Skip to main content

Ice is an essential part of many businesses, whether used for cooling food and beverages, providing an attractive display, or creating the perfect cocktails and blended drinks. A reliable commercial ice machine ensures that you’ll always have enough ice to meet your demands. With so many models available, how do you decide which one is right for your business?

This guide will help you answer that question as we delve into the key factors to consider when choosing the best commercial ice machine.

1. Types of Ice

Before we delve into brands and models, it’s important to consider your ice needs:

  • Cube Ice: The most common type. Available in full cube, half cube, and dice cube for different needs. Full cubes melt slowly making them ideal for fountain drinks.
  • Nugget Ice: Soft, chewable ice popular in restaurants, healthcare settings, and for blended beverages.
  • Flake Ice: Quickly produced and melts rapidly, perfect for food displays (think seafood or produce).
  • Gourmet Ice: Specialty shapes (crescents, top hats, etc.). Used in high-end establishments to enhance drink presentation.

2. Daily Ice Production Capacity

Choosing the wrong production capacity for your business creates problems. Here’s what to consider:

  • Undersized Machine: If your machine cannot produce enough ice, you’ll run out. This is especially disruptive during peak hours and events.
  • Oversized Machine: An oversized machine wastes both energy and valuable space.

For an estimate of your needs, a good rule of thumb is 1.5 pounds of ice per customer per day for restaurants/bars. Healthcare facilities might use about 10 pounds per bed. Factor in additional amounts for storage.

3. Condenser Type

Commercial ice machines use one of three types of cooling systems:

  • Air-Cooled: The most common and affordable. Works well in cooler environments with ample ventilation.
  • Water-Cooled: Ideal for hot environments or where air circulation is limited. Keep in mind they use significantly more water.
  • Remote-Cooled: The condenser is placed remotely (like on a roof), which reduces heat and noise within your space but is the most complex to install and expensive.

4. Installation Type

Where will you put your ice machine? Consider your space limitations:

  • Undercounter: Compact models suitable for limited spaces, generally with lower ice production.
  • Modular: This type has two parts – the ice-making head and a separate storage bin. More flexibility – perfect for high-volume ice demand.
  • Self-Contained: Combines the ice maker and storage bin in one unit. Easier to install, but options for ice output and storage capacity are often more limited.

5. Features and Technology

Modern commercial ice machines offer features that can save you time and money:

  • Automatic Cleaning Systems: Simplify upkeep and improve ice quality.
  • Smart Diagnostics: These alert you to issues before they become major problems.
  • Energy Efficiency: Look for Energy Star certifications to save on utility bills.
  • Noise Levels: Consider this if the ice machine will be in a customer-facing area.

6. Budget and Brand Reputation

Ice machines vary widely in price. Consider these factors:

  • Initial Investment: Higher-end models might be more expensive but save money in the long run due to energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs.
  • Maintenance Costs: Factor in the potential costs of repairs and how easy it is to get service in your area.
  • Brand Reputation: Research brands known for reliability, like Hoshizaki, Manitowoc, and ICETRO, to avoid unexpected downtime.

The Right Ice – Critical to Your Success

Having the right commercial ice machine is essential for many businesses. Investing a little time in research and careful planning will ensure you’ve got the perfect ice to support your operation smoothly!  Consult with the pros at Arrow Ice.  With our knowledge, experience and resources, we can find the perfect commercial ice machine for your business.