5 Things to Avoid When Buying an Ice Machine

When it comes to buying an ice machine, the wide variety of models and options can seem both confusing and overwhelming. Before choosing a model, be sure to double-check that you have selected a commercial ice maker machine that can work with the unique setup of your business. The choice is yours, but here are five mistakes you should always avoid when buying an ice machine.

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1. Buying an Ice Machine that Cannot Produce Enough Ice for Your Needs

commercial ice machine

When searching for a new ice machine, be sure to find a model that meets the capacity needs of your business. At the same time, you should avoid buying an ice maker that is too large for your needs as it may increase your electric and water bills and will lead to other inefficiencies.

As you consider different ice machines, you should figure out exactly what your business requires in terms of output and then add 20% as a buffer. For more information on choosing the right size ice machine for your commercial business, check out this ice machine sizing chart.

2. Buying an Ice Machine that is Incompatible with Your Plumbing

Because ice machines require a constant supply of water, you must choose a unit that is compatible with your business’s existing plumbing. Failure to do so can lead to undersized cubes, leaky inlet valves, or a failing grade from your local health inspector. You'll also need to place your ice maker near a floor drain, which will collect excess water. To learn more about floor drain placement and how to connect a drain to your existing plumbing, check your local building codes.

3. Buying the Wrong Type of Ice Machine

commercial ice maker

Buying the right type of commercial ice maker for your business is essential to producing enough ice during busy shifts. There are three main types of ice makers: modular, undercounter, and countertop.

Modular Ice Machines

Modular ice machines (also known as ice machine heads) are designed to sit on top of an ice machine bin, which must be purchased separately. Modular ice machines can produce between 250 and 1,000 lbs. of ice per day and are a smart choice for large foodservice establishments like cafeterias or for businesses that are packaging ice in ice bags for retail sale.

Undercounter Ice Machines

Undercounter ice machines combine an ice machine head with a storage bin. These units are designed to fit under standard 40” counters and produce around 350 lbs. of ice per day, making an undercounter ice maker machine a great choice for bars, restaurants, and hotels.

Countertop Ice Makers

Countertop ice makers are designed to sit on your countertops, so they're perfect for smaller establishments that don't have the necessary floor space for larger models. Most of them also dispense water and come with a small ice bin. These units can produce up to 400 lbs. of ice per day, making them a good choice for cafes, diners, and bars.

4. Buying an Ice Machine with the Wrong Kind of Condenser

ice machine air condenser

Another important aspect of choosing an ice maker for your business is selecting a unit with the appropriate condenser. There are three main types of condensers: air-cooled, water-cooled, and remote-cooled.

Air Cooled Condenser

An ice machine with an air-cooled condenser is the most economical choice. These units use the ambient air in the room to cool down and do not require water, which will keep your water bill from going up. Keep in mind that these models require a 6” minimum clearance around their air intake and discharge areas.

Water Cooled Condenser

Water-cooled ice machines work well in smaller spaces that do not have enough clearance to fit air-cooled models. These units connect directly to your existing plumbing and are a good choice for areas where the ambient air temperature is greater than 80 degrees Fahrenheit or places where the air contains a high level of dust or other contaminants.

Remote Cooled Condenser

Remote cooled ice machines have an air-cooled condenser that is completely independent of the ice maker. These condensers are usually mounted outdoors, typically on a roof or exterior wall. Remote cooled ice machines are also quieter than their air and water-cooled counterparts due to the distance between the unit and its condenser. These products are typically used only if conditions prevent the use of water or air-cooled models.

5. Neglecting to Clean and Maintain Your New Ice Machine

ice machine cleaner

Don't skimp on a water filter or descaler for your commercial ice maker machine. Spending money up front on relatively inexpensive maintenance products can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the future. Plus, your ice will taste much better when made from clean, filtered water. Also, don't forget to clean your ice machine regularly to avoid limescale buildup and mold. You'll want to clean its water system, inspect the air filters, and check the water filtration system before thoroughly sanitizing the interior of your ice bin. Afterward, you should observe at least two cycles of ice production to ensure that your machine is completely clean.

Selecting the perfect ice machine is an important aspect of your restaurant's beverage service. With the variety of different styles and configurations out there, it's important to understand what is available To find the best product for your business. By avoiding these 5 key mistakes frequently made when purchasing an ice maker, you'll end up with a high-quality piece of equipment that will serve your business well for years to come.

Posted in: Management & Operation|By Nora Fulmer
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