SELF-CONTAINED ICE MACHINES
Choosing the right ice machine for your business can save you a lot of time, money and pain later on. If, however, the selection of a self-contained ice maker is providing to be a bit of a head-scratcher, don’t despair and read on: we’ll seek to answer the most common questions regarding the choice of self-contained ice making machines and help you nail it on the first try.
- What exactly is a self-contained ice maker?
- When to go for a self-contained vs a modular ice maker?
- What volume should I go for?
- Which factors should I consider when choosing a self-contained ice machine?
- Are self-contained ice machines the same as manual load ice dispensers? What about countertop ice makers and dispensers?
- How to maintain a self-contained ice machine in full working order over time?
Self-contained ice makers, also known as all-in-one ice machines or built-in units, are excellent entry-level ice makers. Just as their name implies, they provide both production and storage, all in one place. Using ice trays akin to those used at home (although made of metal), ice forms in the top part of the machine and then tumbles into the in-built storage bin underneath. A convenient one-stop shop for your icy needs!
Ask yourself the following:
- How much ice will you need? Self-contained ice machines have a lower daily ice production, from low double digits to only about 150kg per day (with ice flakers being the exception). When requiring more, you should go for a modular unit.
- What about storage? Built-in bins can store up to 50kg at any one time, so again, if you’re after more, modular is the name of the game.
- What space can you play with? Self-contained units take up less physical space and can seamlessly fit either on or under the counter thanks to an overall height of less than 1m.
If you’re after a small-scale, compact, and convenient plug-and-play solution to your ice needs, a self-contained ice maker might just fit the bill. Otherwise, you might want to look into getting a modular ice maker instead.
Your ice machine should be able to meet your demand of ice when it’s at its highest, plus some. We recommend to include a 20% buffer to ensure you leave yourself room for growth or potential spikes in demand as, once you commit to an ice machine, you won’t be able to increase your ice production—short of purchasing a new one. For many businesses, peak season is summer due to thirstier, outdoors-happy customers, but it can depend on other factors, too.
- Customer numbers: you’ve prolly got a gut feeling that your business is busier at a certain time of the year, but how much busier? A fool-proof way is to check your books to see how many customers that’d be.
- Temperature indoors: the lower the air temperature around the ice maker (and the water temperature), the less it has to work to freeze that water. It’s smart to place your ice maker in a spot where air flow, or air con, will help it out during those blistering summer months.
You’ve determined that a self-contained ice maker is what you want. Great, what’s next? Choose based on the following:
- Ice shape
Regular cube shapes or fancy gourmet? Chewable nuggets or soft ice flakes [link: Category: Flaker page]? Manufacturers really do spoil us for choice here.
- Daily production volume
Your ice machine should be able to make enough to cover your needs today as well as in a few years down the road.
- Condenser type
Air-cooled condensers are cheapest and work best in well-ventilated areas. Water-cooled condensers can take on even the hottest kitchen, but they are not as environmentally friendly. Remote-cooled condensers are the quietest option but require a separate installation of the condensing unit, usually outdoors.
What are your non-negotiable requirements? What about nice-to-have features? You can opt for a tried-and-true model or the latest innovation, engineered to make your life easier and save you time and money in the longer run.
Self-contained ice machines differ from manual load ice dispensers in that the latter will allow self-service by customers without any contamination risk at the push of a button or lever, but still require the staff to fill the unit with ice, therefore being potentially fiddlier than an all-in-one solution. Countertop ice makers and dispensers (such as Manitowoc’s SN12A and SN20A nugget-dispensing models take care of both the production and the dispensing aspects.
Quality ice machines are sturdy, steel-made affairs, however neglecting your ice machine over time can ruin it as well as interfere with the ice characteristics. If you don’t clean your ice machine on the reg, you leave common microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae, yeast and mould room to thrive. So make sure you follow the manufacturer’s care instructions and clean it regularly (usually every 3 to 6 months) using an appropriate cleaner. We also recommend using a water filter to help prevent mineral build-up.
We hope we’ve shed some clarity on your questions regarding self-contained ice makers.
Thinking of buying one? Give us a call and we’ll give you professional advice to help you choose the best option for you. Or browse through our self-contained ice machine range below. Now which way to happy hour?