Types of Ice Makers: Explained in Detail

Who will not love the idea of a chilling evening drink when the sun is shining will all her might outdoors? Should we be relying on our refrigerator to prepare ice overnight to chill our drinks and our drinking water? or should we run out to the convenience store every time we run out of ice? Sounds like a bad idea right. How about installing a portable ice maker at home? It can give you beautiful nugget shaped ice cubes every 10 minutes and serve your instinct of drinking chilled water and smoothies as you desire.

Types of Ice Makers
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Different Types of Ice Makers

Just like the varieties of drinks, we have to savor our day, so are the varieties of ice makers. Broadly we can classify them as residential and commercial ice makers. The former is capable of producing about seven to nine cubes of ice at a time whereas the latter is used predominantly in food and beverage industries, as it is capable of chunking out up to 500 pounds of ice a day. We can also classify ice makers based on their size, function, placement, and types of ice they make. Let us discuss the different types of ice makers based on the type of ice they make.

Differentiating Ice Maker Based on the Type of Ice They Make

We can chill different drinks differently as ice makers can prepare ice cubes in many different variations. For example, we can use flaked ice to preserve fish and other dishes, use nugget ice cubes to chill water in bottles, or use gourmet shaped cubes for cocktails and mocktails. The different types of ice cubes are as follows: 

a. Flaked ice: These ice shavings are quite soft and dissolve instantly. They are soft to chew and are good to make ice colas.

b. Full cubes: These transparent cubes are great for alcoholic drinks, as they chill the drink completely without diluting it, or altering its taste.

c. Crescent-shaped ice: Kids will love the ice of half-moon shaped ice cubes in their juices and drinks.

d. Gourmet shaped ice: Best when used in parties as it will never fail to impress the guests.

We have to note that a particular type of ice maker will be able to chunk out only one type of ice, and we will be able to choose the ice size as a small, medium, and large. One appliance cannot produce crescent and gourmet shaped ice cubes. Thus, it is important to choose one’s preferred ice cubes from some of the leading manufacturers in the industry.

Differentiating Residential Ice-Makers

As we mentioned before, ice makers can either be of residential or commercial use. Of the ice makers that are meant for residential purposes, there are two types, namely countertop ice makers and under counter ice makers.

1. Countertop ice makers:

These are small and attractive lightweight appliances that are portable within the home or to a poolside party. They are compact and are an inherent part of kitchen countertops. They take less than 9 minutes to produce a batch of ice. Generally, they form nugget shaped ice cubes in two different sizes. They require a power of 110V to be supplied by an outlet and water has to be fed into the system for making ice. These ice makers do not possess a freezing unit, and thus requires ice to be removed as and when they are being formed. Ice cubes will start melting immediately and the water will recycle to form a new batch of ice.

2. Built-in under-counter ice makers:

Like built-in ovens, these ice makers are built in the cabinet of the kitchen. They are larger than countertop ice makers and are capable of chunking out large volumes of ice in a day. Some of them also have a built-in freezer option, to retain the cubes frozen for long hours. They require a dedicated water line and drain line and require professional assistance for installation.

Types of Commercial Ice Makers

Commercial ice makers are huge and are capable of serving a large population with ice. They are generally found in restaurants and in businesses concerned with the food and beverage industry. There are two types of commercial ice machines, namely standalone ice making appliances, and ice dispensers.

1. Standalone ice-making machines:

Ever ordered your favorite drink at a café and astonished by how they were able to serve you your desired drink with a lot of ice cubes within minutes? Do you think they were preserving the ice cubes for all their customers in their refrigerator? Definitely No. It is the secret of commercial ice-making machines, that are capable of producing anywhere from 200 to 1000 pounds of ice a day depending on their size and capacity. These ice machines are commonly found in cafes, restaurants, malls, hotels, and most of your favorites eateries. 

These machines produce ice cubes in huge batches that are collected in the storage bin for immediate use. The best feature of these appliances is that they chunk out clear and solid ice cubes, that retain their shape for a long time, compared to cloudy ice we get in the refrigerator. They will chill the drink completely, inside out without altering its taste or diluting it. But they require manual removal of ice cubes from the collection bin and can melt and recycle if not removed appropriately.

2. Ice-dispensers:

These are also long ice making machines, like commercial units, but they differ from them in the way that they dispense ice cubes, from a user-defined port. They are similar to water dispensers we find in lobbies, offices, and restaurants. But they dispense ice upon demand and users can also define the size of ice cubes they require. Ice from these machines are not stored and are dispensed from time to time. We can find these ice dispensers in lounge rooms, hospitals, and restaurants and many commercial companies are also installing them on their premises to delight their customers and also to make some quick money for their business. 

Final Words

Ice machines are of pivotal importance in both homes and commercial establishments. There are many different styles and configurations of ice machines available in the market. We have to choose the best ice maker that will complement our needs. All of these ice machines come with specific warranties and back up from their manufacturers to help customers with uninterrupted ice supply all through the day.

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I'm Sara Wilson, the founder, and author of IceMakerCage. I'm also the head of the expert team that tests various ice makers and brings the best advice.

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