guides and individual customer reviews.

Different Types of Ice

Ice machines vary further depending on the type of ice that they produce. The different types of ice are classified as follows:

  • Full-cube ice – As the name implies, it resembles a cube. It keeps beverages cold for a long time without watering it down because it has a larger surface area and melts very slowly. Full-cube is often added in scotch, whiskey, and other cocktails.
  • Half-cube ice – Perfect for frozen margaritas, frozen coffee drinks and smoothies, as it can be blended easily.
  • Flake ice – Consists of soft slivers of ice that makes it easy to pack around food items on display to keep them evenly cooled. It is also used for therapeutic purposes.
  • Nugget ice – Soft and chewable ice, also known as pellet ice, pearl ice or Sonic ice. It is often used in hospitals and other health care facilities for patient drinks. Nugget ice melts slowly and is therefore useful for color and flavor retention. It can water down alcoholic beverages really fast and hence is not ideal for use in bars.

Now that you have a general idea of the different types of ice and ice machines, and the applications for each type of ice, lets move on to the various type of condensers.

Types of Condensers

Ice machines condensers come in three types : air-cooled,  water-cooled and remote-cooled. You need to consider space constraints, ice-production requirements and your location, in order to choose the right condenser.

  • Air-cooled Condensers

Air is circulated by means of fans and vents over the condenser to pull out heat from the refrigeration lines. They are less expensive and easy to install. Since they use less water, they are environment friendly and generate reduced utility bills.

  • Water-cooled Condensers

The ice machines are cooled using a water line that runs along the condenser to draw heat from the refrigeration lines. They use less electricity and operate more quietly than air-cooled condensers. The changing temperatures of the air does not affect the energy utilized or the amount of ice produced.

  • Remote-cooled Condensers

These are basically air-cooled ice machines with the condenser placed outside or in another room. The refrigerant is connected to the ice maker using a copper tube. In addition to providing all the benefits of air-cooled condensers, remote-cooled condensers are less noisy too.

Final Words

The next thing you need to consider for buying an ice maker is how much ice your business actually needs. Your daily needs may keep on varying, so it is important to buy a machine that will meet your requirements even on your busiest day.

Another factor to be considered while purchasing an ice machine is whether you need a water filter or not. A water filter helps to get rid of contaminants such as chlorine and mineral deposits that can accumulate over long term usage and damage your ice machine.

These deposits can cause malfunctions in the unit and also give an unpleasant taste to the ice. Although it is not mandatory to get a water filter, some manufacturers offer extended warranty for ice machines that have a water filtration system.

Choosing the right ice machine may seem like a daunting task, but once you understand the basics and the various factors that need to be considered, then you are well on your way to purchasing the right unit for your needs.

With proper maintenance and care, you will have an ice machine that could meet your ice requirements for as long as you want.