Your Ultimate Guide to Commercial Ice Machines for Schools and Universities
Educational institutions like schools and universities use commercial ice machines in cafeterias and on-campus eateries. Students want cold beverages at lunch and, on university campuses, throughout the rest of the day too. A top-rated commercial ice machine is the best way to provide hundreds of pounds of ice for students during the busy lunch hour. Our guide will help you choose the best ice maker for your school or university.
If you need help choosing a commercial ice maker for your school cafeteria or dining hall, call us today!
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Types of Commercial Ice Maker Machines for Schools and Universities
There are many different models of ice machines, both large and small. Some are designed for serving staff. Others are specifically for self-service. Here are some of the most popular models of ice machines for schools and universities:
Modular Ice Machines
Modular ice makers are the most popular type of commercial ice machine because they offer the most flexibility for users. These machines only produce ice. They can be installed on any compatible ice bin of your choosing. These machines come in a large range of sizes, from 500 – 1800 lbs. of ice a day.
Stackable Ice Machines
These are a style of modular ice machine that allows you to install multiple units on top of a single ice bin. Stack 2-3 units on top of one another to either double or triple your total ice production. These machines also range from 500 –1800 lbs per machine.
Undercounter Ice Machines
This style of ice machine is designed to fit under a countertop or bar top. While designed for bars, they have become very popular in coffee shops where baristas need quick access to serve long lines of customers quickly. Perfect for university cafes!
Ice dispensers drop ice directly into drinkware or ice buckets at the touch of a button or lever. Some dispensers, like hotel dispensers, are standup units. Others are designed to be installed on top of a counter. These are best for self-serve stations.
Countertop Ice Makers
Thee ice machines can safely sit on top of a counter or bar top. They are designed for self-serve areas but are also a great option for faculty break rooms. Countertop ice machines ice directly into drinkware by pressing a button or lever. Some are even hands-free.
How to Size a Commercial Ice Machine for Your Student Body
Sizing a commercial ice maker for a university or school cafeteria can be a challenge. Ice needs fluctuate throughout the day. Mornings at a university include hundreds of students rushing to coffee shops. Afternoon means busy lunch crowds. Here are some things to consider when sizing a machine:
Daily Ice Usage
How much ice do you normally go through in a day? You need an ice machine that produces at a rate that keeps up with student needs. It’s important to keep in mind that ice machines produce their full capacity over 24 hours. A 600 lb unit will take 24 hours to produce 600 lbs. of ice.
Types of Ice Cubes
There are many ice cube shapes on the market, but they are not designed just for looks. Ice cubes are designed to be functional as well. Here are some of the most popular cubes for schools and universities:
Condenser Types for Commercial Kitchen Ice Machines
Your ice machine's condenser is responsible for cooling down refrigerant that is used to produce a batch of ice. There are three common types of cooling systems you'll find on ice machines:
Installation Requirements for Commercial Ice Machines on School Campuses
Commercial ice machines have specific installation requirements to operate properly. Some, like water and electricity, are a given. However, some are less obvious:
Your ice machine needs to be installed onto a drainage system to flush away unused water produced during the ice-making process. A floor drain is a common type of drain you'll find in most businesses, but your school or university may use other setups, like a wall drain or standpipe. All installations require an air gap, so check your local health code for specifics.
All ice machines run on electricity, but you can't just plug them into any outlet. Small ice machines require 115v of power. Larger units require 220v. Models also have different amperage needs as well, so make sure to check your machine's spec sheet. If you don't have an outlet that supports your ice machine, you'll need an electrician to install one.
The size of your kitchen ice maker will likely determine how much water it needs to make a batch of ice. Overall, most ice machine models require between 3-5 gallons of water per minute. Your establishment's water line will need to be able to deliver your machine' water needs. If you do not have the proper water line, you'll need a plumber to install one.
Air cooled ice machines release hot air to cool down the ice-making system. If the ice machine is located too close to a wall or surrounded by clutter, that hot air will linger around the ice machine and cause it to overheat. The hotter the ice machine gets, the less ice it produces. You want to free up at least 1 foot of space on all sides of the ice machine.
We’ve serviced over 10,000 ice machines across the country. No matter the challenge, we know exactly how to keep your hotel ice machine running smoothly. Our pre-installation checklist shows you what you need to provide to install an ice machine at your construction facility. If you have a challenging environment, give us a call and we'll help you find a solution.
Water Filters for Commercial Ice Machines in School Cafeterias
Your water supply has all manner of sediment and minerals. They are perfectly safe to drink, but they can harm your ice machine. Here are the most common water filters for commercial ice machines:
Any commercial ice machine can benefit from a sediment filter. These filters trap unwanted particles that exist in your university or school's tap water. These filters need replacing around every six months. A clogged sediment filter will restrict water flow to your ice machine, which can lead to smaller ice cubes.
