In the era of dedicated plastic trays and convenience store ice bags, people rarely think of ice machines as being worthwhile and sensible investments. Regardless of the ice machine’s public image, everybody who has ever awkwardly handled and ice tray or has bought an ice bag from the supermarket only to discover at home that half of its contents have melted away can confirm how frustrating these events can be.
A reliable, top quality ice machine from a reputed brand will not only spare anyone of these inconveniences but will meet everybody’s ice demands, regardless of what types of drinks they prefer. Since there are many options on this market, the purpose of this article is to offer a few general guidelines concerning output and features and make your choice easier in the process. Here is how to choose the best ice machine for your needs.
Ice Machine Variants
Apart from the expensive models that have a few cutting-edge technological features, there are three types of ice machines on the market. Typically, the way to distinguish between them is not by brand, but by looking at the compressors. If you check online reviews on reputable sources such as IceMakerPro, you will find out that the compressors will determine the machine’s output, energy consumption and efficiency, placement and, most importantly, its final cost. Therefore, the compressor type is the first thing you should take into consideration when deciding which unit is best suited to your needs. Here are the three types of compressors, in no particular order:
- The cheapest units on the market have air-cooled There are several reasons for this. The first one is that air cooled ice machines are extremely noisy, so if you live in an apartment, you might want to give them a pass. The second reason, which is deeply intertwined with the first, is that they need a lot of space in order to function properly, so throwing it in the closet and forgetting about it until the next party is not an option.
- Remotely cooled compressors are, from a technical standpoint, the most advanced ice machines that you can buy and, naturally, the cost will reflect this. Remote ice machines make the least noise out of all because the machine itself is installed outside, on the roof or on a concrete slab constructed specifically for this purpose. Despite the fact that this machine will surely dig a hole into your pocket, it is a worthwhile investment because it is capable of generating huge quantities of ice without consuming excessive amounts of water (a fact which you will quickly realize as soon as the first water bill arrives).
- Water cooled ice machines represent the middle ground between remote and air-cooled They do not generate much noise, but it could be enough to annoy a couple of nosy neighbors. They are not very technologically advanced, but they are capable of having a decent production output. However, the main downside is that, in order to function properly, they require two separate connection lines – one for the compressor, and the other for the ice.
Types of Ice
The next thing you need to familiarize yourself with before buying a unit are the types of ice. While the majority of ice machines are capable of producing ice in all shapes and forms, it is still a good idea to know them for future reference:
- Crushed ice/pellet ice. It is pebbly and composed out of tiny pieces. If you have ever went to a fast food chain, you have certainly tasted it, because this is what they put in sodas.
- Ice cubes and spears. These are one of the most appreciated shapes because they can be added to almost any type of strong drink, smoothing their taste without affecting the original flavor.
- Nugget ice. When it comes to the time it takes to melt, it sits somewhere between diced ice and ice cubes. However, there are not many drinks that go well with nugget ice. On the flipside, it is very easy to chew, a reason why it is given to patients who are experiencing difficulties eating.
Ice machines, in general, have a tendency of consuming a lot of energy, which is especially problematic for people who are concerned with the environment. Fortunately, there is an easy way to verify whether the machine has an excessive consumption rate. If the machine is certified and rated by Energy Star, you can safely assume that the unit is up to local environmental codes.
If you family’s ice demands are high on a regular basis, own a bar, or you are simply the type of gregarious person who likes to host parties, an ice machine is one of the best possible things that you can spend your hard-earned money on. But before deciding on a particular model, make sure to familiarize yourself with the types of machines, ice and whether or not it is officially certified by Energy Star.