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There are so many commercial ice machines out there making it difficult to decide which ones to invest in. The first question you should be asking yourself is how much you will need and how often. It makes little sense to purchase a large ice maker when your business doesn’t serve many patrons daily and vice versa. Once you have established how much you need – the rule of thumb is 300g per patron – you need to choose the type of machine that fits your business. Commercial typically one of the following: modular ice machines, self-contained machines, undercounter ice machines and countertop ice dispensers.

Modular Ice Machines

Designed to sit on top and supply ice to ice machine bins, modular ice makers can also be used with ice dispensers and soda dispensers, and allow you to swap out bins and bases. They typically produce between 140 to 330kg daily.

The modular gourmet ice cube maker by Brema.

By Brema

The modular fast ice machine by Brema

By Brema

The modular gourmet ice machine by Scotsman

By Scotsman

Self-contained Ice Machines

Unlike modular ice machines, these appliances come complete with their own bins or dispensers to assist with ice collection and production. They are generally larger than other ice makers but can be found in a range of sizes, allowing you to find one that best meets your needs.

The self contained gourmet ice cube maker by Brema.

By Brema

The self contained ice flaker by Brema.

By Brema

The self-contained ice machine with legs by Scotsman.

By Scotsman

Undercounter Ice Machines

As the name suggests, these appliances fit snugly under the counter are typically built as a self-contained unit, meaning they have their own ice bins. These are generally suited for small bars, cafes and restaurants.

The small self-contained ice maker by Scotsman.

By Scotsman

The small self-contained ice machine by Scotsman.

By Scotsman

Different Types of Ice

After you have chosen the type of ice machine for your business you must make sure they produce the kind of ice you need. Some types of ice melt slower while others may be easier to chew which allows you to use it for a variety of purposes.

Cube Ice

Cube ice is the preferred option for commercial businesses as they offer the best customer experience. This is because they melt slower than other types of ice, ensuring your drinks don’t dilute as quickly. Cube ice also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, so find the ones you like best.

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice is made from compacted flake ice and is thus softer, for this reason, it is the ideal, blender-friendly ice but can also be used for a variety of purposes like chilling drinks and food displays. It has a small cylindrical shape and is easy to chew.

Flake Ice

Flake ice is almost exclusively used in food and drink displays as they cool food quickly, keep it fresh and can easily be moulded into any shape. This type of ice is made just below zero degrees Celsius.

Different Types of Ice Machine Condensing Units

The next step is determining what type of compressor you want your ice machine to have.

Air Cooled

Air-cooled ice machines are typically your most energy-efficient ice machines because they don’t incur additional water costs. However, certain conditions must be in place in order for them to work, for instance, air-cooled ice makers must have at least 152mm distance from air intake and discharge areas.

Water Cooled

Water-cooled ice machines use water for cooling and are thus more expensive to use. It is recommended to use a water-cooled ice machine only in one of the following circumstances.

  • If the ambient temperature is above 26°C
  • If the area has air filled with contaminants
  • If there isn’t enough clearance for an air-cooled option

Remote Cooled

Typically only used if an air-cooled or water-cooled can’t be installed as it is much more expensive. These machines are air-cooled but the cooling condenser is put in a different place as the ice machine itself, normally outside with refrigerant lines connecting the two parts. This results in a much quieter and cooler ice machine.

Figuring Out How Much Ice You Need

Before you make a purchase, check the ice yield of the machine you are looking at. This will be described as how many kilograms of ice the machine produces in 24 hours. Always keep in mind that future consumption of ice could increase for instance with changing seasons or business expansion, so try to choose a machine that will you allow to deal with unpredictability.

Below you will find a list of estimates we have compiled to help you plan your purchase:

  • Restaurant: 500g of ice for every meal sold
  • Cocktail bar: 1kg of ice per seat
  • Beverage service: 148ml ice per 207-296ml cup, 237ml ice per 355-473ml cup and 355ml ice per 532-710ml cup

Benefits of Using More Than One Ice Machine

You might think its best practice to get all of your ice from one machine but what about its downtime? What happens if it breaks and you’re waiting for it to get fixed? If you use multiple smaller machines you can ensure you always have ice on hand in a crisis scenario. It will also help your staff get ice faster, cutting down service time as they can fetch ice from multiple sources.

External Factors That Affect Ice Output

You will find that ice makers are sized according to their ice output, however, there are factors that could affect prevent them from running optimally. Here’s how you can create the optimal environment for your ice maker.

  • Air temperature: Make sure you follow the ventilation and air temperature guidelines in the manual of your machine. Especially when using air-cooled ice machines, poor ventilation and high ambient temperatures can have a dramatic effect on output.
  • Water temperature: Make sure the water feeding into your system is the proper temperature. If it is too hot, the machine will have to work harder and consume more energy, resulting in lower output.
  • Water quality: Make sure your potable water is properly filtered as mineral deposits can form on the internal components of your machine, slowing down the flow of water into the machine.
  • Maintenance: Make sure to follow the machine’s manual on maintenance and cleaning if you want it to function optimally. If you do not properly clean the machine buildup can form inside it, constricting water flow and creating bad quality ice.

Installation Advice

Once you have bought your ice machine, you have a few things to consider before installing it. Place your ice maker in a location that not only has optimal ventilation but is also easy to reach for your staff. Make sure your ice machine has a cold water supply with a shutoff valve and a floor drain. As most machines are not equipped with a cord and plug, you will need to get an electrician to hardwire the machine for you.

Choosing the Right Ice Bin

When using modular ice machines you need to have a corresponding ice bin that captures and stores the ice you are making. Choosing the right ice bin can be just as tricky as choosing the right ice machine so we have created a list of tips for you to assist with your choice.

  • Size: Obviously the bin must have enough space for your ice output, however, we recommend you choose one that has a slightly larger capacity than the ice you use daily. However, avoid choosing a bin that is too big as it can result in wasted ice and it can become an excellent breeding ground for mould and bacteria.
  • Schedule: Choose a bin that matches your peak times so that you can plan your ice production in advance. If your business is only busy during very specific times, you can, for instance, choose a small ice machine with a larger bin so that you always have enough ice for those hectic periods.
  • Daily use: Keep in mind that your staff will be collecting ice as your machine continually produces it so you could actually choose a smaller bin than the capacity of the ice maker.
Modular gourmet ice cube maker bin.

By Brema

The modular fast ice maker bin by Brema.

By Brema

The ice bin by Scotsman.

By Scotsman

Use Filtered Water

There are so many benefits to using filtered water for your ice production from making beverages taste better to prolonging the life of your machine. Unfiltered water can create mineral deposits in your machine, which, as we explained previously, can prevent your machine from functioning optimally. In some cases, you can even void the warranty on your machine if you were using poor quality water.

Ice Machine Accessories

We offer a range of accessories that complement the use of your ice machines and make your staff’s life easier.

Ice Buckets and Scoops

Hygiene and food safety should be one of your top concerns in the foodservice industry so make sure your staff handles ice in the most cleanly fashion. You can use ice buckets to transport ice around the establishment and ice scoops provide your staff with a clean utensil to collect ice.




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