Ice Machine Buying Guide

  1. Ice Machine Differences


    Ice CubesIf you are in a business that relies on ice, you no doubt need an ice machine to make ice for you. However, the type of ice machine that is right for your business will vary greatly depending on what exactly you're serving. There are several different types of ice machines and each produces a different kind of ice.

    If you are serving iced drinks, mixed drinks, or bagging ice to be sold or dispensed, then you will probably need a cubed ice machine. This type of machine is perfect for bars, bagging facilities, and many restaurants. Ice-o-matic, Manitowac, and Hoshizaki, and Scotsman all make variations of these machines. All of these produce the rhomboid ice cubes found in most bars and restaurants, with the exception of Hoshizaki's cube, which is round. These type of ice machines offer a higher water to ice ratio, allowing for a slower melt, decreasing production.

    Another good choice for those in the bar or restaurant industry is the commercial half-cube ice machine. This is found in many bars, restaurants, and convenience stores. The cube produced is ideal for glasses of water, soda, and iced teas and juices. Because of it's similarity to the full cube ice, the half-cube ice is ideal for the same type of businesses. Scotsman and Manitowac call them half dice ice machines, Hoshizaki serves it up in a crescent cube ice machine and Ice-O-Matic produces a half cube commercial ice machine. These are the best selling types of commercial ice machines.

    If you are serving fountain beverages, specialty soft drinks, or are in an industry where people might chew ice, then the commercial nugget ice maker is the choice for you. This type of ice is perfect for medical facilities. Though the names for the ice varies, Manitowac, Ice-O-Matic, Hoshizaki, and Follett all produce ice machines of this type. One specific fast-food restaurant, Sonic Drive-In, uses this type of ice in its drinks. The restaurants, in some locations, even bag the ice for its diners to take home. It is also useful for those who serve up salad and produce bars.

    If you're in the business of serving up chilled foods on a buffet, or in a fish or a meat market, then a commercial flake ice maker is the choice for you. Commercial flake ice makers are also ideal for bars serving up chilled blended drinks as well as providing chewable ice for institutions where choking might be of concern. Ice-O-Matic and Manitowac both call them flake ice machines while Scotsman calls them flaked ice makers. Hoshizaki names them flaker commercial ice machines. Follett also appears in this category with their flake ice maker.

    If you are a high-end bar or eatery, where presentation is key to your business, then a commercial gourmet ice maker should be taken into consideration. The perfect water-to-ice ratio produces a crystal clear cube that is the most effective at cooling beverages. The Manitowac ice-maker produces an octagonal cube while Ice-O-Matic produces a cylindrical cube. Because these cubes are larger and solid, fewer cubes are needed to get the job of cooling a drink done.

    No matter your business, selecting the right kind of ice machine is key. The right kind will depend on exactly what type of business you are in and what types of foods or drinks you are serving. There are many manufacturers and different types of ice, all of which can meet your needs as a business.

  2. One Size does not fit all with Ice Machines

    One Size Does Not Fit AllDifferent institutions need different types of ice machines. For instance, a church ice machine might need to have medium volume and a large bin which would be perfect for storing the ice when it wasn’t in use. The restaurant ice machine might need something that has a larger volume which can handle a high ice turnover. What’s one of the reasons our ice machines by industry page was prepared.

    In the perfect ice machine world, one size would fit all, and everybody would be happy. That isn’t the case at all. For instance, could you see one of those huge hotel ice machines taking up residence as an undercounter bar ice machine? Or, can you see that your hospital would be using only flake ice for its many patients?

    As mentioned, the volume for a church is different from a quick-serve restaurant, which is different from a hotel. Hotel ice machines need to have a dispenser so that the little ice tub can fit underneath the nozzle. Cube, flake, nugget? Where do you turn? Take a look at the ice machine buying guide and find out.

    The one thing that all of these ice machines need is to be cleaned and maintained. Check your owner’s manual to find out the requirements of keeping your ice machine happy.

  3. How to Choose an Ice Machine

    Question Mark Ice machines are rated primarily on two factors. The first is how much ice the machine can produce in a day. The second is how much can the machine store before it turns off production. Buying a machine with too much production or storage will leave you with too much ice. Old ice can be a breeding ground for bacteria if it stays in the bin for too long. Extra ice also makes cleaning take much longer. If you have too little production or storage though, you could run out of ice in the middle of the workday. This can lead to unhappy customers and spoiled buffets.

    The rule of thumb for selecting a machine is to buy one that produces 20% more ice than your daily usage. The bin should be large enough to hold enough ice for 2 entire meal shifts or enough to cover your greatest rush period plus 20%, whichever is greater.

    On our ice machine selection guide, we have guidelines to help you find out how much ice each of your customers uses per visit. Once you have that it’s an easy calculation to find out how much ice your customers need. Add on any ice that you need for buffet cooling, employee drinks, and other uses to that number, then add 20% more. With that information, you’ll be ready to browse our listings to find a machine that has the right production and capacity for your business.

