How to buy the best ice machine for a restaurant or business needs?

How to buy the best Ice Machine For Business

Restaurants need ice for a variety of reasons but that come from ice machines. These machines are available in many types that can produce and hold ice in varying amounts.

Even the shape of ice could differ and can be one of the important criteria to choose a specific machine. This blog puts together some important factors for you to consider before finally making up mind for an ice maker model.

Types of Ice Machine

Modular

Commercial production of anything generally boils down to huge amount. The same is true for ice as well. Modular Ice Machines do that very task. Because any size of ice storage bins can be attached to these machines, they are rightly referred to as ‘modular’. So produce as much as you need but do buy a suitable storage bin as well. These machines are typically handles by staff.

Under counter

If yours is a small set up, requiring less ice or you are just restricted by space while deciding upon the most suitable model, Under counter Ice Machine can be the answer you are looking for. These machines are also available for people with disabilities. And they could be conveniently used in homes as well.

Dispenser

Keeping public in mind, these machines are made to be used as conveniently as water dispensers that are commonly found in common public areas. Some dispensers have ice manufacturing unit installed in them, while others require to manually fill them up with the ice produced in a different unit located somewhere else though often nearby.

·         Type of Ice

Commercial production of ice could be in any shape and size, but the most common of these shapes are:

  • Square Cube: Used in Alcoholic drinks as they melt most slowly.
  • Top Hat: Mostly manufactured for their look, these are used in places that have to appear pricey.
  • Crescent Cube: Most commonly used, these are the popular of the al available ice shape choices.
  • Flake Ice: They are commonly used in packing material, especially for packing food items like fish.
  • Chewable Ice: People love to eat this type of ice without having to worry about breaking their teeth.

Therefore, depending on what type of ice you want most often, you need to make your choice of ice machine for purchasing.

·         Ice needed

Different commercial settlements would call for a different need in terms of the amount of ice needed. For example, if you are a restaurant, you could be good with 2 lbs. per person whereas that changes with Salad Bar which might need 30lbs. per cubic foot.

You need to watch on your need of ice on an average day and then on the busier days of the week. That would help you to determine the ice machine that best meets your requirement. Just decide on a machine that produces slightly more then what your overall requirement is.

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·         Storage

This one might appear as an obvious idea but is not, for most of the people. Since ice machines come with and without storage bins, you have to perfectly understand your need. You have two options:

  • To buy a storage bin separately, depending on how much you need to store on a regular basis.
  • To buy a ice making, storing and dispensing unit as one, single machine  

Modular machines are just the ice making units. You need to buy suitable storage bins. You can upsize and downsize bins that come with capacity ranging between 250 lbs to 1650 lbs. The machine and bin can be matched and adjusted after installation. It can dispense ice as limited by the technician. Do account for busy times. You might have to purchase top kit if your ice machine and storage bin are different in width or depth. To be sure, talk specifically with the sales representative.

Any unit which is not modular falls in the second category. You produce and store ice in the same unit and some also offer dispensing service as well.

·         Dispensing Ice

Ice dispensers are a common site where guests are expected to serve themselves, especially in a hygienic way without allowing contamination in any way. Ice dispensers are also of 3 types:

  • Manual: As the name suggests, these need to be filled manually. The staff personnel need to keep a watch on the unit if it’s going to need a refilling and fill accordingly. Instead of filling in the excess ice in freezers, it could be directly stored-to-be-dispensed in these units.
  • Self-contained: These machines cost more since the manufacturing and dispensing takes place from the same place. This initial cost pays off itself over the time.
  • Modular: This is ice making unit supplemented with ice dispensing unit and the two could be purchased separately. Often the ‘maker’ sits over the ‘dispenser’. Some of these need to be filled manually while others not. So make sure about the features of the model you have on mind.

Storage of all these is much smaller compared to the hotel dispensers and storage bins. But they are there to serve different amounts, so choose accordingly.

For bigger ice dispensing needs, there are two options:

Hotel Ice Dispenser: Need large amount of ice at a time? This machine has got you covered. These type of machines almost always do not have making units in-built so choose a making unit that goes best with the hotel dispenser to-be-bought.

Ice Baggers: As the name suggests, these are meant for dispensing ice into bags but bags can always be replaced by the containers of choice / need. Also, it allows room for branding and bulk packing of ice. Often, modular ice machines are mounted on their top.

·         Compressor

The type of compressor can affect the choice of ice machine. Depending on which part of earth you work in, you would want your ice making unit to have the best fit. Based on the type of compressors, there are of 3 main types ice machines:

Air Cooled: They produce a lot of noise in the process of sucking in and releasing air to keep the unit cool and functional and thus need space accordingly. Not having sufficient space could damage the unit due to excessive heat generation. They are the lowest priced models and common ones as well.

Water Cooled: Places that are hotter use water cooled compressors to negate the effect of outer environment. These need a constant water supply and thus are pricier than the air-cooled versions.

Remotely Cooled: These are essentially two units in one, where the noise is produced somewhere else (where the compressor is placed, which is usually on roof, away from the guest area). Obviously they are the costliest of all, but pay off in long term.

·         Maintenance

Although it comes at last, it’s the most important point because you would not want to spend most of your time looking after the machine itself when it should be working for you and earn for you. Talk to the sales representative to know about it and you would want to sign annual maintenance contracts with suitable vendors in your area.

So when are you making your mind on which ice machine would suit your needs best?

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