Whether your business is a nightclub that goes through hundreds of pounds of ice per night or a mid-sized office that enjoys iced beverages on demand, commercial ice machines can serve a variety of needs. Because of their size and power, commercial ice machines can produce large amounts of ice quickly and regularly. If you are considering buying a commercial ice machine for your business, it is important to understand the differences among the products in order to choose a machine that best meets the needs of your business.The Commercial Ice Machine Buyer’s Guide will educate you about the following:
Commercial ice machines are common among a wide range of industries. Some of them include:
Generally speaking, there are three main types of ice that can be produced. They are:
Cubed ice is produced by a machine called a cuber. Over 80% of the ice machines in the U.S. produce cubed ice. This form of ice typically melts slower than other forms, making the total consumption lower than other forms of ice. Cubed ice is available in full, half or regular size cubes that range from 7/8”x 7/8” to 11/8”x 11/8”.
Cubed ice machines are common in all of the following industries:
Nugget ice comes in pellet or nugget form. It is often called ‘chewblet’ or compressed nugget ice. Because it is soft and chewable, it is commonly used by healthcare facilities for their patients. It is also popular among certain fast food restaurants and bars whose customers prefer its soft and chewy texture over the harder cubed form.
Common industries that use nugget ice include:
Flaked ice is produced by a machine called a flaker. Flaked ice typically comes in a shaved or crushed form. It is most commonly used for packing, preservation and cooling purposes. Flaked ice is not typically used for consumption.
Flaked ice machines are common in all of the following industries:
Types of Ice and Usage
Ice machines are generally available in three different configurations:
Modular Ice Machine (IMH)
Modular ice machines (also known as ice machine heads or IMH) are stackable units that come in a variety of sizes, but the most common include:
An IMH is designed to stack on top of its other components (the storage bin, ice dispenser, or soda dispenser, if applicable). The typical ice output for a modular ice machine ranges between 200 lbs. and 1,900 lbs. per day. The storage bin on an ice machine head can typically hold about 12 hours of ice production.
Undercounter Ice Machines
For smaller businesses that don’t need as much ice, an under counter or self-contained unit (SCU) may be the best fit. These ice makers combine the storage bin and ice machine so that the unit can fit beneath a standard 40” high countertop. The average ice output for an under counter maker is about 350 lbs. per day, although some units can produce more. Talk to a local supplier about options.
Countertop Ice Dispenser
Countertop ice dispensers (also called countertop makers) are most commonly used in the health care industry. Even though these ice makers are usually smaller than their larger counterparts, they can still produce as much as 400 lbs. of ice per day. Some of these machines come with a water dispenser option. This is a great option for any business that needs a lot of ice but doesn’t have space for a larger machine. These machines usually dispense nugget ice, which is easier to chew and, therefore, popular in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
3 Types of Ice Machines
Once you decide on the type of ice and ice maker you need, the next thing you need to decide is the type of condenser you want.
There are three basic types of condensers:
In an air cooled condenser, air is blown over the refrigeration lines to draw heat away from any high-pressure, high-temperature areas. Fans and air vents are used to keep the air flowing. This is the most common type of compressor.
A water cooling condenser uses water (instead of air) to cool refrigerant vapor so that it turns to liquid. A water cooled ice machine runs on a continual water supply.
There are two separate water lines in a water cooled ice maker. One line flows into the ice-making compartment. The other line runs along the condenser and draws heat away from the refrigerant.
Water cooled compressors are typically quieter and more efficient, but they can end up costing you in water utility bills because of the high amount of water required to operate them. In some places, water cooled compressors are no longer even permitted because of the amount of water they use.
This makes water-cooled compressors less common, except in a situation when:
Similar to an air cooled condenser, a remote condenser is also cooled by the outside air. But the remote condenser unit (RCU) is installed outdoors, rather than indoors, usually on a roof. A refrigeration line is run from the condenser to the ice machine.
Because the condenser is outdoors, away from the main unit, the ice machine is very quiet. The downside is that installation and maintenance are usually more expensive. Remote condenser units (RCUs) are commonly used in grocery stores and other large-scale operations.
Different Types of Condensers
An ice maker storage bin is the compartment where the ice is stored until it’s ready for use. Storage bins can hold as little as 40 pounds and as much as 100 pounds of ice.
When you are choosing an ice bin, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Here is a standard ice sizing chart showing daily ice usage per number of customers per industry.
Note: These are estimates only. Talk to your local supplier for specific recommendations regarding the needs of your business.
Once you know you need an ice machine, the next question people usually ask is: how much is it going to cost?
The answer: it depends.
Ice makers range widely in price, generally anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000. The price is influenced by all of the following factors:
But as a general rule: the higher the ice output, the higher the price.
Once you’ve decided your business needs a commercial ice machine, it’s time to start shopping. There are a lot of ice machines and ice services out there, which can be overwhelming for buyers. We’ve created a list of questions to ask potential suppliers so that you can make an educated decision before investing a lot of money in an ice machine.
Ready to make a decision?
Thinking about renting or purchasing a commercial ice machine for your business? We can put you in touch with up to 5 commercial ice machine suppliers by filling out our form. They will give you free price quotes and answer further any questions you may have. There is no obligation to buy.