Commercial Ice Machine Guide

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Commercial Ice Machines Easy Ice

We’ve developed this handy guide to answer all of your questions!

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How Much Does an Ice Machine Cost?

A commercial ice machine can run anywhere between $1,500 for 50 to 80-lb self-contained ice machine to well over $10,000 for a high-volume ice machine with a high-capacity bin.  
An ice machine requires at least two preventive maintenance and cleaning events in addition to routine repairs. Over the life of an ice machine, maintenance, cleaning, and repair costs can easily exceed the amount of the unit. This is initially why many business owners choose to rent rather than buy an ice machine. 

How Do I Choose the Right Type of Machine for My Business?

There are all types of ice makers on the market that are designed to meet specific business needs. Whether you run a restaurant, hotel, clinic, or manufacturing plant, there is likely an ice machine that is perfect for you. Below are some of the commercial ice machine types and what they do:

Modular Ice Machines:  Produce between 250 – 3000 lbs of ice a day and require an ice storage bin or dispenser to collect the ice.

Stackable Ice Machines: Ice machines that you can install on top of one another. You can install 2-3 units to double or triple the amount of ice you can produce.

Undercounter Ice Machines: Measure below 40” high to fit underneath counters and bar tops. They produce between 50-350 lbs of ice a day.

Commercial Ice Dispensers: Come either self-contained or requiring a modular unit. Production is based on the ice machine installed on top. Some dispensers also dispense water as well.  

Countertop Ice Makers: Designed to fit on top of a counter for self-serve use. A countertop ice machine comes either self-contained or requiring a modular ice machine. Production ranges based on the accompanying ice machine.  

How Do I Select the Right Type of Ice Cube?

There are different ice shapes to meet varying business needs. Some inlcude: 

  • Crescent Ice – Solid ice cube that melts slowly and displaces liquid in glassware better than square cubesDesigned to reduce splashes and spills. 
  • Dice and Half Dice Ice – Traditional, square-shaped cubes that look great in cocktails or soft drinks.  
  • Square Ice Large, solid, slow-melting cubes that help drinks retain their flavor for longer. Perfect for high-end cocktails and spirits  
  • Nugget Ice – Soft and chewableGreat for small children and patients who have a hard time swallowing liquid.  Nugget ice machines are sometimes reffered to as an ice chip maker.
  • Flake Ice – Delicate moldable texture used to create dazzling food presentations. 

What Type of Ice Machine Condenser Do I Need?

There are 3 types of condensing units commonly found in commercial ice machines: 

  • Air Cooled Ice Machines – The most common and cost-effective condensing unit for commercial ice machines. These systems use a fan to help cool condenser coils and emit hot air into the surrounding environment. 
  • Water Cooled Ice Machines – Use incoming water to help cool condenser coils. The water absorbs the residual heat and flushes it down the drain. Note that many cities do not allow water cooled ice machines due to increase of water usage.  
  • Remote Condenser Ice Machines – Similar to an air cooled condenser except the condenser unit is installed away from the ice machine, usually outdoors or in a large space with plenty of ventilation. 

Do I Need an Ice Machine Water Filter?

We install an ice machine water filter on every commercial ice machine we service.

Ice machine water filters help to trap contaminants, sediment, and mineral deposits that can hinder the effectiveness of your ice machine, producing less ice in the process. Excessive concentrations within the ice machine can ultimately lead to a breakdown.

Water filters are rated by microns. A 5-micron water filter will trap all particles equal or larger than 5 microns, while letting all other particles (like water molecules) to pass.

There are a three main ice machine filters we use in our commercial ice makers:

  • Standard Sediment Filters: Sediment filters trap particulates that can harm your ice machine while allowing water molecules to pass through unhindered. Great for all water conditions, but particularly necessary in hard water conditions.
  • Phosphate Filters: Used in addition to a standard sediment filter. Phosphate filters inhibit the chemical bonds of minerals that can form to create scale. Very useful in water conditions with high mineral content. Note: Phosphate filters should not be used in nugget and flake ice machines.
  • Carbon Filters: Often used in nugget and flake ice machines and some countertop ice machine models in place of a phosphate filter. Carbon filters trap harmful particles that can damage your ice machine. These filters also trap chlorine which effects the taste and odor of ice.

How Do I Size an Ice Machine?

The only way to choose the right machine is to find out how much ice you need to run your business every day. We’ve made it easy for you to estimate the amount of ice you’ll need with our handy Ice Machine Estimator. To size the correct ice machine and bin for your business, you should follow three criteria: 

  • Daily Ice Usage: How much ice does your business go through in a day? It’s important to consider the rate at which you use ice as well. Ice machines produce small batches of ice throughout the day, so if you happen to get a 600lb machine it will take 24 hours for the machine to replenish from empty.  
  • Peak Days: You should base your daily ice needs on your most busy daysFor instance, if you get an influx of business on Friday and Saturday nights, size based on those peak days.  
  • Bin Capacity: The amount of ice your bin can hold. A good rule to follow is add an additional 20% more ice than you need in a day. The extra ice acts as a buffer, just in case you run low.

