Portable Ice Makers: Value and Convenience
It's hard to imagine that ice machines have only been available since the last century. In the past, ice was hard to acquire. Consumers often had to rely on delivery services which provided huge blocks of imported ice from colder regions. In some of the hottest parts of the world, ice was expensive and considered a luxury.
The History of the Ice Maker
The advent of the home refrigerator in the 20th century brought food preservation and ice cube production into modern day homes, and in the 1960's, home freezers made ice readily available to the masses.
The downside was that these early designs were inconvenient. Water was poured into a mold and then left in the freezer until it turned solid. It took several hours for the water to freeze.
Today's Modern Home Ice Maker
Today, modern ice makers are built into most new refrigerators. These models use electric motors, electrical heating units, and electrically-operated water valves. All of these mechanisms are powered by a refrigerator's electrical circuit. The ice maker is then hooked up to the home water line.
Freezer Ice Machines are Inconvenient
Consumers often complain that built-in freezer ice machines take too long to produce ice. A new batch of ice can take anywhere from 75 to 120 minutes to be ready. This is a problem if you're entertaining and you need a steady supply.
Another common complaint is the quality of the ice. Because the ice in the freezer is stored along side food, unpleasant food odors can be absorbed. As a result, the ice you serve may not taste that good. These annoying inconveniences can be eliminated with a portable ice maker.
Portable Icemaker Benefits
These ice makers are a great way to either supplement your built-in refrigerated version when it doesn't meet the need or take with you on a trip like camping, boating, or a party. Portable units produce enough ice for any occasion.
These units make ice quickly too. Most of them make ice in just minutes. Once it's plugged in and water is poured into the reservoir the cycle begins. There's no complicated set up or wait time.
They also let you to control the size of the ice cubes. Whether you're blending ice to make smoothies or mixed drinks, or you're simply enjoying a glass of soda or water, it will meet your needs. These handy appliances are a welcome addition to parties and gatherings!
Choosing an Ice Maker
When shopping for a countertop ice machine ask yourself the following questions:
- How much ice do I need?
- How much ice can I store?
- What size ice cubes do I want?
- How do I maintain my portable ice cube maker?
Considering these questions will help you decide which unit is the best one for you. Once you know the answers, you can shop for an ice machine with the features you desire.
How much ice do I need?
One of the key factors in choosing an option is figuring out how much ice you need. The amount of ice you need determines the size of the unit you need to buy. If you plan on entertaining then you'll want a unit that produces enough ice to meet the needs of your guests.
Compact countertop ice makers can produce up to 35 pounds of ice per day, while small ice makers can make up to 28 pounds per day. If you need anything more than this, you may have to look into purchasing into a commercial unit or an under counter ice maker.
How much ice can I store?
While some portable ice makers can store varying amounts of ice, keep in mind that they can't store it for long periods of time. In other words, once ice is produced it needs to be used. You'll find that the greater the unit's ice making capacity, the larger the storage bin, an added benefit that's convenient.
What size ice cubes do I want?
Countertop ice makers produce bullet-shaped ice cubes, and some models will produce ice cubes in three sizes - small, medium, and large. The large size ice cubes are roughly the same size as those you'd make in a typical ice tray.
Most water dispenser units only produce ice in one size, so depending on how you like your drinks, you may want to consider purchasing a unit that makes multiple ice cube sizes for more versatility.
How do I maintain it?
Proper maintenance ensures years of hassle-free service and prevents problems, so make sure you take good care of your unit. Maintenance is easy: simply wipe down the outside of the unit and clean the water reservoir regularly after use. Another way to ensure great tasting ice and a properly functioning unit is to occasionally clean the machine with a cap of vinegar or lemon juice.
Compare Portable Ice Makers Side-by-Side
If you're still confused over which model to choose, we've compiled a list of top rated ice makers so you can compare them side-by-side.