The Info You Need To Know About Ice Makers: Details And Specs

The Info You Need To Know About Ice Makers: Details And Specs

If you are trying to ensure that your home is adequately stocked with ice, you have a few options at your disposal. The first and most obvious choice when you need a large amount of ice in a short period is to buy a bag of ice at the nearest grocery or convenience store.

Buying ice ensures that you will have a sufficient amount for your needs, but it also costs money, even though ice is rather cheap. If you rely on bagged ice as the primary source of ice for your home, you will find that the costs can stack up over time. This does not even account for the environmental damage caused by all of the plastic bags.

The next option you have is to make use of ice cube trays. Ice cube trays may seem outdated, but they are a simple and cheap solution to your ice problem. This is not to say that ice cube trays don’t have their own set of disadvantages. While ice cube trays can be bought for mere dollars, you will find that they are ineffective when you need ice fast.

Ice maker in use.

You will always have to ensure that your ice cube trays are refilled with water every time they go empty if you always want to have ice available. There is also the downside of ice cube trays taking up space in your freezer, which makes them less than ideal for those with less room in their freezers.

The next option you have is an ice machine. There are many different types of ice machines, and they all have some advantages over the other options. For example, an ice machine can be set to make ice automatically without any input from you. This can ensure that your home is always stocked with enough ice.

What Is An Ice Maker?

An ice maker (also known as an ice maker machine) is a product which is used to make ice, there are different types of ice makers, and they all use their own methods to create your ice. Most ice makers use a fairly straightforward method of creating ice, however, which is reminiscent of ice cube trays.

You will find that an ice cube maker consists of what is essentially an ice cube tray (known as a mold). This is filled with water from the line that is connected from your ice machine to your home’s plumbing. The refrigeration unit in your ice machine then begins to freeze the water in the mold.

When the mold’s thermometer detects that the water has frozen into ice cubes, a heater is activated to loosen up the ice cubes in the mold. The ice is then pushed out of the mold by a mechanical system and usually deposited into a tray or bucket which holds the ice until use.

In models which function automatically, there is a system in place to detect when the ice tray is full and stop the ice production process which ensures that there will not be an overflow of ice.

Types

There are several types of ice makers from which you can choose.

Built-In Ice Maker

Built-in ice maker models are available in many configurations. While ice makers which are implemented in refrigerators and freezers as a feature are technically built-into the appliance in which they are found, they are not the variety that we are referring to.

Built-in ice maker.

Instead of being built into your refrigerator or freezer, you will find that these ice makers are integrated into a cabinet. These models are designed to be the same size as an under-counter cabinet so they can fit snugly inside of one. These ice makers are ideal for smaller kitchens since they do not take up any room aside from cabinet space.

Built-in ice makers also have the advantage of being hidden from guests, as some models can be unsightly when positioned in the kitchen. However, one of the downsides is a more complicated installation process. Their installation may involve cutting a larger hole into your cabinets or removing the door of a cabinet.

Free Standing Ice Maker

A free standing ice maker will resemble a small freezer. These ice makers are meant to be placed out in the open, so they are ideal for customers with larger kitchens or a designated spot for an ice maker. While older types of ice makers looked more industrial, you will find that modern examples resemble mini-fridges more than anything.

Free standing ice makers have the advantage of easier installation than built-in models, but the process is still more complicated than it is for portable ice maker models. Keep in mind that these ice makers will still have to be connected to your home's plumbing, so they will need to be placed near water pipes.

Some free standing ice maker models can be designed as hybrids. You may use them as either typical free standing ice makers, or they can be placed in a cabinet for use as a built-in ice maker. These models are some of the most versatile you will come across, but they still have some disadvantages.

You will find that free standing ice makers tend to be some of the most expensive models thanks to their more intricate design. Some free standing models are essentially mini freezers with the ability to make ice and are marketed as such. If you find yourself running out of freezer space, this is the best choice.

Counter Top And Portable Ice Makers

The last type of ice maker we will be looking at is also the smallest. Portable ice makers are so named because of their small size, and the fact that they can be brought to wherever they are needed. Portable ice machines do not need to be hooked up to your home’s plumbing, only connected to an electrical outlet.

Portable ice makers are some of the easiest to install, as most of them come out of the box ready to function. Even the ones which need assembly usually require quick assembly, such as the insertion of the ice cube tray and other, relatively minor things.

