The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Commercial Ice Machine for Your Business
Choosing the best commercial ice machine for your business is more important than you think.
Ice machines are a capital investment for many small businesses, picking out the right one is serious business.
It’s very important to consider your specific needs to make sure you don’t end up without adequate ice.
Having the wrong kind of ice for your business can be just as bad.
Follow this guide to learn what to consider when picking out an ice machine and discover the characteristics of the best commercial ice machine.
There are several key factors you should consider before purchasing an ice maker. The most important are size, compressor type, daily ice production, and price.
This is the first thing you should take into account when considering an industrial ice maker. If you only have a small amount of space but need significant quantities of ice you’ll have to buy something higher quality.
Figure out if you’ll have your ice maker out on the floor, underneath a counter, or paired with your soda fountain. Some fountains allow the addition of a modular ice maker, others don’t.
The most advanced modern ice machines use an air-cooled compressor system. This allows them to produce ice without the addition of anything but filtered water and electricity. They have very few restrictions on placement and work well in most settings.
Water and remote-cooled machines should only be considered in situations that prevent the use of air cooling. This can happen in environments with higher air temperatures or high concentrations of contaminants such as grease. Both these machines require more upkeep and the addition of coolants to function.
After size, the amount of ice you need is most important. If you absolutely require 300 lbs of ice a day, a 200 lb machine simply won’t cut it. Most commercial ice makers produce somewhere between 200 and 400 lbs per day, with larger machines capable of producing more than 1000 lbs.
Keep in mind, it may be more economical to purchase two lower production ice makers than a single high production model.
Let’s be honest, the price is always an object. Don’t start your search for an industrial ice maker out by looking at top of the line machines unless you have top of the line needs.
Types of Ice
You’ll need different kinds of ice for different applications. If you’re looking for sterile ice in a medical setting you’ll have substantially different needs than a restaurant. In all settings, it’s very important to remember proper cleaning and sanitization procedures.
Cube ice is the original manufactured ice. It comes in solid cubes and has the longest melting time of commercial ice types. It’s also a jack of all trades. There are relatively few applications that won’t work with cubed ice.
Cube machines are generally the least expensive available. This is mainly due to their basic design and the ease of maintenance.
Nugget ice is smaller than cube ice and is made up of about 80% ice and 20% air. This allows nugget ice to rapidly cool down beverages but does cause it to melt more quickly than cube ice. Nugget ice is also known as ‘chewy’ ice. The air pockets in the ice give it a satisfying crunch without risking your teeth.
Nugget ice machines are common in restaurant and healthcare settings for human consumption.
Flake ice is commonly used to fill display cases for meats and prepared foods. If you’ve ever visited a fish market, chances are your dinner was being chilled using flake ice. This type of ice is wide and thin. It’s a soft variety of ice that quickly molds itself around whatever is placed on it.
It’s used in display applications because of the high surface contact it provides. This allows it to cool the item more efficiently than cube ice.
Best Commercial Ice Machine Types
Now you know the variety of ice you’re looking for and what to look at in ice machine features. You’re ready to choose the actual variety of ice maker that works best for you.
Modular ice makers are a type of compact commercial ice maker that is designed to nest on top of another device. This can be a soda fountain, an ice storage bin, or ice machine dispenser.
Modular makers are available in a wide range of sizes and production figures. Larger models are able to produce over a 1000 lbs a day for high-intensity applications.
Undercounter machines are designed to fit under standard height counters. They include an integrated ice storage bin and are popular at small bars, cafes, and even private homes.
An undercounter machine doesn’t produce nearly as much as modular ice machines. Most top out at around 400 lbs per day. If you’re just looking for ice to mix drinks or supply limited beverages an undercounter machine can be an economical solution.
Countertop machines are standalone ice makers with internal ice storage. They’re often used in breakrooms, healthcare settings, and small restaurants to provide ready ice for beverages.
Most countertop ice makers produce nugget ice. This makes them perfect for providing guests or patients with drinks or chewable ice.
Combination ice machines are basically just countertop machines with a built-in water dispenser. Many offices, breakrooms, and clinics have a countertop machine to provide ice water to their workers and guests.
If you’re going to get a countertop machine, it’s a good idea to go ahead and get a water dispenser for it.
Get What You Need
It’s likely that your new ice machine will be with your business for many years. Make sure you keep your current and future needs in mind when shopping for one. Remember too, it’s always easier to add more capacity down the line than it is to lose money producing and discarding extra ice. The best commercial ice machine for you may not look like the best ice machine for someone else.
If you’re looking to get the perfect ice maker for your business, check out our catalog. We carry the best and most trusted brands on the market.