Water Cooled Ice Machines
There are two types of cooling for ice machines: air cooling and water cooling. As a general rule, the air cooled ice machines will work well under most circumstances, but they are not as energy efficient as water-cooled ice machines and will fail to work if the environment is too hot. The water-cooled machines are inefficient with water, using about 100 more gallons to make 100 pounds of ice, but they’re slightly more energy efficient and can work in more locations. When would you use a water-cooled ice machine?
There are two types of water-cooled ice machines:
Once Through Cooling System
A once through cooling system will take water through the pipes, cool the machine once, and then send the heated water down the drain. It is a highly inefficient method, which is why ENERGY STAR was reluctant to give any water-cooled machines its label until recently
Closed Loop Cooling System
A closed loop water cooling system takes the water and circulates it around and around the machine. In special cases, this type of machine can even be more energy efficient and water efficient than the air cooled one. These types of machines, however, are priced very high so that they might be out of some facility’s range.
If the water-cooled machine is so inefficient, why use it at all?
Well, there are a few places where it’s appropriate to get a water-cooled ice machine.
Even though the air-cooled machines are generally both more water efficient and energy efficient, there are still a couple situations where you might want to consider a water-cooled machine.
- Hot places where it costs a lot in energy to cool it down for an air cooled machine. Think about ice machines that are running in desert areas, or in a very hot environment where an air conditioner might not reach the area of the ice machine.
- Since the water-cooled system inherently doesn’t need an air intake, it has a smaller footprint compared to an air cooled ice machine. If you absolutely cannot make the space in the area, then a water-cooled machine might be your only option.
Because of the inefficiency of once-through water-cooled equipment, there are several municipalities which do not allow new installations of water cooled ice machines. If you’re considering getting a water-cooled machine, check in your area to see if it’s allowed. For most businesses, an air cooled machine is best.
Nowadays, water conservation is more important than ever. With a little research, you can find that around 780 million people lack access to improved drinking water supplies and 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.¹ Those of us with access to clean water would be mindful not to waste such a precious resource. In the past, we’ve noted that water cooled ice machines are not only an expensive idea, but a wasteful one as well. Water cooled ice machines keep their condensers cool by using water and running it over the condenser and then purging it from the ice machine. In a single day, the largest water cooled ice machine may run through over 5,000 gallons of water or more when operating at maximum effort. That number adds up very quickly, especially if the ice machine is in use every day.
We understand that some businesses simply have no other option and must use a water cooled ice machine to keep ice production consistent. With this in mind, we figured we could assist in finding out which water cooled ice machines use the least amount of water in both the ice making process AND to keep their condensers cool. Water cooled ice machines use water for two different reasons. Potable water is the term given to the water that will be frozen and consumed. It is run over the evaporator plate, and in the end it is frozen and usually used for beverages in bars and restaurants. Condenser water is the water used to keep the condenser from overheating. If the condenser is too warm, the ice machine may not be able to make ice. In most water cooled ice machines, water is cycled through once, then purged from the ice machine.
In order to thoroughly examine ice machines from each major company, we broke the ice machines down into three categories: Low-output undercounter ice machines, 500 pound ice machines, and 1,000 pound ice machines. We looked only at cube producing ice machines, since they are most common in the foodservice industry. We also went into this project almost completely blind, so the results produced were new to us, and new to the industry. Only Scotsman made a claim about their water use, stating that their Prodigy ice machines use less water and electricity than the competition, so we were eager to test their claim.
We looked at each ice machine as if it were producing an equal, set amount of ice, since very few models produce identical amounts of ice. The values which we compared were at 100 pounds, 500 pounds, and 1,000 pounds. We also looked at which water cooled ice machine performs the best at higher temperatures since water cooled ice machines are almost exclusively operated at elevated temperatures. We were not concerned with which ice machine produces the most ice in a stressful environment (you can buy a larger ice machine for more production), but rather which produces ice the most consistently (closest to its listed maximum production) when temperatures increase. This is called the AHRI rating, and it is measured when incoming water is at 90 degrees, and ambient air is at 70 degrees. This should be a key piece of information sought when assessing the quality of any ice machine.
Note- In the chart, the ice machine that performed best (i.e. used the least amount of water, had the highest output, etc.) was highlighted in green, and the machine that performed the worst was highlighted in red for easier comparison.
If we examine this chart closely, we find that Scotsman ice machines do use the least amount of potable water during the ice making process, but in terms of water used to cool the condenser, they are not nearly as conservative. Hoshizaki repeatedly uses the least amount of water to keep their condensers cool, and in most cases, Hoshizaki uses the least amount of total water in the ice making process. Only when we get to the larger ice machines does Ice-O-Matic take over in terms of water use. But Ice-O-Matic takes over in a huge way, with their water cooled, 1,000 pound ice machine using much less total water than any of the others. This can make a huge difference for someone with upper level ice requirements who is looking for a relatively conservative water cooled ice machine.