Instead of hooking your ice maker up to your home’s plumbing, you instead need to regularly fill it with water, which is a little more inconvenient and cuts down on the automation of your ice making. This is the tradeoff for the far easier installation process, however.

You will also find that these models of ice machines are designed to be far more affordable than the other two options. Where the other two choices can easily cost up to thousands of dollars, you will find that most portable ice machines cost a few hundred dollars at maximum.

If you are looking for a convenient way to make ice, but you don’t want to break the bank, you have few better options than portable ice makers. An ice maker of this type can also be referred to as a table top ice maker.

Specifications

Before buying an ice maker, you need to be familiar with the possible specifications. 

Size

The size of your ice maker can affect many other features so we figured that we would get it out of the way first. Larger ice makers can produce more ice in a shorter amount of time, and they can contain more ice, but they have the disadvantage of being more expensive since they are more complex.

A larger ice maker will also be harder for you to place in your kitchen since it will take up more space due to its greater dimensions. Keep in mind that a larger ice maker will also be harder to transport if you plan on buying it from an appliance store in person, they will also cost more in shipping fees if purchased online.

Ice makers of different sizes.

Ice makers that are larger will typically be harder to assemble as well since their components are bigger and they have more of them. Even models which come pre-assembled will have a more complicated installation process since they are heavier and more cumbersome.

Smaller ice machines will usually be less expensive than larger models, as we discussed in the section describing portable ice machines. You will find that they may produce less ice, which will also take longer since the mold in these models will make fewer ice cubes at a time.

The time it takes to make ice cubes is also increased because their refrigeration unit is often not as powerful. Smaller ice machines will also rarely double as freezers since they will have either insufficient power or a lack of enough space on the inside to make for convenient freezers.

Capacity

This aspect is directly correlated with the size of your ice machine, but it may also have to do with the distribution of the space inside of your ice machine. The capacity of your ice machine refers to the amount of room your ice machine features. What this space is used for depends on the type of ice machine that you have.

If you have an ice machine which can also be used as a freezer, you will find that capacity is more important, as you will be able to store more frozen goods inside of it. On the other hand, for dedicated ice machines, you will find that capacity will refer to the number of completed ice cubes which can be stored in your ice machine.

Capacity is important if you plan on using a large number of ice cubes in a short period since this will often not give you enough time for your ice machine to restock itself. High-capacity ice machines are ideal for use when you have guests over or if you live in an area with a long summer.

If you want to ensure that you will always have ice available for use, you will find few better options than an ice machine with extra capacity. The capacity of your ice machine will also depend on the size of the ice tray with which it comes included. Models with larger ice trays will be able to hold more ice.

Ice Production Speed

One of the most important aspects of your ice machine is the speed with which your ice is produced. This will ensure that you will always have ice available for use when it is combined with a sufficiently sized ice tray. Either a high capacity or a fast ice production speed is integral to ensuring that you will have ice ready.

The speed with which your ice maker produces ice is dependent on a number of aspects, but it depends mostly on the size of your ice machine. A larger ice machine will be able to contain the two necessary features which will significantly increase the speed of ice production for your ice machine.

The first of these features is a larger mold for the production of ice so more ice cubes can be made at once. This ensures that batches of ice are larger when they are deposited into your ice machine’s tray. The larger the mold, the fewer cycles which will be needed to fill your ice machine to its max capacity.

The next feature which is crucial to ensuring a fast ice production speed is a sufficiently powerful refrigeration unit. Since colder temperatures produce ice cubes faster, you will find that a more powerful refrigeration unit is integral to ensuring that your ice cube production cycles will come and go faster.

Keep in mind that larger molds and more powerful refrigeration units will usually be found on larger ice machine models. If you are looking for the best ice production speed, opt for a bigger machine.

Small ice maker.

If you live in a household with a larger number of people, a machine which can produce ice quickly will likely be necessary if you don’t want to have to rely on other methods as well. While small ice machines are affordable and convenient, they are not much use if there is never any ice ready.

Ice Types

There are also many types of ice that an ice maker can produce. 

Nuggets

Ice nuggets are one of the more common ice types that you will find produced by ice machines. Ice nuggets are reminiscent of ice cubes, if only vaguely, but they are more irregularly shaped, they are ideal for use in cooling drinks and most other applications that you would use ice cubes for.

