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The Expert’s Scoop: 4 Tips for Upgrading Your Ice Machine

Cubes or crescent? Crushed or flakes? Nuggets or gourmet?

When replacing your restaurant, office, or store’s ice machine, did you know there are more than six shapes of ice to choose from? And that’s only the first factor to consider! There are also different dispenser styles, storage bin sizes, ice outputs, and more.

If choosing a new ice maker has you ready to meltdown, read on for 4 questions to consider before you settle on a new machine!

Question #1: How much ice do you need to make and store?

If you’re a smaller office that only needs a couple hundred pounds of ice a day, you may benefit from a modular ice machine— one that only produces ice. But if you’re running a busy restaurant or convenience store, a high-output combination ice/water machine with a built-in dispenser is the better choice for your needs. But before you over-zealously opt for an over- or undersized unit, think carefully about how much ice you actually need to make and store on any given day.

The easiest way to determine your peak need is to think about the busiest typical day you’ll be using ice. For restaurants, that’s probably Saturday. For offices, think about that mid-week day when the most team members are on-site at once. Take the number of people you expect to see on your busy day, and multiply it by 1-2 lbs— how much ice the average person will consume. To be safe, add about 10-20% to that number. Now you’ve got your peak ice need!

When picking out your new ice maker, don’t be afraid to mix and match machine and storage bin sizes if your ice usage is inconsistent throughout the week. Remember, ice machines produce 24 hours a day. A smaller machine that’s constantly accumulating, outfitted with a larger storage bin to contain the extra ice, may be just the right fit for your mid-level ice needs.

Question #2: What kind of ice is best for your business type?

With the storage and output question answered, let’s turn to the hottest question in ice production: Which ice shape is best for your business?

  • Cubed ice. This ice style is common in commercial settings because it has a slower melting time, which keeps drinks from becoming watered down. Cubes are typically the go-to ice shape for restaurants that serve liquor and cocktails.
  • Flake ice. You’ll see this most often at businesses that create cooled displays or need to keep foods chilled. Flake ice is softer and has more cooling surface area, making it an efficient way to keep food fresh.
  • Nugget ice. This ice is small, tubular, and rougher on the outside. It’s common in healthcare facilities where a high output of ice is needed 24/7. Nugget ice melts slowly and displaces more liquid— reducing the amount of soda syrup used per drink.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your ice style. But some
shapes are better suited for busy businesses than others. When in doubt, our team of bestin-the-business techs can help you compare the benefits of each machine type

Question #3: Where is the ice machine going?

Ice machine technology has evolved in the past few decades, but one thing hasn’t
changed— they’re still noisy! Some businesses choose to put their ice machine’s condenser
outside or away from the machine itself, connected by long refrigerant lines. Not only does that keep the heat and noise away from your unit, it can improve the efficiency of your machine and allow for multiple makers to run on a single condenser.

If setting up a remote machine isn’t an option, at least make sure you place your unit in a cool room with proper ventilation. Because ice machines work by constantly circulating air, a big machine in a small, stuffy room will have to work much harder than in a room with ample airflow. So give your system room to breathe!

Question #4: How will you accessorize your ice machine?

The last question to consider before upgrading your ice machine is how you’ll be using the
ice itself. If your ice machine will be available for self-serving, install an ice dispenser to avoid cross-contamination. For example, hotels often opt for a large dispenser so guests can fill their ice bucket without contacting the main ice source.

If you’ll be transporting the ice to another room or machine, sanitary transportation buckets, ice scoops, and gloves are highly recommended (by us and your local health inspector!).

Another accessory to consider is a heat exchanger, installed at the point where water enters the machine. This small-but-mighty device pre-cools the water entering your ice machine—reducing the machine’s workload and increasing your ice production speed.

Ready to clean or upgrade your on-site ice machine? Summon a sub-zero hero!

Routine maintenance keeps junk and gunk from building up in your ice maker— clouding
your cubes and shaving years off the life of your machine. When you schedule a
professional ice machine cleaning with Refrigeration Heroes, we’ll clean out corrosion,
minimize the chance of mold, and check the water temperature running into your unit to
ensure it’s operating at peak energy efficiency.

If today’s cool tips have you feeling inspired to repair your current machine, upgrade to a better-fit unit, or schedule your routine system cleaning, CLICK HERE to summon a hero. Our customer-centric team (and an abundance of crystal clear ice!) is just a call or message away!

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