ice machine cost

meghan Buying An Ice Machine, Ice Machine, Ice-O-Matic

What Factors Affect the Cost of a Commercial Ice Machine?

An ice machine is rarely a small nor spontaneous investment. As a business owner, you want to ensure that you’re making an educated and sound financial decision. We’ll be honest: that’s not always the easiest thing to do when it comes to commercial ice machines. Especially if you’re short on time or in urgent need of a quality product. Our goal is to help you make an informed choice. So, we’re breaking down the three biggest factors that affect the cost of a commercial ice machine.

1. How Much the Ice Machine Holds

First and foremost, the output your ice machine is capable of is going to be the most defining factor in the machine’s total cost. 

Maximize your investment, mind your budget, and secure that you have as much ice as you need, when you need. Utilize the Ice-O-Matic Ice Machine Size Product Calculator. This will tell you how much ice you need to produce in a 24-hour time span.

By having a grasp on your required ice output, you will be able to ensure you have the right amount of product at a fair and valuable price.

2. How the Ice Machine Cools Off

Secondly, the cost of an ice machine is dictated by how and where the machine exhausts the heat it generates during production. This is the condenser. There are two types:

  1. Air
    Air-cooled commercial ice machines use air to direct heat off of the machine. For most business owners, this is your most economical choice. At a lower cost than water-cooled machines, they are also more energy-efficient — and who doesn’t love helping the environment?

    However, it does have a few drawbacks. Because these types of machines use air to suck out heat, they also absorb impurities around it. Without proper preventative maintenance and cleanings, this can create a layer of grease and dirt on the condenser, preventing proper function, and potentially resulting in damage and weak ice production.

  2. Water
    Water-cooled ice machines have water coils connected to condenser coils. The machine releases heat into the water and then drains out of the unit, allowing the machine to maintain a cool temperature and keep from overheating. Because these machines don’t use the air to cool (and are therefore free of impurities), they are ideal for cooler environments where the external temperature might be more challenging to stabilize.

    The biggest challenge with water-cooled commercial ice machines is the sheer amount of water the unit requires; in contrast to the air-cooled ice machines, water-cooled ice machines require five times more water. 

    For businesses in older buildings without a recirculation water system and cooling tower, the ice is dumped into an ice machine drain. It’s important to be informed whether or not your business would be allowed to install this, as the process is severely restricted in many parts due to the amount of water usage.

    In addition to requiring the same cleanings as air-cooled ice machines, water-cooled ice machines also need specialized cleanings to prevent harmful buildup.

For most of our customers, we recommend an air-cooled water ice machine. However, if you live in an area with low water costs, have a cooling tower to reduce water waste, or need to put your ice machine outside, the water-cooled ice machine is likely to be your best option.

3. The Type of Ice the Machine Makes

Between the frozen trio of ice types, each provides a unique take on, well, frozen water. In the past, we’ve highlighted the most popular type of ice machine for each industry, and the unique uses different types provide. But for most folks, the cube ice is the most favorable option. 

It’s no coincidence that cube ice is the standard in most businesses — it’s a quality product at a valuable price. Pearl (or nugget) ice and flake ice are going to have a higher cost because of the extra operations required to create their shape. However, depending on your business, these could prove important. 

For example, big grocery chains and those with fish markets are likely to benefit from flake ice due to its aesthetic. These are also popular in the healthcare industry because of their hidden health benefits. A pearl ice machine is an excellent option for those wanting to up the quality of their beverage offerings and add a touch of luxury to their everyday drinks.


To make an informed decision when acquiring an ice machine, be sure to know:

  • How much ice you will need each day
  • The pros and cons of air and water-cooling systems
  • The type of ice you want to provide

Should you need any help or have any questions, we’re here for you!

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