Ice makers can be of tremendous help when we need to store food or offer chilled beverages to our guests and even self-treat ourselves with cold drinks. Ice makers render the convenience of preparing ice at home. They can also be of tremendous help for commercial units and help them serve customers with a constant supply of chilled beverages.
Ice makers are available in different sizes and shapes and are nevertheless made of similar parts. It is ideal to learn the important parts of the ice maker along with their functions to sense any repairs and replacements at the earliest.
The Main Parts of the Ice Maker Machine and Their Functions
The concept of ice makers is to render chilled and pure ice for beverages constantly. But it is not at all a wrong idea in learning and understanding the parts of an ice maker and it will only help in prompt installation of the appliance and to attempt some DIY repair on it.
The ice maker appliance has an inlet valve to take in water, and harvesting unit to freeze the water into ice cubes, and a dispensing arm to collect ice cubes in the bin. When the LED controls indicate that the ice is ready for scooping from the bin, the user has to scoop them away for use. If ice is not scooped off, then it melts and the water recycles to form a fresh batch of ice.
Thus in the countertop ice maker appliance, there is no wastewater formed, and thus there is no need for any drain line. Whereas in the commercial ice maker, which is connected with a permanent water line a large volume of ice is produced in batches, and wastewater is thus formed is removed through the drain line. Both the appliances have more or less similar modes of functioning and components and let us discuss the main parts of the appliance and their functions here.
1. Water feed Line:
For the countertop ice maker, we have to feed in water through the water valve. Pure and chilled water, when the fed will help with optimal ice production. In the commercial ice maker, the water valve will be fitted with a permanent source of water line. But care has to be exerted to connect only with pure water to yield clear and high-quality ice cubes.
2. Thermostat heater:
The mechanism of water freezing into ice cubes is controlled with the help of a thermostat heater. It is the thermostat that controls the cooling mechanism of the appliance and when this heater is turned off, the ice forming molds and the harvesting arm of the appliance gets activated. A freezing agent will be generated in the molds, that converts water into ice cubes at the harvesting arm. When the thermostat heater is activated, it slightly heats the molds and helps them to release ice cubes in the dispensing tray.
3. Control Module with motor:
The control module as the name implies is the main governing unit of the different components of the ice maker machine. The motor in the ice maker machine comprises gears, which will in turn control the other mechanical components of the ice maker appliance. These motors aid in the smooth functioning of the appliance and is common for both portable and commercial ice makers.
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4. The mold to form ice:
The mold decides the type of ice that will be formed in the appliance, be it nugget shaped ice, gourmet shaped, crescent ice, full cube ice, etc. The ice mold is layered with a thin coating of Teflon and the water is frozen around these molds in the presence of a freezing liquid. The mold must be in good shape, else the formed ice will get stuck on it and recycle back to the water.
5. Ice release arms or bail arms:
The bail arms are responsible for releasing the formed ice cubes into the dispensing tray. They will release the ice, after learning that they are well-formed and are apt for use. The arms do this by activating the heater which will slightly heat the cubes, but not melt them to aid in the release of the ice cubes. The bail arm will help in the collection of ice cubes in the ice basket. If the basket is full, then the bail arm cannot open completely and the ice-making process ceases.
The Working Mechanism of an Ice Maker Appliance
The modern ice maker works exactly as how a traditional ice tray functions. The ice maker mimics the function of how we used to make ice by pouring water in the mold and leaving it in the freezer until it solidifies. The ice maker appliance does the same thing, but the process of pouring in water and extracting the ice cubes is automated completely in the presence of a freezing liquid. This aids in the fast production of ice rather than consuming hours, as in the case of the refrigerator freezer.
The ice maker appliance works with electricity. It has to be hooked with an electric socket of power 110V for functioning. The step by step representation of how an ice maker appliance works are as follows.
- The appliance is switched on and current is passed through the solenoid valve
- The water valve is connected with the central circuit and when the current is passed, the water valve opens.
- When water is filled in, the ice molds are filled (the shape of the ice is also decided)
- The refrigerant liquid is sent to the molds to freeze the ice
- The thermostat unit will monitor the temperature of the ice in the mold
- When the temperature falls below -13C, the heating coil below the mold gets activated.
- The bottom of the molds is warmed to loosed the ice cubes from the molds
- The ejector’s arm is activated to scoop the ice cubes from the mold to the dispensing basket
- The ice cubes are then pushed into the ice basket.
- The water valve is again activated to form a fresh ice batch. The process continues until the collection bin is full.
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Some issues such as coatings on the ice mold, thermostat malfunctions, harvest problems, etc., can be easily identified by understanding the basic parts and the functions of the ice maker. Most of all, a lot of money can be saved by performing simply DIY repairs by self with a proper understanding of the unit.