Why are Hoshizaki Ice Makers Slow to Harvest in the Winter?

Reading Time: 4 minutes Ice Machines 101, Troubleshooting

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It seems counterintuitive that cold weather might negatively affect ice machines, but it’s true. Hoshizaki KM series ice makers are unique in that they produce ice cubes individually. The design that makes this unique ice production possible is the same reason these types of ice makers slow during the colder months.

In this article, we’ll explain why Hoshizaki KM ice makers run slower during colder months – and why it’s a small price to pay for great ice.

How KM Ice Makers Form Ice

Hoshizaki’s KM series, the type of machines that make their patented crescent ice, create cubes individually rather than using a bridging method common in other ice makers. This method guarantees that the ice cubes don’t clump together in the ice storage bin, which requires someone to manually break the ice apart when they’re scooping it into a glass.

To guarantee that each cube forms individually and doesn’t get stuck to the evaporator plate during the harvest cycle, KM machines use a combination of water and hot gas (about a 90/10 ratio) to release cubes from the evaporator plate so they can dispense into the ice storage bin.

Hoshizaki ice machines use stainless-steel evaporator plates, which makes them very durable and suitable to clean with harsh cleaners that would otherwise damage other evaporator plates. While stainless steel has a ton of benefits, it’s not a great conductor of heat. As a result, Hoshizaki ice machines store hot gas collected from the ice making process and uses it to warm the evaporator plate. As this process occurs, water cascades over the evaporator plate, pulling the cubes off the plate. It’s an ingenious way to reuse resources to create a steady flow of ice.

As the harvest cycle continues, a thermistor (a device that acts as a thermometer) reads the outlet temperature from the ice machine’s evaporator plate. When the temperature reaches 48 degrees Fahrenheit, the machine begins a defrost timer that is set to stop the harvest cycle and start to freeze another batch of ice.

But what happens when the water coming into the machine is ice cold?

Why KM Ice Makers Slow in the Winter

Depending on your location, winters can be freezing, and as a result, incoming water is cold as well. When the water entering your ice machine is below 45 degrees, it takes longer for the outlet temperature to reach 48 degrees.

The longer it takes for the suction line 48 degrees, the longer it takes for the ice machine to count down the end of the harvest cycle. Although there is a timer that essentially forces the machine to harvest the ice, it will still have an extended harvest cycle. Repeated extended harvest cycles mean it will take longer for your ice machine to drop ice and eventually your unit will shut down into a safe mode – and that means no ice.

What Can You Do About Cold-Water Conditions?

Unfortunately, controlling the incoming temperature of the water is almost as difficult as managing the weather outside, but there are some things customers can do to help.

The first step is to find the temperature of your incoming water, which is a relatively simple process.

First, find a water source on the same line as your ice machine. The source can be a sink or faucet. Next, turn on the cold water and run it for at least 30 seconds, this will expel any residual water sitting in the water line. After a minute, measure the temperature with a probe thermometer. A standard meat thermometer, the kind you can find in almost any grocery store, will do just fine. Hold the thermometer under the water for at least one minute and record the temperature. If the water is below 48 degrees, you should expect the ice machine to produce ice slower than usual.

If you’re an Easy Ice customer, our technicians will measure the temperature of your water during your biannual preventive maintenance visits.

So, what can you do if your ice machine is operating in cold water conditions?

First, make sure your ice machine is in a temperature-controlled room. You may not have control of the weather outside, but you can at least keep the temperature inside warm enough. Setting the air conditioning between 70-75 degrees will help the water heat up as it flows over the evaporator plate.

The only other thing you can do is insulate any exposed pipes. You’ll most likely need a plumber to identify the pipes that are exposed to the cold and insulate them.

If you own a KM ice machine in an area of the world where incoming water can reach below 45 degrees, you should expect your ice machine’s harvest cycles to be longer. By making sure your ice machine is in a temperature-controlled room and by taking care of any exposed pipes, you can get the most out of your KM machine during the cold winter months.

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