This guide makes finding the best ice maker for your needs easier than ever.
While you can buy ice at the store, you won’t ever be sure you’ve bought enough until it’s too late – not to mention that store-bought ice always finds a way to melt in the trunk or backseat of your car during the ride home.
Of course, those little ice trays you keep in your freezer won’t do either. They take hours to make ice, and the ice they produce is seldom enough for more than a few drinks.
If any of these situations sound even slightly familiar, you’d benefit from the convenience of an ice maker. Ice makers are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from portable to commercial models. For some, finding the best ice maker can feel like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will help you decide which type of ice maker is right for you.
Finding The Best Portable Ice Maker
Portable ice makers are ideal for parties, family gatherings, camping, and just about any other small to mid-sized event. When shopping for a portable ice maker, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Where will you be you using it?
Portable ice makers are excellent for at home, the office, and some models are even great for outdoor use. Of course, if you are using a portable ice maker, you’ll want to be sure you have a place to plug it in. A standard electrical outlet works for most portable models.
How much ice does it make and how quickly does it make it?
Different portable ice makers have different capacities. Typically, a portable ice maker takes about a day to completely refill itself, so you’ll want to keep this in mind.
That said, your portable ice maker can continuously produce ice throughout the day, and some even have a quick cycle time, including NewAir’s 28-lb capacity AI-100BK. The quick cycle time enables NewAir’s AI-100 series ice makers to produce as many as nine pieces of ice in as little as six minutes.
Of course, if you really need a lot of ice, consider stepping up to the NewAir AI-215 series ice maker. It’s capable of producing as much as 50 lbs of ice daily!
How easy is it to operate?
The best ice makers are easy to operate. In fact, many models are “plug and play.” Just plug it in, fill the water reservoir, and you’ll have ice in minutes. A lot of portable ice makers include an empty reservoir indicator so you always know when it’s time to add water. The best models even include push-button controls that let you set the size of the ice.
Choosing The Right Built-in Ice Maker
Built-in ice makers are quite a bit different from portable ice makers. They typically have a much larger capacity and can produce ice at a much faster rate. Likewise, they’re often a semi-permanent installation and generally require you to connect them to a water line, though some models may require you to refill the water reservoir manually. They also tend to cost more than portable models and are commonly used for smaller commercial applications.
That said, built-in ice makers do bear some similarities to portable models. In addition to the questions you should answer when selecting your portable ice maker, those shopping for a built-in ice maker should consider the following.
How much space do you have?
If you’re adding a built-in ice maker to an existing bar or kitchen, you’ll want to take extra care in considering the dimensions of the unit you choose. If you’re working with a contractor and want to choose the appliance yourself, ask your contractor to confirm the dimension requirements.
If you’re not comfortable installing a built-in ice maker yourself, be sure to contact a professional with experience installing under-the-counter appliances such as ice makers. If you need a water line or an electrical outlet installed, be sure to work with a qualified plumber or electrician.
Will it match the rest of your appliances?
Built-in ice makers come in a variety of styles, so you’ll want to be certain you choose one that matches the rest of your appliances. Whether you’re buying it for an office, a restaurant, or a bar, you still want it to look great.
Stainless steel ice makers are quite popular, but models are available that can be matched to the surrounding wooden cabinetry, such as the Hoshizaki AM-50BAE-ADDS. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but it’s important to know that you have options.
Need Even More Ice? Try A Commercial Ice Maker
When a smaller built-in ice maker just won’t cut it, it’s time to step up to a commercial ice maker. While most people will be fine with a reliable portable ice maker, when you’re running a restaurant or bar, you’re going to need a lot more ice. That’s where commercial ice makers come in.
For most residential applications, a commercial ice maker will be too much. In fact, many built-in units can satisfy the needs of a smaller business or office. If you need a lot of ice however, consider one of the many commercial units available.