Best Commercial Ice Makers

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
328 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best commercial ice makers

Last Updated October 2019

Taking a sip from an ice-cold beverage is refreshing and satisfying. Whether it’s sweet tea, soda, or a mixed drink, one ingredient stays constant: ice. Time is of the essence, though, when it comes to the cooling agent of our favorite beverages. It takes time to drive to the store for a bag of ice or wait for tap water to freeze in little ice trays.

Thanks to commercial ice makers, the wait for an ice-cold drink is no more. These efficient appliances are for genuine beverage aficionados who refuse to compromise on beverage temperature. They’re also gaining traction as one of the hottest home appliances due to their affordability and convenience. Commercial ice makers make ice quickly, with some churning out the first cubes in about 10 minutes. We reviewed some of the coolest ones on the market today to help you get the cubes you deserve.  

If you’re investing in a commercial ice maker, maintain it with a unit check every now and then by an HVAC/R professional with refrigeration experience.

Key considerations

Space

Commercial ice makers take up considerable space, though they’re designed to be neatly tucked away. Depth-wise, they don’t stick out much farther than a kitchen counter. Many are made to be installed into cabinets or walls, just like dishwashers or ovens. If you don’t plan to put it in either of those places, make sure it’s against a wall with an available water line and power outlet.

Output speed

Output speed drives purchase decisions for one simple reason: when you want ice, you don’t want to wait for it. Commercial ice makers with smaller outputs make about three pounds per hour, whereas larger-output models can make four or more pounds per hour. Regardless of hourly output, each model varies when it comes to the speed of the first churn, or how quickly the first ice cubes are produced. Some take as little as ten minutes, but some take closer to 30 minutes.

When shopping for an ice maker, output speed is expressed in three ways: how long it takes for the first cubes to produce, how much it produces in an hour, and how much it can produce in 24 hours. Mathematically speaking, these time periods are relative, but if you can compare them side-by-side with the same unit of measurement, it could help you isolate your selection.

This model is ready for parties and events of all sizes, whether it’s an intimate gathering around the pool or an all-out family reunion. The Manitowoc Undercounter Ice Machine is built to sustain heavy use with its restaurant-quality design. It can create up top 90 pounds of ice per day, and it even has energy-efficient settings through Neo technology to scale back on production during periods of low use or activity.

 

Bin capacity

The bin capacity of a commercial ice maker measures how many ice cubes it can hold at maximum capacity. Keep in mind it doesn’t refer to a frozen compartment that stores ice after it’s made. The ice will eventually melt, but luckily, ice makers are efficient enough to pull the water through the reservoir again to make a new batch of ice. If the ice maker keeps running, it will maintain maximum capacity as the freezing and melting cycle continues. On average, the commercial ice makers in this category have bin capacities between 80 and 150 pounds.

Type of use

What do you intend to do with your ice maker? If you’re using it to have ice for a few drinks a day, a smaller ice maker is ideal. If you expect to host guests on a regular basis at your home, investing in a larger one is a better choice. Small business or office use could go either way, depending on staff size. At the restaurant level, you’ll definitely want a larger model.

Warranty

When it comes to commercial ice makers, a substantial warranty can provide peace of mind. Every warranty is different, though, so do your homework to find out the details about what’s covered as far as parts and repairs go. Some manufacturers directly ship components for you to replace on your own, and others have partnerships with preferred vendors for more complicated repairs and service. For service-driven warranties, it’s important to see who the manufacturers choose as vendors. If they’re not in your immediate service area, it could take an extended amount of time before someone can come to your home or office.

EXPERT TIP

Test your water quality before buying a commercial ice maker. You may discover your water needs to be treated or filtered for safer or better-tasting water and ice cubes.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Custom settings

Basic commercial ice makers simply produce ice, and they stop producing when they reach capacity. More advanced models have custom settings, including timers, energy-efficient modes, and desired output volume. Some models also feature dedicated timers to initiate self-cleaning cycles. 

Self-cleaning

Because a commercial ice maker is an appliance — and a sizable investment — regular maintenance and cleaning are required. Some commercial ice makers are outfitted with self-cleaning cycles, and certain manufacturers sell compatible cleaning products. It’s important to have a maintenance schedule for your ice maker, as some manufacturer warranties could be negated due to cleaning and repair negligence.

CAUTION

If you’re bringing a portable commercial ice maker on a boat or by the pool, make sure the unit stays dry. Keep it out of the way of splashing water so the internal parts don’t sustain any water damage.

