Types of commercial ice machines


From hospitals and restaurants to cafeterias and hotels […]

From hospitals and restaurants to cafeterias and hotels, ice machines are used in a wide variety of places to make loads of fresh ice. If your business is looking for a new machine, there are many factors you need to consider. Our buying guide walks you through different types of ice machines and other important options, including ice types, condensers, bins and more.

So what makes each type of ice machine different? The key variances are construction, size and how much ice they produce. Below are the most common commercial machines on the market:

Self-Contained Ice MachinesSelf-Contained Ice Machine-Type of Ice Machines: Buying Guide

Also known as an undercounter ice machine, a self-contained unit combines the ice maker and bin. The compact size gives you flexibility to store the unit in small areas.

Best for: Bars, coffee shops, cafes, small restaurants

Typical ice production: 75-500 pounds per day

Modular Ice Machines

Modular Ice Machine-Types of Ice Machines: Buying Guide

Looking to produce large amounts of ice? Then a modular machine the right option for you. This unit is also designed to sit on top of a separate unit, such as an ice bin, beverage machine or ice dispenser.

Best for: Casual and fine-dining restaurants, fast food chains, hotels, movie theaters, schools, cafeterias

Typical ice production: 250-1,000 pounds per day

Ice DispensersIce Dispenser-Types of Ice Machines: Buying Guide

This self-serve machine not only makes ice, but it also dispenses it right from the unit. Since a dispenser is designed for frequent usage, it’s considered a sanitary option because the ice isn’t expected to be stored for long periods of time.

Best for: Cafeterias, healthcare facilities, hospitals, hotels, lounge rooms, quick-service restaurants

Typical ice production: 75-500 pounds per day

Countertop Ice Makers

Designed as a compact, self-serve unit, this machine typically produces small, chewable ice. Select models that dispense water too, and it sits perfectly atop of tables and countertops.

Best for: Healthcare facilities, hospitals, lounge rooms, small cafeterias

Typical ice production: 50-400 pounds per day

Types of Ice Machine Condensing Units

There are three types of condensing units that are commonly used in commercial ice machines. Based on your business and local restrictions, you can choose which one is right for your establishment.


The most common type seen in commercial ice machines, air-cooled condensers are cooled by a fan that moves air through to cool down the equipment. If you choose this type of condenser, make sure you can provide at least 6 inches of clearance around the air intake so that it can function properly.


With water-cooled units, the condenser is housed within the machine and is cooled by water. Because of how this condenser is cooled, the unit will need a consistent flow of cool water to ensure it’s cooled properly. However, water-cooled condenser ice machines are perfect for commercial kitchens and businesses that can’t provide the space and clearance needed for an air-cooled machine.


If you cannot have an air- or water-cooled condenser ice machine, the third option is to choose a remote-cooled unit. With this set-up, the condenser is installed in a separate room or space from the actual ice machine. With a remote condenser, heat and noise are eliminated from the space, so remote-cooled ice machines are much quieter. Keep in mind, though, that remote-cooled condensers will need more care and maintenance, but if you can provide that, then this is the option for you.

Choosing an Ice Bin

Commercial Ice Bins-Types of Ice Machines: Buying GuideWhile select units can dispense ice, many ice machines require separate storage to hold ice. An ice bin stores all the ice created from the machine. Some machines include a shut-off sensor that triggers when the bin is full, shutting off the machine and preventing overflow.

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