While not technically a filter, these systems release phosphate into your ice machine's water supply to prevent calcium and magnesium from binding together to form scale. Scale is a chalky substance that can bind to ice machine parts and cause damage to the unit. Cartridges need replacing around every six months.
Carbon is one of the oldest filtration methods dating back to ancient Egypt. Carbon filters work to trap unwanted particles before they enter your ice machine. Carbon filters have the added bonus of reducing the amount of chlorine in your water, which alter the taste of ice. These filters need replacing every six months.
Cleaning and Sanitation for Your School's Ice Maker
Ice machines need regular cleaning to reduce mold, slime, and pathogens that can make people sick. Professional cleanings can also rid your machine of harmful scale that forms over time.
You should schedule a qualified ice machine technician to come out to clean your machine every six months. This will reduce dirt, mold, and germs that may have entered your ice machine. In addition, your staff should perform daily cleaning on the machine's exterior.
Mold and Slime
Mold and slime grow in damp, dark environments and feed off of organic material in the air. Your ice machine can provide the perfect home for mold and slime if your employees don't keep up with regular cleaning. Check your machine for growths daily and clean as needed.
Ice Bin Cleaning
Your ice bin is where you store your ice, so you want to make sure it's free of germs and mold. Employees should always use an ice scoop to grab ice. If a health inspector notices considerable mold and slime, they will write a damaging violation.
Environmental Factors for Commercial Ice Machines
Your establishment's environment can affect your commercial kitchen ice machine's performance. Under these conditions, your ice machine will develop issues over time. Here are the factors you should look out for:
Surrounding Air Temperature
Air cooled ice machines use the surrounding air to cool the internal system and keep your ice machine in peak performance. Ho air around the machine will lead to less ice and potential damages. These machines operate best when the surrounding air is around 70 degrees.
Air Cooled ice machines also require ventilation to move hot air away from the ice machine and into the surrounding environment. Ice machines require one foot of space on all sides of the unit. That includes a foot space between the top of the machine and your roof.
Hot water takes more time to freeze than cold water. If your ice machine is suffering from warm incoming water, you'll see less ice over 24 hours. Ideally, you want your water to be between 50 and 90 degrees.
Every state's water condition is different. If you live in an area with high sediment or minerality, it can damage your ice machine over time. Proper water filtration is the best way to combat high-particulate water.
The dirtier your ice machine, the less ice it will produce. Dust and dirt can enter your ice machine and cling to your condenser, insulating heat within the system. You should aim to schedule at least two professional cleanings per year.
How Much is a Commercial Kitchen Ice Machine?
Schools and universities need high-volume commercial kitchen ice makers. Some campuses place ice dispensers at self-serve stations so students and faculty can serve themselves. A small countertop ice dispenser can run as low as $1,500. A high-production kitchen ice maker can run as high as $10,000. There are hidden costs associated with ice makers as well:
Maintenance and Cleaning
Kitchen ice machines need regular preventive maintenance and cleaning. Manufacturers recommend 2 preventive maintenance and cleaning visits per year. An ice machine technician will clean, disinfect, and sanitize the machine inside and out. They will check for potential problems, so you can avoid expensive repairs in the future.
The average maintenance and cleaning visit costs around $300.
Water filtration is important if you want to prolong the life of any commercial ice machine. Your local water supply may have high concentrations of minerals and sediment that can damage your ice machine. Sediment can clog components inside the machine and minerals form to create scale. Water filters cost between $15-$100 depending on the type. Businesses with particularly challenging water may require multiple filters.
Depending on the damage, ice machine repairs can cost between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand. Here are some examples of some common ice machine repairs and their costs:
- Hot Gas Valve Replacement - $600
- Expansion Valve - $600
- Compressor Repair - $1500
- Evaporator Repair - $2500
The Best Way to Get a High-Quality Commercial Ice Machine for Your School or University
It’s not easy to keep ice machines at schools and universities sanitary and high-performing, but we’re here to help! An Easy Ice subscription doesn't just come with the best commercial ice equipment from Hoshizaki and Manitowoc. We also include preventive maintenance, professional cleaning, and repairs at no extra cost. If you ever have a problem with your equipment, we maintain a 24-hour ice machine service line you can call anytime. If your ice machine goes down for extended repairs, we'll provide you with free replacement ice until the machine is fixed.
The Easy Ice team is dedicated to providing your students and faculty with plenty of ice to get them through long days of classes. With our commercial ice machine subscription, you'll never have to worry about your school's ice supply.
Want to be sure you're serving clean, safe ice to students and staff? Want to save money and take the hassle out of keeping ice machines on campus?
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