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Choosing The Right Commercial Ice Machine

Is it time to optimize your business with the right commercial ice maker in Canada?

Commercial ice makers impact guest satisfaction in the food service industry. Thirsty guests are looking to enjoy the tasty, chilled refreshments your establishment has to offer. For this reason, the ideal type of ice you serve with your beverages and snacks make all the difference in customer satisfaction. As a result, this will also impact the profitability of your business.

How do you determine which type of commercial ice maker is right for your business? Afterall, isn’t all ice more or less the same?

Not exactly. 

Commercial ice machines can produce ice in a variety of shapes and sizes. Every shape and size of ice serves a specific function, and will be advantageous for different recipes. For example, large ice cubes are ideal for drinks that are intended to be enjoyed slowly. This is to prevent the ice from melting too quickly. Alternatively, nugget ice cubes are much smaller and absorb liquid more effectively, creating a crunchy snack for your guests to enjoy.

You will be able to determine the right type of ice machine for your business based on your menu. What types of beverages will you be serving? Do you require ice for other functions? Determine this before making any inquiries on the right machine. 

Considerations

What should you consider when shopping for your next commercial ice machine?

Firstly, you must forecast the demand for ice. Consider the number of guests you expect to serve, and the number of iced beverages you will serve each day? Naturally, this will depend on the type of business you’re running and the volume you’re expecting to produce.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, the type of ice can impact business. This isn’t a simple case of deciding between large ice cubes or small ice cubes. Instead, consider the many types of ice that are commonly available. Some examples include: gourmet ice, shaved or flaked ice, crescent ice, nugget ice, tube ice, and round ice.

Finally, it is important to account and budget for a regular maintenance schedule. You can expect to schedule maintenance 2-4 times per year. However, this frequency will vary based on the volume of your business.

Under counter vs Upright

Commercial under counter ice makers are ideal for bars and server stations. As the name suggests, these machines are designed to fit underneath countertops. This makes a great option for maximizing facility space and improving workflow. Depending on the model, under counter ice machines can produce as little as 50lb of ice per day, or up to 300lb of ice per day. While these machines produce a lower yield than upright machines, under counter ice makers can still adequately produce enough ice for businesses with lower volumes of production. 

Commercial upright ice makers are ideal for large establishments serving an entire dining room, or preparing food displays for large banquets and events. These machines can produce over 1,000 lb of ice per day. Furthermore, there are a variety of bin options for conveniently storing any ice already produced. As a general rule, you’re going to want to find a unit with a storage capacity of ½ or ⅔ of your daily required ice production. The reason for this is to stay well-prepared for busy peaks throughout the day.

Types of Ice Makers

Full Cube Ice Makers are ideal for soft drinks and cocktails. This machine will produce your largest ice cube option. Full cubes make a great addition to bars, hotels, and casual restaurants who serve visually appealing drinks. Full cubes are intended for drinks that are enjoyed slowly. This is because they cover less surface area than smaller cubes. As a result, full cubes will melt more slowly and prolong the chilled temperature of the beverage. 

Half Cube Ice Makers are ideal for soft drinks and blended frozen drinks. Half cubes make a great addition to casual and quick service restaurants, convenience stores, and smoothie bars. This size of ice cube is one of the most versatile. The extra surface area allows for quicker cooling of beverages. 

Crescent Ice Makers are ideal for ice dispensers, soft drinks, and bagged ice. Crescent ice makes a great option for most commercial kitchen facilities, restaurants, and convenience stores. This ice is similar to half cubes, but with curved sides. This is ideal as this type of ice fills a cup better than straight edged cubes. As a result, this is perfect for cutting beverage costs.

Gourmet Ice Makers are ideal for high-end liquors, craft cocktails, and premium drinks. Gourmet ice cubes make a great addition to upscale restaurants, bars & lounges, special events, and banquet halls. These bigger cubes are typically served with ice tongs and provide elegance and visual appeal to popular drinks.

Compressor Types

Air-Cooled compressors are affordable and easy to install. These compressors work with circulated air, and utilizes less water than other compressors. Furthermore, some types of air-cooled compressors also achieve Energy Star status for businesses looking for a more eco-friendly machine. Some things to consider when utilizing an air-cooled compressor is that these units are generally quite noisy. Furthermore, they can heat up and raise the overall temperature in the kitchen. 

Water-Cooled compressors require 2 separate water lines; one for the ice-making compartment, and another for the condenser. As a result, this type of compressor generally costs more and works more efficiently. Furthermore, water-cooled compressors are less noisy than air-cooled, and doesn’t increase the overall temperature in the kitchen. If you are looking to install a water-cooled compressor, it is necessary to check local restrictions prior to installing as various regions have different requirements for this type of compressor.

Remote-Cooled compressors are ideal for large ice machines. Machines producing over 500lb of ice per day are best suited for this type of compressor. Remote condensers are external and typically placed on the roof of your facility. These compressors are the most quiet and efficient in contrast to indoor air-cooled compressors. However, these compressors require a higher initial investment. This compressor type also requires professional installation. Remote compressors are installed when other compressor types are not suitable.

Find Your Next Ice Maker

Your next commercial ice maker will satisfy thirsty guests and improve profitability in the long run. If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen, Babak Food Equipment is ready to help you find the right ice machine for your business. Browse our website, or drop in to inquire about your next investment.