Finding the Perfect Undercounter Ice Maker

If you’re in need of a commercial ice maker and don’t want to take up a large footprint, an undercounter ice machine is your answer. Undercounter ice makers are designed to fit underneath counters (of course) and are ideal for bars, cafes, even break rooms. Undercounter ice machines can produce anywhere from 50 lbs. to 350 lbs. of ice per day, depending on the model.

Self-Contained vs. Modular

When shopping for an undercounter ice machine, you may see them referred to as self-contained ice machines. There is a major difference between self-contained and modular ice machines. Self-contained ice machines serve as an “all-in-one” unit, combining the ice machine with the storage bin. Modular ice machines consist of just the ice machine head, and the bin is sold separately.

Modular ice machines are ideal if you know you are going to need a large amount of ice. They are designed to create anywhere from 250 lbs. of ice per day to over 1,000 lbs.

Types of Ice

Cube Ice

Cube ice is the most standard ice type you’ll see offered in commercial operations. Cube ice melts slowly and cools drinks quickly. Full cube, half cube, and regular size cubes are available (they may be referred to as “dice” instead of “cube.” Rest assured, they mean the same, the terminology just varies based on manufacturer).

Full-sized and regular-sized cubes are perfect for soda or alcoholic drinks because of their slower melt, which reduces watering down customers’ drinks.

Half cubes are known as the most versatile type of ice. They can be used in drinks, slushies, and are also the preferred type of ice for bagged ice. Half dice cubes have a lower production need, which saves money on energy costs.

Gourmet Ice

Also known as octagon or top hat ice, gourmet ice is a large type of ice that is ideal for higher end drinks, such as “rocks” drinks.

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice is a popular type of ice, specifically for customers who like to chew their ice. Also known as pearl, cubelet, or chewblet ice, nugget ice is soft, but hard enough to be dispensed. This makes it perfect for fountain drinks and blended drinks. Nugget ice does melt more quickly than cube ice, so you can expect more ice refills from your customers.

Flake Ice

If you’re looking for an easy way to keep displayed food chilled, look no further than flake ice. Flake ice resembles the type of ice you’d see in a snow cone. It can be used for food displays such as shrimp cocktail, or for buffet displays. It’s also a great choice for retail displays, such as seafood counters at supermarkets.


Compressor Type

Air Cooled

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

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.

Production Capacity

Commercial 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.

  Size of Typical Glass Used
Number of Glasses 4 oz. 6 oz. 8 oz. 10 oz.

25 lb.

37 lb. 50 lb. 62 lb.

50 lb.

75 lb. 100 lb. 125 lb.


75 lb. 112 lb. 150 lb.

187 lb.

800 100 lb. 150 lb. 200 lb.

250 lb.

1,000 125 lb. 187 lb. 250 lb.

312 lb.


250 lb. 375 lb. 500 lb.

625 lb.