Ready to Buy a Commercial Ice Machine? Avoid These 5 Characteristics
Nobody wants to get stuck with an ice machine that doesn’t fit their business’s needs. But how is a restaurant or business owner supposed to know what to look for in an ice machine? We know you’ve got questions, and we’ve got the answers.
In today’s blog, we explore what you should look out for when buying a commercial ice machine.
What To Avoid When Buying A Commercial Ice Machine
An Ice Machine That Can’t Keep Up With Demand
Ice machines aren’t always an endless source of ice. Even commercial ice machines, which produce a lot more than the average kitchen ice machine, have ice production limits. How much an ice machine produces depends on many factors. These include:
- The type of ice produced (cube ice can take longer than bullet ice, for instance)
- Ice bin size
- Sufficient water and plumbing
- The capacity of the machine itself
There are few things worse than running out of ice in your restaurant or bar kitchen. It seems like the entire production line freezes in place while your ice machine supply catches up to demand.
If that’s ever happened to you, it’s probably because your ice machine wasn’t sized correctly. The fix is to invest in an ice machine that is better suited to your needs, so you won’t run out of ice ever again.
If you aren’t sure how much ice your commercial kitchen needs, we’ve done the math for you already with our free commercial ice calculator guide! Fill out the form below to download the free reference and get the cold, hard facts about how much ice you really need.
Download The Free Commercial Ice Calculator Guide
The Wrong Type Of Ice Machine
Undercounter Ice Machines
As the name suggests, undercounter ice machines are compact enough to fit under standard 40” counters. The design of an undercounter ice machine combines the head of an ice machine with an ice bin for storage. These units are usually found in bars, restaurants, and some hotels. Don’t underestimate the compact size, though—the average undercounter ice machine can produce approximately 350 lbs of ice per day.
Modular Ice Machines
Modular ice machines are made up of two pieces: an ice machine head that fits on top of an ice machine storage bin that you’ll need to purchase separately. There’s a lot of flexibility that comes with modular ice machines. Depending on the ice machine head and bin size, you’re looking at an average of 250 to 1,000 lbs of ice per day. Big ice machines like this are perfect for cafeterias, food service businesses, or even retail stores that sell pre-packaged bags of ice.
Countertop Ice Machines
Of the three types of ice machines, the countertop ice machine is the most compact. The small footprint doesn’t take up much counter space, but it can produce up to 400 lbs of ice per day. For this reason, bars, small restaurants, and cafes prefer countertop ice machines to keep up with customer demand without sacrificing valuable kitchen real estate.
An Ice Machine That Makes The Wrong Kind Of Ice
For most people, this is the ice type that first comes to mind. Traditional ice cubes are dense and slow to melt, which is why many restaurants choose cube ice machines. With a cube ice modular ice machine, you can usually choose the size of the cube you want to serve.
Also known as pearl ice and nugget ice, pebble ice is a universal favorite. Made famous by the likes of Sonic and Chick-Fil-A, these crunchy ice pebbles delight customers and have become a mainstay in those companies’ brand identity. Pearl ice machines are ideal for restaurants, especially those that serve fast food or smoothies.
Hollow or Bullet Ice
Bullet ice is the go-to ice machine for most restaurants. The reason? Bullet ice machines make ice super fast, and they cool drinks down faster than other ice types because of their cylindrical design. So if you’ve ever caught yourself wondering, “why does my ice have holes in it?”, here’s your answer.
Crushed & Chip Ice
Chip ice is usually reserved for hospitals, physical therapy clinics, and the like. Most restaurants know their customers don’t want to fight ice chips every time they take a sip. For businesses that rely on crushed ice, a chip ice machine is invaluable for patient comfort and outcomes.
An Ice Machine With The Wrong Condenser
Air-cooled ice machines have a condenser that uses a fan that blows through the condenser coils to remove heat. Air-cooled units need lots of breathing room, so make sure you install this type of ice machine with sufficient clearance around it so it can cool effectively.
Ice machines with water-cooled condensers pump water through the condensing unit to cool it down. While water-cooled ice machines use less electricity than air-cooled, they also waste a lot more water. You can reduce water waste by hooking it up to a closed-loop water system that reuses the water.
The remote condenser moves the hot, noisy components outside the building, making the ambient temperature in the room more stable. The remote condenser means you have to run refrigerant lines between it and the ice maker, making the installation process much more labor-intensive.
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