Counter-top vs. Under the Counter
When you are buying an ice maker, you will find that you are suddenly faced with far more choices and brands than you probably thought was possible. It can sometimes seem overwhelming to know what type of ice maker you should be choosing, and you will have a host of different decisions that you will have to make.
There are many things that you will need to think about when it comes to your ice maker. For example, you will need to think about just where you will be putting the ice maker. In most cases, people will want to keep them in the kitchen, as that is where they will generally have their drinks that will need ice.
However, if you have a bar set up in your basement, you might want to have an ice maker in the basement. If you have an outdoor kitchen and grilling area for entertainment, you might want to have an ice maker out there.
In addition to knowing where you will want to put your ice maker, you need to start learning more about the different types of and options that you have.
In this chapter, we will look at making your first – and some would say most important – decision when it comes to purchasing one of these items. You need to know the difference between countertop ice makers and under the counter ice makers, along with the pros and cons of each. Let’s start with countertop ice makers.
Countertop Ice Makers
The countertop ice makers, as the name suggests, will sit on top of a counter or a table depending on where you will be using it. There will need to be a location where the ice maker can be plugged into an outlet, of course. This can often dictate where you will be able to use the ice maker. You can always use extension cords if needed, though.
These types of ice makers will allow water to be added to a reservoir, which is then used to make the ice. While it is nice that you will not need to have a water line, you will need to fill up this reservoir with water regularly. For this reason, it tends to be less convenient.
One of the ways that you can circumvent this problem is to get an ice maker that has a larger capacity. Most small ice makers that you will have in the home are going to be able to produce around 20 lbs. or so of ice per day. This varies between the brands and the models, of course.
Always check to see just how much ice the countertop ice maker you are considering will be able to make and store on a given day and compare that with how much you believe you will end up needing in your home. Some can store up to 50 lbs. but that is not the case with all of the options out there.
Another nice benefit of these types of ice makers is the fact that they are portable. Even when you have one of the larger models, they are still going to be easy to move. Because they are designed for the countertop, they tend to be compact, even in the case of the units that are considered large.
It is even possible to take them along with you camping or two a festival, as long as you have access to power. You could even use an AC/DC adapter to hook it up to your vehicle if you need it. This could mean cold drinks at the beach without needing to bring a cooler full of ice.
Under the Counter Ice Makers
While the countertop ice makers have their pros and cons, you might find that an under the counter ice maker is a better option for you. These tend to be quite a bit larger, and that means that you can create and store a lot more ice. In fact, they have a production capacity that is large enough that many businesses have taken to using them. They are also quite helpful when you are throwing a party and you need to have a lot of ice available.
Another one of the benefits of under the counter ice makers is that they only have to be installed once, just like with the other large appliances you have in the kitchen. Yes, you need to make sure that you have a water line and a drain for the ice maker, but once you have it set up, it will be good to go.
They are easy to use, and you will not have to worry about running out of ice because you forgot to add water. There will always be water available for making the ice.
Of course, there are some potential disadvantages that you will need to think about, as well. For example, these are large and once they are in place, you are not going to be able to move them easily. They are not considered portable.
What’s Right for You?
Now that you have a better understanding of the pros and cons of countertop and under the counter ice makers, you should have a better idea of which one of these might be right for you. Ultimately, you will want to think about the amount of space that you have along with the capacity you need from the machine.
If you are getting an ice maker for a coffee shop or a deli, for example, you would want an under the counter option. If you want a machine that is portable enough that you can take it with you when you are out camping, you will want to have a countertop machine. Consider your needs and start to narrow down your choices. Over the course of the rest of the book, we will be looking at other things you should be considering, looking more closely at size and production speed, banks, and more.
Size & Production Speed
Once you have an idea of what basic type of ice maker you might want, you will need to take a closer look at the size of the machine and how quickly it will be able to produce ice. The needs of someone who is buying an ice maker for a small business will be different from someone who is buying one for a small home with only one or two people using ice regularly. There will be differences from buying for a small business and buying for a large business, such as a hotel, as well.
What Should You Look For?
When you start to sort through the various ice makers out there, you want to pay special attention to the specs that it can offer. Namely, you will want to know the size of the machine, along with the capacity, and the speed of production. Let’s look at why each of these is important to consider when you are choosing an ice maker for your property.
The size of the ice maker needs to be considered for several reasons. First, you have to make sure that you will have the room at your property to hold the ice maker without it crowding out other items and appliances that you might need. The size of the ice maker will often determine where you will put it and whether you will be able to use it or not for that matter.
The capacity of your machine is also quite important. This will determine just how much ice it is capable of holding. You will find that there is quite a bit of variance when you are looking at the various options for home and commercial ice makers.