  4. Get a Combo!

    Sushi plate Most ice machines come in two main pieces. There is a head unit that actually makes the ice, and a bin that collects it. This lets customers decide how big of a bin they need for their business. But sometimes you just want an all in one unit that handles both ice production and ice storage.

    Enter our ice machine combos. Whether you’re looking for a standard bin or a hotel ice dispenser, our combination models come in every major brand. We’ve got Ice-O-Matic, Hoshizaki, Scotsman, and Manitowoc combo cubers ready for your kitchen or hotel lobby.

    For instance, take the ENERGY STAR rated ICE806FA Air-Cooled 897 LB Full Cube Ice Machine combined with the CD40030 dispenser from Ice-O-Matic. This machine combination can pump out 897 pounds of ice every 24 hours, 37 pounds an hour! This dynamo only uses 5.47kWH of electricity. The dispenser pumps out a quarter pound of ice per second and stores 180 pounds of ice in the storage area. This is enough ice for any medium or large operation that regularly needs ice. It also comes with an attractive corrosion-resistant stainless steel finish.

    To take a look at all our available models, check out our easy combo shop. You can compare brands and prices to find the perfect ice machine for your business’ needs.

  5. Warning: You're Losing Money If You Are Not Using the Right Ice Machine

    Rusty Ice Machine That ice machine chugging away in your business could be secretly costing you money. It’s true! Want to know why? Excess energy and water costs. Here’s what you need to do to make sure your machine works well for you:

    1. Unmaintained machine

    All machines require periodic maintenance. If your machine hasn’t been serviced in a long time then it could be working much harder than it needs to. Notably, scale buildup can make a machine work too hard, and will eventually break the machine if it isn’t cleaned. Take out that owner’s manual and look through the recommended maintenance schedule.

    1. Wrong-sized machine

    Do you look in your ice bin and see a glacier at the bottom that you never touch with your scoop? You may want to consider trading in your machine for a smaller version. While it’s good to have a little extra capacity, some businesses get a machine that generates too much ice. That’s just wasted energy and water.

    1. Water-cooled machines

    Water-cooled ice machines may use slightly less electricity, but they use far more water. If your region has water problems, consider replacing your machine with an air-cooled one unless your place of business makes this impossible. For instance, if the room with an air-cooled ice machine sits is too warm, it won’t make ice.

    1. Not Energy Star compliant

    Finally, your machine may no longer be Energy Star compliant. Every few years the government changes the requirements for ice machine certification. You should check to see if your ice machine still complies with new federal rules for the Energy Star label. If not, you may be able to get a discount by replacing your current unit.

    Don’t let your ice machine rob your business! Make sure it is doing its part by checking your machine against these four items. If you need to get a replacement, check out our wide selection here at Ice Machines Plus.

     Photo Credit

  6. Key Points for Ice Bin Buying

    bin image - not ice One of the confusing parts about buying an ice machine is that the ice machine and the bin are normally two separate components. The reason for this is that different industries have different needs for storage.  An establishment which is fairly low volume needs a bin with less capacity than its higher-volume counterparts.

    When ordering a bin, you need to make sure that the ice machine you choose is compatible with it. A seal is formed between the machine and the bin to preserve the ice. The wrong combination could be costly.

    Another thing that differentiates a bin is whether or not an anti-microbial treatment has been applied to the surface. Some bins also have UV lights for additional protection. An ice scoop holder is also a good feature to look for. This improves sanitation and could prevent a mark on your next health inspection.

    When it comes down to it, the ice bin that you choose should be one that your workers are comfortable with. It must have enough capacity to keep up with demand, be large enough to enter easily, and easy to clean. Take a look through our list of ice bins here at Ice Machines Plus and give us a call if you have more questions.

    Photo Attribution

  7. Save Money on a Combination Ice Machine

    Undercounter Ice MakerClose your eyes and think about the places where you’ve seen an ice machine.  Maybe it was at the gym, where people were icing their boxing bruises.  Perhaps you’ve seen that ice making head over the soda dispenser at your favorite convenience store, or maybe you’ve even had a vacation night or two in a hotel where there was a dispenser at the end of the hall.

    Regardless of where you’ve seen the ice machine, you probably noticed that there were two parts to it: the ice machine head and bin.  These are two completely separate pieces of equipment, created that way, and completely dependent on the kind of usage that you’ve got.

    Today, we’re going to talk a little bit more about how you can save money on your ice machine by purchasing the ice making part and the bin as one entire unit.  Hotels purchase their ice machines like this, as do bars and other endeavors.

    Undercounter units, for example, produce low quantities of ice but it also provides for some storage of that ice.  You can, say, pick up the Ice-O-Matic ICEU300HA machine for 300 pounds of ice production a day combined with 112 pounds of ice capacity. 