What are the Ice Machine Installation Requirements?

You have to make sure your business can accommodate the ice machine you plan to install. We’ve provided a pre-installation checklist that details all the requirements commercial ice machines need to run. Ice machines have four general installation needs:  

  • Drainage – Ice melts, and that water needs to go somewhere. A floor drain is most common. 
  • Electrical – Ice machines generally run on two voltages, 115v (most common) and 220v (not as common). You may need an electrician to secure a 220v outlet. 
  • Water – Ice machines need water to run and your water line must deliver the proper amount. Commercial ice machines generally require 5 gallons a minute. You may need a plumber to optimize your water line for installation. 
  • Space – Air cooled ice machines (the most common type) need enough space to release that heat into the environmentAt least 1 ft of space on all sides (including the ceiling) is suggested, but more is even better. 

What Environmental Factors Can Lower My Ice Production Rate?

There are a few factors that can cause your ice machine’s production rate to lower. These factors overwork your ice machine, which will eventually lead to expensive repairs if they are left unchecked. Here are the factors you should look out for:

  • Air Temperatures – An important factor to maintain when operating an air cooled ice machine. Ideally, air cooled ice machines operate best when the surrounding air temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature rises, the ice machine must work harder to freeze a batch of ice. A temperature-controlled room is the best way to fight high ambient air temperatures.
  • Ventilation – Another must-have for air cooled ice machines. When you install an air cooled ice machine in an environment with low ventilation, the hot air the unit produces has nowhere to go. Eventually that air will reenter the ice machine, overheating the unit.
  • Water Temperatures – Important for all ice machine types. Hot water simply takes longer to freeze than cooler water, which will overwork the ice machine and cause your ice maker to be slow making ice. Ideally, the water temperature should stay around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Water Condition – Water harbors all manner of contaminants that are perfectly safe for human consumption but can harm your ice machine. Water with high-mineral content (aka hard water) eventually leads to scale, a hard rock-like that can block water filters and cling to vital ice machine components.
  • Cleanliness – A dirty ice machine is less effective than a clean one. Dirt and grime can block water flow and insulate heat-emitting components that will raise the internal temperature of your ice machine. It’s important to get a professional ice machine cleaning at least twice a year.

What Type of Ice Machine Cleaners Can I Use?

There are many commercial grade cleaners on the market designed to clean an ice machine. It’s important to know which cleaners are compatible with your ice machine model: 

  • Acid-Based Descalers – Used to take mineral deposits off stainless-steel evaporator plates. These cleaners will damage nickel-plated evaporator plates, so make sure you know the type of evaporator plate in your ice machine. 
  • Nickel-Safe Descalers – Also used to clean mineral deposits off evaporator plates, but safe to use on nickel-plated (and stainless-steel) evaporators. 
  • Chlorine and Water – A mixture of 20% chlorine and 80% water cleans mold and slime from your ice machine and ice storage bin. Simply spray the affected area and wipe away any grime. Let air dry.  
  • Ozone Generators – Ozone generators are installed directly in the ice machine where they emit safe ozone gas which hinders the growth of mold and slime. Great for bakeries and breweries that produce a lot of yeast. 

Choosing an Ice Machine is Difficult, but We’re Here to Help!

We created our revolutionary commercial ice machine subscriptions because choosing the right ice machine for your business can be very intimidating. Even after you purchase the machine, keeping the machine running efficiently is a giant hassle.

With an Easy Ice subscription, we take care of everything for you! Our helpful Ice Machine Experts will help you choose the perfect ice machine for your business. Once we install it, we take care of all maintenance, cleaning, and repairs for a low, monthly payment.

4 Comments on “Commercial Ice Machine Guide”

    1. Mike Sallustio

      Thank you so much, Blessing!

      We’re glad to be of help. If you have any other questions about commercial ice machines, feel free to give us a call at 866-easyice (327-9423).

  1. Avatar

    Can you supply under counter units i.e., Manitowoc SM-50A. I have a unit that is leaking, not sure if it needs repairs or is shot, not sure what brand it is.

    I have the Manitowoc at another site. can you help me trouble shoot repair or replace?

    1. Mike Sallustio

      Hi Anthony,

      We do have under counter ice machines available in our subscription program. I’ll have one of our Solution Specialists email you shortly.

      If you need immediate support, you can give us a call at 866-327-9423 and one of our Customer Service Representatives can assist with your leaky ice machine.

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