Commercial ice maker prices

Commercial ice makers range from $450 to $2,000. Price really depends on the level of custom settings and quality of internal components. Models at the low end of the range, between $450 and $600, usually have limited timer or cleaning settings but are decent performers.

Mid-range units, between $600 and $900, are constructed with better materials and tend to have more custom settings options. These models are ideal for those who entertain in their homes, and businesses that want to boost their break room appliance offerings.

Pushing the $1,000 to $2,000 range are the highest-output commercial ice makers. These upscale models are more efficient and can produce ice for prolonged periods of time. They’re geared toward restaurants and large cafeterias.

EXPERT TIP

Some ice cube sizes are better for certain drinks than others. Crushed ice is great for margaritas, whereas larger cubes are sometimes better for shaken protein drinks.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use the scoop. Whenever possible, use an ice scoop for machines where you can’t pull out the ice tray. Avoid putting glasses directly into the machine to get ice, as they could shatter. It’s also more sanitary, since reused glasses can bring contaminants inside the ice maker.
  • Get extension cords. The power cord for some portable models may run short, so invest in an extension cord. Be sure to keep the cord out of the way of foot traffic. If it’s on the floor, either tape it down or secure it against the wall.
  • Give it appropriate space to operate. Make sure the vents of your ice maker are not pushed against a wall or other appliance. They should be free and clear allow for airflow.
  • Account for noise. If you’d like ice for smoothies or cold beverages in the morning, you may wish to use your ice maker the day before and store ice in your freezer. Some commercial ice makers are louder than others, which could wake up people in your home.
  • Make a lot and save for later. Make a considerable amount of ice and store it in your freezer. That way, you’ll always have some on hand and won’t have to wait for the ice maker to make it.
  • Think about long-term placement. If you think you’ll be using ice every day, make permanent space for it. Commercial ice makers can be compact, but they do have some weight to them. Finding a permanent home for your ice maker will save you from lugging it between areas.
  • Consider the cost of fixing the refrigerator ice maker. If the price to fix your refrigerator ice maker is too steep between parts and labor from an appliance professional, a countertop ice maker is a cost-effective alternative.

The Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the perfect balance of size and efficiency. This compact ice maker produces one pound of ice per hour with a three-pound. capacity. For consumers on the go who look forward to ice-cold drinks at home or on the road, this Bluetooth-enabled model has a dedicated app, FirstBuild, which lets you set ice-making schedules. Perhaps the best feature is its chewable, restaurant-quality ice that can be viewed — with much anticipation — through a front-facing window during ice making.

Another product we considered

For those who like to travel on boats and RVs with minimal disturbance, the Igloo ICEB26RR 26-Pound Portable Automatic Ice Cube Maker is a great choice. It boasts noiseless operation and a soft LED-lighted control panel, and it starts making ice within seven minutes. The bright red throwback Igloo design matches other coolers and makes for a great conversation piece.

Store ice in uniform freezer bags or boxes. You’ll save space by being able to stack them, and you can pull out bags for individual use when necessary. It will also keep ice from coming in contact with other items in your freezer, which may have crumbs or other substances that can get into an ice bin all too easily.

FAQ

Q. Do I have to use filtered water for my commercial ice maker?
A.
  It’s not necessary, but some people say they notice a difference in the ice’s taste and clarity when using filtered water. Certain models come with a rudimentary internal filter as well, which needs to be changed periodically to maintain optimal ice and water quality.

Q. I’m having an outdoor party. Can I use my commercial ice maker outside?
A.
Technically you could but check to see the preferred conditions for the model you have. Some commercial ice makers are well-suited for outdoor use, as they’re not affected by ambient temperature, whereas others are most efficient indoors in climate-controlled spaces.

Q. I didn’t fill up my commercial ice maker to full capacity, and I know it can hold more weight. Is it all right to put my beer cans and wine bottles in it?
A.
Probably not, considering it’s an easy way to contaminate the rest of the ice around it. It’s also hard to know whether you’ve added too much weight to the bin with ice already in it, so it’s best to simply use your unit for ice to serve with your beer and wine.

Q. I just sold my home. Can I take my commercial ice maker with me?
A.
Provided it was not included with the sale of your house, yes. All you have to do is disconnect the water and power. Make sure it is properly packed and secured in the moving truck, especially since it’s stainless steel and could be dented if it’s not wrapped in some way.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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