I Need a New Industrial Ice Maker for My Business | What to Look For

Summer 2022 is an important period for food businesses. Not only is it the first year back to fully normal operations after the pandemic, but it's also set to be one of the top ten hottest years on record. And when the mercury rises, customers want ice – and lots of it!

If you're in the market for a new industrial ice maker, you need to have your ice requirements clearly in mind. There are a lot of great ice makers out there, but not all are created equal. High-end models may look great, but the best ice machine for your business is one that can crank out the ice you need day in, day out.

Join us as we take a closer look at everything you need to know about buying a commercial ice machine.


1. Choose the Right Type of Ice

Before your start searching for a reasonably priced restaurant ice maker to add to your bar or kitchen, you need to understand different types of ice and how they're used. Common options include:

  • Nugget
  • Flaked
  • Crescent
  • Cubed and Half-cube

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice goes by a few names (pearl and cubelet, to name a couple). It's totally chewable and some customers love that. It's perfect for quick-service restaurants, diners, and busy bars.

Its small size means that it breaks down quickly into margaritas and frozen daiquiris. It's small size means that it also uses less energy to produce, so is great in these financially tricky times. Plus, they pose less of a choking risk than cubes, making them a good choice for senior living facilities.

Flaked Ice

Not just for slushies and snow cones, flaked ice is great for making a wide variety of cocktails. It's also perfect for seafood restaurants, with large, dramatic displays of the catch of the day. It melts fast and there's very little risk of choking, making it a safe option for restaurants.

Crescent Ice

With a flat bottom and a curved top, crescent ice is less likely to clump than other types of ice. It's super-easy to shovel into glasses and fills the glass well. This means greater displacement and less room for the drink itself.

Cubed and Half-Cubed Ice

These classic shapes are small enough to fit neatly in a glass but large enough that they won't dilute the drink too much. Their bulk means that they cool drinks quickly but don't interfere with the flavor.


2. Dispenser vs. Undercounter vs. Head and Bin Combo

If you're planning to allow customers or residents to serve their own ice, an ice dispenser is a no-brainer. This type of ice machine is hygienic and easy to use. But there's a drawback if you're thinking of using it behind the counter – it is slow.

Commercial Ice Maker

If you're making frozen cocktails by the dozen or supplying iced water to every table, you need either an undercounter ice maker or a head and bin combo.

A head and bin combo allows you to generate hundreds of pounds of ice a day. Get a large capacity bin and you'll be ready for even the busiest service. Some models can produce 1,000 pounds of ice each day.

This system is also known as a modular machine. The head unit and bins can be bought separately.

Do your research first to check that they are compatible. The bin should have a capacity of around 2/3 production volume. This will ensure that you've got plenty of ice on hand at the busiest times.

An undercounter ice machine is best for smaller restaurants and bars. Some models can produce up to 300 pounds of ice a day, but many produce less. So use it as either a backup or as your go-to option for drinks that you don't make all the time.

3. Which Type of Condenser Is Best?

All ice machines have a condenser, a bit like an air conditioning unit. But they all run in slightly different ways.

  • Air-cooled Condenser
    • The most common type – it uses fans but needs a certain amount of clearance
  • Water-cooled Condenser
    • Heat is removed by water – hot water then drains away
  • Remote Condenser
    • Uses an external unit, like an air conditioner

Remote condensers are a great choice because they're quiet. The condenser is a long way from the ice maker. The problem is that they're more expensive to install.

Water-cooled condensers are usually a last resort. They're expensive and hard to install. Only go down this route when you've exhausted all other options.

For most businesses looking for a low-cost ice machine, air-cooled condensers are best.


4. Calculate Ice Demand

There's no magic formula for calculating ice demand. Gather a few key data points and make your calculations based on the following:

  • Type of drinks you're serving
  • Average number of customers served daily
  • Number of iced drinks on your menu

If you're planning to add more iced drinks, be sure that you have the capacity to cope with the increased demand. Also, factor in special events that draw bigger crowds. Adding an extra undercounter unit as a backup might be a wise choice so that spikes in demand don't leave you with disappointed customers.

Consider Your Location

Running an ice maker in Vermont is very different from running one in Arizona. The ambient temperature makes a difference to the level of power you need. Your location will also play a part in ice demand.

In hotter parts of the country, you'll need a more powerful unit to allow it to rapidly freeze water that's coming in at a higher temperature.

The key is not to cheap out on power. It'll come back to bite you later, as the high ambient temperature will put more strain on the motor and may lead to premature burnout.

5. How Much Does a Commercial Ice Maker Cost?

You should expect an economical ice maker to cost from $1,590 with bigger capacity models reaching up to $5,000. The basic rule of thumb is that the more ice and storage capacity you need, the greater the cost is going to be.

It's true that everyone loves a bargain, but don't be tempted to underestimate the capacity you need. Everyone should budget for more than their peak demand so that you don't lose customers during busy periods.

The most budget-friendly options are air-cooled ice makers. Water- and remote-cooled options could blow your budget initially but may come with some long-term benefits.

The downside is that an air-cooled commercial ice maker will increase the ambient temperature. That'll cost you more in air conditioning. They also typically use more energy.

So make sure you crunch the numbers and consider the long-term costs before making your final decision.

You also need to think about the layout of your workspace. If space is tight, an undercounter option may be best.

Commercial Ice Machine Reviews

There are several big names in the industrial ice maker world. The most popular include:

  • Scotsman
  • Manitowoc
  • Ice-O-Matic
  • Vevor

Ice Machines for High-Volume Environments

Modular units are the best choice in restaurants that need a high level of ice throughout the day. The Scotsman Prodigy Plus comes in a range of sizes to suit different settings. It's self-monitoring and will let you know when it needs maintenance or servicing.

The Manitowoc Indigo NXT includes a helpful home screen, making it easy to program. It's designed to be very easy to clean and is over 40% more energy efficient than previous models from this manufacturer.

Self-Contained Ice Machines

These ice makers combine the head unit and bin into one machine. They typically reach a maximum capacity of around 350 pounds per day. This makes them best suited to medium-sized restaurants.

The Ice-O-Matic ICEU300/305-Self-Contained Cube Ice Machine is a great choice. It features anti-microbial protection and a 7-year warranty. It also has a built-in water filter.

The Vevor 24h Stainless Steel Ice Machine is capable of producing 250 pounds of ice per day. It functions quietly and is energy efficient, making it a great choice for many food businesses.

Undercounter Ice Makers

The Scotsman DCE33PA1SSD Cuber Series is highly rated as a compact yet powerful line of undercounter ice makers. They produce Scotsman's distinctive top hat-shaped ice cubes at a rate of 30 pounds per day. This is paired with a bin capacity of 26 pounds.

If you're looking for an undercounter model with a larger capacity, consider the Manitowoc Neo. It's able to deliver 40 pounds more ice per day than its predecessors without taking up any more space. It can deliver a huge 250 pounds and more of ice each day.

Choose CheapMeNow.com For Your Industrial Ice Maker Needs

Whatever type of industrial ice maker you need, CheapMeNow.com is here to help.

We take the time to understand exactly what your business needs. We then research the best products for your company and work with suppliers to get you the best deals. Our vendors can offer free trials, special deals, and other offers to sweeten the deal.

Contact us today to try our 100% free service and see how much you could save!


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