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Rethinking Ice Machine Production Rates


[posted June 1, 2012]

If you've ever purchased an ice machine you've probably seen the advertised rate of production on any given machine. Usually the production rate is spoken of in terms of what the ice machine has the ability to produce in a 24-hour period. This is a good way to gauge the maximum production if you plan on leaving your ice machine untouched for a full day, but it is hardly helpful when you need a large quantity of ice in the coming hour.

First, let's explore what must actually occur for you to attain the maximum production of your ice machine. Water and air temperatures must be ideal to sustain maximum productivity (usually around 50 degrees Fahrenheit water, 70 degrees Fahrenheit air), but as we all know, this is hardly ever the case. You must also consider the size of your bin. If your bin is not large enough to accommodate your ice machine's production, you may have either bought the wrong product, or overpaid for one or the other.

Consider an ice machine that produces an advertised 300 pounds a day, but is attached with a bin that stores 200 pounds. Even if you left your machine untouched and running for 24 hours, you would still only realize a maximum production of 200 pounds as this is the maximum capacity of the bin. In another troubling instance, let's assume that your bar uses 50 pounds of ice per hour on a busy night, nearly depleting your bin in four hours. Now, the situation is starting to look desperate. As your ice machine has been running for these four hours, you will need ice and you don't know what is in your bin. It's time to accurately calculate exactly how much ice you've got left.

For this ice machine, we see a rate of 300 pounds per day. That breaks down to about 12.5 pounds of ice per hour, so in that four hour period, your ice machine has produced 50 additional pounds of ice if conditions are ideal. Will this be enough to get you through the rest of the evening? From the rate of ice usage over the last four hours, if it holds steady, you only have enough ice for one more hour.

Since you have peaks in business, you must have an ice machine that can keep up with your operation. Let's look at the actual production rates of a few different ice machines.

As mentioned earlier, ice machines will often advertise the machine's production in ideal conditions. If air and water temperature raise 20 degrees, conditions are hardly ideal and ice production will slow. We chose four ice machines from leading brands, Ice-O-Matic, Scotsman, Hoshizaki, and Manitowoc and broke them down to show their actual hourly productions to help our consumers better understand what their ice machine will actually produce under more stressful conditions. All machines were air-cooled, cost around $2000.00, and produced standard ice cubes (Hoshizaki, crescent cubes).

If you look at any of the following models you will probably see advertised the maximum production rate in ideal conditions. However, once they are tested under more trying conditions (70 degrees water, 90 degrees air), production drops greatly in all of them:

Ice-O-Matic's ICE0320A production to 249 lbs./day (10.4 lbs. per hour)
Scotsman's C0322 production to 255 lbs./day (10.6 lbs. per hour)
Hoshizaki's KML-250MAH production to 238 lbs./day (9.9 lbs. per hour)
Manitowoc's ID-0302A production to 225 lbs./day (9.4 lbs. per hour)
(All production values are rounded to nearest tenth.)

Now with these updated figures, you can accurately and realistically measure how much ice your machine will produce in any given period of time. You must consider when your customers choose to visit. Many people desire cold drinks on hot days, so you may see an influx in business. Beach and resort bars especially realize increases business and longer hours during the summer months. Take into consideration the fact that often your ice machine's production rates will be markedly lower than when conditions are ideal. I have bartended far too many hot, busy Friday nights and run low on ice only to open my ice machine and see the depressing trickle of water into a half melted pile/puddle of ice.

In order to find out which ice machine is right for your business, you should calculate the hourly production of your ice machine in the most stressful environments. All of our spec sheets list the ice production rates found by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) as they perform under less than ideal conditions at 90 degrees Fahrenheit air and 70 degrees Fahrenheit water temperatures. By calculating the AHRI production rates over a 24 hour period, you can accurately predict hourly production rates on any given ice machine.

Far too often, there are tales of consumers who purchased an ice machine because it produced 500 pounds of ice per day, perfect for their business. When reality sets in however, conditions are less than optimal for long periods of time, and ice production inevitably slows. At, we want to help our customers realize the exact, accurate hourly ice production rate of your machine so you will never run out of ice when you need it most. If you are unsure of exactly how much ice your establishment will require, consult our Ice Usage Chart for advice and assistance. By educating yourself on actual ice machine production rates, you will find the ideal ice machine for your establishment.

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