How To Buy An Ice Maker: Factors To Consider [Beginner’s Guide]

An ice maker is a kitchen appliance that primarily performs the function of making a large amount of ice. It is a worthwhile investment if you’re someone who uses a lot of ice on a daily basis and at the same time, has enough kitchen space to welcome this appliance. Thanks to all the benefits of an ice maker, it is one of those devices whose utility is realized only when you actually own it.


Why Buy an Ice Maker?

An ice maker offers a myriad of advantages. For one, an ice maker offers its users the with a convenient way to make ice. Given the fact that we’re a species that craves for instant gratification, having an ice maker means you no longer have to wait for ice. You can get it anytime you want it. Additionally, ice makers are really easy to set-up. All you need to do is clean the device, fill the water reservoir, and plug in the ice maker. 

Not only do ice makers make several pounds of ice everyday but also make it quickly. These appliances drop more ice every 7 to 15 minutes. What’s even more interesting is that you can use an ice maker that caters to your specific requirements. Whether you want nugget ice, bullet ice, or round ice, you have different options for each. That being said, an ice maker is definitely a worthwhile investment.

Types of Ice Makers

  • Built-In Ice Makers / Undercounter Ice Machines

    A built-in ice maker or an under-counter ice machine is an appliance that is installed right into your kitchen cabinets, thereby offering a seamless, integrated fit under the counter. These ice makers are ideal additions to any space they’re in. They can easily fit in any kitchen, office break room, or wet bar and offer you ice as per your requirement.

    Undercounter ice machines are ice-making devices that come in a variety of different widths, offer different shapes of ice cubes, and have different production capacities. While the smaller units can produce 12 to 45lbs of ice, the larger units can produce as much as 80 lbs of ice everyday. Built-in ice makers are, therefore, the perfect out-of-the-way convenience.

  • Freestanding Ice Makers

    Freestanding ice makers are ice-making devices that can be fitted anywhere in your home. They have the potential to produce as much as 20 to 50 pounds of ice everyday and offer a well-insulated storage bin. Such appliances can not be installed under counters or built-in to any tight spaces. A few demerits of freestanding ice makers are that they require a water line for installation and the free design offered by the device may not be an ideal option for a compact kitchen space.

  • Countertop and Portable Ice Makers

    Counter and portable ice makers are an excellent option for an apartment or a house with a compact kitchen space. The primary reason behind the same is that these ice makers are easy to store and smaller in size.

    However, their convenience comes with a drawback- they can produce only 10 to 30 pounds of ice on a daily basis. While these appliances don’t require a water line for installation and can also be stored when not in use, they might not fit in kitchens that offer limited counter space.

  • Ice Maker Kits

    Well, ice maker kits is a relatively newer term. It refers to add-ons for freezers. Originally, ice maker kits did not come with an ice maker. These kits are manufactured in a way that they fit into your freezers. Therefore, they’re an ideal option for homes with limited counter and cabinet space which don’t allow for an external ice machine.

    Additionally, ice maker kits come as a budget-friendly option when compared to other ice-making appliances available in the market. However, these kits are likely to reduce the space inside the freezer. In addition, given their small size, they’re capable of producing only 3 to 5 pounds of ice daily. And lastly, these kits are available only for some refrigerators and freezer models.

Factors to Consider Before Buying an Ice Maker

  • Production Rate

    The production rate of an ice maker is an important factor to consider before making the purchasing decision. Make sure you analyze the amount of ice your household or business uses during peak periods. Once you’ve done that, check the specifications of the ice maker to see whether its production rate suffices your needs or not. For instance, if it is an instant ice-maker, how instant?

  • Placement

    Where are you planning to set up your ice-maker? Will you put it on the counter or do you want it to be built into your cabinet space? Do you want it to be portable or fixed to one spot in your kitchen?

    Well, based on your placement choice, you can opt for a countertop ice maker, a portable ice maker, a built-in ice maker, or a freestanding ice maker. Make sure the space you choose is climate controlled, large enough, and offers plenty of airflow.

  • Type of Ice

    The type of ice varies depending upon your application. There are various ice options to choose from. The most prominent ones are cube ice, small ice, crescent ice, clear ice, nugget ice, pearl ice, and flake ice.

  • Capacity

    An ice machine will usually hold 80-85% of its storage capacity before it reaches the bin switch. Your ice storage capacity must align with your usage time frame. For instance, you will require only a small storage bin if you have an 8-hour window where your usage is comparatively stable, but if you utilize all your ice in a shorter span of time, you’ll need an ice maker with a large storage capacity.

  • Size

    Ice makers are available in compact size that ranges from 25” to 45” in height. When it comes to width and depth measurements, the most common variants are available in 12”-18” and 23”-25” respectively. If you want an ice-maker with a larger storage capacity, it’ll invariably have a larger size. On the other hand, if your ice needs aren’t a lot, you can opt for ice-maker kits which are the most feasible option in context to size.

  • Cost

    The price of an ice maker is directly influenced by the storage capacity you need, what other features you’re willing to pay for, and how long you want it to last. If you wish to opt for a built-in ice maker, you can spend as little as $200 and as much as $1000 and even more depending on the features you want. When it comes to portable options, the cost varies from $100 to $300. And lastly, for a freestanding model, the price ranges from $500 to $2000.

  • Drain Options

    More often than not, ice makers don’t waste their energy by maintaining freezing temperatures in their storage containers. Consequently, the ice will eventually begin melting and therefore, necessitates a drainage line to dispose of the melted ice. Two drainage options are available: gravity drains and drains pumps. Gravity drains are a feasible option if your drain is lower than the ice maker. On the other hand, the drain pump often comes in handy as it comes built-in into the ice maker.

  • Installation

    Ice makers vary based on their installation settings. While a built-in ice machine is made to fit in cabinets, a portable ice maker is built to rest on a countertop. A freestanding ice maker is designed to fit anywhere, whereas ice maker kits are made to fit inside an existing freezer. Apart from that, outdoor ice makers can opt for an outdoor kitchen setting. Lastly, commercial ice machines are a feasible option for restaurants and hotels that need to produce and store hundreds of pounds of ice every day.

  • Look & Style

    The aesthetics of your ice maker are also important given the fact that it’s going to occupy a pivotal place in your household setting. Usually, the models offer finishes that are identical to those offered by standard kitchen appliances. So, there are white, black, and stainless steel options to choose from. Apart from that, panel-ready models provide you with an option to personalize the look of your ice maker in accordance with the tone of the surrounding cabinets.

  • Energy Efficiency

    Ice making is definitely a hard process, and therefore, requires a lot of energy. However, this can mean high utility bills. One way to avoid this is to make sure your ice maker is ENERGY STAR certified. These ice makers use a comparatively lesser amount of energy than their competition, thereby helping you to save money.


It is worthwhile to note that all ice-makers offer the advantage of being self-contained. Therefore, they provide you with ice-making services and at the same time, occupy the minimum possible space. If activities like camping, tailgating, or hosting parties interest you, bringing in bags of ice can be a cumbersome job. Additionally, the ice you bought may not be of the best quality as well.

However, none of these things is a cause of concern if you have an ice-maker at your place. What’s more is that with an ice maker at your convenience, you’ll never run out of ice. Comparing different models of ice makers on the basis of factors such as capacity, cost, energy efficiency, and size, you can choose the right ice-maker for yourself.

Leave a Comment