One thing we took away from this study was the way Hoshizaki’s water cooled ice machines perform in adverse conditions. When temperatures increased, Hoshizaki’s ice machines saw their output decrease by the slimmest of margins, losing only a small percentage of their ice production. Scotsman frequently saw their ice machines' production fall by the greatest margin, despite using the second highest amount of water to cool the condenser. This is one of the most important factors to consider, since water cooled ice machines are meant to produce ice when temperatures are higher. So, while Scotsman uses the least amount of potable water, they use by far the most water to keep their condenser cool, negating much of their otherwise conservative nature.
Despite Scotsman’s claim regarding their water use, it appears that Hoshizaki ice machines are the best choice if you must choose a water cooled ice machine. Their water cooled ice machines use the least total amount of water during the ice making process and to keep the condenser cool. Meanwhile, their ice machines maintain the most consistent ice production when temperatures rise. While Hoshizaki's and Ice-O-Matic's ice machines clearly use less water than the others listed, all of these ice machines will consume and waste a great deal of water over their lifetime. If you would like to keep costs low, consider a remote air cooled ice machine, which also tends to operate more consistently at higher temperatures since the condenser can be relocated outside, or to a cooler environment.
Water cooled ice machines are not a requirement for every business, but some simply have no other option. We recommend looking for an ice machine that features an Energy Star label for further savings, energy efficiency, and rebate opportunities. Refer to the infographic below for a few more interesting facts about water, and to see the aforementioned water cooled ice machines compared side by side. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or give us a call! We're always here to help.
While our last article examined some of the benefits and drawbacks of water-cooled ice machines, this one will look a bit deeper into the performance of specific ice machines. Hoshizaki, Manitowoc, Scotsman, and Ice-O-Matic all provide ice machines that feature either air-cooled, remote-air cooled, or water-cooled condensers, and in most cases, you will have an ice machine that performs markedly different because of the way its condenser is cooled. This article will serve to illustrate how much of a difference the condenser makes when it is water-cooled, and also show exactly how much water a water-cooled ice machine consumes.
The ICE0520FW from Ice-O-Matic, C0522MW from Scotsman, KM-515MWH from Hoshizaki, and the ID-503W from Manitowoc are all water-cooled ice machines that produce around 500 pounds of ice per day. They all create standard ice cubes except for Hoshizaki, whose ice machine creates crescent cubes. Primarily, these ice machines are perfect for small to mid-sized restaurants, bars, or coffee shops. These cubes are great for mixed drinks, soft drinks, and coffee. The following chart will illustrate how much water each ice machine uses to create ice as well as to cool its condenser.
Brand Machine Water Use, Ice* Water Use, Condenser* Total Water Use* Scotsman C0522MW 18.4 Gallons 160 Gallons 178.4 Gallons Ice-O-Matic ICE0520FW 23.2 Gallons 128 Gallons 151.2 Gallons Hoshizaki KM-515MWH 21.5 Gallons 115 Gallons 136.5 Gallons Manitowoc ID-503W 19.9 Gallons 165 Gallons 184.9 Gallon
*Water use is based on the water required to create 100 pounds of ice.
Ice-O-Matic’s ICE0520FW produces seven more pounds of ice per day when outfitted with a water-cooled condenser when conditions are ideal. However, when temperatures rise, Ice-O-Matic ice machines with water-cooled condensers tend to realize the greatest benefit, as their water-cooled ice machines produce an additional 72 pounds of ice per day, a decent amount of ice, making Ice-O-Matic's ICE0520FW worth a look if you require a water cooled ice machine that will operate in a warmer climate.
This chart says a few interesting things about Scotsman as well. While Scotsman boasts about ice machines from their Prodigy Series (which the C0522MW is), and the way in which they use less water in the ice creation process, Scotsman’s water-cooled ice machine uses an alarming amount of water to cool its condenser. Scotsman’s water-cooled ice machines do however perform the best overall in terms of production over their air cooled counterparts. In ideal conditions (70 degree air, 50 degree water) the water-cooled C0522MW will produce 75 more pounds of ice than Scotsman's air-cooled C0522MA. When air and water temperatures increase (rated at 90 degrees air, 70 degrees water) Scotsman’s water-cooled C0522MW will produce over 100 pounds of ice more per day than the same, air cooled ice machine. This is by far, the greatest discrepancy between any two of these air-cooled or water-cooled ice machines.
Hoshizaki’s KM-515MWH uses the least amount of water to cool its condenser. However, when ice making conditions are ideal, the KM-515MWH and KM-515MAH produce will produce identical amounts of ice per day. Only when under the stress of elevated temperatures does the KM-515MWH out-produce the air cooled KM-515MAH, to the tune of an additional 40 pounds per day. If you're going to be paying extra for a water-cooled ice machine, you can find better performance from either Scotsman or Ice-O-Matic.
