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Last Updated on May 14, 2018
If there is one thing that is worse than drinking a badly made drink, is drinking a well-made lukewarm beverage. Ice is one of those things that many people take for granted because it is so easy to obtain – you can either place an ice tray in the freezer for half an hour or simply buy a bag from every corner store or supermarket.
But if you are a fan of elaborate cocktails or strong drinks, you know that these methods are not quite enough. What you will need, instead, is a dedicated ice machine. While some people might consider these units as being unnecessary luxuries, they are actually extremely convenient and relatively cheap. But before deciding on a model, you should do your due diligence and learn some basic things about them. For that matter, we have comprised a brief guide with tips and general advices that will help you decide. Here is what to look for when buying an ice machine.
Types of Ice Machines
While there are not many types of ice machines on the market, it is quite easy to buy the wrong and feel like you have just made a faulty investment. If you want more technical information about what we are about to discuss below, you can check out Ice Maker Pro, an ice maker review website that publishes comprehensive guides and informative pieces about ice machines. Going on, generally speaking, there are three types of ice makers, each with their own positives and negatives:
- Undercounter ice machines come with storage bins and ice machine heads. They are specially built to fit under standard 40 “ counters and are able to produce up to 158 kg of ice per day. If that number seems a little too excessive for home use, you would be right, because undercounter ice machines, due to their output, are more suited to bars, hotels, and restaurants.
- Countertop ice makers, like the name suggests, are designed to sit on top of countertops. They are ideal for households that do not have the required space and utilities suited to accommodate larger models. A number of more advanced models even come with their own bins and can generate up to 181 kg of ice per day. But if you want a countertop ice machine solely for home use, you can make do with the lesser models.
- Modular Ice machines. These beasts, which are usually sold separately, are designed to sit on top of an ice machine bin, have the biggest output out of all the models. Depending on the unit, modular ice machines can generate between 113 and 453 kg of ice. Due to their high output, they are obviously not suited for home use. But, if you own a small establishment, like a bar or a cafe, these machines can cover the entire ice demand.
Types of Ice
Even the most inexperienced cocktail drinker is aware of the importance of ice. You can’t throw ice cubes in a martini and expect a thick, homogenous texture, and you can’t combine whiskey on the rocks or vodka with crushed ice because you will dilute the drink to the point that it becomes unrecognizable, losing its original flavor.
But nobody is born an expert, and learning the various types of ice and their uses is one of the first things you should do before purchasing an ice machine. Without further ado, here are the types of ice, together with a few brief explanations:
- Cubed Ice. By far the most common shape, and the slowest melting ice out of all existing types. Their thick and sturdy structure ensures that liquid has enough time to accommodate to the sudden temperature shift without killing off its flavor.
- Nugget ice is the middle ground between cube ice and diced ice in terms of melting time. On the downside, it does not go well with most drinks, thus it is mainly given to patients in hospitals because it is easy to chew.
- Crushed ice is pebbly and composed out of tiny pieces. Usually found in fast food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC.
- Flakes. You might recognize this type of ice immediately, as it is usually found in snow cones. It is great for preserving food on display, like meat, seafood and produce. As for cocktails, because the ice is soft, it is ideal for making blended drinks without the risk of destroying the blender.
- Crescent ice gets its name due to its half-moon shape. Thanks to its novel shape, the liquid flows seamlessly over it, with no splash and better placement.
Finally, we would not end this guide without talking about compressors. Apart from the output of the unit, the type of compressor is what sets machines apart when it comes to price. There are three types of compressors:
- Ice machines with water-cooled compressors are ideal if you are dealing with spatial restraints. These machines can be easily connected to your existing plumbing infrastructure, and work well in environments where the air temperature goes well above 25 degrees Celcius.
- Remote-cooled compressors are installed independently from the ice machines, usually outdoors, on the roof or the exterior wall. They are quiet, with a great output and energy efficiency. The drawback? They are very expensive.
- Air-cooled compressors are the cheapest possible choice – they cool the ice using the ambient air in the room, and have no water consumption. The main drawback is that they require a lot of space, as well as dedicated drains.
With trays and supermarket ice bags being sold so cheap at supermarkets, some people might consider ice machines as being unnecessary luxuries. But actually, they are extremely convenient if your family’s ice demands are high on a regular basis, or if you own an establishment, such as a bar or a cafe. Regardless of the purpose, before purchasing a unit, it is a good idea to know a few basic things concerning compressors, types of ice and energy consumption. Make sure to give this guide a thorough read and you will get all the information that you need.