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Section 10. What Size Ice Storage Bin Will I Need?

Ice Storage Basics


It is two to three times more expensive to produce a pound of ice than to store it, depending upon your air and water temperatures.  Either way, having full bins of ice at the ready will save you time and money.  Even if you don’t use all of the ice, it costs less to keep it in the bin than to have to produce it.

However, consider your peak usage when determining your bin size and add 20% capacity to be safe.  If your daily ice requirements are fairly consistent then your ice bin capacity will need to hold the daily production quantity.  For example, if your machine produces 400 lbs. of ice, your bin holds 400 lbs. and your customers use 400 lbs of ice by business day’s end, leaving you with an empty bin to be filled by your machine again.  But this does not take into account any unexpected increase in need for ice on hand.  Again, you know your business better than anyone, but always plan for the peaks.

In a situation where the daily amount of ice needed is larger than the daily production capacity of the icemaker, having a larger bin to store extra ice previously made will enable you to meet your needs.

It is wise to start sizing your bin based upon your highest day’s ice requirement.  However, depending on the usage patterns of the other days, this may not be enough, your bin supply will be low, and your ice machine will not have sufficient time to produce the needed ice.  In this case, the bin needs to be large enough to store the highest day’s requirement amount as well as the previous day’s needs and still have sufficient ice supply available for the next peak day.

General Guidelines for Ice Storage Options


Regardless of which type of ice storage you choose (standard ice storage bin, countertop ice dispenser, hotel ice dispenser), there are several things to always consider.

1. An ice storage option needs to be large enough to hold the amount of ice that you need to have on hand at any one time.
For example, at the opening of business or for the dinner rush, you will need a certain quantity of ice ready to go. Be certain the bin or dispenser can hold at least this amount. The rest of the time, your bin does not have to be full. Once you have calculated your daily ice usage requirements, you can further break it down and determine how much ice you need at specific points of your business day. Then find a storage option that can hold that amount of ice.

2. You do not need to purchase a storage option to hold an entire days worth of ice.
You do not need a 500 LB capacity storage bin for your 500 LB ice machine. Your ice machine will be producing ice all day at an hourly rate you can calculate by dividing the daily rate by 24. If you need 500 LB of ice a day, you do not need all 500 LB when you open up. If your ice machine produces 20 LB of ice per hour then within 5 hours, you'll have another 100 LB of ice in the bin. So you might only need a 400 LB capacity bin.

3. All ice storage needs adequate drainage.
Any ice that is not used over time will melt in the bin, since bins are typically not refrigerated. This melt water, if left sitting in the bottom of the dark bin, can allow the growth of bacteria and mold. If possible, purchase a storage option that has an anti-bacterial compound built into the surface materials. And you will need to check that drainage is regularly taking place not only from your ice machine, but from your storage.

4. Smaller ice storage bins won't overflow when paired with large production ice machines.
Most ice machines have methods of determining that your storage bin is full, forcing the ice machine into a standby mode. When ice is removed from the storage bin either manually or by dispenser, the ice machine begins producing ice again. There is no need to fear that an ice machine will fill a smaller bin and then start to overflow. Nor do you need to turn the machine on or off to produce the ice. The storage bin works with the ice machine to do that for you. If you have a 500 LB ice machine on a 350 LB storage bin, if left uninterrupted, the ice machine will fill the 350 LB bin and stop making ice. It won't keep making ice until it reaches 500 LB.

5. Ice dispensers are more sanitary than ice storage bins.
Ice storage bins require physically removing ice and putting it in other containers for serving. This means scooping ice out, often exposing the ice to the surrounding air and environment. Ice machine heads mounted on Ice dispensers are sealed units, and ice is only removed when needed. The exception is if you have an ice dispenser in the front of the house without an ice machine mounted on top. Then ice must be removed from another bin and carted to the ice dispenser to be poured into the top. This opens up the possibility of contamination or spills during transport. If ice dispensing is part of your business application, consider a head mounted on top (or an all-in-one ice maker dispenser for the ultimate sanitary dispensing option).

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