If you are going to be using the ice maker at home only, you probably do not need to make and store more than 20 lbs. to 50 lbs. If you are hosting a lot of parties where ice is needed, then you might need to have a machine with a greater capacity. Most will find that this is more than enough for their home. However, when it comes to commercial businesses, the needs are going to skyrocket. You will find that you are going to need to have a larger capacity ice maker, or perhaps more than one.
Typically, a restaurant will need to have 1.5 lbs. of ice per person, for example. The type of business and the number of customers you have could mean that you would need an ice maker that can provide a higher capacity. Hotels and hospitals, for example, might need more ice per visitor/patient.
Always look at the capacity that the ice maker can provide and then see whether or not it will work for your needs whether they are large or small.
Along the same lines, you need to consider the production speed of the ice maker. This is also known as the cycle time. Different machines will have different production speeds, of course. Again, you will need to look at the individual specs of the ice makers you are considering to see whether it will be a good solution for your needs or not. Most of the time, the ice makers on the market today are capable of providing a new batch of ice very quickly. They could go through a new cycle every five or ten minutes in most cases.
Even More to Consider
While these are certainly very important for you to think about when you are choosing your ice maker, keep in mind that we are still just getting started. There are many other elements that you will want to note when you are sorting through the various machines that are available.
Different Types of Ice
If you believed that all ice was the same, you are not correct. You will find that the different ice makers that are on the market today will also produce different types or shapes of ice. This is something that you might not have even considered until now, but it is something that you will certainly want to keep in mind. You will also want to remember that there is more to choosing an ice shape than just the aesthetics – although even the aesthetics can be important in some circumstances.
Cube ice is probably the type and shape of ice that most people immediately think of when they think about an ice maker or their old ice cube trays. They are very common as a shape for ice makers, and you will find that there are different sizes available. There are full cubes and half cubes.
The full cubes are larger, which means it will take them a long time to melt when compared with other options. For this reason, you will often see them used with beverages. Because they melt slowly, they are also a popular option for coolers.
Half cubes, just as the name suggests, are about half the size of the full cubes. They also work well for coolers. Their smaller size can also make them easier to use with self-dispensing machines.
Next, there is tube-shaped ice, which is sometimes called bullet ice, can work well for a host of needs. They have an opening along the center of the ice, which allows the liquid to flow inside of them. For this reason, they have become popular to put into drinks. This is a case where the aesthetics and the functionality of the cube type match up nicely with one another.
Those who are looking for smaller shapes will want to consider a machine that can make ice nuggets. These are small and they do not have a uniform shape. Because they are smaller, it means they will melt faster. This will make it a good option for those who might like chewing on ice. They are popular in a variety of industries, as well as homes, for this reason.
You will also find that they can work well for packing a cooler, as the nuggets can be piled up around the items that you want to keep cool. Many use them with their fishing coolers to keep the fish nice and fresh after being caught.
The crescent-shaped ice is another option. It has a shape similar to a half-moon and can allow for more space around the cubes, so they do not become overly compact or compressed. Naturally, this will make it easy for liquid to flow around them, so they are popular in drinks. They have a nice size, too, which means that they will not melt too quickly. Again, this is another reason they are a good option to put into drinks.
What Does the Ice Maker Create?
Now that you know a bit more about the different types of ice shapes that are possible, you can start to think about the shape or shapes that would work best for your needs. You can then look for machines that are able to make those types of shapes for you. This can help you to narrow your selection for a new machine even further. Some machines can make more than one type of ice, but it will depend on the make and model.
Best Brands to Buy
Over the course of this chapter, we will be covering eight of the very best brands on the market today when it comes to ice makers. While there is not a lot of room to go over all of the details and the different ice makers offered by each of these companies, you can learn more about what they are able to offer and who the companies are.
By sticking to these top brands when you are choosing an ice maker, not only will it make your decision easier, but you will be confident with your purchase. After all, these are considered top brands for a number of reasons. They are durable, reliable, and they are easy to use.
Many consider Ice-O-Matic to be the top option when it comes to ice machines. They are a manufacturer, distributor, and supplier, and they have a wide range of different types of ice makers and machines on the market. The company has been in business since 1952, and it has built up a stellar reputation in that time.
The company can provide installation and service for the machine, and they have the longest warranty in the industry. It is possible to find a range of ice maker styles, along with different sizes through this company. They have some of the top commercial ice makers available today.
The company can provide residential and commercial ice makers for those who need them. Scotsman has also been around since the 1950’s, and they were the original creators of nugget ice. They have continued to maintain an excellent reputation for creating high-quality machines that can be a good solution for those looking for either commercial or residential options.
