One of the most critical things to consider before ice maker installation is where you place the unit. Proper ice machine placement helps to increase your ice production rate and limit future problems.
One major problem, called a microclimate, occurs when hot air is confined to small space and can’t disperse, staying trapped around the machine. Microclimates have the same effect as installing your ice machine in a high-temperature room, lower ice production and more problems that could require costly repairs.
In this article, we’ll identify the best places to install an air-cooled ice machine that will prevent microclimates and keep ice production to a maximum.
Temps are Everything
Before we get into microclimates, we should briefly discuss the effect high temperatures have on your ice production. We have published several pieces discussing the importance of keeping your air-cooled ice machine cool.
Ice machines operate best in areas where the air temperature is at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the water temperature is at 50 degrees. If the heat of the air or water rises, your ice maker’s production rate will begin to drop.
For instance, if your kitchen’s ice maker is operating in a 90-degree workspace, it will produce far less ice if that kitchen was 70-degrees. We’ve compiled a handy list detailing how heat affects production rates.
If that same kitchen ice maker were to continue to run in high heat over the course of a few years, it would drastically lower its lifespan. Prolonged exposure to high heat inevitably leads to component failures and costly repairs.
How Do Microclimates Form?
So, how do microclimates form and raise the internal temperature of your ice machine? It’s all about ice maker installation and placement.
An ice maker’s refrigeration system produces a lot of heat. Air-cooled ice machines use a fan to draw air from the outside environment into the unit. With proper ventilation, that air blows the heat out of the unit dispersing it into the surrounding air and out of the room.
Ice makers need a good amount of space for hot air to move. If an ice maker’s vents are blocked or covered by boxes or other debris, the air will have nowhere to go. Hot air will then hover around the unit, where it will eventually be pulled back into the machine by the fan. As heat continually recirculates through the unit, it effectively creates a microclimate.
Walls and low ceilings can also restrict air flow and cause microclimates. When an ice machine is installed too close to a wall or in a confined space, air can’t move. The hot air stays close to the unit, where the fan picks it up and recirculates it.
Microclimates are hard to detect because they don’t affect a room’s temperature. You could be operating an ice machine in 70-degree air, but the air temperature immediately surrounding the machine is much higher. Here at Easy Ice, we have witnessed air recirculating through the ice machine up to 25 degrees hotter than the ambient room temperature when measured at a point less than 5 feet away from the unit!
Ice Maker Installation Tips
Proper ice maker installation will help you avoid a microclimate and ensure that your machine can efficiently disperse heat into the surrounding environment.
The first thing to determine is where your ice machines vents are on the unit. Ventilation differs depending on the make and model of your ice maker. Most ice machines have front-to-back ventilation, meaning air is pulled in from the front of the unit and emitted out the back. Many Manitowoc ice machines have their air vents on the side.
When installing an ice maker, the vents must have enough clearance for hot air to escape. We recommend ice machines have a foot and a half of clearance on all sides of the machine (including the ceiling). If you have limited space, at least make sure your ice machine’s vents have enough clearance. For instance, if you have an ice maker with front-to-back ventilation, you need to provide one and a half feet of space in the back of your machine.
Don’t Use Your Ice Machine as a Table
Once you find that perfect spot with enough space for your ice maker, you still need to make sure employees don’t block the vents by placing objects on the machine. Here at Easy Ice, we’ve seen some businesses use their ice machine as additional shelving. Don’t do this!
Objects like boxes or containers can limit airflow just as much as a wall or ceiling. Clutter belongs in a closet or pantry, not on your ice machine.
Just remember, ice machines will work hard for you, but they need space to operate effectively. Make sure your ice machine is in an area that provides plenty of airflow with cool temperatures throughout. That will maximize your ice production rate and limit the number of problems your unit will face in the future.
Go with Easy Ice
With our ice maker subscriptions, we follow a rigid installation checklist to ensure units are working at peak performance. Let us worry about ice maker installation and maintaining the ice machine! Call 866-EasyIce or request a quote online.