Commercial ice machines are used in many different types of businesses: restaurants, hospitals, hotels and more. It’s not just used for cold drinks; it is also used for storage and food preparation. When you are looking to either buy a new machine or replace an existing one, there are a few different options to consider. Keep in mind that an ice machine has three parts: the water supply, collection bin and refrigeration system. Each has different costs associated with it.
There are three basic styles of ice machines: Modular, Undercounter and Countertop.
- Modular ice machines sit on top of a dispenser or bin (ice dispenser, soda dispenser or ice machine bin) and come in three widths: 22 inches, 30 inches and 48 inches. It generates from 250 pounds of ice up to 1000 pounds of ice per day.
- An Undercounter ice machine is just that; it fits under a counter that is at least 40 inches high. It has a smaller capacity and actually combines bot the ice machine and the storage bin. It generates about 350 pounds of ice per day.
- A Countertop ice machine is also self-explanatory: it is a smaller machine that fits on top of a counter. It usually makes the easier-to-chew nugget-style ice, generating about 400 pounds per day.
In addition to the ice machine that you choose, you also need to take into account the type of compressor that will be best for your budget and needs. There are also three types of compressors to choose from: Air-Cooled, Water-Cooled or Remote-Cooled.
- Air-cooled compressors are generally more cost-effective, simply because there are no additional water costs that have to be factored in. They are also more environmentally-friendly, even earning the Energy Star Compliance endowment. In order to work effectively, air-cooled compressors need six inches of space around the discharge and intake areas.
- Water-cooled compressors are more expensive than air-cooled compressors because of the extra water costs. A water-cooled compressor is a good idea if the air is contaminated (with grease particles, for example), poor air circulation or there are not the needed 6-inches of space around the compressor.
- Remote-cooled is usually a last resort and much more expensive. It is set up outdoors (most likely on the roof where it is out of the way) and utilizes a refrigerant lines in order to cool the compressor. It is much quieter than either air-cooled or water-cooled compressors.
How Much Will it Cost?
So how much does an ice machine cost? Of course that depends on which type of ice machine you choose, as the commercial ice machine prices differ according to the model and size.
A smaller unit will cost around $1,500 - $2,000 for a new machine or $500 - $750 for a used model. The bin capacity for a smaller machine of this cost will be around 50 – 80 pounds (ideal for smaller restaurants or cafes).
A larger unit starts at around $5,000 for a new machine, but that allows for more options as well as bigger capacity and storage.
Water-cooled machines will usually cost at least a few hundred dollars more than air-cooled machines.
A couple of examples of popular brands and commercial ice machine prices are the Scotsman (which generates about 250 pounds per day and stores 110 pounds per day of ice) sells for $2,000 - $2,500, and the larger Hoshizaki (which generates 1,300 pounds and stores 660 pounds of ice per day) which sells for $5,000 - $7,000.
What Other Costs Are Involved?
When purchasing a commercial ice machine you have to consider more than just the ice machine cost.
For maintenance, you will want to keep changing the filter. The filter will keep mineral deposits from building up, resulting in better-tasting ice, lower energy use, more efficiency, more ice production and a longer-lasting ice machine.
But even with a filter you will want to clean your ice machine regularly in order to keep your machine running top-notch.
What Types of Ice?
Not only do you need to keep in mind cleaning and other maintenance costs, you will also want to decide the type of ice you need for your business. Like the style and compressor type, the types of ice that are available also comes in threes: Cubed ice, Nugget ice and Flaked ice.
Cube ice is the most common type of ice. It is slower-melting so it will keep drinks colder for longer.
Nugget ice is also slow-melting and is easier to chew because it is softer (this makes it popular with the healthcare industry). It is also known as chewblet ice or compressed nugget ice.
Flake ice is also softer, and it is smaller and moldable. This makes it ideal for blended drinks or to keep items cold on a salad bar.
Whichever machine you choose, keep in mind not only your needs but also the space where your machine will occupy. A floor drain near the ice machine is a good idea as well as a higher-capacity power supply.