Choosing the Right Commercial Ice Machine
Ice, ice, baby!
A steady supply of reliable ice in a customer service model is as important as the food and drinks they compliment. It’s often overlooked, yet ice is important, and the ice machine you choose should be specifically tailored to your business.
When investing in your businesses’ ice machine(s), consider the specific instances that ice is used in your venue. Here, we’ve put together the key considerations and models to help you make a more informed decision.
Health and Safety
Although nothing can replace the need to regularly clean your machine, filtration will help you maintain fresh ice. This will help to filter out any potential excess dissolved minerals that may be present in your local water source. Water that is purer also freezes faster, so the inclusion of a water filter will also keep your production efficient.
Microbial contamination is common in ice machines, particularly around crushed ice. This is largely due to unsanitary handling methods, so consideration of the accessories (such as scoops) and their storage (not inside the machine!) is vital. Clean storage bins are also important.
Responsible for cooling the ice machine, condensers are imperative for maintaining a constant cool temperature in your machine. Condensers are cooled by air, water, or remote condensing, with the most popular choice an air condenser. Cooling via a fan, air condensers are popular because their installation is simple, as is their ongoing maintenance.
If your ice machine is installed in a warmer part of your establishment or somewhere that temperature fluctuates regularly , a water condenser is a better choice.
If you would prefer the noise and mechanics of your condenser to stay outside the service space, a remote condenser is a good choice that will decrease running noises and take up space elsewhere.
Where will your ice be used? In wine coolers, or to cool cocktails or expensive gins? If you’re running a swanky bar, commercial ice nuggets are unlikely to finish your drinks in the best light, so think about every application within your venue, for example;
- Filling ice buckets
- Cooling drinks
- Serving seafood
- Direct customer dispensing
Head and Bin
Head and bin combos are designed to produce ice in quantities well over 136kg per day. While the head produces the ice, the bin stores ready-to-go ice that can be scooped as required.
Favoured in fast-paced environments, a higher volume is able to be produced and stored in the machine, while at the same time, slower production creates solid, transparent, good looking ice cubes right at home in a service environment.
- Restocking server stations around a venue
- Maintaining supply through long services
Through your busiest service, a correctly chosen head and bin style should keep you in a steady supply of quality ice.
Undercounter machines are, as you might’ve guessed, designed to fit underneath a counter. Whether it’s front or back of house, these units are overall more compact, producing anywhere from 20kg to 136kg of ice per day, and with a smaller storage bin.
- Restocking server stations around a smaller venue
- Producing a specialist ice cube
- Venues with minimal space available
Some will argue that the ice cubes produced by an undercounter ice machine are inferior to a head and bin thanks to a poorer density, but this will be overall dictated by your desired usage.
On the other hand, you may opt for a head and bin machine for the majority of your ice supply, while choosing a specialised undercounter ice machine that produces a particular style of ice cube, for example, a commercial gourmet nugget for special drinks.
Often seen on the customer side of the counter, ice dispensers are used when you require direct dispensing into cups or other vessels rather than a scoop. These are often able to dispense crushed or shaved ice as well as cubes.
- Nurses in healthcare
- Handy for self-service formats eg. complimentary drinks refill stations
The downside to ice dispensers is these are often slower to dispense, making them unsuitable for a fast-paced service environment.
Once you understand these key considerations, the usage relevant to your business, and your cost to benefit ratio, choosing the right ice machine for your business should be easy!
For any questions, talk to Fridgitech - we’re here to help you make the right decision.