Choosing a room to install your air-cooled ice machine is more complicated than finding the most convenient place. Ice makers, like nearly all electrical appliances, give off heat. Installing an ice maker in a room that doesn’t have proper ventilation means heat can build and raise an ice machine’s operating temperature (the temperature directly around your unit). If heat continually builds, it can leave you with an ice machine not making enough ice.
Don’t Feed the Fire!
Ideally, many restaurant owners want to install their ice machines in the kitchen – and why wouldn’t they? It makes a lot of sense that the ice supply should be near the food preparation area but doing this has repercussions. Installing your ice machine in the kitchen means it’s sharing space with other heat-generating appliances such as your oven, stove, and heat lamps. Kitchens also have other heat-generating refrigeration equipment like soda fountains, freezers, and refrigerated prep stations. Altogether, that adds up to a lot of heat.
Ovens and stoves may work just fine in warmer temperatures, but any Ice maker machine is going to have a very tough time operating in those conditions. Ice machines make ice by transferring the heat in the water to the surrounding environment until it reaches freezing point. When a room is too hot, an ice machine works harder to cool water down – which consequently generates even more heat from the unit. This cycle of events will severely drop your ice production rate to over 40% if left unchecked.
How Much Heat Can an Air-Cooled Ice Machine Produce?
A BTU (British Thermal Units) is the traditional unit of measurement used to determine the heat output of many common electrical appliances such as washing machines, dryers, furnaces – and yes, ice makers.
Here is a small list of some of air-cooled ice machine models and their corresponding BTU outputs:
BTUs Per Hour / BTUs Per Day
KM-260BAH 4,313 / 103,512
KM-600MAH9,500 / 228,000
KM-901MAH 15,400 / 369,600
KM-1301SAH19,800 / 475,000
KM-1900SAH23,800 / 571,200
So, How Hot is That?
Do give you an idea of how much heat these units can produce, we’ve compared them to the amount of heat generated by a standard 2000-watt hair dryer:
- A KM-600MAH produces the same amount of heat every hour as nearly 1.5 2000-watt hairdryers running non-stop.
- The KM-901MAH produces the same amount of heat every hour as nearly 2.25 2000-watt hairdryers running non-stop.
- The KM-1900SAH produces the same amount of heat every hour as nearly 3.5 2000-watt hairdryers running non-stop.
Now let’s look at how many tons of air-conditioning you’d need to expel to offset the BTUs generated by these models (1 ton of air-conditioning is equal to 12,000 BTUs/hour):
- KM-600MAH = ¾ of a ton of AC to keep the room temperature from rising.
- KM-901MAH = 1 ¼ tons of AC to keep the room temperature from rising.
- KM-1900SAH = 2 tons of AC to keep the room temperature from rising.
How Will Heat Affect My Ice Machine?
Worst of all, heat will build throughout the day. If your ice is continually pumping out hot air into a space that doesn’t have enough ventilation, the heat from the first hour will combine with the heat from the second hour, gradually making the room hotter. Keep this in mind if you must install your Ice maker machine in a less-than-optimal area. The ice machine will continue to produce ice, but the heat in the room will force the unit to produce at a lower rate.
If by chance, the ice machine begins to raise the temperature of the room to over 95 degrees, you might be looking at more than an ice machine not making enough ice. Temperatures that reach this high put the machine in danger of shutting down altogether.
Finding the Best Spot for Your Ice Machine
Hands down, the best place to install your air-cooled ice machine is in a temperature-controlled room with plenty of room for air to move. As a rule, you should leave 1 ½ feet of space on all sides of the machine (that includes the ceiling).
A few tips for finding the best area for your ice machine include:
- Find a place with good ventilation. No enclosed spaces like closets or cubbies.
- Don’t stack objects on top of your Ice maker machine. Boxes or kitchen supplies can block ventilation.
- Don’t store boxes or large objects directly next to your ice machine. These can also severely limit your unit’s ventilation.
Take Care of Your Air-Cooled Ice Machine – and Keep Your Customers Cool, As Well!
There’s not much you can do about your air-cooled ice machine releasing hot air, but there is plenty you can do to keep the surrounding area cool. By watching the temperature of your room, cleaning and maintaining the ice machine, and following proper installation procedures, you can make sure your customers have fresh, cool ice year-round!