How do I Determine the Right Size and Model Commercial Ice Machine for My Business?

Reading Time: 4 minutes Ice Machines 101, Small Business Resources

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When selecting the size and model ice machine that best suits your needs, there are three primary decisions to make:

  1. Ice type:  Cubed, Cubelet, or Flaked.
  2. Condenser type:  Air-cooled, Water-cooled, Remote-condenser.
  3. Usage/Capacity:  How much ice will you need in a 24-hour cycle.

This FAQ answers the question of Usage/Capacity.  Click on the above links to find out about Ice Type and/or Condenser Type.

Sounds easy, right?

  1. Figure out how much ice you will need during a 24-hour period based on the Hoshizaki Ice Usage Guide.
  2. Read the production specs for the equipment.
  3. Give yourself 20% cushion.

Here’s an example:

  • You have a restaurant that serves 150 guests over the course of a day.
  • At 3 drinks per guest, that means 450 lbs during the day.
  • A KM600MAH can produce up to 600 lbs in 24 hours.

90% of the time this simple calculation gets you in the right ballpark….and as far as celebrity chef Robert Irvine is concerned, that is all you should want to know.

According to Chef Robert Irvine, “the major operating reason restaurants fail is that owners spend too much time on issues that don’t matter to their customers or their shareholders.”

Let’s take that same 600# ice machine noted above. Easy Ice charges $129/month – a little over $4/day.  If you purchase your own ice machine, install it, pay for filters, pay for preventive maintenance, pay for repairs, and pay for bagged ice when the machine is broken, your costs will average out to approximately $4/day.  See our Ice Machine Cost of Ownership research.

Our conclusion:  Your time and your capital are simply too valuable to spend it on buying and owning an ice machine.

It doesn’t matter if you make decisions for restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, construction sites, or office buildings, the bottom line is you need to spend your time on issues that move the needle.  If you can’t markedly change your result by investing your time and capital in selecting, installing, or maintaining an ice machine – Don’t do it!

If we haven’t convinced you to leave the details to us, here are the additional variables you need to consider:

  1. What is peak usage during a continuous usage cycle?  Ice machines produce at a steady pace over a 24-hour period, while usage is lumpy.  You need to build an inventory to get through the heavy usage period.
  2. How much ice does your bin hold?  Ice piles up in a pyramid, which means the ice machine thinks the bin is full at about 80% of what ice manufacturers market.  A poorly sized bin can cut your machine’s output by 30/40%!
  3. How warm will the incoming water be during the summer?  How warm is the surrounding air?  How well ventilated is the area around the ice machine?  Ice manufacturer’s ratings show that production can fall off by 25% based on these factors alone.  If the air temperature gets to 100 degrees, the machine will likely shut down completely as a precautionary measure.
  4. How dirty is your external environment?  Grease, dirt, and dust will build up on the condenser and compressor and can reduce the machine’s efficiency by 10-15%.
  5. What’s in your water?  Water with high mineral content can result in significant scaling between cleanings.  According to Restaurant Hospitality, a 1/8th inch layer of scale on an ice machine can reduce efficiency by 25%.
  6. To close this out with economics, remember that you will likely to pay $0.15-$0.20 per pound for packaged ice.  The difference in cost between a 600# and 900# ice machine from Easy Ice is approximately $40/month.  You’ll burn that up buying 300# of packaged ice.

Invest your time where you can make a difference and leave the ice to us!

Our team is available to help you get started today!

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