How to Choose The Best Type of Ice Machine for Your Business?

Are you looking for the best type of ice machine for your restaurant, bar, hotel, smoothie bar, or coffee shop? With different types, styles, and sizes of ice makers on the market—it’s hard to know if you are choosing the right one.

Ice machine

We’ve collects some the steps you need to take, and the questions you need to cover, before you buy an ice machine.

Ice Machine Styles and Configurations

First check out the size of the space that you have available to put in your ice machine. Do you have a big kitchen space? Or are you looking for a small machine that can fit under the counter? Your ice machine retailer should be able to help you find commercial ice makers that fits into your space and meets your demands.

Modular Ice Machines

Modular units make ice, but do not offer storage. They are designed to sit on top of an ice storage bin or dispenser. These types of units can produce around 250lbs. to over 1000lbs. of ice per day.

Ideal for businesses that require large quantities of ice such as large or high volume restaurants, night clubs, bars, hotels, and hospitals.

Undercounter Ice Machines

Sometimes referred to as self-contained ice machines, under counter units are the choice for most bars, coffee shops, and small restaurants that need to save on space; under counter models fit under most 40” countertops. This style will produce and store up to 350lbs. of ice per day.

Ice Dispensers

Ice dispensers are available in both countertop versions and in large stand-alone versions (the kind found in hotels for filling ice buckets). Some models offer a water dispenser too. This style is often found in cafeterias, fast food restaurants, and healthcare facilities.

Ice Types

This is one of the first, and possibly the easiest, choices you will have to make. You will need to identify what style of ice cube will best suit your application. There are 3 main ice makers by type of ice.

Cubed Ice

Cubed ice is the most common type. It can be broken down into full cube, half cube, and regular cube.

Full Cubes (or dice) are square in shape, usually measuring 7/8” or more on all sides. This type of cube has a large surface area which will slow the melting process and keep your drink cooler, longer.

Half Cubes (or half dice) are slimmer than full cubes. You can place more half cubes in a glass than full size cube. This makes it ideal for fast food restaurants that often give customers higher amounts of ice to increase beverage profits. Half cubes are also suggested for blended beverages or smoothies because half cubes blend more easily.

Regular Cubes are similar to the shape of ice made in at-home ice cube trays, measuring approximately 11/8” x 11/8” x 7/8”.

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice is also referred to as pellet, pearl, or chewable ice. It is soft, easy to chew and melts quickly. It is most often used by fast food restaurants or hospitals and health care facilities

Air-Cooled Ice Machines

Air-cooled condensers are a cost effective option because they do not require additional water expenses. Ice makers by type of cooling units require about 6” of space around the air intake and discharge.

Water-Cooled Ice Machines

Water-cooled units are not affected by surrounding air temperatures. They are often used in spaces that exceed 80°F or have poor circulation. Water-cooled is popular option when ice machines are placed in hot kitchens. Consider a water-cooled ice machine if noise is an issue—these units operate more quietly than air-cooled.


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