Understanding Capacity Ratings for Commercial Ice Cube Machines

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Capacity ratings for commercial ice cube machines can be confusing. Lack of understanding can lead business owners to assume their ice makers aren’t working correctly or choose the wrong sized unit for their ice needs.

Below we’ll explain how to read two important ratings:

  • Production capacity ratings – Measures how much ice a commercial ice cube machine produces.
  • Ice storage bin capacities – Measures the amount of ice an ice bin can hold.

Production Rates: Maximum Capacity vs. AHRI Capacity


Both Maximum and AHRI ratings measure the amount of ice an ice maker produces over 24 hours, but at different ambient temperatures:

Maximum Capacity – Measures ice production over 24 hours under "ideal" temperatures. Ice makers perform at their very best when the air temperature around the machine is at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the water entering the machine is at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll find that commercial ice cube machines produce the most ice under these conditions.

AHRI Capacity – Maintaining a 70/50-degree air/water temperature isn't easy, which is why AHRI Capacity measures 24-hour ice production under "typical" temperatures. This rating measures 24-hour ice production when the air around the unit is at 90 degrees and the water entering the machine is 70 degrees. Naturally, the amount of ice measured under these conditions will be lower than the Maximum Capacity at ideal temperatures.

Most ice machine models are named after their Maximum Capacity rating. For example, a Hoshizaki KM-600 has a Maximum Capacity of around 600 lbs (592 lbs to be exact) but it has an AHRI rating of 503 lbs.

Knowing the difference between these two numbers is particularly important when estimating your ice needs during the summer months when temperatures rise, and customers use more ice.

Ice Bin Storage Capacities


Commercial ice cube machines deposit ice into storage bins, where it stays until someone scoops it out.

Ice bins have a switch that measures the volume of ice and communicates to the ice maker to stop producing when it is full. This system prevents overfilling which can lead to freeze ups.

Just like ice makers, ice bins are generally named after their capacity. For example, a Hoshizaki B-500 ice bin holds around 500 lbs before the ice reaches the switch and shuts the ice maker off. Like production ratings, this measure comes with a caveat.

Storage capacity ratings measure the maximum volume of ice a storage bin can hold assuming it's leveled off, which isn't possible without user assistance. When ice drops, it typically forms in the shape of a mound that peaks. Unless a person levels out the ice as it falls, that peak will reach the switch and stop ice production.

Typically, an ice machine holds about 80-85% of its maximum capacity before reaching the bin switch. That means a 500 lbs bin will hold roughly 400 lbs of ice without leveling. This is expecially important to consider during off hours, when employees will not be there to level the ice in the bin.

One of the benefits of the Easy Ice program is that we work with you to select the perfect ice machine that fits your needs. Our Upsizing Program ensures you don’t get stuck with the wrong ice maker or end up spending money to buy a larger machine.

Let’s Talk Capacity Ratings


Our team of Ice Machine Experts can help you find the perfect ice capacity for your business!