Stackable Units: The Best Ice Machine for Small Rooms?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Ice Machines 101

Ice machines give off a lot of heat and need at least a half of space on all sides to provide enough ventilation for that heat to escape. A lack of ventilation in a small room can lead to lower ice production, longer harvest times, or even complete shutdown. For workplaces that lack the space to support a large enough ice maker, there is an option. Stackable units can be placed on top of one another, increasing your ice production. So, are stackable units the best ice machines for small rooms?   

An Ice Machine Solution for Small Spaces 

The more ice you need, the bigger the machine. If you’re a high-volume business with limited space, it’s understandable you’ll want to get most ice in the smallest package.  

Some Hoshizaki models, like the IM-500, are stackable, which allow you to install up to three units on top of one another. These machines work together to produce extra ice, which they deposit into a single ice bin. If you have limited side-to-side space with a high roof, stackable units promise to be the best ice machine solution.   

The Pros and Cons of Stacking 

It’s true that Hoshizaki stackable ice makers will boost your ice production rate, but the way they are engineered creates some key downsides. You need to consider a few things before running out and buying additional units to stack on top of one another.  

Bin Space 

You need to consider how much bin space you have before stacking machines. Ice bins have a switch that stops ice production (along with connected stackable units) when ice begins to reach the top. This mechanism stops your ice machine from continually producing ice, so it doesn’t spill out of your bin and onto the floor.  

To calculate the amount of bin storage you need, you’ll need to do some simple math.   

Say you buy a stackable ice maker that produces 500 pounds of ice a day with a 400-pound ice bin. One day you install an extra unit that also produces 500 pounds of ice. Both machines will shut off when the ice level begins to reach 400 pounds. If you don’t at least double your bin size, you’re not getting the benefit of an extra 500 pounds of ice. 

Serviceability  

Stacked ice machines are also difficult to service and drastically limits the lifespan of the bottom machine.    

Stacking machines makes it near impossible to service the bottom unit. The units on top block evaporator plates and drop zones making ice machine cleaning a real chore. The only way to reach these components is if you remove the top stackable unit. Afterward, a technician must reinstall the machine which takes extra time and costs a lot more money. 

Temperature 

Finally, ice makers release a lot of heat, and stackable machines are no exception. The more stackable units you add, the hotter the room will get, and you’ll need to cancel out that extra heat. That may mean lowering the temperature or increasing the air flow by installing extra fans in the room. Overly hot rooms cause ice machines to work overtime, causing ice shortages or machine breakdowns.   

Are Stackable Machines Recommended? 

Here at Easy Ice, we believe stacking machines should be considered a last resort. If you own a small restaurant and your ice maker is not keeping up with your needs, you have other, more reliable options.  

The best ice machine for any room is a single unit, so check to see if your space will allow for a larger one. One ice machine is much easier to service than one with a stackable ice maker on top.    

If you don’t have room for a larger unit, consider finding space for a second one, such as another room. It may be more of a hassle, but again, two separate ice makers are going to have a longer lifespan than two stacked units.   

The only time you should consider a stackable unit is if none of the options we mentioned are possible. Your business still needs ice to operate, just make sure you have enough bin space and ventilation to support the additional units. You’ll also likely face issues in the future due to the lack of proper serviceability that comes with installing stackable units.  

Through years of experience, Easy Ice’s team of professionals can find the best ice machine solutions for smaller locations. Contact us at 866-easyice to find out how we can help.  

Stacking ice makers may seem like a convenient solution, but it’s often more trouble than it’s worth. If you want to increase your ice production, consider all your options before stacking ice machines. Remember, reliability outweighs convenience.  

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