Best Outdoor Ice Makers

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

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

45 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
139 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Why trust BestReviews?
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best outdoor ice makers

Last Updated August 2019

If you regularly entertain outdoors, it can be frustrating to constantly leave the party in order to get more ice indoors. With an outdoor ice maker, however, you can keep plenty of ice close at hand for whenever you need it. No need to miss out on any of the fun! Outdoor ice makers are also useful for outdoor bars and for anyone who wants to serve cold drinks at a market stall or similar.

Of course, outdoor ice makers still need to be kept under cover, as they're not waterproof — though you could position a portable one out in the open on a dry day. You'll need access to a power outlet to run an ice maker, and there are more factors to consider, too, such as ice production capacity, storage capacity, and the shape and type of ice produced.

If you’re in need of a handy outdoor ice maker, we’ve got you covered. This guide will give you all the information you need to pick the best one for your requirements. To make shopping easy, we’ve also spotlighted several of our favorite top-performing outdoor ice makers for your perusal.

Choose an outdoor ice maker that's fairly lightweight if you intend to store it indoors during the winter.

Key considerations

Large ice makers vs. portable ice makers

Outdoor ice makers fit into two broad categories: large ice makers (full-size and under-counter options) and portable ice makers.

If you want to set up a permanent outdoor kitchen or turn your garage into a bar area, a large outdoor ice maker is the way to go. You can attach the appliance to your home’s water supply and set up a draining system, which means no refilling water reservoirs or emptying water from melted ice.

Large ice makers like these often have larger production and storage capabilities than portable models. The downside is the high price and the fact that you need to have a covered area in which to set up your appliance.

Portable outdoor ice makers aren't intended for full-time outdoor use, but you can easily bring yours outside when you need it. Due to the portable and compact nature of this appliance, you can use it anywhere you have access to a power outlet, even if you need to run an extension cord. Portable models tend to be inexpensive compared to large ice makers, and their production capacities are reasonable — many can make up to 50 pounds of ice per day.

Production capacity

The production capacity of an outdoor ice maker is how much ice it can produce in a set amount of time. This is usually listed as the number of pounds produced in a 24-hour period. Production capacity ranges from around 12 pounds in 24 hours for compact models to up to 500 pounds in 24 hours for high-end commercial units. For home use, something at the lower end of that range would likely suffice.

Storage capacity

Once your ice machine makes a round of ice, it drops the ice into a storage area to be held until you need it. Portable outdoor ice makers generally have fairly small storage capacities — usually no more than a couple of pounds. Large outdoor ice makers tend to hold around 30 pounds of ice, though the biggest commercial models can store up to several hundred pounds of ice.

Ice type

You should also check what type of ice is produced by any outdoor ice maker you're considering. There are more types of ice than you might realize: classic cubes, half cubes, bullet pieces of varying sizes, non-clumping crescent ice, flaked ice, chewable nuggets, totally clear gourmet ice, and more. Some buyers don't particularly mind what type of ice their ice maker produces, but others have strong preferences.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some outdoor ice makers have reversible doors, so you can set them up to open in whichever direction works best in your space.

Features

Ice size settings

Some outdoor ice makers allow you to choose ice cube sizes. Check the specs, as products vary in this regard. One machine might give you a choice between small and large cubes, whereas a slightly more sophisticated machine may up your choices to three: small, medium, and large cubes.

Small cubes are usually quicker to produce but will melt more quickly in your drink.

Drain

When the ice in the storage container starts to melt, your excess water needs to go somewhere. Some ice makers feature a drain hose that automatically siphons off the water, directing it down a drain or to another appropriate spot.

Water recycling

You can find newer outdoor ice makers with a water recycling function. Rather than draining the water from melted ice, this water is recycled to produce more ice, which helps to save water.

Water filters

Some outdoor ice makers have built-in water filters, so the water used to make your ice is as clean and pure as possible.

Outdoor ice maker prices

Now that you know a little more about outdoor ice makers, how much should you expect to pay for one? This varies depending on a range of features, such as production capacity, size, and style.

Inexpensive outdoor ice makers cost around $100 to $200. These are predominantly portable models.

Mid-range outdoor ice makers are priced at around $200 to $600. If you want a large built-in or freestanding model for home use, you'll be able to find a suitable option within this price range.

High-end outdoor ice makers cost roughly $1,000 to $2,000, though you may find a few for a little less. These are high-capacity models designed for commercial use. They're great if you're running an outdoor bar or similar, but they are unnecessary even for large parties at home.

EXPERT TIP

If you're buying an under-counter ice maker for an outdoor kitchen, check the counter height and depth to ensure it will fit flush.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you need to connect your outdoor ice maker to the water supply, it's fairly simple if you have the correct connections in place. Otherwise, you'll probably need a professional to install it.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Check the size of any outdoor ice maker you're considering. Portable models should be compact enough to easily move from point A to point B when you need them. Non-portable options must be of the correct size to fit the space you intend for them.

  • Look for models with Energy Star certification. An Energy Star-certified outdoor ice maker uses less power than other models, which is better for the environment and for your bank balance.

  • Think about how regularly you'll use your outdoor ice maker. Commercial-grade models can cost thousands but would be overkill for occasional home use. It isn't a great idea to spend a huge amount on an appliance that you'll only use lightly or once in a while.

  • Consider the climate you live in when choosing an outdoor ice maker. In hot, dry areas, you might be able to set it up for the whole summer without worrying about rain, whereas in wet areas, even a solid awning won't protect it from driving rain.

Other products we considered

We have some alternative suggestions in case none of our top choices fit the bill. If you're after an under-counter size ice machine to fit permanently in an outdoor kitchen, covered poolside area, or outbuilding, the EdgeStar Built in Ice Maker is an excellent option. The front venting means it can be built right in, but it also works as a freestanding appliance. It can produce 12 pounds of ice per day and has a storage area for six pounds of ice.

The hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker is surprisingly compact considering it can produce 26 pounds of ice in 24 hours. There's no installation required, so you can use it anywhere with a power outlet, though you will need to occasionally refill the water reservoir. The Arctic-Pro Portable Digital Ice Maker is a similar choice. We love the convenient timer function for those times when you don't need your ice maker running all day.

If you need a slightly higher capacity, the COSTWAY Ice Maker is another portable option that can be used outdoors. It can make 48 pounds of ice in 24 hours and offers small, medium, and large ice sizes.

Check how long it takes your chosen outdoor ice maker to produce ice. Slow or low-output ice makers may not be sufficient for parties or large gatherings.

FAQ

Q. Where should I position my outdoor ice maker?

A. Despite the name, outdoor ice makers can't be set up just anywhere outside. If you choose a large freestanding or built-in model that will stay in position year round (or at least during the warmer months), it must be installed somewhere that is covered. Many people place their outdoor ice makers under a hardtop awning or patio cover. You can be more flexible with portable ice makers, since you can move them to wherever you want; it doesn't matter if they're under cover as long as it isn't raining. With any outdoor ice maker, however, you will need access to a power outlet for it to run.

Q. Does an outdoor ice maker need to be hooked up to a water supply?

A. Non-portable outdoor ice makers usually give you the option to connect to your water supply. Those that aren't plumbed into a water supply have a reservoir that must be filled manually — the ice machine draws from this to make ice. If you choose to plumb in your outdoor ice maker, you'll need the correct attachment points in your pipes. Otherwise, a plumber will need to make some changes.

Q. Do outdoor ice makers have a timer function? 

A. Yes, some outdoor ice makers have a timer function. You can set them to start producing ice at a particular time or to switch off at a particular time.

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

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