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Ice Machines: Selecting the Best

Picture this: Your ice machine has just died and it must be replaced. The line up of products that the ice machine industry offers has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. So, what do you do?
Step 1: Gather information on the existing product. Get the brand and the model number for the modular unit and the bin. Note if the unit is air-cooled; water-cooled or remote air-cooled. If it is remote air cooled, you will have to find the remote condenser and get its model number as well. Take a look at the line routing, its length and tubing size. Note the refrigerant type.
Step 2: Ask Questions:
Did the machine make enough ice?
Did it put out too much heat?
Was it too loud?
Are you planning to expand?
Was the bin big enough?
What is the electrical capacity available?
Would two machines be better than one, with a smaller one in an under the counter spot closer to where the ice is used?
Changing to remote system? Where will the condenser go?
Water filters?, If they don't have them, add them to the list
Step 3: Answer the condenser question - Which one is ideal? A water-cooled model is quiet, easy to install and does not emit excess heat into the room. The trade off is the cost of the water. In many areas, water-cooled machines are not even allowed, so check with the local authorities. Self-contained air-cooled machines are the easiest and cheapest to install however, they make the most noise and exhaust heat into the surrounding air. Remote air-cooled models have a low noise advantage over water-cooled and use no more water than a self contained air-cooled, but they are expensive to install.
Step 4: Size the machine correctly for the use. Many ice machines are too small for the application. If an ice machine runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without shutting off, it is too small. Not only is it wearing out prematurely, it does not give the user any ice making margin they will occasionally have to buy ice. Do not specify a bin that is too small, because it cannot hold the amount of ice needed. Small bins may also be too low for ease of use. Having a bin that is too large can also be a problem, as ice that is not used tends to melt together and then is hard to remove from the bin (a little cold water poured on it helps to loosen it up). Remember: When specifying a combination of ice machine and bin or dispenser, be sure that all the necessary adapter kits are on the list.
Step 5: What is the desired ice form? Flaked, Nugget, or Cube? Flaked ice is best for packing food like fish or chicken, many supermarkets use it for displays. Nugget ice is good for that, but also makes a decent beverage ice. Cubed ice is universal, good for almost every application.
Ice Sizing Guidelines:
Fast Food
9 Lb. Per Customer or 7.5 Lb. Per Seat
2 Oz. Per 8-10 Oz. Drink
4 Oz. Per 12-16 Oz. Drink
6 Oz. Per 20 Oz. Drink
8 Oz. Per 32 Oz. Drink
Full Service
5 lb. Per Seat or 1.7 lb. Per Patron
3 lb. Per Customer
35 lb. Per Cubic Foot
7 lb. Per Bed
2 lb. Per Employee
3 lb. Per Room - More for Ice Chests
C-Stores-Customer Self-serve
4 Oz. Per 12 Oz. Drink
7 Oz. Per 20 Oz. Drink
10 Oz. Per 32 Oz. Drink
Cold Plate - Add 50% More