How To Choose The Best Commercial Ice Machine So You Don't Have To Worry About Ice Again
Here’s the scoop on ice machines: there are a lot of really good ones out there. Yep, we said it.
The problem isn’t finding a good commercial ice machine, it’s finding the best one for you. And in order to choose the best ice machine, you have to know what you’re looking for and what you need.
What Makes A Good Commercial Ice Machine?
We understand that each business has unique ice needs. There are countless ways your commercial ice machine can affect your business’s growth, efficiency, and profitability. With that in mind, we’re here to help you get to the bottom of your ice machine needs so you can make the smartest decision when purchasing your ice machine.
Ready? Let’s go.
How To Choose The Best Commercial Ice Machine
In order to buy the best ice machine for your business, you need to consider:
- The type of ice machine you need
- How much ice you'll need on a daily basis
- What type of ice you need
What Type of Ice Machine Is Best?
Modular Ice Machines
Commercial ice machines fall into one of four categories, generally speaking:
- Modular ice machines (sometimes called ice machine head)
- Undercounter ice machines
- Countertop ice dispensers
- Ice/Water combination machines
Let’s break these ice machine types down a bit.
Sometimes called an ice machine head, this machine sits on top of a separate bin and is only responsible for producing ice. You’ll need a separate unit to dispense or store the ice.
Modular ice machines may only do one job, but they do it really well. These ice makers produce a lot of ice. Depending on the size, you’re looking at ice output ranging from 250 lbs per day to over 1000 lbs per day.
Undercounter Ice Machines
Undercounter ice machines produce and store ice in a compact unit. They’re designed to fit under most counters, making ice easy to access. Undercounter ice machines are a great way to keep your front bar stocked with ice that’s immediately available, but it probably won’t support the full weight of your restaurant’s daily operation.
Daily output usually maxes out around 350 lbs per day, so medium to large operations won’t want to rely fully on an undercounter ice machine.
Countertop Ice Dispensers
Countertop ice dispensers are designed to take up the smallest footprint possible. They’re compact and designed for easy access. As a general rule, countertop ice dispensers produce nugget ice. The compact size of the unit and nugget ice type means you’ll usually find countertop ice dispensers in health care settings.
Countertop ice dispensers are small but mighty. Some units can produce as much as 400 lbs of ice per day, but keep in mind that the storage bin is small—so you’ll need to use ice quickly if you want to keep the supply of ice coming.
Ice & Water Combination Machines
How To Size An Ice Machine
Once you determine the best type of ice machine for your business, you’re ready to move on to size. This is a crucial step to ensure you have enough ice to support your current business, even on busy days—and have room to grow your business in the future.
In order to size your ice machine, you need to know how much ice you’ll need on a daily basis. You don’t have to guess, here. We’ve made a convenient ice calculator you can download for free below. Once you have your daily ice output number, add 20% and voila! You’ve got your criteria for choosing an ice machine that will dispense enough ice for your business to flourish.
Related: How Much Ice Does My Commercial Kitchen Need?
As you’re evaluating ice machines and comparing specs, keep in mind that ice production quantity is formatted in the ice output or yield per 24 hours.
Download The Free Commercial Ice Calculator
What Type Of Ice Do You Need?
By now you know the type of commercial ice machine your business needs, and how much ice you need on a daily basis. This is crucial information to have, but there’s still one more thing you need to know before you can make a smart ice machine purchase: what type of ice does your business need?
Here at Memphis Ice, we like to think of ice as a science and an art. But don’t worry— we won’t get too nerdy on you here. Basically, your ice serves two purposes: to keep drinks cool in the most efficient way possible (science), and to convey a message about your brand (art). Stick with us here, this is a key detail a lot of businesses overlook.
Ice shape has a huge impact on how quickly a drink is cooled, how quickly it melts (and dilutes the drink), and how quickly ice is produced in the ice machine. For example, bullet ice is super fast to produce and drops the temperature of a drink in a short time. Pebble or nugget ice takes up a lot of space in a glass, and melts quickly. These are just a few examples of how ice shape can affect your business. We unpack more about the science of ice in a separate blog you can read here.
Now for the art of ice. The ice you choose should reflect your brand’s values. Different ice shapes convey different messages, so you’ll want to choose the message that matches your brand’s identity. For example, you wouldn’t want to use ice that is associated with fast food restaurants if you’re serving a fine dining experience. We breakdown the best ice types for different restaurants in a separate blog post you can read by clicking here.
How Many Ice Machines Do You Need?
Having multiple ice machines may not be the answer for every business, but for some, it makes sense. If you need bar ice and the ice in the back kitchen, consider adding a supplemental undercounter machine at the bar to maintain efficiency. It’s best to consider the logistics of your drink service beforehand rather than suffer the consequences later.
If you aren’t sure if multiple ice machines are a good fit, think about renting a commercial ice machine. Here at Memphis Ice, we offer ice machine rentals for as little as $4 per day. It’s an inexpensive way to see if an extra ice machine can ramp up productivity and help your team improve efficiency.