The water-cooled ID-503W from Manitowoc makes little case for itself. This water-cooled ice machine uses the most water per day, and when compared to its air cooled counterpart, the ID-502A only makes 20 additional pounds per day in ideal conditions, and 40 additional pounds under stress. For what you will pay in water use, the benefits of this water-cooled ice machine from Manitowoc do not compare to the benefits of an air cooled ice machine, or a water-cooled ice machine by another brand.
While there are a few good reasons to choose a water-cooled ice machine (consistent production, quieter operation), the negatives can outweigh the positives at times. To this day, water-cooled ice machines are always exempt from inclusion in ENERGY STAR’s program as well, because of their wanton use and waste of water. ENERGY STAR qualified ice machines will save the operator money, and in some areas these ice machines qualify for ENERGY STAR’s rebate program, where users can be reimbursed for using an ENERGY STAR qualified product. Water-cooled ice machines are not for everyone, and if you decide that one is required for your business, be prepared to pay more in the long run than what the price tag details. If you need any help finding the right ice machine for your establishment, don't hesitate to give us a call at Ice Machines Plus.
We have written many articles and spoken at great lengths about the benefits of air cooled and remote air cooled condensers for your ice machine. Less is talked about or written about water cooled models, and for some good reasons, but this article will examine the benefits (and also note the drawbacks) of the ice machine that makes use of a water cooled condenser. In the second part, we will be comparing ice machines from the four major brands in the United States, and it will become clear that water cooled ice machines do provide some great benefits, but it is up to you to find out if they are right for your establishment.
*Note: Water cooled ice machines can be identified by the suffix “W” at the end of the ice machine’s name. Air cooled ice machines are generally followed by an “A”, and remote air cooled ice machines generally end with an “R”, although Manitowoc uses an “N” to denote a remote air cooled ice machine. Manitowoc’s water cooled ice machines are also listed only as odd numbers (ID-503W, IY-505W).
Water Cooled Ice Machines are More Consistent
Consistent ice production is one of the biggest benefits that is reaped by an ice machine with a water cooled condenser. This is possibly the most important reason for selecting a water cooled ice machine. With air cooled ice machines, the condenser is cooled by the air around the unit, so if your ice machine operates in a warm environment, production may fall drastically (up to 30% in some cases) when temperatures increase. Water cooled ice machines make use of water to keep ice production more consistent, and your ice machine performs much more reliably. Their performance tends to fluctuate markedly less than their air cooled counterparts.
Water Cooled Ice Machines Keep Things Quiet
If you have ever stood next to an air cooled or remote air cooled condenser, then you have probably heard the fan kick on and the loud whirring that follows and can last for a few minutes as it operates. This noise can aggravate customers and employees and interrupt the workflow of your business. Water cooled ice machines operate at a much quieter level, and are less of a nuisance to the people around them. If you own an ice machine with a higher production rate, it may operate at even higher sound levels. Water cooled ice machines tend to keep the noise to a minimum however.
Water Cooled Ice Machines: Same Price, Better Performers
In general, water cooled ice machines from Scotsman, Hoshizaki, and Manitowoc are all priced the same as their air cooled counterparts. Currently, Ice-o-matic is the only brand offered at IceMachinesPlus.com that prices their water cooled models slightly higher than the air cooled models, and it is a mere fraction of a difference. With this in mind, you can receive a greater output from two identical ice machines, simply due to the way in which their condensers are cooled.
Drawbacks of Water Cooled Ice Machines
Unfortunately, water cooled ice machines are not impervious to faults of their own. As they cool by way of water, they tend to consume a lot of it. Ice machines may use anywhere from upwards of 150 gallons of water per 100 pounds of ice created, and this water is not reused or recycled in any way. Most often, this water is simply wasted, which can lead to a dramatic increase in your monthly water bill. This overuse of water also leaves all water cooled ice machines from being approved by ENERGY STAR. In some areas, the use of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances will qualify the owner for a rebate, and they will receive money back for participating in the ENERGY STAR program. This is negated however with the use of a water cooled ice machine.
Because of their liberal use of water, some southern and southwestern cities in the United States have actually banned the use of water cooled ice machines, making them illegal to own or operate. While water cooled ice machines do tend to use less energy and electricity than air cooled and remote air cooled units, the savings do not ever equal the amount paid for the water used and wasted.
Water cooled ice machines are not for every establishment. They are great for reliable, consistent, quiet production, but the cost of operation is often much greater than their air cooled counterparts. For some, there is no other option than the ice machine with a water cooled condenser, but this choice is not for everyone. For more information regarding water cooled ice machines, contact one of our ice experts at IceMachinesPlus.com, or check out our follow up article on water cooled ice machines where we compare the performance of four similar water cooled ice machines, and examine the water they consume in the ice making process and to keep their condensers cool.