Danby has a long legacy as a company making ice machines, as well. The company started more than 65 years ago, and they are still a family-operated business. The company offers many different types of products for refrigeration and specialty appliances, and they have earned their spot as one of the top in this field. Their products can be trusted.
EdgeStar makes many different types of appliances including wine refrigerators, outdoor appliances, and ice makers. The company is a relative newcomer to the field, having only been in operation since 2004. However, they have created a great reputation in the past 15 years, and they make a range of quality ice makers that can work quite well for the home. They have also expanded to two additional brands, including Koldfront, discussed below.
Igloo is a brand that most people will recognize instantly. While they are known best for making a wide range of different types of coolers, they do offer some ice makers, as well. Like some of the other companies on the list, they have been in the business of keeping things cool since the 1950s. The ice makers the company offers tend to be compact and are good for residential use where you will not need to make too much ice.
Ivation has also become a popular name in the field of appliances. They make a range of different types of coolers, dishwashers, heating and air conditioning products, kitchenware, and more. They have some ice makers, as well, and similar to those from Igloo, these tend to be a good option for residential use.
As mentioned earlier, this company is now a part of EdgeStar. The company makes a range of smaller ice makers that will work well for many homes. The company has the same quality that you would expect from EdgeStar. You can find both countertop and under the counter options from the company.
Magic Chef is another very popular brand that you have probably heard of before. They also make a wide range of different types of machines and appliances. You can find some large commercial ice makers through the company, as well as smaller ice makers that will work well for the home. They have built a trusted brand over the years, and like the other options on this list, you can expect quality and durability from them.
Explore the Brands
Now that you have a list of the top brands, you can narrow your search results even further. Look at the various options from each of the brands above to find the ice maker that will work best for your needs. You can be sure that they will be high-quality and durable when you stick to quality brands. Keep in mind that just because these are some of the best brands, it does not mean that the ice makers will be overly expensive. You can find great ice makers for great prices.
Things to Consider When Buying an Ice Maker
You are still on the fence about what type of ice maker you should be getting, and that’s normal. There are quite a few options out there. By looking at the information in this chapter and making sure that you consider it when you are making your decision, it can help to ensure that you find what’s right for your needs.
This refers less to the type of machine that you choose and more to the actual style of the machine. While the machine should provide you with functionality first and foremost, this does not mean that you should forego style entirely. There is a range of options for the under the counter and countertop options, as well as commercial ice makers, that look good. Why not look for something that is not just a reliable ice maker, but something that works well with your kitchen’s style.
Cost is certainly going to be a factor when it comes to the type of machine that you are getting for your space. Always keep your budget in mind and buy the best quality machine you can for the money that you have available. When you choose a quality brand, it will typically mean that the machine is more durable and long-lasting (see below), which can help to improve the overall cost-effectiveness of the machine.
The durability and quality of a machine are very important. Of course, it can be hard to know just how durable a machine will be based on the looks of the machine alone. Always look at the top brands, which we cover in this guide and make sure that the ice maker comes with a good warranty. In fact, this should be something that you do, no matter the type of appliance you are buying.
When choosing an ice maker, you want to have a machine that will be easy for you and for everyone else who might be using it. Take the time to look at the features and functionality of the machine you are considering to be sure it will be easy to use. Fortunately, you will find that most of the ice makers on the market today are simple. This is true of the under the counter machines and the portable countertop machines alike.
Later in the guide, we will be covering how to clean ice makers. While it is not difficult and does not take up too much time, you may still find that you will want to choose an ice maker that offers self-cleaning. This can make cleaning easier.
Ice Size Selection
Some of the ice makers available will allow the user to choose from a couple of different sizes or styles of ice. If you would like to have options, then this is a feature you will want to seek out when you are buying an ice maker.
When you are looking at the features that are available with the ice maker, consider an automatic timer. A timer will make it easy for you to set a time for the machine to start making ice. This means that it doesn’t have to work around the clock. You can choose when the ice is made.
While this might seem like a small thing, you may want to see whether the ice maker you are considering has a scoop that comes with it or not. Although not everyone will need to have one of these scoops, they can be handy, especially if you will be using the ice maker at a party and people will be serving themselves. If yours does not come with a scoop, but you feel it could be useful, consider picking one up separately.
These are just some of the other features that you will want to consider when you are choosing an ice maker.
What You Need for Installation
If you are going to be getting a countertop ice maker for the home, you will find that installation is extremely simple. Essentially, you will add water and then turn on the machine after you have plugged it into the outlet. However, things become a bit more complicated once you start to look at the other options for the under the counter ice makers and for large commercial ice makers.
