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What Size Ice Machine Do I Need for My Business?

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What Size Ice Machine Do I Need for My Business?

Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Machine for your business

Size matters when choosing the right ice machine for your business. 

First, create a baseline for how much ice you need to produce in 24 hours. 

Next, think about storage. How much of that ice will you need to store? If you have an 8-hour window where your ice usage is steady, that would require a smaller storage bin. However, if you’re using all of your ice at 8 am to load up trucks, you’ll need a larger storage bin to ensure that you have ice when you need it. When the ice storage capacity aligns with the usage timeframe, you’ll always have ice when you need it. 

Once you’ve uncovered your ice needs and storage requirements, it’s time to think big picture. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will your ice machine meet peak usage during the hottest time of the year?
  • What are the various locations or stations in the establishment that will need ice?
  • Will you have more than one ice maker?
  • Are you planning for future growth? We recommend building in at least 20% additional capability on new installations. 

Now that you’re equipped with a strong foundation for finding the right sized ice machine for your business, let’s get granular and break it down by business type. This guide shows you how much ice to account for each day.

Food Service

Restaurant — 1.5 lbs per person

Cocktail — 3 lbs per person

Salad Bar — 40 lbs per cubic foot

Quick Service — 

  • 5 oz. per 7- to 10-oz. drink 
  • 8 oz. per 12-to 16-oz. drink
  • 12 oz. per 18-to 24-oz. drink


Guest Ice — 40 lbs per cubic foot (641 kg per cubic meter)

Restaurant —1.5 lbs (0 .7 kg) per person

Cocktail — 3 lbs (1-4 kg) per person per seat

Catering — 1 lb (0.45 kg) per person


Patient Ice — 10 lbs per bed

Cafeteria — 1 lb per person

Convenience Store


  •  6 oz. per 12-oz. drink/ 
  • 10 oz. per 20-oz. drink/ 
  • 16 oz. per 32-oz. drink

Cold Plate — 50% more ice usage per day

Packaged Ice — Weight per bag x number of bags sold per day

Remember, this guide outlines the approximate required ice amount per day, depending on application usage. If you would like a detailed calculation based on your unique needs, use Ice-O-Matic’s Machine Size Calculator here. Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our seasoned techs for help finding the right ice machine to meet your needs.

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