Is your ice supply not keeping up with your business’s demand? Ice supply problems can be caused by heat. In the most basic of equations, more heat equals less ice. But does it matter where the heat is coming from? Factors such as hot water, hot air, or both can affect production and create the problem of your ice maker not making enough ice.
This blog breaks down the effects of heat on ice production, what it means for your business’s ice supply, and what you can do to increase your ice supply (hint: it might not mean cooling things down).
How Heat Affects Ice Production
What many business owners don’t realize is that every ice machine has a capacity for production (amount of ice it can make in a 24-hour period) set by the manufacturer based on ideal ambient air temperature and incoming water temperature.
Expectation versus reality isn’t just a funny meme on Instagram. We all know ideal circumstances are rarely what occurs in real life. Real-life temperature variances affect businesses relying on a certain ice production.
Every ice machine service manual has a spec sheet that shows how increasing water temperature or increasing ambient air temperature lowers the ice maker’s production rate. If you are like most people and didn’t read your ice maker’s service manual front to back, you may now be frowning at your ice maker, wondering why it can’t keep up with the production you thought you signed up for.
What Your Ice Maker Needs
Ice machines work best in optimal temperatures of 70-degree air and 50-degree water. If you plan on installing your automatic ice machine in a hot environment, those are tough temperatures to maintain. When you install commercial ice equipment in a hot room, it forces the unit to work harder to produce ice and slows ice production. When a room gets too hot (over 100 degrees), you could easily end up with an ice maker not making ice altogether. Typically, you’ll notice a decrease in production and realize your ice maker is not making enough ice for your business needs before the machine shuts down altogether. If your ice machine has completely stopped making ice and it’s not hot, it could be due to a freeze-up or another issue that you can troubleshoot in our guide here.
Easy Ice has installed more than 25,000 ice machines across the country. We perform a detailed site survey for every ice machine we install, to ensure its performance year after year. We want to share with you some of the ways you can maintain your ice machine’s performance if you’re dealing with a high-heat workplace.
Many people have a hard time believing air temperatures can climb as high as 100 degrees in their establishment without them noticing it. And that may be true. Sometimes the overall heat in the kitchen or room where the ice machine is stored isn’t 100 degrees, and there can still be an issue. That’s because ice machines can develop a microclimate where the temperature around the machine is much higher than the rest of the environment.
Easy Ice studies have shown that the air recirculating through the ice machine can be up to 25 degrees hotter than the ambient room temperature when measured at a point less than 5 feet away from the ice machine!
When ice machines operate in temperatures higher than 100 degrees, a lot of issues can occur, like:
- Ice in your bin will melt faster
- The ice maker won’t make enough ice
- Damage to the unit
Heat Can Melt Ice in Your Ice Storage Bin
The most obvious affect heat can have on your ice supply is ice melting in your ice storage bin.
Once the machine drops a batch of ice, it remains in the bin until it gets scooped away or eventually melts.
While the ice bin is insulated, it is not a freezer. It’s more like those hard-plastic coolers you take along on picnics. If it were a freezer, your ice would be a solid block and not the cubes you need.
You can reduce the amount of ice that melts by keeping the bin door closed whenever possible.
The longer the bin door stays open, the more your ice is exposed to warm air, and the more quickly the stored ice will melt.
Now that you understand the effect heat has on an ice machine, let’s identify what can cause the temperature around an ice maker to reach 100 degrees.
Temperature Around the Machine Can Cause Your Ice Maker to Not Make Ice
The Secret to a Long-Lasting Ice Maker?
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The most obvious problem that causes ice machines to overheat is warm air in the room. Warm air from the environment can mix with heat from the machine can cause big problems!
As we mentioned earlier, you want the room temperature to be in the 70s to help control the temperature immediately surrounding the machine. We’ve written extensively about the relation between heat and an ice machine ice cube production rate. See our Hoshizaki Ice Machine Production Guide and Manitowoc Ice Machine Production Guide for more details.
Whether it’s rising temperatures in the summer or heat-generating appliances like an oven heating the environment, installing the machine in a room with central air conditioning will allow you to control the temperature in the room.
Keeping the room around 70 degrees will ultimately increase your ice production, reduce your energy costs, and prolong the life of the ice machine.
This is why choosing the right installation area for your ice machine can limit potential problems in the future. At Easy Ice we perform a detailed site survey to identify these areas before we install an ice machine. Installing an ice machine in a cool, temperature-controlled room can extend the life of your machine and reduce the amount of expensive ice machine repairs it will need.
Ventilation Around the Ice Machine
An air-cooled ice machine uses a fan to suck air in the front of the ice maker and across the condenser to cool (i.e. remove the heat) from refrigerant, that’s used to produce ice.
The machine vents hot air through the rear of the ice maker, which is usually 6-8 inches away from the wall.
When the warm air slams into the wall, it will try to move in all directions.
However, if the air is restricted by the ceiling, walls, or other equipment, it will drift back towards the fan that’s sucking air in.
The hot air then reenters the ice machine. It’s this “hot air recirculation” that ends up causing a microclimate.
We have seen this scenario occur in 85-degree kitchens. The ice machine continually recirculates the air, which forces the machine to work longer and harder to create the ice. All that work causes the unit to generate more heat, which results in an ice maker not making ice.
To prevent this, make sure that your ice machine is in a space with enough ice machine ventilation. If the ice maker is too close to the wall or installed in a cabinet or cubby, the lack of airflow can lead to an overly hot microclimate.
Boxes and clutter can also block airflow above, below, or around the machine, so don’t store anything on top or around the unit.
Other Heat Generating Appliances
If the ice machine is located next to another heat-generating appliance, like a furnace or oven, the air around the unit may reach 100 degrees or more.
During the planning phase, it is common for business owners to draw up a floor plan where every appliance in the room gets its own special location.
Unfortunately, floor plans do not typically account for cumulative heat. The room may be “room temperature” on paper, but add appliances, equipment, and people, and temperatures can rise quickly.
Ice Maker Not Making Ice? Installation is Key!
Given all we know about how placement factors into ice machine performance, here are 5 tips to keep in mind when choosing a location for your machine:
- Choose a climate-controlled room so you can maintain an ideal temperature.
- Ensure there is proper airflow and ventilation in the room to maintain a steady, room temperature consistent with the rest of the building, even when the ice machine is running non-stop!
- Pick a space with a minimum of 6″ wall clearance, 12″ side clearance, and 18″ overhead clearance.
- Avoid enclosed areas like closets or cubbies.
- Whenever possible, place the ice machine a good distance away from other heat-generating appliances.
At Easy Ice, we specialize in ice machine installation, so you can be sure your ice machine will keep performing to manufacturers specifications. We provide the best ice machines for Hoshizaki and Manitowoc. We also include routine ice machine service and cleaning to keep ice machine performing at 100%. We do it all for a low, monthly cost!
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