Modular, Undercounter, Countertop? There are Different Types of Ice Makers for Every Need.
Ice makers come in all shapes and sizes to fit different business needs. There are machines that fit under a counter top, large high-capacity machines, and even machines that stack on top of one another. If you’re wondering which ice machine would work best for your business, we listed the different types of ice makers so you can make an informed decision.
Modular Ice Machines
Modular ice machines are different from other types of ice machines because they are an al a cart unit, so to speak. To use a modular ice machine, you need to install it onto a separate bin or dispenser.
These types of ice makers are the most common type of unit produced by commercial ice machine manufacturers such as Hoshizaki and Manitowoc. They are an excellent choice for most businesses because they offer plenty of options in terms of space a size. For instance, slimline modular ice machines can fit in narrow areas where low profile modular ice machines are made for workplaces with lower ceilings. Also, if you need more ice storage at some point in time, you can purchase a larger ice bin, without having to buy a whole new ice machine in the process.
Modular ice machines generally produce the largest output of ice, which is why most businesses that need a lot of ice on hand prefer to go with a modular unit.
Modular ice machines come in all sizes and production rates ranging from 45 pounds to over 3000 pounds of ice a day.
Stackable Ice Machines
While stackable ice machines are technically also a modular style of ice maker, they differ in that you can stack multiple units on top of one another.
Stackable ice makers are designed for high-volume workplaces with limited space. Rather than purchase two separate modular units, which need two bins to store ice, you can install the two units to dispense ice into a single ice storage bin for quicker recovery time when dealing with limited space.
There are some negative sides to choosing a stackable ice machine setup. For one, you need plenty of ceiling room since you’ll be stacking the machines on top of one another. Stackable installations still require about a foot and a half of space on each side of the unit, including the ceiling, or else heat will linger around the machines and cause problems such as lower ice production and machine damage.
Another problem with stackable ice machines is that they are tough to clean and service. By stacking on one unit on top of another, you make it nearly impossible to clean and maintain the bottom unit. Technicians are forced to do a full deinstall to separate the machines and clean them individually. Ice machines that don’t receive regular cleaning and maintenance suffer from repeated problems which results in an overall lower lifespan than single units.
For these reasons, you should only consider buying a stackable unit if you absolutely can’t find room for two individual machines.
Self-Contained Ice Machines
Self-contained ice machines come with the bin built into the unit. Many different types of ice makers from countertop, undercounter, specialty units fall under this category as well. There is no way to separate the ice machine from the bin. These units tend to be smaller than modular units with a bin attached, so they’re a good option for smaller businesses who use around 60-300 pounds of ice a day.
Many self-contained ice makers are small enough to fit under a countertop as well, making them an excellent option for bars or food trucks.
Undercounter Ice Machines
Undercounter ice machines have a low profile and measure below 41” in height. To save space, virtually all these machines are self-contained units. These types of ice machines are designed to fit under a countertop or bar. Unlike under-bar bins which need to be refilled repeated throughout the day, bartenders and other staff have immediate access to their own ice supply.
Undercounter ice machines often feature front-in, front-out airflow, which pulls ambient air from the front of the unit and emits the hot air out the front as well.
Some under-counter units, like the KM-230, are also ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. These units have bins that are easily accessible for people in wheelchairs.
Countertop Ice Machines
Countertop ice machines are designed to fit on top of a counter or bar so that staff can have easy access to ice. There are a few home models on the market that have very low ice production rates, but enough for a small get-together or everyday home use.
Many commercial-grade countertop units are dispensers, which drop ice directly into a container either by pressing a button or lever. Overall, these types of dispensers are far more sanitary, since staff and customers don’t have to retrieve the ice by hand.
These types of ice machines are very popular in self-service stations, sandwich shops, burger joints, and other fast-casual dining establishments. Hoshizaki countertop ice makers are also an excellent addition to office breakrooms where many people have access to ice.
Popular countertop models include the DM-200B.
Pick the Right Machine Type that Works for You
Whatever machine you pick, make sure it’s the best option for your business. An under-counter ice machine may seem like a great addition to your bar, but if your bar goes through 600 pounds of ice a day, you’ll probably need a larger, modular unit. Stackable ice machines may seem like a great solution for increasing ice production while limiting space, but if you have room for another separate unit, you’ll get more ice in the long run. If you’re in the market for a new ice machine for your business, give us a call, and one of our helpful Ice Experts will help find the perfect ice maker that fits your business needs.
As the Co-Founder and COO of Easy Ice, John Mahlmeister has been working in the commercial ice machine industry since 2009. Co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, Easy Ice is the only national provider of full-service ice machine subscriptions in the industry. Since Easy Ice was founded, the number of ice machines under its management has grown to over 30,000 units across 47 states, with no signs of slowing down.
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