Everything You Need to Know About Hospital Ice Makers

Healthcare facilities need clean ice to hydrate patients and treat injuries. Hospital cafeterias use nugget ice to serve employees, patients, and visitors. A high-quality hospital ice maker is the best way to provide plenty of ice to your patients and staff.

To help you choose the best ice machine for your healthcare facility, we’ve put together this handy guide to answer all your hospital ice maker questions.

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A Guide to Hospital Ice Maker

What Types of Hospital Ice Makers Are There?

Hospital ice machines come in different shapes and sizes to meet specific needs. The type of hospital ice maker or ice dispenser you choose can help you to make things easier for your staff while satisfying patient needs.

Below are some of the most common types of ice makers for healthcare needs:

  • Modular Ice Machines

    Modular Ice Machines

    Modular ice machines require a bin for ice storage. They dispense ice directly into an ice storage bin, where staff can scoop ice out into glassware and other containers. These are popular machines in facilities that use a lot of ice, like cafeterias. The size of these hospital ice makers range from 50-3000 lbs of ice a day.

    Learn More About Modular Ice Machines

  • Stackable Ice Machines

    Stackable Ice Machines

    Stackable ice machines allow you to install 2-3 units on top of one another, to double or triple your daily ice production. These machines still require you to purchase an additional ice storage bin or dispenser to store the ice. Stackable units can be great option for high-volume businesses that don’t have a lot of extra room to fit two ice makers. Keep in mind, multiple stackable ice makers are much harder to service than a single large ice maker.

    Learn More About Stackable Ice Machines

  • Commercial ice Dispenser

    Commercial Ice Dispensers

    Commercial ice dispensers can produce their own ice or require an ice maker installed on top. These ice machines produce between 500-800 lbs. of ice a day. Some dispensers also dispense water as well. These ice machines are the most sanitary, because they dispense the ice cubes directly into the glass, instead of a staff member having to use a scoop.

    Learn More About Commercial Ice Dispensers

  • Countertop Dispenser

    Countertop Ice Makers

    Countertop ice makers are very popular in healthcare settings because they limit the chance of accidental contamination. These machines dispense ice directly into a container at the press of a button. Your staff won’t have to use a scoop to grab the ice, which decreases the chance of contaminating the ice supply.

    Learn More About Countertop Ice Makers

What Are the Best Hospital Ice Types?

Hospital ice chips (sometimes referred to as nugget ice or flake ice) were designed with healthcare in mind. These types of ice are soft and chewable for patients who have a hard time swallowing liquid. A hospital ice chip maker creates moldable ice that makes it easy to ice injuries without cutting through plastic bags.

Nugget Ice

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice (also called cubelet ice) is soft and chewable. Patients who have a hard time swallowing can chew on ice to stay hydrated. The soft texture is easy on teeth as well. While not as moldable as flake ice, nugget ice cools around elbows and knees more efficiently than cubed ice.

Flake Ice Machine

Flake Ice

Flake ice has the consistency of snow. It’s also soft and chewable, but it has less structure than cubelet ice, making it more moldable. Flake ice won't cut through bags and is great for icing wounds. The moldable texture provides an even cooling area around hard to ice areas like knees and elbows.

Hospital Ice Machine Cleaning and Sanitizing

Cleaning Your Ice Bin

Cleaning Tips

Mold and slime can grow in your ice bin over time and can pose a risk for people with compromised immune systems.

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Ice Machine Sanitization

Sanitization Schedule

Mold and slime can infect your ice machine. You should have your ice machine professionally sanitized twice a year.

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Ice Machine Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning Schedule

Routine cleaning can keep your ice machine free of mold and slime and protect your ice supply from contamination.

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Staying Sanitary with Ozone

More About Ozone

Ozone works 3000 times faster than chlorine and helps our ice makers stay sanitary between professional cleanings.

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What Type of Ice Machine Condenser Do I Need?

Your ice machine condenser helps to cool refrigerant and emit heat away from the ice machine so it can run smoothly. There are three main types of ice machine condensers.

Air Cooled Ice Machines

The most common and cost-effective condensing unit for commercial ice makers. These systems use a fan to help cool condenser coils and emit hot air into the surrounding environment. Air cooled ice machines need plenty of space for hot air to escape into the environment. This is the most cost-effective and common condenser system you'll find on commercial ice machines.

View Our Air Cooled Ice Machines

How Much Does a Hospital Ice Machine Cost?

The average hospital patient requires 10 lbs of ice a day. Generally, hospitals choose smaller dispenser models on each floor to meet their patients’ ice needs. Cafeterias may require a larger ice machine, depending on how much visitors and staff they serve in a day. Smaller ice machines cost around $1,500, while larger ice machines can cost close to $10,000. If you’re purchasing a modular ice machine for your cafeteria, you’ll also need to buy an ice storage bin to store the ice. Beyond the retail price of the ice making machine, there are also hidden costs to take into account:

Maintenance and Cleaning

Maintenance and cleaning are vital to a healthcare facility because they help ensure your ice machine is producing clean ice. Cleaning gets rid of mold, slime, or microorganisms that may harm patients with weakened immune systems. Preventive maintenance keeps the ice machine in working order. Routine maintenance also allows technicians to identify potential issues that may require expensive repairs if they are not fixed. Manufacturers suggest 2 preventive maintenance visits a year. They also suggest 2 cleanings per year, which run around $250 per visit.

Water Filters

Water filters protect your ice machine from particles and sediment that can cause damage to the unit. Depending on the filter’s rating, they will require replacing roughly every six months. Clogged water filters will reduce your water flow and cause your machine to produce smaller, malformed ice cubes. Ice machine water filter prices range between $15-$100 depending on the brand. Ice machines in challenging water environments will likely require additional water filtration methods along with a standard sediment filter.


Repair costs depend on how severe the damage is, and which component may need replacing. Generally, repairs cost between a few hundred dollars or a few thousand. Here are some examples of common ice machine repairs and their estimated costs:

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

If repairs take too long, it may force you to buy extra ice at retail costs. A 20 lb. bag of ice costs about $4.50.

Try Our All-Inclusive Hospital Ice Maker Subscription

Our commercial ice equipment subscription is more than just an ice machine lease. We include preventive maintenance, professional cleaning, and repairs in your affordable monthly payment. Hospital ice machine issues can happen at any time of day or night, so we also offer 24-hour customer support. No need to keep track of your ice machine service schedule. We do it for you! We'll call you when your nugget ice maker is due for its next service and find the best time that works for you! We'll even supply you with free backup ice if your ice machine goes down for repairs.

We specialize in keeping hospital ice machines clean and running efficiently. The healthcare industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world, which is why we take cleaning and sanitizing hospital ice machines seriously. A well-maintained ice machine will not only ensure patient health and safety; it will save your hospital or clinic money in repairs and utilities.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a hospital ice maker, and we're here to help! Our team of ice machine experts can guide you through the decision-making process and answer any questions you have.    
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