What Factors Affect the Cost of a Commercial Ice Machine?

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5 Elements that Affect the Cost of a Commercial Ice Machine


If you go online and type ‘how much does a commercial ice machine cost’ in the search box, you will find a pretty wide range in price, usually anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. That doesn’t really narrow things down for business owners or office assistants who are trying to make a purchase that stays within budget without skimping on quality. There are many different factors that directly affect the price of an ice machine, including daily ice output, storage bin size, and type of condenser. We’ve created a list of the top 5 factors that affect the price to help you decide what’s worth paying for.

Cost of ice machine

1. Daily Ice Output

The more ice you want your machine to produce, the more you are going to pay. Commercial ice makers can produce anywhere from 60 lbs. to 1,500 lbs. of ice per day. If you own a restaurant and need continual ice made day and night, you will probably want to err towards a machine with a larger output. If you are a small business who just wants ice on hand in the break room for your employees, you don’t need a machine with a huge daily output. For guidance on calculating how many pounds of ice you need per day, see our Ice Machine Buyer’s Guide .

Standard ice output for commercial machines includes (and is not limited to) all of the following daily amounts:

  • 60 lb.
  • 65 lb.
  • 85 lb.
  • 100 lb.
  • 150 lb.
  • 250 lb.
  • 350 lb.
  • 500 lb.
  • 650 lb.
  • 750 lb.
  • 1,000 lb.
  • 1,250 lb.
  • 1,500 lb.

2. Type of Ice

Believe it or not, commercial ice machines can produce several different types of ice. While some machines, like ‘flakers’ and ‘cubers,’ don’t necessarily vary much in price when comparing the type of ice, other machines do. The price difference is usually seen with the nugget ice and gourmet ice. Because both nugget and gourmet ice are specialized types of ice that involve a slightly more complex ice-making process, you will see the price go up with these ice makers. But if soft, chewable ice is important for your business, then this might be an area where you want to pay a little more. If not, stick with cubed, crescent or flaked ice.

chart showing different types of ice comparing their description, usage and price

3. Type of Condenser

Ice machines have one of the following types of condensers:
  • Water-cooled
  • Air-cooled
  • Remote-cooled

The type of condenser you choose to purchase will directly affect the total price of your machine. However, the price of each condenser varies depending on your local climate and regulations. See below for more details.

air cooled vs water cooled condensers

Water-Cooled

A water-cooled condenser uses cold water to both keep the machine cool AND to produce ice. This machine typically requires twice as much water as the other condensers, so you will see a significant increase in your utility costs. In some cases, a water-cooled condenser is necessary due to the climate (intense heat, humidity, etc.). But in many cities, water-cooled condensers have been banned due to the excessive water waste. Ask a local supplier if water-cooled condensers are an option in your area and how they compare to their air-cooled and remote-cooled counterparts.

Air-Cooled

An air-cooled condenser blows cool air over the refrigeration lines to keep the machine cool. This is typically the most cost-efficient condenser because it uses little water and is easy to install. However, in some cases, when an air-cooled compressor is placed in an enclosed area, it can tend to get very hot and heat the space around it. In that case, your utility bill can increase, as well as potential damage to the ice machine over the long-term. Ideally, you want to install your machine in an area where there is plenty of air flow and ventilation.

Remote-Cooled

A remote-cooled condenser is similar to an air-cooled condenser, in that it blows cool air over the refrigeration lines to keep the machine cool. The only difference is that it is installed in a remote location, separate from the ice unit. Because of this, the cost of installation is usually higher than with an air-cooled machine. In some cases, like a restaurant, for example, this may be worth the cost since the loud noise of the condenser would affect the ambiance of the restaurant. It’s really a matter of priorities for your business needs.


4. Cost of Repair

Ice machines are going to require maintenance and repairs. It’s just a matter of when. When looking at the upfront cost of your ice maker, it is important to ask the price of replacement parts and labor. Some brands design ice machines parts that are incredibly difficult to access. This will make any replacement/repairs much more expensive. Similarly, certain brands charge an arm and a leg for new parts. By doing a little research upfront comparing the price of replacement parts and labor among your top 3 brands of icemakers, you could save a LOT of money in the long run.



stick figures of repair men holding tools
bucket of cleaning supplies



5. Self-Cleaning Feature

Many of the new ice machines include a self-cleaning feature. While this is an incredibly convenient feature to have, it will usually cost you more. If you are the type that is willing to put in a little elbow grease and do the cleaning yourself (or hire someone to do it for cheaper than the price of a self-cleaning feature), then you might want to forego this feature. In some cases, this is automatically included and may not be an option. But talk to your local suppliers and find out if this could make a difference in your total price. If you do opt out of the self-cleaning feature, just make sure you schedule regular cleanings. Otherwise, you could have much bigger problems that will cost you a LOT more in the long-term.

Read more: What to Know Before Purchasing an Ice Machine

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If you would like to learn more about commercial ice machines, read the Commercial Ice Machine Buyer’s Guide. If you are ready to get free price quotes on commercial ice machines for your business, please fill out our form. We can put you in touch with up to 5 suppliers who will answer any further questions you may have.

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