You may find that ice nuggets can break up more quickly than other types of ice due to their irregular shape, which will have more weak points than other types of ice. Ice nuggets will also require a mold which is built less precisely than other molds, so they will be more common in less expensive ice machines.

Flakes

Ice flakes are rare to see in consumer ice machines, but they are quite common in professional machines. Ice flakes are not as fragile as the name would suggest. Like ice nuggets, they are shaped irregularly and require less precise molds for their production than other ice varieties.

If you have ever seen fish on display at a supermarket, they were more than likely laid out on a bed of ice flakes. Use in display is, in fact, one of the primary applications of ice flakes as they are visually appealing and they will still keep whatever it is that is placed on them cold, though they are susceptible to melting.

Cubes

Ice cubes are the traditional form that you will find ice in. Ice cubes are not all shaped like cubes, however. In fact, a lot of ice cubes are instead shaped like rectangular prisms since all of their sides are rarely the same dimensions, but this is more a matter of semantics than anything.

Ice cubes are one of the more popular choices for drinks since they are dense enough not to melt immediately when they are placed in the drink, which will end up watering it down in short order. You will find that the vast majority of ice makers will be capable of making ice cubes since they are widely regarded as the default form of ice.

Crescents

Crescent ice is a type of ice that features one flat side and one curved side. This kind of ice is produced by relatively few ice machines, but you will find that it has a few advantages when compared to other ice types. Due to their rounded sides, you will find that they go well with round glasses.

Ice crescents are meant to provide the same ice density as ice cubes, but they are typically made using less water, making for a type of ice which will not water down your drink as much. It is for this reason that you can put more crescent ice cubes into a drink, allowing it to cool down faster.

Gourmet

Gourmet ice cubes are the most impressive type of ice that you will come across, and they are typically used in drinks which are served on the rocks thanks to their excellent combination of aspects. These ice cubes tend to be exceptionally clear, which significantly improves their presentation value.

Gourmet ice cubes are ideal for use with alcoholic drinks because they melt slower but cool down your drink faster than other forms of ice. This means that you will be able to put fewer pieces of ice in a drink and still have it cool down in a similar amount of time when compared to other ice types.

Different types of ice.

Portable Vs. Built-In Ice Makers

When it comes to the matter of portable vs. undercounter ice makers, you will find that it is a personal choice more than anything. As every customer has different needs, you will find that there is no best option for everyone.

Portable ice makers will typically be better suited for those who find themselves on a budget, as they tend to be far more affordable. Built-in ice makers, on the other hand, are meant for customers who are searching for something a little more permanent.

A built-in ice maker will last you a long time and will function with less input from you since you won't need to refill the water. In the end, the choice is up to you, but you should consider your kitchen layout when making this choice, since you may not have a free cabinet for a built-in model.

Manufacturers

When buying an ice maker, the smart thing to do is to choose from the more familiar brands on the market. 

RCA Igloo

Igloo is a brand of RCA which manufactures ice machines and freezers. RCA was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919, and they are based in New York City. They produce quality ice machines that may be a little more pricey, but they are well worth the added price.

Della

Della Products is a maker of kitchen appliances based in the City of Industry in Los Angeles, California. You will find that they make a wide variety of products, but we will be focusing on their ice makers. If you are looking for affordable portable ice makers, they are one of the best options.

EdgeStar

EdgeStar is a brand of Living Direct that produces refrigerators, laundry machines, air conditioners and, of course, ice machines. Their ice machines have an emphasis on superior portability without sacrificing quality construction.

Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach is an American company based in Virginia that was established in 1910. They are known primarily for their blenders, but they manufacture all manner of different kitchen appliances, including ice machines. Their products feature high-quality construction and a host of additional features.

Avalon Bay

Avalon Bay is known for their manufacture of ice machines, air conditioners, and wine coolers. Their products are designed to be aesthetically pleasing yet still functional enough for everyday use, and they are also highly affordable when compared to the competition.

Maintenance And Cleaning

There is not much to maintain in automatic ice machines, but some models, such as portable ice machines will need to have their water reserve topped up after it runs dry. Models which are connected to your home’s plumbing will not need this step as they are fed water automatically.

Maintenance of an ice maker.

Conclusion

We hope that we have managed to provide enough information about ice machines for your needs. We encourage you to check out our buying guide in which we go over five of the best ice machines which are currently available to consumers.

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