Commercial Ice Machines Are Essential For Food Service Establishments
Commercial ice machines are invaluable pieces of kitchen equipment that can produce, store, display, dispense, or crush/shave ice. Ice can cool drinks and keep food frozen and healthy, making ice an indispensable commodity and source of income for restaurants, bars, or hotels. Ice can also relieve pain and prevent swelling, not to mention its soothing effect in physical therapy. Therefore, a commercial ice machine is essential for the food service, catering, hospitality, and healthcare industries.
How to Choose the Best Commercial Ice Machine
There is not a one-size-fits-all restaurant ice machine. Your business type, physical dimensions, and capacity requirements will dictate your best. While browsing for industrial ice machines, you will encounter a host of attributes and types. Below are the key considerations not to make this already complex task more daunting for you.
3 Types of Condensers Used in Commercial Ice Machines
Air-cooled condensers are the most common self-contained refrigeration. Air cooling systems pull in the cool air and blows this air through a grille with the help of a built-in fan. The forced air then reaches the refrigerant coils and cools down the unit. For a smoother fresh air intake and circulation, there must be certain clearance on all sides while installing an air-cooled commercial ice machine.
Commercial ice machines with air cooling are cheaper and easier to install. There is no need for extra wiring or pipes for installation. This maintains low-cost uptake with less labor. As they cool the unit using atmospheric air, they consume less electricity. On the other hand, the operation of a fan can, at times, be noisy. Given the hustle and bustle of foodservice establishments, this noise is barely audible and discomforting, though. Air-cooled condensers also exhale heat, increasing the ambient temperatures, which, in turn, may reduce the ice production performance.
Water-cooled condensers are self-contained systems, too. Instead of air, they pump water through the refrigerant lines to achieve cooling in the unit. The freshwater cools the refrigerant lines and discharges the heated air, ensuring cooler temperatures all the time. High ambient temperatures and more contaminants in the air will reduce the ice production capacity of your air-cooled commercial ice machine. In such cases, a water-cooled condenser can be a more reasonable choice.
When used with a cooling tower, they are the most efficient systems. Because freshwater is generally cooler than ambient air, a water-cooled restaurant ice machine is more productive. You won't have to worry about clearance requirements in installation. They also require less electricity. But, In the absence of a cooling tower, the system necessitates constant feeding of clean water, adding up to your water bills. The water pumped into the unit needs filtering not to induce harm to refrigerant coils in the system.
Remote condensers are air-cooled, too. However, the condenser is mounted in a separate location away from the commercial ice machine and attached to the ice machine with additional wires.
While harnessing the cost efficiency benefit of air-cooled condensers, you can also avoid the discomforting noise and increased ambient temperatures. A remote condenser removes the heat and noise generation drawback of air-cooled industrial ice machines. However, installing a remote condenser requires extra wires and lines. Therefore, assembly and servicing can be more laborious and costly.
5 Ice Types Commercial Ice Machines Produce
You may wonder why the shape of ice matters. Facilities operating an industrial ice machine will appreciate the value of the ice type. If you are new in the ice business, you will be baffled by the variability of customer demands about ice type. The ice-to-water ratio of each ice type differentially influences drink dilution.
The large dimensions of full-cube ice assure much slower melting and thus help preserve the flavor of drinks. They can also elevate the picture quality of your beverages. Therefore, if you need long-lasting ice for soft drinks or cocktails, you should go with the full cube.
Half-cube ice is the most common type, as it is suitable for almost every foodservice business. It also fits nicely in ice bags to sell in ice merchandisers. If the shape is not your primary concern, a commercial ice machine producing half-cube ice is your pick.
The soft and small nature of nugget ice makes it chewable. Since it soaks up the flavor of drinks, it can be served as a crunchy snack. Purchase a nugget ice machine if you are serving frozen cocktails, soft drinks, or ice coffee.
Flake ice is the perfect choice for displaying meat and seafood in a convenience store or food buffet. Because it has no hazard of choking, it is additionally great for medical use.
With its dense cubes, gourmet ice is the largest of all. Its breezy look makes it ideal for the presentation of premium drinks. Besides, it melts far more slowly, reducing the number of trips to your commercial ice machine.
Sizing Your Commercial Ice Machine
Getting an accurate estimate of your industrial ice machine capacity depends on how much ice your customers or guests need, which may vary according to the business type. For instance, ice consumption per customer in a restaurant is roughly 1.5 pounds on average, but around 3 pounds in a cocktail lounge and bar.
Even if these figures are approximate, they truly demonstrate the high variability of ice demand across businesses. Your establishment's needs can be unique because of the fluctuations in your traffic. Therefore, you may not want to rely on the average figures. You can reach a more calculated prediction by keeping track of your business volume at regular and peak times. Besides, you might need a restaurant ice machine also for food preservation.
In choosing the most suitable commercial ice machine, it would be wise to calculate the production to storage ratio precisely. When your storage volume lags behind the production capacity, you may end up with dissatisfied customers. A general rule of thumb is to choose an industrial ice machine that can store around two-thirds of the ice it can produce. Thus, you can prevent overproduction in case of high footfall and handle the sudden bursts during rush times. Overstored ice will melt and cause bacteria growth and extra effort for cleaning.
Types of Commercial Ice Machines
After getting a fix on the ice type, cooling system, and the amount of ice your business needs, the rest is a can of corn. You can now outfit your enterprise with one or several of the commercial ice machines below. These commercial ice machines have countertop, undercounter, or floor models.
Commercial ice bins are storage units that can stockpile up to several thousand pounds of ice. They are made of highly durable material to maintain perfect temperature retention to keep ice frozen.
Commercial ice makers can consistently generate fresh and clean ice in different shapes. Their modular design allows pairing them with an ice storage bin to catch up with fluctuating ice demands in your business.
A commercial ice maker with bin houses both production and storage functions in a single unit that can save you space. You can choose among varying ice production and bin storage capacities.
Ice maker dispensers are commercial ice machines incorporating several functions. They can make, store, and dispense ice and/or water without any human contact, minimizing the risk of contamination.
Ice merchandisers are ice vending machines capable of storing and displaying up to several hundred bags of ice. The snow-capped ice decals on their indoor and outdoor models are iconic and eye-catching.
A commercial ice crusher is a compact countertop unit that breaks up ice into finer pieces with its blades to offer a more customized taste to your guests. Most models can also be used as ice shavers or ice crusher blenders, enabling you to add an elegant touch to your servings.
An ice caddy is a portable ice bin that accelerates and mobilizes your ice business. With the featured design of their casters and durable construction, you can transport several hundred pounds of ice anytime, anywhere.
Ice is a profitable business, so you wouldn't like your industrial restaurant ice machine to let you down. Use water filters and periodically clean your unit as described in the manufacturer's manual. Thus, your money won't go down the drain. Finally, by shopping for commercial parts & accessories, you can operate a more practical and longer-lasting industrial ice machine.