For home use, ice makers come in portable and undercounter varieties. Ice makers can produce several ice styles, from crescent-shaped pieces to cubes, flakes and nuggets.
Commercial ice makers consist of powerful self-contained or countertop modular units that attach to a storage bin. Home ice makers are able to generate as little as 12 pounds of ice per day, while the biggest-volume commercial appliances can produce several thousand pounds of ice per day. Depending on the needs of your home or business, there is an ice maker that can meet them.
While there are numerous individual models of ice makers offered by the various manufacturers, there are essentially 3 basic types: portable ice makers, undercounter ice makers and commercial ice makers.
Commercial ice makers are further categorized as countertop or self contained. Portable ice makers are for domestic use, whether in the home, dorm room or RV. Undercounter ice makers are found in homes as well, but they may also be found in small commercial establishments that do not go through a high volume of ice. Finally, commercial ice makers are for high-volume establishments such as restaurants, hotels, catering companies and large event complexes where food and beverages are served.
Depending on the type of ice maker you are seeking, different features are available. Among those found on portable units, soft-touch digital controls, LED indicator lights and a water recycling system are desirable. Many undercounter ice makers require no drain, also using a water recycling system. Their ability to accept a custom door panel allows you to blend the appliance in with just about any decor. Commercial ice makers feature several time saving technologies such as an electronic interface that lets you monitor the functioning of the machine as well as indicators that assist with troubleshooting.
All types of ice makers are available in durable stainless steel, although commercial units are almost exclusively constructed out of it. In addition to their stylish designs, ice makers are made to be more energy efficient than ever before. Some undercounter units use less than 3 gallons of water for every 22 pounds of ice produced, while water recycling systems reuse water from melted ice cubes to form more ice. Ice makers also feature corrosion-resistant parts, adjustable thermostats and easy-to-clean parts for the smaller units. Commercial ice makers feature removable panels for quick access to internal components.
Whatever your ice needs, whether you are a restaurant owner that sees a high volume of customers each day or a homeowner who simply wants to avoid using bagged or freezer-made ice, there is a suitable ice maker to serve you well. Priced for all budgets, ice makers are an indispensable part of the food service world as well as a useful and convenient household appliance.
Portable Ice Makers
Portable ice making units sometimes give you the option of connecting to a water line, but most simply provide a multi-liter reservoir into which you pour water. Once activated, in as little as 6 minutes the appliance begins to produce ice. Portable ice makers also give you the option of choosing the size of ice cube, with smaller cubes freezing faster. These units generally produce from 10 to 12 cubes at a time before starting the cycle over. They are able to generate between 12 and 35 pounds of ice per day and can effectively store between 2 and 5 pounds at a time.
Undercounter Ice Makers
Undercounter units are meant to slide underneath the counter of a home or commercial bar. They are front vented so other appliances or cabinets can be safely tucked against the sides. All most undercounter ice makers require is a water line connection and a power supply, although some require a drain hose. Undercounter ice makers do not require you to pour water into a reservoir, and in a day they are able to produce between 12 and 60 pounds of ice. Undercounter units have larger storage areas, and they are generally able to hold around 25 pounds at a time. Like portable ice makers, though, undercounter ice makers are not freezers, although some include a refrigeration function to help keep ice solid.
Commercial Ice Makers
Countertop and self-contained commercial ice makers are found in restaurants, hotels, cafeterias and anywhere else food and beverages are sold on a somewhat high scale. The biggest, most productive commercial ice makers can make over 2000 pounds of ice a day, but most produce several hundred pounds. Commercial ice makers are extremely durable and well built for hard-wearing, frequent use. Self-contained units feature the ice maker and bin in one, while countertop units are most likely modular. This means they require a separate bin to hold all of the ice it produces. Large scale commercial ice makers work best with a central refrigeration system as they need a lot of water and constant compression to create as much ice as they do.
A wide range of producers offer one or more models of portable ice maker including Emerson, Avanti, Haier, Edgestar, NewAir, Koldfront, Collezioni, Whynter, WindChaser, SCG, Sunpentown and Danby. Prices for portable ice makers start at around $150 and go up to $500 depending on the brand. A greater range of features, better energy efficiency and durability are among the reasons for the difference in prices. Undercounter ice makers usually come in two sizes: 15 and 18 inch. They are manufactured by companies such as U-Line, Franklin, Scotsman, Summit, Sunpentown and Marvel. Undercounter ice makers are priced from roughly $350 to well over $2,500. 15- and 18-inch undercounter ice makers are designed to integrate with the bar by being built in. Some units are customizable and will accept a special door panel so that the ice maker takes on the look of the surrounding woodwork or other stylings. Commercial ice makers are produced by Summit, Scotsman, U-Line and Ice-O-Matic. Priced as high as $8,700, the largest among commercial ice makers can produce more than 2000 pounds of ice per day.