Everything You Need to Know About Restaurant and Bar Ice Machines

Choosing a restaurant or bar ice machine is one of the most important decisions for your business. The size of the ice machine, the type of ice, and commercial ice machine installation requirements are just some of the factors you’ll need to consider.

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help answer your questions about restaurant and bar ice makers and simplify your decision-making process.

Need help choosing an ice machine for your restaurant or bar?
Want to talk to an expert?

Call us today!


Bar and Restaurant Ice Machine Guide

What Kind of Ice Machine Do I Need for My Bar or Restaurant?

The style of ice machine you choose depends on the type of business you run. Self-serve and fast-casual restaurants with limited staff may want an ice dispenser. A busy sports bar or family restaurant may need a high-capacity ice machine to meet their drink needs. Whatever business you run, there are a wide variety of ice machines on the market to fit your ice needs.

  • Full-Service Restaurants

    Full-Service Restaurants

    If you need a large amount of ice on hand to serve customers, then you need a high-capacity ice machine and a large ice bin. Modular ice machines are the best choice for full-service restaurants because they come in a wide range of sizes. These types of machines require an ice bin or a dispenser to store the ice until it’s ready to use. We have restaurant or bar ice machines that range from 500-1900 lbs of ice a day.

    Learn More About the Different Types of Bar Ice Makers

  • Quick Service Restaurants

    Quick Service Restaurants

    Commercial ice dispensers are an excellent solution for quick-service restaurants and fast-casual establishments. Customers can retrieve ice for their drinks without needing staff assistance. Ice dispensers are also a more hygienic option than other ice machines which requires users to retrieve ice with a scoop. These systems give users more sizing options.

    Learn More About Water and Ice Dispensers for Your Restaurant

  • Bars and Cocktail Lounges  Bars and Cocktail Lounges

    Undercounter ice machines are great small ice makers for bars with limited space. These ice machines measure under 41” tall so they can fit under countertops and other fixtures. Undercounter ice machines allow bartenders to retrieve ice without the help of a barback. Bartenders have ice directly below them, so they can serve drinks fast and focus on their next customer.

    Learn More About Undercounter Ice Machines for Your Bar

How Do I Select the Right Type of Ice Cube?

The shape of an ice cube is not just aesthetic. Each ice shape provides a different business need. Choosing the right type of ice can help to elevate your drinks, display food, or even save you money on product loss.

Bar Ice Maker

What Type of Ice Machine Condenser Do I Need for My Restaurant?

Your ice machine's condenser is one of the most vital refrigeration components. Condensers cool refrigerant so they can use it to freeze a batch of ice. If the condenser overheats, it will take longer to produce a batch of ice – which means less ice for your business. Condensers have a cooling system that keeps them from overheating. There are three common types of ice machine condensers.

Air Cooled Ice Machines

Air cooled condensers use a fan to help cool refrigerant and expel heat away from the machine. Air cooled ice machines need plenty of space for hot air to escape into the environment. If not, hot air will re-enter the machine and overheat the system. These are the most common cooling systems you'll find because they are very cost-effective.

View Our Air Cooled Ice Machines

What Do I Need to Install a Restaurant or Bar Ice Maker?

Commercial Ice Maker Installation

We’ve serviced over 10,000 ice machines across the country. No matter the challenge, we know exactly how to keep your ice machine running smoothly. Our pre-installation checklist shows you what you need to provide to install an ice machine in your business. If you have a challenging environment, give us a call and we'll help you find a solution.

Pre-Installation Checklist

Restaurant or Bar Ice Machine Cleaning and Sanitation

Ice machine cleaning and sanitizing is necessary to prevent the growth of mold and slime in your restaurant ice maker. A professional ice machine cleaning service can also remove scale from vital ice machine parts. Mold and slime can lead to a damaging health violation, while scale buildup can damage your ice maker, requiring expensive repairs.

  • Ice machine sanitizer

    Regular Cleanings

    Regular cleaning helps to keep the outside of your ice machine free of contaminants. Even if there are no contaminants in your ice supply, users who handle the ice can accidentally contaminate the ice if they have dirt on their hands. Mold and slime will also grow faster in a dirty environment since they feed off particles in the air and on the ice machine’s surface.

    See Our Ice Machine Cleaning Schedule

  • Restaurant ice machine cleaning

    Mold and Slime

    Mold and slime feed off the yeast in the air and love to grow in damp, dark places - like your ice machine. Although mold and slime aren't dangerous to people, they will cause a health inspector to write a damaging violation.

    How to Clean Your Ice Machine of Slime and Mold

  • How To Clean A Restaurant Ice Maker Machine

    Don't Forget About Ice Bin Cleaning

    Ice bins are one of the most common places you'll find mold and slime. It's also where ice is stored. If mold or slime happens to fall into the ice supply and transfer to someone's drink, you’ll likely receive a bad review.

    Simple Steps for Cleaning Your Commercial Ice Bin

How Much Does an Ice Machine Cost?

Depending on the size of your restaurant, a commercial ice machine can cost anywhere from $1,500 to over $10,000. If you’re purchasing a modular or stackable ice machine, you will also need to purchase an ice storage bin or dispenser to store the ice. There are also a couple of hidden costs involved with properly caring for an ice machine. Here are the most common:


If you want your ice machine to be able to keep up with your daily ice needs, it will require preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance helps to ensure all ice machine components are in working order. It also helps technicians to identify potential problems before they turn into expensive repairs. Manufacturers suggest 2 preventive maintenance visits a year. Ice machine maintenance costs around $300 per visit.

Water Filters

Water filters help to eliminate unwanted particles and sediment from entering your ice machine and causing damage. Filters require occasional replacing (about every six months). When water filters clog, they end up reducing your water flow, which can lead to smaller, malformed ice cubes. Ice machine water filter prices range between $15-$100 depending on the brand. Ice machines in a challenging water environment may require additional water filtration in addition to a standard sediment filter.


Depending on how severe the problem is, an ice machine repair can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as high as a few thousand. Here are a few examples of common ice machine repairs and their estimated costs:

  • Hot Gas Valve Replacement - $600
  • Expansion Valve - $600
  • Compressor Repair - $1500
  • Evaporator Repair - $2500

Keep in mind, if an ice machine is down for repairs, it’s likely not going to produce ice. If it’s a long repair, you’ll have to buy ice retail or from a delivery service.

Our Ice Machine Subscription is the Perfect Solution for Business Owners like You

Our commercial ice equipment subscription is more than just an ice machine lease. Our subscription includes 2 preventive maintenance visits a year to keep your restaurant or bar ice maker in top shape. We offer additional maintenance and cleaning visits for challenging environments like bakeries or breweries. There's no need to keep track of your restaurant ice machine's maintenance and cleaning schedule. We'll call you when the ice maker is due for its next service and find the best time that works for you! We know restaurant and bar ice maker issues can happen at any time, and that’s why we offer 24-hour customer support. We'll even supply your backup ice for free if your ice machine goes down for repairs.

Choosing a restaurant or bar ice maker is harder than it seems, but our Ice Machine Experts are here to help! We have years of experience providing ice machines to restaurants and bars across the country.

Ready for a hassle-free ice machine experience? Want to save money on your next restaurant or bar ice machine?

Get started with an Easy Ice subscription.

Restaurant Ice Machine