Choosing the best commercial ice maker for your business s a challenging task. There are a lot of factors you must consider, like:
- Choosing the right sized ice machine
- Picking the right ice cube shapes for your business
- Making sure you have enough space
- Providing the right drainage
- Having the correct electrical setup
- Selecting the right condenser
- Maintaining proper service
If you’re having a difficult time choosing the best ice machine that works for you, we can help.
Choosing the Right Sized Ice Machine
Finding the right amount of your business is a trickier task than it sounds.
When it comes to drinks, each industry uses ice in different quantities. We’ve provided a helpful ice machine estimator to help calculate your particular industry’s ice needs. ]
Once you have a base estimate, you have to consider how much more ice you’ll need on your busiest days. How many more drinks do you serve on a weekend or holiday? These are the days you definitely don’t want run out of ice. Running out of ice can cost you a lot in replacement ice from an ice delivery service. Ice delivery costs between $1-$3 per 10 lbs and can take hours to arrive.
Many industries use ice in other areas besides beverages.
Bars use ice to refill bar wells. Kitchens need ice for food prep. Medical centers use ice to reduce swelling. If your business uses ice for additional reasons, make sure you account for them.
Picking the Right Ice Cube Shapes for Your Business
Choosing the best commercial ice machine means picking the best ice shapes as well.
Ice is not just for aesthetic purposes. Manufacturers design the shape of the cube to address different industry needs. For example, hospital ice machines produce cubelet ice, which is soft and chewable so patients can chew on the ice and hydrate damaging their teeth.
Seafood restaurants use moldable flake ice for seafood bars and food presentations.
There are plenty more ice shapes to choose from, you can learn more about the different types in our ice types guide.
Making Sure You Have Enough Space
Even the best commercial ice maker models need plenty of space for ventilation.
Air-cooled machines (the most common model on the market), need enough space to release hot air the machine produces.
As these machines run, they emit that heat out of vents. When you install an air-cooled ice maker you need to provide enough ventilation for that air to escape. If you don’t, the air can re-enter your ice machine and cause a microclimate within it. A microclimate is where the internal temperature of your machine is much higher than the surrounding area.
When ice machines overheat, their ice production rate slows down. If they remain overheated, they can cause serious issues that can cause the machine to break down.
Make sure to install your ice machine in a large enough room to meet its space needs. Ideally, you want to have at least a foot of space on all sides of the machine including the top. Don’t box the ice machine in with boxes or other items either. Doing so will cause hot air to hover around the machine and reenter the unit.
Providing the Right Drainage
As ice melts, the water needs to go somewhere. Ice machine installation requires proper drainage to flush that ice away.
Ice machines on top of a bin or dispenser need a floor drain for excess water.
Countertop ice machines and dispensers often drain water into the same pipes of a nearby sink.
Each setup requires an air gap to ensure water doesn’t run back up the drainage tube and back into your ice machine.
All Kansas and Missouri-based businesses require an air gap on ice machine installations. If a health inspector finds that you installed your ice machine without one, you’ll likely receive a violation.
Having the Correct Electrical Setup
Depending on the type of industrial ice making equipment you get, you’ll need a 110v outlet or a 220v outlet to run it.
It’s easy to tell what kind of outlet you need. 110v outlets are common in almost all US households. They have two parallel slots and a small round hole towards the bottom.
110v often come with a GFCI breaker (the kind with “test” and “reset” buttons). These outlets can cause ice machines to shut down. Hoshizaki advises using outlets that do not have a GFCI breaker attached.
220v outlets are typical in laundry rooms. They are used in washing and drying machines and other large appliances. 220v outlets come in different setups, but all of them require a dedicated neutral. If you do not have a 220v setup, you’ll need to call an electrician to install one.
Choosing the Right Condenser
Air-cooled machines are the most popular machines you’ll find in businesses. They use a fan to cool condenser coils which heat up as they absorb heat from the hot refrigerant.
Water-cooled ice machines are one of the best commercial ice maker options you can choose for areas with low ventilation. They use water to cool condenser coils rather than a fan which pushed hot air into the surrounding environment. The downside to these units is they use a lot of water that can increase your utility bills.
Remote condensers are also great 0models for low ventilation areas. They place the condenser unit away from the ice-making machine. Refrigerant travels through a line set to the condensing unit located either outside or a large area indoors with plenty of ventilation.
Remote units run through walls and ceilings. Setting up your business can be expensive but they often pay for themselves in the long run.
Buy or Rent
Finally, you need to decide whether you should buy or go with an ice equipment rental.
While buying an ice machine means it’s yours, you’re are also responsible for the hidden costs that come with owning.
Ice machines need routine cleaning and maintenance. A dirty ice machine will leave you in hot water with a health inspector. Missing maintenance on an ice machine will cause it to break down faster and require expensive repairs.
An ice machine rental is a far better option from a business standpoint. You save money on the price of the ice machine, and rental companies commonly take care of cleaning and maintenance.
If the ice machine breaks down, the rental company will take care of repairs at little or no additional cost to you.
If they can’t fix the machine, a rental company will often just replace it. This a much better option than going out and buying a brand-new ice machine.
Most of all, an ice machine rental helps you focus and invest more time in your business. You don’t have to worry about surprise costs or repairs.
Here at Ice-Masters, we also keep track of ice machine maintenance and cleaning due dates, so business owners don’t have to.