A Side by Side Comparison: Portable and Under Counter Ice Makers
Ice has not always been as accessible as it is now. In the old days, producing ice was expensive business, and it could only be purchased by large companies or people with lots of cash to spare. The 20th century signaled the beginning of the modern ice age because of the rapid developments that took place in the refrigeration industry. Even then, getting ice for personal use was time consuming. People were required to either freeze their own ice or run to stores and purchase bags of ice (which were difficult to store as well).
There are 2 basic needs that ice machines cover, and they are namely commercial and residential needs. Entertaining at home was a nightmare when it came to providing enough ice for various sizes groups of people because the needs of different households were so diverse. The ice machine industry came up with two innovative solutions for this very problem: portable ice machines and under counter ice machines (both freestanding and fixed varieties).
There are thousands upon thousands of varieties of these machines, but before you get lost in the sea of machines out there, let us help you narrow down your choices by helping you decide what size and style of ice machine best suits your needs.
Portable Ice Makers
So, probably the most distinguishable difference between the two types is size, with the portable machines being more space saving and compact. They reach heights between 12 to 15 inches, and usually don’t exceed a foot in width. This means that they can be stored almost anywhere with the least amount of hassle.
Their size also allows them to be extremely portable (as the name suggests). This makes these machines ideal for people who lead an active lifestyle, and who love outdoor activities like camping, fishing and boating with family and friends.
Under Counter Ice Makers
They are larger than portable models but they are designed to fit snugly under counters, and don’t require much floor space as they usually measure between fifteen and twenty inches from side to side.
Their size makes them less portable but some models can be used outdoors when there is a greater need for ice production in larger quantities like parties and weddings.
Production Capacity and Storage
Portable Ice Machines
These machines are ideal for households with smaller needs as they usually produce between about 12 lbs and 30 lbs of ice daily. In comparison with the 10lb store bought bags, these machines are sure to save you plenty of unnecessary car rides!
They do not store large quantities of ice, and ice that is produced needs to be removed relatively fast (especially when used outdoors), because of the size of the machine. Some machines do come with a feature that recycles the melted water to form fresh ice cubes. If outdoor use is what you want a machine for, this might be a helpful feature you want to look out for.
Under counter Ice Machines
These machines produce vastly more ice than their portable counterparts with their smaller machines sometimes churning out 45 lbs of ice and their larger machines producing more than 80 lbs of ice. There is a much greater range of production capacities to be found in this category of machine, so if your needs are larger, these are the machines you need to be looking at.
Their larger storage capacities also ensure a steady and constant flow of ice at any given time.
These machines require no installation as they just need to be plugged into a power source. They need no access to water (it needs to be poured in by the user) or drainage. They can just sit on your countertop making ice for you at the push of a button.
Under counter or Freestanding Residential Models
These machines need access to a water source, and many of them also need to be connected to a drain. Professional installation is recommended, so this might be something you want to add to your budget. The advantage is that this is a one-time installation, and the ice making process is pretty automated after that, so no supervision is necessary. They are also more durable, so they make a great long-term purchase.
Shape of Ice
Portable machines make primarily bullet ice, and can do so at rapid speeds, sometimes in half the time it takes for under counter machines to produce them. They are typically a little cloudy, but if it is clear ice you prefer, some types of portable machines produce restaurant quality ice as well.
Under counter machines provide users with a larger range of ice with types ranging from flaked, cubed, nugget, clear, gourmet to just to name a few. If you need various different kinds of ice for the people you entertain at home, or simply enjoy sipping on different types of drinks, an under-counter machine might be what you are looking for.
Finally, there is your budget to consider. Portable machines are far more affordable and take less space, but they produce far less ice, and may not give you the quality and variety you are looking for at home. If you have a smaller household, and don’t entertain too many people at a time, this is a value for money buy for you.
On the other hand, if you need greater quantities of ice on a more regular basis, it is better to go bigger by purchasing an under-counter ice machine. There are thousands of varieties to choose from, and there is sure to be a model to fit any ice enthusiast’s budget.