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Options to Consider When Buying a Commercial Ice Machine

Sizing of your ice machine

Ice machines are sold based on their production capacity, which is the total pounds of ice produced in 24 hours. For a restaurant, the recommended production capacity is 1.7 lbs per customer. For a salad bar, the recommended production capacity is 35 lbs per cubic foot of display.

With bars/cocktail lounges the recommended production capacity is 3 lbs per customer. For hotels, the recommended production capacity varies based on if guests are allowed to fill ice chests, however the standard is 3 lbs per room.

Self contained or Modular

Self-contained ice machines both produce and store ice within the same unit. They take up less space than a modular ice machine.

Modular ice machines produce large amounts of ice very quickly. These ice machines only produce ice, so therefore you would need to purchase an ice storage bin to store the ice produced. A lot of commercial kitchens prefer modular ice machines due to the large amount of ice production.

Size of Ice Bin

Based on the production capacity that you select for your ice machine, you will need the proper size bin to store the ice produced. For example, if you have an ice machine that produces 336 lbs per 24 hours, a good storage capacity for your ice bin would be 242lbs. The amount of ice used each day factors into the storage capacity of your ice bin.

Different types of ice

There are many different forms of ice that can be produced by your ice machine.

Cubed ice

comes in full and half size. This type of ice is ideal for mixed drinks, carbonated beverages, ice dispensing, and banquet services. Smaller cube size is recommended for optimum liquid displacement.

Nugget Ice

is soft, cylindrical, and slow melting which makes it the ideal chewable ice. This form of ice is popular with restaurants for carbonated beverages, food displays, and ice dispensing. Nugget ice helps cool drinks rapidly and maintain their flavor without watering down the beverage.

Flake Ice

is popular when used for salad bars, seafood and meat displays, and blended cocktails. This form of ice has a fast cooling power with low production costs and helps maintain the hydration of food on display for long periods of time.

Gourmet Ice 

 is ideal for bar use, waitress stations, banquet service. They are known for their non stick qualities and slow-melting design.

Air cooled or water cooled

Air cooled machines are more energy-efficient and use much less water than a water-cooled ice machine. However, they require adequate space for air to circulate. Water cooled ice machines are better for operations that feature higher ambient temperatures.


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