There are a lot of different factors when deciding which of the ice machines is best for you. This Guide to Buying Ice Machines includes some helpful tips to ensure you make the best choice:
Ice machines are a critical component to the foodservice operator. They are expensive to buy, operate and maintain, but cheaper than buying ice by the bag!
Ice Machines: Sizing
The amount of ice used daily is rarely uniform. Consider the fact that you will use more ice in summer than winter and weekend usage is sure to be more than weekdays. Be sure you size your ice machine and bin to meet your peak usage needs.
Try not to base your decision solely on what your current ice machine does. Take into account the age and condition of your present equipment, as well as the surrounding air and water temperatures at your peak usage times. Production charts can be found on the spec sheets for each machine that will tell you 24-hour production under your particular conditions.
Ideally, your company is a growing one. Consider adding 20% to your current usage estimates to account for future business growth. Check out the sizing guide, to help guide you in your usage decision.
There are 3 types of ice: cubes, flakes and nuggets.
Cube machines usually come with two choices in size: Half Dice or Whole Dice. You can generally find the size of the cubes by looking on the spec sheet for the machine. These machines are the most popular, producing a hard cube that melts slowly and produces the best drink product.
Recommended for: Mixed Drinks, Carbonated Beverages, Ice Retailing, Salad Bars, Ice Dispensing
These machines produce small, hard bits of ice. They cool quickly and have a low production cost. Flakes mold to any shape and are great for salad bars, hospitals and limited specialty drinks.
Recommended for: Produce, Seafood, or Meat Displays, Blended Cocktails, Salad Bars, Hospitals
Produces a softer, chewable texture ice that still provides a maximum cooling effect for drinks. In a dispenser, the ice will melt and stick together, so you need to be sure that the proper agitator kit is purchased.
Recommended for: Carbonated Beverages, Blended Beverages, Salad Bars, Produce Display, Hospitals.
Air-cooled machines are easy to install and cost less to purchase and operate. They are affected by air and incoming water temperature, and require more breathing room. The industry is turning to the more environmentally friendly, air cooled machine.
Water-cooled ice machines cost a bit more up front and are more difficult to install. While technically more efficient, are costly to operate due to high water costs, but because they put off less hot air, they will not raise the room temperature nor do they require as much breathing room. If space is an issue, you should consider the water-cooled machine, but make sure it does not violate any local water conservation laws.
Remote systems are generally for larger ice machines, greater than 800 lbs per 24 hr. The condensing unit is usually mounted on the roof of the building to minimize the noise and heat put off. In general, the self contained unit is the way to go. It’s easier to install and is what you will find most places.
Operating Cost (major brands)
Manitowoc, Scotsman and Hoshizaki are leading popular manufacturers. The operating costs of electrical and water usage vary significantly between brands. Both Manitowoc and Scotsman ice machines utilize a system that efficiently minimizes water wasted and the cost to produce ice. The cost to operate a comparable Hoshizaki unit can be substantially higher than competing brands and is not recommended.
Manitowoc and Scotsman ice machines are the most reliable in the market place. Available service reports rate both highly.
Ice Machines: Other Considerations
Dimensions: Before ordering, measure doors, hallways and installation space to be sure your new ice machine will fit – allowing for 5 to 8 inches of clearance above, behind and on both sides.
Connections: Electrical and water connections and the floor drain must be within 6 feet of the ice machine. Most machines are offered in a variety of voltages to meet your requirements, be sure you order the correct voltage. All connections must meet local, state and national codes.
Plumbing Requirements: Ice machines must be connected to a cold water supply and have separate drain lines for the machine and the bin.