The Ultimate Ice Maker Buying Guide
Ideas and Advice

The Ultimate Ice Maker Buying Guide

Ice maker machines used to be considered a luxury in most homes, but as refrigeration technology advances, they have become an increasingly common sight in American kitchens. We've come a long way from cutting ice from glaciers and frozen lakes to keep our drinks cool! Although most refrigerators these days come with ice makers, these may not be sufficient if you need a lot of ice. That's where ice makers come in: whether you go for outdoor ice makers or undercounter ice makers, or even portable ice makers, modern technology allows you to quickly and efficiently get lots of ice without having to carry a heavy, wet bag from the grocery store. There are some things you should consider when you're selecting an ice maker, and the experts at Appliances Connection will go over them in this post.

Types of Ice Cubes

 Ice Cube Types

If you're looking for an ice maker, you'll want one that makes the right type of ice. Many ice makers go beyond the cubes you can get from the tray you put in your freezer. In fact, there are five main types of ice that a home ice maker can create.

  • Crescent ice has a flat side and a curved side, making it look like a half moon. This type of ice melts slowly and cools your drink quickly.
  • Ice cubes are what people generally think of when making iced drinks. Cubed ice also melts slowly, but it tends to form bubbles in the middle rather than being clear.
  • Crushed ice is commonly found in the ice machine that may be part of your freezer: to make it, you take larger chunks of ice and break them down. This melts quickly, but it's great for use in blenders.
  • Ice nuggets are soft and chewable, giving your drinks a restaurant-style quality. They do melt quickly, but their large surface area makes them highly effective at cooling drinks.
  • Ice spheres make the biggest splash in your drinks. In addition to their striking appearance, they melt very slowly, cooling straight liquor with very little dilution.

Ice Clarity and Taste

 Clear Ice

There are a lot of factors that go into the clarity of your ice, but the main issue that causes cloudy ice is tiny air bubbles, along with other near-microscopic impurities in your water. This usually happens when ice cubes freeze from the outside in (as they do in a normal freezer), trapping the bubbles inside. While cloudy ice isn't bad for you, it can negatively impact the taste of your ice cubes.

There are quite a lot of ice makers on the market that create ice from the inside out, allowing air and other contaminants to escape before the cubes freeze. Check the spec sheet for the specific ice maker you're looking at in order to find out if it makes clear ice. Usually, manufacturers will also include this fact in their marketing material and product descriptions. Many ice makers also include water filters, limiting the amount of contaminants that make it into your water in the first place.

Daily Ice Production Needs

 Countertop Ice Maker

One important thing to consider is that the amount of ice an ice maker creates isn't connected to the amount of ice its bin stores. These are completely separate numbers, and you have to think about both of them when you're selecting an ice maker. If you plan on getting daily use out of your ice maker, it's a good idea to go for higher ice production capacity, even if it comes at a price premium. Nobody wants to spend half an hour standing around the ice maker, waiting for it to produce another batch. An ice maker that works quickly is also useful if you have a large family that loves cold drinks. On the other hand, if you won't be using your ice maker every day, it may be a better idea to spend less and get one that creates ice more slowly.

Ice Storage Capacity

 Ice Storage

The amount of storage space in an ice maker can vary greatly between machines, and the size of the ice storage area has no direct relationship with how quickly the ice maker does its work. If you want to see the maximum amount of ice an ice maker can store, check its spec sheet. When choosing an ice maker, one of the first questions you should ask is how much ice that you are going to need at a given time. If it's a small amount, an ice maker with a lower capacity may be right for you. If you're known around the neighborhood for your legendary backyard parties, a higher capacity may be just the ticket. Appliances Connection sells a huge selection of ice makers of all sizes, providing anywhere from 1.32 lbs. of ice storage to 35 lbs. of capacity, so no matter what your needs are, you'll be able to find an ice maker that suits those needs.

Installation Types

 Ice Maker Installation Types

Before you buy an ice maker, you need to know where you're going to place it. This allows you to choose an installation type that best suits your needs. There are three primary types of ice maker machine: built-in, freestanding, and countertop. These configurations all perform the same task, but with very different requirements and production speeds, so it's important to know the type of ice maker you want before you make your purchase.

Built-in ice makers are generally installed under a kitchen counter (which can be either indoors or outdoors). This means sacrificing space for cupboards, so if you don't plan on using your ice maker frequently, it may not be the best option for you. Built-in ice makers tend to be the most efficient when it comes to energy use, however, and they tend to hold the greatest quantity of ice.

Freestanding ice makers give you a little more room for creativity in placement: because they are not installed with your cabinetry, they can go next to a cupboard or even in a separate entertainment area. They do still require some floor space, but they are very easy to place and even to move if need be. Many of the ice makers that Appliances Connection sells can be installed either freestanding or built-in, giving you the maximum amount of control over your environment.

Countertop ice makers have the smallest capacity among this type of appliance, making them very versatile, portable, and easy to place for temporary use. With proper preparation time, you can have all the ice you need for your parties and keep the ice maker in storage when you aren't entertaining. These portable ice makers can be as small as 9 in. wide, so you don't need to sacrifice a lot of your countertop space, however!

Outdoor Options

 Outdoor Ice Maker

One of the latest innovations in ice making technology is outdoor ice makers. These are becoming more and more common in the field, and they are built to withstand even the warmest and coldest weather. This makes them a great option for people who want to build their outdoor kitchen, or who plan on having a lot of large outdoor get-togethers. If you want to find out whether your new ice maker can be installed outdoors, check its spec sheets and owner's manual.

Energy Efficiency

 Ice Maker

Ice makers are a lot like regular freezers in that they need a constant flow of electricity in order to function properly. If you want the convenience of having an ice maker machine while reducing your energy usage, look into getting one that's ENERGY STAR® certified. These ice makers are tested for their efficiency, and they use eco-friendly refrigerants as well.