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The three faces of ice

Three seems to be the magic number when it comes to ice machines.

Most of the important facts you need to know about buying an ice machine come in easy-to-remember sets of three.

A trio of machines

To begin with, there are three basic types of ice machines: modular, remote condenser and undercounter. Modular machines contain the icemaker and condenser in one unit, often referred to as the “head unit.” The condenser can be either air- or water-cooled. Average widths for modular machines run between 22 and 48 inches and cube production can be anywhere from 300 to 1,400 pounds per day.

The advantage to remote condenser models is that the condenser is located separately from the icemaker, thus decreasing the heat and noise generated
by the combination. Roof mounting is a popular option for remote condenser models. For both modular and remote condenser units, the ice storage bin is sold separately.

Undercounter machines are the all-in-one machines that come with a storage bin attached. They’re made primarily for bar usage and due to their compact size, their output is smaller and their storage capability is limited. Ice production for undercounter models averages between 30 and 100 pounds per day, and undercounter storage bins usually hold between 20 and 50 pounds of ice.

Three types of ice

There are also three basic types of ice: cube, nugget and flake.There is the standard cube, of course, but Hoshizaki makes machines that produce crescent-shaped ice; Ice-O-Matic has icemakers that produce shot-glass shaped cubes.

Nugget ice is slightly less than half the size of the standard cube and becomes chewable as it melts. Scotsman, a leader in this category, offers nugget makers that will churn out up to 1,300 pounds of nugget ice per day.

Flake ice is the smallest ice shape and is flatter and softer than nuggets. Modular flake icemakers, like those from Manitowoc and Follett, tend to have a smaller footprint than nugget or cube makers.

Triple buying tips

The Energy Star program, run by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, has three suggestions for buyers of commercial icemakers. First, purchase the largest machine you can afford. Larger ice machines are typically more energy-efficient than smaller models and the price differential may not be substantial. Second, install a timer. This allows you to cut down on your daytime electricity demand by off-shifting your ice production to nighttime hours, when energy costs may be lower. Finally, consider air-cooled icemakers over water-cooled models. The higher water cost can make the latter models significantly more expensive to operate.

(In fact, there are no water-cooled ice-makers that currently qualify for the Energy Star rating.)

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