How to Choose an Ice Machine for Home Use – Useful Tips and Tricks

If you are in the market for an ice machine for home use, you have to start with some basic knowledge before making a purchase as they can be quite expensive.

Regardless of the price, a top quality ice maker is one of the best long-term investments you can make.  It will help make your life easier in a wide variety of situations.

You organize a yard party and want something to keep the beer and juice cold, or you want to fashion your smoothie with a few ice cubes. An ice machine, of course, will always be there to accomplish your need. 

Since there are a lot of models on the market, the purpose of this article is to make your choice easier and offer a few general buying guidelines. Here is how to choose an ice machine for home use. 

Types and Shapes of Ice 

The first thing to consider before choosing a unit is what types of ice the ice machine produce. Some types of ice are cubed shaped; some melt slower, others are easier to chew, others are suited for specific drinks and so on and so forth. Here is a brief list with explanations:

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    List Element

This particular type of ice will take a longer time to melt. It is most commonly used in hospitals and generally in healthcare industries because it is very easy to chew, unlike a cube of ice.

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    Ice Cube

The slowest melting type of ice. It is more practical in some respects than other types of ice because it can drastically reduce consumption.

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    Flake Ice

If you ever went to a McDonald’s, KFC or other fast food you have certainly encountered it because this is what they use to prepare blended drinks.

It is very cost efficient, molds in any shape extremely quickly and it is perfect for preparing ice tea. Also used in market ice displays for meat, fish, seafood an in the majority of salad bars.

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    Diced Ice

Similar to an ice cube in shape, only that it is smaller and can cool off strong alcoholic beverages, such as vodka or whiskey. It is big enough to bring up to two alcoholic beverage at a comfortable temperature and small enough not to ruin their flavor.

Compressor Types

Now that you have decided on a particular type of unit and ice, the next step is to figure out what category of compressor you want your ice machine to be equipped with.

Typically, standard ice machine has one of three compressor types, which we will elaborate upon in the following paragraphs.

Let us start with air cooled ice machine. If you are concerned about conserving resources or want to get the best bargain for your money without paying extra for any fancy features, an air cooled ice machine is the ideal choice.

Ice machines that come with this type of compressor are one of the most cost-effective units on the market because they will not overwhelm your water bill.

Furthermore, according to review websites like Ice Maker Pro, the best ice machine brands focus exclusively on units with this type of compressor, so you should also consider this fact before deciding on a particular model.

Another type of ice machine to consider is those that are water cooled. Technically speaking, a water-cooled ice machine is a better choice under a few specific circumstances. However, there is a catch, so consider purchasing one if one or more of the following criteria are met:

  • The machine would be utilized in an area where an air-cooled machine could not function properly and safely, like areas that do not allow proper air flow and circulation, or that have insufficient space.
  • The air contains high amounts of contaminants (grease, for instance).
  • Rooms or areas where the ambient temperature exceeds 26 degrees Celsius. 

If none of the above-mentioned conditions is not met, a water-cooled ice machine is not a great choice due to the fact that it will greatly increase your levels of water consumption.

Finally, another type that you can find on the market is remote cooled (or remote condenser) ice machine. With this type, the condenser will be installed outside, typically on the roof. The condenser and the ice machine itself are connected through refrigerant lines. ​

The main advantage of this seemingly overcomplicated system is that remote cooled ice machines are much less noisy than their air-cooled or water cooled counterparts.

However, in order to properly install it, you will need to hire a specialized contractor. Furthermore, the fitting and maintenance of this setup will cost you a lot of money.

So, consider installing a remote condenser only if certain restraints, be it geographical or spatial, disallow the proper installation and function of traditional air-cooled or water-cooled ice machines. 

A Few Installation Tips 

Many ice machines can be easily installed by following the guidebooks that come with the box. However, before purchasing one, make sure to take into account the following factors just in case:

  • Power Supply

Some brands do not include a plug or a cord in the package, so you will have to call an electrician to hard wire the unit.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to check the machine’s power requirements and make sure your line power can meet them. Thankfully, you can find this information by reading the product’s guidebook.

  • Drain and Water supply

To ensure proper function, your ice machine will need a connection to cold water supply and special shutoff valve. You will also need to install a floor drain to flush away any excess water and waste that the machine generates.

For the latter, make sure to check local plumbing codes for any information regarding legally allowed drain types and proper placement.

  • Ventilation and space

These are the most important aspects to consider if you want the machine to function properly and remain in a good state.

In order to produce ice at maximum efficiency, the unit will need proper air flow and a reasonable amount of space to fit the bin, filter and the machine itself. Therefore, stuffing the unit in a closet, storage room or any area that lacks sufficient space is not a wise idea.

Great Bonus Accessories 

Nothing makes a purchase more satisfying than discovering that your newly acquired unit has a few bonus add-ons. Some models of ice machines will have the following the following accessories, which could prove very useful in some situations:

  • Snow cone makers

A great, tasty treat that the whole family can enjoy on a hot summer afternoon.

  • Ice cream makers

If you already use ice to make frozen desserts, an ice cream maker is surely an addon that you will appreciate greatly.

All you have to do is pour your favorite ingredients into the unit, and the machine will automatically freeze and mix them. After about 60 minutes, you will have a great dessert to enjoy in front of the TV.

  • Ice crusher

These particular units can crush the ice into small pieces, which are great to prepare blended drinks, fast food style.

Conclusion

A good ice machine can be a great addition to a house, both for guests and personal use. But finding the best possible model requires a little patience.

Also, you need some prior knowledge in terms of functionality, type, and add-ons because some models can be quite expensive. Make sure to read through this article, and you will get all the information that you will need. 

So there you have it, guys! I hope this article is helpful for you! If you have any more questions, suggestions or just recommendations, do not hesitate to leave them down below! 🙂

Emily Mathews
 

Hi, I am Emily Mathews. I grew up in a small town in Tennessee, where I learned how to cook fabulous local dishes from my Mother. I have 3 children and they enable me to cook from my heart every day. I am also passionately interested in creating globally inspired food with locally grown ingredients.

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