Posted: May 25, 2006
So, it’s time to purchase an ice machine. Whether this is your first ice maker, a replacement or an addition to the ice making equipment you already have; these tips should help you select the perfect ice machine to meet your needs.
Which type of ice do you need? While various manufacturers coin terms like tube ice, crescent cube, nugget, top hat, and more, to describe their machine’s harvest, there are three basic types of commercial ice: cubed, flaked and crushed. Typically crushed and cubed ice are used for beverages while flaked ice lends itself better to fast cooling and use in displays such as salad bars and seafood cases. Crushed ice consists of small, irregular pieces made by crushing larger chunks of ice. Ice nuggets, made by extruding and freezing slushy flake ice into small pieces, are used primarily to cool soft drinks. Flaked ice is the most economical to produce and also gives the customer the perception of freshness. Cubed ice has a slower melting time and better displacement in a container thus, contributing to increased profits from the service of both soft and mixed drinks. More than 80% of commercial ice consumption in the US is in the cubed form.
Size matters. As a base guide, full service restaurants use 1.7lb of ice per customer; fast food restaurants, 0.9lb per customer and cocktail lounges, 3lb per customer. In other words: a full service restaurant anticipating 150 customers at lunch and 100 customers at dinner would use a minimum of 425lb of ice per day. In cafeterias and C-Stores where customers dispense their own ice, a 12oz beverage will consume 4oz of ice, 7oz for a 20oz cup and 10oz of ice in a 32oz cup. When looking at production figures, it is best to use the test standards set forth by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) of 90º F ambient air and 70º F water. Also, don’t forget that you are making an investment in a piece of equipment which will be with you for many years as your business succeeds and grows.
Where to place your ice machine? The environment where your ice machine will be located is an important factor to consider. Air-cooled ice makers use the most energy but are usually less expensive initially than water-cooled models. Water-cooled models are far more efficient than air-cooled units and suitable for hostile installation conditions where high water and ambient air temperatures would virtually shut down an air cooled machine. Remote air-cooled condensers transfer heat generated by the ice-making process outside of the building. Like water-cooled units, they reject heat outside of conditioned spaces and therefore do not increase air conditioning loads. There are extra installation costs for running refrigeration lines to a remote location. A hundred pounds of ice is equal to about 12 gallons of water. The amount of water used to make this amount of ice varies widely by manufacturer and model (from 14 to 35 gallons). Where water prices are average, water cost for ice making is 25% or less than the electricity cost. In areas where water is expensive, water use may be an important consideration. Whenever possible, select a location for the machine where the temperature will remain moderate throughout the year and where there is adequate perimeter clearance for your ice maker to “breathe”.
Ice machine manufacturers are continually making each new release more energy efficient than the last. Use this Energy Star Energy Savings Calculator to compare energy consumption vs. the cost of a new machine.