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Finding the Right Ice Maker for your Business

Posted by Rachel Schwartz on 8/4/2020

Ice machines are not just an important piece of equipment for restaurants, cafes, bars, and other businesses; they are also particularly useful in the hot summer months when a cold beverage feels extra refreshing. Just as there are several different types of ice available, ice maker can have just as many options when it comes to features. Depending on your specific needs, some features or ice types may be more ideal, narrowing your choice of ice maker down to those most beneficial to your business. 

Perhaps the most obvious difference between various ice machines is the type of ice they produce. There are four general types of ice although some can be further classified by size such as full or half. The four general types are: the classic crescent cube, flake, gourmet, and nugget. Crescent cube ice is named after its half-moon shape and is the most common type of ice found. This shape is designed to allow for maximum storage in the ice bin. Flake ice is most often used for commercial purposes rather than in beverages. This type of ice is used to help preserve seafood, meats, and other perishable foods while on display or while they are transported. Gourmet ice has a unique, shot glass shape and can be found used for special events or in upscale restaurants. Nugget ice, also sometimes called pearl or cubelet ice, is the most popular among customers as its small size melts slower and keeps beverages cold for a longer period of time. For customers who enjoy chewing ice after their drink is finished, this ice is the easiest to do so with. 

The second most obvious difference between ice machines is whether or not there is an ice bin. Ice makers and ice bins can be purchased separately but combination units that offer maker and bin together as one unit are also available. Whether an all-in-one unit or separate units better fits your needs will depend on how much ice is needed in a 24 hour period. For small operations or residential homes, a small ice maker with a minimal, built-in bin may suffice while busy restaurants, cafeterias, and other large, populated venues may need to purchase the ice maker and ice bin separately in order to maximize the amount of ice production and storage space possible.

Additionally, when determining the volume of ice production needed, take into consideration the size of your space as well as the size options for ice machines. While commercial units can produce the most amount of ice in a day and are typically only permitted for commercial spaces as they must be professionally installed, floor and undercounter options are also available. Floor, or standard, units are tall and can be wider than average and allow for ramped up ice produce. This size is ideal for busy areas and businesses. Undercounter units are smaller and are great for areas where space is limited as they can be either a standalone unit or installed underneath a counter.

A final consideration should be given to the operation of the unit itself and whether an air-cooled or water-cooled unit may better suit your space. Air-cooled units are less expensive than water-cooled ones and are easy to install. They are also more sustainable but do require more space to prevent overheating. It's also more environmentally friendly. Water-cooled units, on the other hand, are more expensive because they use more water but require less space to operate efficiently. Water-cooled units are an ideal choice if space is limited. Many manufacturers have also begun to offer energy efficient units that have been ENERGY STAR certified. Both air-cooled and water-cooled units can be found with this certification for those who want to make sure their unit is doing the best for their business and the environment. 

As with any major purchase, there are several factors to consider before making a final decision on the best ice machine for your business, but these are some of the largest factors to consider.  

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