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Commercial ice machines are a staple in the hospitality industry. They are found in all types of dining establishments from restaurants to bars to nightclubs. They're also widely used in hospitals, grocery stores, cafeterias, food service companies and laboratories.
Ice machines are sold in several sizes and with varying features and options. The model that is right for you depends on how much ice you plan to use each day, what type of ice you need and your budget.
About Commercial Ice Machines
Ice machines typically consist of three components: a refrigeration system, a water supply system, and a collection bin. Most ice machines are capable of producing several hundred pound of ice per day and most bins hold 80 to 100 pounds of ice.
There are two basic types of ice machines:
- Cubers are the most common. They create traditional cube-shaped ice and are widely used in the hospitality industry.
- Flakers create thin ice that is easy to pack and mold. Grocery stores use them for icing meat and produce, and they're also widely used in hospitals and labs.
There are also two basic types of cooling systems:
- Air-cooled machines are less expensive upfront but they cost more to operate.
- Water-cooled machines are quieter and more efficient but more expensive.
All commercial ice machines are outfitted with a switch that automatically stops ice production once the bin is full and resumes production when the ice gets low.
Commercial Ice Machine Average Costs
Commercial ice machines start at about $1,500 for a basic model with a bin capacity of 50 to 80 pounds. But you could pay more than $5,000 for a larger model with more options, capacity and storage. Generally, water-cooled ice machines cost a couple hundred dollars more than air-cooled machines.
- A Scotsman commercial ice cuber that produces 250 pounds of ice per day and has a storage capacity of 110 pounds sells for about $2,000 to $2,500.
- A Hoshizaki commercial ice cuber that produces 1,300 pounds of ice per day and has a storage capacity of 660 pounds costs about $5,000 to $7,000.
Price is an important consideration when shopping for a commercial ice machine, but it shouldn't be the only consideration. In addition:
- Look for a dealer that offers a solid warranty. Most offer short-term warranties that cover all parts and components and longer-term warranties that cover larger and more expensive parts. Be sure to ask for the warranty details upfront and in writing.
- Choose a dealer that has a proven track record of good customer service. If something breaks, you'll need it fixed immediately. Make sure you have several contact numbers in case an unexpected repair pops up.