How to Choose an Ice Maker

Selecting the right ice maker for your needs can be a challenging task, given the variety of options available in the market. From portable ice makers to built-in units, each type comes with its own set of features and specifications. In this post, we will discuss the factors you need to consider when choosing an ice maker, as well as the different types of ice makers available.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Ice Maker

1. Type of Ice Maker

There are three main types of ice makers to choose from:

  • Portable Ice Makers: These compact units are perfect for small kitchens, RVs, or boats. They don’t require a water line connection, and you can easily move them around as needed. However, they typically have a smaller ice production capacity compared to other types.
  • Built-In or Undercounter Ice Makers: These units are designed to be installed under a countertop or within cabinetry. They require a dedicated water line and drain connection but offer a larger ice production capacity compared to portable models. They are ideal for home bars, kitchens, or commercial establishments.
  • Modular Ice Makers: These commercial-grade machines are designed to work with separate ice storage bins or dispensers. They offer the highest ice production capacity and are ideal for restaurants, hotels, or large events.

2. Ice Production Capacity

Consider how much ice you will need daily and choose an ice maker that can meet your requirements. Ice production capacity is usually measured in pounds per day (lbs/day). Portable ice makers typically produce between 26-50 lbs/day, while built-in and modular units can produce anywhere from 50-1000 lbs/day or more.

3. Ice Storage Capacity

The storage capacity of an ice maker refers to how much ice it can hold at a given time. This is an important factor to consider, as it determines how often you’ll need to empty the storage bin. Portable ice makers usually have a storage capacity of 1-3 lbs, while built-in and modular units can hold anywhere from 12-100 lbs or more.

4. Type of Ice

Different ice makers produce different types of ice, such as:

  • Nugget Ice: Soft, chewable ice that’s perfect for cocktails, soft drinks, and blended beverages.
  • Cubed Ice: Clear, solid ice cubes that are ideal for chilling beverages without diluting them.
  • Crescent Ice: Half-moon shaped ice that’s less prone to clumping and works well in a variety of applications.
  • Bullet Ice: Hollow, cylindrical ice that’s suitable for general-purpose use.

Choose an ice maker that produces the type of ice you prefer or require for your specific needs.

5. Size and Installation Requirements

Consider the available space in your kitchen, bar, or commercial establishment when choosing an ice maker. Portable ice makers are compact and don’t require installation, while built-in and modular units have specific installation requirements, such as water line and drain connections. Make sure to measure your available space and check the dimensions of the ice maker before making a purchase.

6. Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient ice makers consume less electricity and water, which can save you money on utility bills. Look for models with the ENERGY STAR certification, as they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

7. Price and Warranty

Ice makers can range in price from around $100 for portable units to several thousand dollars for high-capacity commercial machines. Set a budget and consider the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A longer warranty period usually indicates a higher-quality product.

Types of Ice Makers: A Closer Look

Portable Ice Makers


  • Compact and easy to move
  • No installation required
  • Affordable


  • Smaller ice production and storage capacity
  • May require frequent emptying and refilling

Built-In or Undercounter Ice Makers


  • Larger ice production and storage capacity
  • Can be seamlessly integrated into your kitchen or bar design
  • Produces ice continuously


  • Requires professional installation
  • More expensive than portable units

Modular Ice Makers


  • Highest ice production capacity
  • Ideal for commercial establishments or large events
  • Can be paired with various storage bins or dispensers


  • Requires professional installation and a separate storage bin or dispenser
  • Most expensive option


When choosing an ice maker, consider factors such as the type of ice maker, ice production and storage capacity, type of ice, size and installation requirements, energy efficiency, price, and warranty. By evaluating these factors and understanding the pros and cons of each type of ice maker, you can find the perfect unit to meet your needs and enjoy a constant supply of fresh, cold ice.

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