A Breakdown of Ice Machine Types
At first glance, you might think that choosing an ice machine is a straightforward decision. However, choosing a suitable model requires that you review all the models in the market. Due to the availability of numerous ice types, there is great importance in choosing a model that best meets your needs. Commercial ice makers are mostly used in restaurants, bars, hospitals, and convenient stores. On the other hand, residential ice makers are meant for smaller storage spaces such as kitchen countertops.
Types of Ice Machines
There are various types of ice making machines in the market. Each unit is built differently, which highlights the importance of understanding their similarities and discrepancies. Generally, ice machines are classified as built-in, portable, self-contained, or modular.
Portable or Countertop Ice Makers
These ice machines are compact and do not require a permanent water connection. They similarly be plugged into a standard 110 V power outlet. To use a portable ice machine, you are only required to pour water into them. The machines are designed in a manner that allows you to put them on countertops. Their rate of ice production is also fast (as little as 10 minutes). However, they cannot store the ice for long.
The storage capacity of countertop ice machines is also low, which means that you need to constantly empty the machines when using them. Portable ice makers are recommended for residential purposes because they can easily be moved from one room to another. A portable ice machine can also come in handy during camping, tailgating, or boating trips. The small size means that you won’t have any problems as far as finding storage space is concerned.
Built-In and Under Counter Ice Machines
Just as the name suggests, these appliances feature ventilation at the front. This allows them to be fitted within or between cabinetry. It is advisable to seek the services of professionals when installing these machines since they need permanent water connection. Besides this certain models require drain lines. Under counter ice makers have a larger ice production and storage capacity than portable ice machines. They also keep the ice in frozen state for longer periods. In as much as they are expensive, they are a valuable asset, more so to restaurants.
Modular Ice Machines
These appliances are mostly used in establishments that require huge quantities of ice. Their production capacity is higher than that of under counter ice machines. The appliances are mostly used in busy restaurants, health facilities, and other establishments that require a lot of ice. Most modular ice machines need a separate component for ice collection purposes. A storage bin helps you to collect and store the ice before it is served. These bins are normally located beneath the appliance. The bins are similarly stackable.
You should consider buying modular ice machines if you need more than 300 pounds of ice per day. The machines guarantee dependable ice production for years. When buying modular ice machines, you should keep in mind the fact that they have condensers, which are either water or air-cooled. Those that are cooled by air require less water than water cooled units. This way, they are regarded to be ENERGY STAR certified.
Self-Contained Ice Machines
These ice makers are designed to manufacture and store ice within one unit. In as much as they require a smaller storage space than modular ice makers, self-contained units generally have a lower storage capacity and ice production rate. However, they are a good choice if you are faced with spatial challenges at your home or business premises.
Conditions for Optimal Ice Production
The rate of ice production is one of the factors used to distinguish different ice machine models. Normally, this is measured daily. For your machine to produce ice at an optimal rate, there are certain conditions that must be met. The ambient air temperature needs to be around 70°F. On the other hand, water temperatures need to be 50°F. If the ambient temperature is higher, expect your machine’s production rate to drop by at least 20 percent. Buildup of minerals within the system also lowers production. This highlights the significance of using clean water to produce ice.
The Importance of Water Filters
Water filters help in the removal of dirt, sediments, and mineral deposits from the system. These contaminants not only damage the machines in the long run, but also water down the quality of ice produced. Removing them enhances the taste of water, something that makes your beverages more enjoyable. It is advisable to change an ice machine’s water filtration system twice every year.
Drain Pumps vs. Gravity Drains: Which is Best?
Residential and commercial undercounter ice machines need to drain excess water and ice from the system. Typically, this is done via gravity drains and drain pumps. Gravity drains use the force of gravity to drain the system. A gravity drain works perfectly if the drain is within two feet of the appliance. In addition, the drain must be located lower than the machine’s drain port.
Drain pumps are designed to push excess water into the drain. Drain pumps come in handy if the drain is located more than two feet from the machine. It is also needed if the excess water has to move uphill at some point. Basically, there are two types of drain pumps. These are external and internal pumps. When using an external drain pump, you need to run one drain line from the machine to the pump. Another line runs from the pump towards the drain. Internal drain pipes are built inside an ice machine.
Advances in technology means that most models that are currently being produced come with impressive features such as LED lighting and display systems. Newer appliances similarly have advanced refrigeration technologies, which make ice production convenient and stress free. It is important to go through product reviews before buying or leasing an ice maker. Reviews can provide you with the details of all models that are under consideration. They also give you an opportunity to compare the pros and cons of each unit.