For most establishments, an air-cooled ice machine is going to be the best option. Air cooled machines use fans to move air over the condenser to remove heat from the unit. They are the simplest to install and maintain, as all the components are contained within the unit.
One thing that must be considered when purchasing an air-cooled ice maker is clearance. The machine needs to have a minimum amount of space between it and the ceiling/walls for it to have the airflow needed to run smoothly.
Water-cooled condensers are, quite frankly, more expensive to operate than air-cooled condensers. The reason for that is in the name – water consumption is much higher due to the water needed to continuously flow through the condenser in order to keep the unit cool.
However, a water-cooled option works if your space doesn’t allow for an air-cooled condenser. It is also ideal in environments where there is a lot of grease-laden air, or where the ambient temperature is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Hotels use water-cooled condensers a lot because they tend to cram their units in corners in hallways or closets, where proper ventilation just isn’t possible.
Remote-cooled units have a lot of benefits. Rather than being contained within the ice maker, the remote condenser is located elsewhere, typically on the roof of the building. Refrigerant travels from the machine to the condensing unit to be cooled, and then sent back to the ice machine. Having a remote unit eliminates noise and heat from the area around the ice machine. However, you will pay more upfront, as you’ll need a qualified HVAC technician to install the unit.
Ice machines are rated based on the amount of ice they can produce within a 24-hour period. Determining your ice needs depends on several factors. If you’re starting a new business, you want to account for potential growth. Where do you see your needs evolving? It’s better to overestimate your usage than underestimating it, so keep that in mind when deciding. Also, think of your busiest day, and what the demands would be on that day, and use that as a guide to decide the proper size. That way, you won’t run out of ice on your busiest day.
Our Product Consultants can work with you as well to help determine what size machine is best for you. The below beverage sizing guide is a good rule of thumb to get in the ballpark of what you need.