Below, you can get a better understanding of what you will need. Fortunately, you will find that many of the ice makers will have just about everything you need for installation. It is possible to take care of the installation on your own, as it is not usually too difficult. However, many people would rather choose to have a professional take care of the installation for them. We will discuss the benefits of having a professional install the ice maker at the end of the chapter.
Of course, you will find that most of the time when you order an ice maker, it will come with just about everything that is needed to get it up and running in case you want to install it on your own.
Pumps and Drains
The ice maker pumps are drain pumps that are made to remove drain water from under the counter ice makers that might not have direct drainage access. The drain pump reservoir will collect the train water and then move that water away from the unit and through your pipes. Without the property drains and pumps, the machine would not work properly. It would not be possible to get water into the machine to make the ice, and it would not be possible to remove old water that needs to be pulled away from the machine, so it does not become stagnant and develop an odor.
Of course, the ice maker will need a way to get water. If you are choosing a commercial ice maker or an under the counter ice maker, this means you will need to have a way to connect the machine directly to your water. Therefore, you will need to have a water line attached.
The line is typically a small ¼” water supply line. It will run from the ice maker to a water pipe or a water filter depending on your setup.
Why Choose Professional Installation?
There are certainly some benefits to having a professional perform the installation. For starters, they know how to do it and they will have access to everything that you need. They will know the best place to put the ice maker, and they can make sure it is hooked up properly the first time. There will be no “hoping” that it works when it gets turned on for the first time. They can also take care of the installation in less time than those who are not properly trained in the field.
Cleaning Your Ice Maker
An ice machine makes ice. Ice is made from water. Water keeps things clean. Therefore, you might be wondering whether you even need to clean the ice maker. After all, since it is just water, wouldn’t it be self-cleaning? Unfortunately, that does not happen to be the case. You will need to set aside some time to clean the machine. However, there is some good news. It tends to be quite easy to do.
Why Clean the Ice Maker?
Cleaning the ice maker is very important for a number of reasons. This is especially true when you have hard water. This will mean that mineral deposits and sediment can be left to build up in your ice maker if you are not cleaning it regularly. You can also notice that dirt and rust will start to build up in the machine over time if you are not careful, and the longer you wait to clean the machine the more difficult it can be. It can also cause added wear and tear on your machine, which can decrease the lifespan.
In addition, there is always the possibility that mold could start to grow on the inside of the machine, which can be unhealthy. This could be transferred to the ice, which can cause people to get sick. At the very least, not cleaning the ice maker will give the ice a “funny” taste that people will not like.
Some of the machines will have automatic cleaning, which can make things easier for you. However, you will probably still want to give it a full cleaning by hand sometimes to ensure that the ice stays fresh tasting.
How Often Should You Clean the Ice Maker?
Since you now know that you should clean your ice maker regularly, you are likely wondering what this actually means. How often should you clean the machine?
Typically, you will want to change out the filter in the machine every three to six months. Of course, this can vary based on how much you use the machine. Whenever you are changing out the filter, you should give it a thorough cleaning as discussed in the tips below.
However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t clean the ice maker outside of this schedule, as well. If you ever notice that the ice is looking cloudy, if the ice is smaller than usual, if it melts faster, or if it has a strange odor or taste, it means that it could use a cleaning.
The following is a basic step by step guide to cleaning your ice maker that should work for many of the different types of ice maker on the market today. When you are cleaning your own machines, you will always want to follow the guidelines that have been provided to you by the manufacturer.
- Step #1 – Turn off the ice maker and make sure that you unplug it.
- Step #2 – Turn of the water supply to a machine that has a water line attached. Empty the reservoir of a countertop unit.
- Step #3 – Make sure you have removed the ice and water that may remain in the machine.
- Step #4 – Follow the instructions from the manufacturer to remove any parts of the machine that need to be cleaned.
- Step #5 – Use an ice machine cleaner, which you can find online or in a local home improvement store, and then follow the instructions for mixing the cleaner with water. Typically, this will be one part cleaner to three parts water, but it can vary, of course. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
- Step #6 – Clean all of the parts of the machine and the inside of the machine thoroughly with the solution.
- Step #7 – Use clean water to rinse the parts.
- Step #8 – Replace the parts.
- Step #9 – Wipe the inside of the ice maker and parts down with a clean cloth.
- Step #10 – Let the machine fully dry and then plug it in, turn it back on, and restart it.
- Step #11 – Make a batch of ice and get rid of it. The ice that you make from here on out should be good to go for another few months before it will need to be cleaned again.
As you can see, it is quite simple to keep the ice maker clean. Larger machines will take a longer time to care for, but the process tends to be the same no matter the size of the machine. Make it a point to clean out the ice maker when it is needed and do not put this chore off.