    The cost on this is definitely cheaper than some machines that offer only the ice making head.

    Hotel machines are similar in that respect.  If you get, say, the Scotsman C0322SA-HD22B-1H, you’re looking at a great machine which produces 322 pounds of ice every 24 hours that come with a hotel dispenser.  So, it not only stores it, but it dispenses it to your guests in a sanitary fashion.

    When you’re shopping for ice machines, take a look at the combination ice machine and ice storage like the undercounter or hotel ice makers.  Not only are they a good buy for certain areas, they are a great purchase for the money. 

  8. Should I Buy a New or Used Ice Machine?

    Did you know that you can buy some restaurant equipment used?  For forks, dishes, and other smallwares, it’s always best to buy it used, since you can save a ton of money and get what is essentially the same equipment. But should you get a new or used ice machine? It’s always best to buy new.

    With ice machines, it’s really difficult to tell how it functions without actually hooking it up and letting it run. Any dealer can swear to you that the machine has been well taken care of, but the proof happens when you get it to your restaurant (and it’s potentially too late).

    Ice machines have a few parts, all of which can be on the danger list if they’re in a used machine.

    • Evaporator coil
    • Accumulator
    • Compressor
    • Hot gas Bypass Valve
    • Condenser
    • Water Pump

    People trade in their machines for a few reasons.  Sometimes, they’re getting a new ice maker because their current volume just can’t handle it anymore.  Other times, the ice machine is traded in because it’s not working as well as it once did – and it’s easier in the owner’s mind to just get a new one.

    You don’t know anything about what went on in the environment that the ice maker was once in.  It could have been making ice in a bakery, where there was tons of yeast and flour in the atmosphere.  That yeast and flour can really jam up the coils and the compressor.

    What if there were problems with cleaning?  How about if the machine wasn’t regularly serviced?  It’s difficult to depend on the word of the used appliance salesman when he or she is trying to make a sale.  Warranty life is another factor.  For all of those little things, the new machines have warranties and the used ones do not.  Do you want to get caught without your warranty? We didn’t think so.

    So, whether you should buy new or used?  We’ve definitely got our opinions about that.  We hope that you agree that a new ice machine is the way to go. 

  9. How Much Does My Ice Machine Really Cost?

    We’ve talked about the fact that buying the right energy efficient ENERGY STAR ice machine can provide you with significant savings over time.  We highlighted ice makers from four of the top ice machine manufacturers in the country, including Scotsman Ice, Manitowoc Ice, Hoshizaki Ice, and Ice-O-Matic Ice. 

    Here are those articles:

    Scotsman Ice Machines and ENERGY STAR

    Manitowoc Ice Machines and ENERGY STAR

    Ice-O-Matic Ice Machines and ENERGY STAR

    Hoshizaki Ice Machines and ENERGY STAR

    All of the ice machines listed in the articles are ENERGY STAR certified, but they are simply a fraction of the machines that are available on the market. 

    We wanted to place some more tools at your disposal so that you could see savings you can get from purchasing one of these ice machines. 

    This is from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (

    Energy Cost Calculator for Commercial Ice Machines

    • Simply put in the information that you can find on the downloadable spec sheets and you can find out more about the possible energy costs of your machine.

    This one is from the Food Service Technology Center (

    Ice Machine Life-Cycle Cost Calculator

    • This calculator is just a little bit more thorough with its calculations.  It will help you determine the total costs of water, power, and maintenance for your machine.

    Here’s one from our own site at Ice Machines Plus.  It helps you figure out how much ice you need to have each day so you can choose the perfect ice machine for your needs.

    Ice Usage Chart

    Once you know how much the machines cost to run, you’ll have more of an idea of how to budget for the entire operation. Hopefully these tools will help you with your next purchase from Ice Machines Plus.

  10. Considerations for New Ice Machines

    Make sure that it will have enough space to perform.  While there are many low profile and compact ice machines on the market, you want to make sure that you’re giving the ice machine that you’re purchasing enough space to operate.  Else, it will heat up the area and lose some of it efficiency.

    Make sure that you’ve got the right connections already established to the machine.  At Ice Machines Plus, we put all of the equipment specifications right on the page so you can see what types of electricity and water lines that you’re going to need.

    Make sure that the ice machine has more production capacity than what you need right now.  You want to have an ice machine that you can grow into, rather than one which is already too small for your needs.  If it’s too small, there will be inconvenience all around, from the servers to the chefs.

    Choose efficiency over price.  A more efficient machine is going to pay you over the long haul. It will not only give you lowered water bills and energy bills, it will also provide satisfaction since you’ll know you’re doing your part to help out the environment.

    Filtering out the contaminants of your ice machine is important. Always get a filter. Your ice will taste better and your machine will experience less wear.

    For more information about purchasing your ice machine, we have an ice machine buying guide right here.  If you still have any issues, give our experienced customer service reps a call. 

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