Buyers Guide for Commercial Ice Machines

Keeping and maintaining ice machines in commercial establishments and guest facilities is absolutely critical. But when it comes to ice machines people who are not well informed of what they are buying may make the wrong decision and purchase a machine that will not suite their needs. A smart buyer will make sure they are getting exactly what they will need. There are many questions you will need to ask yourself before buying an ice machine for your establishment. Click Here to browse our commercial ice machines.


Did You Know?

Ice machines come in a variety of cube types. Certain ice shapes are better for a specific application than others. For example, flake ice (softer and more like snow) is generally better and more efficient for stores who pack frozen seafood on display. If you will need to "pack" your product in ice, a flaker may be better.


How Much Ice Do I Need?

This is probably the first question you will need to ask yourself. Knowing how much ice you will need for your restaurant, bar or other food service establishment will keep you from getting an ice machine that is too big or just simply not enough. The following guidelines will help you in deciding what is right for you.


Restaurants & Bars

  • Full-Service Restaurants - 4 lbs. per customer
  • Fast Food Restaurants - 4 lbs. per customer
  • Iced Salad Bars - 36 lbs. per square foot
  • Bars and Cocktail Lounges - 4 lbs. per customer
  • Cafeteria - 3 lbs. flake/cubed ice per person. 5 oz. flaked/cubed ice per 8-10 oz beverage
  • Carryout Food Service - 8 oz. flake/cube ice per 12-16 oz. beverage


Hospitals and Guest Facilities

  • Schools and Educational Facilities - 4 lbs. per person
  • Hospitals - 7 lbs. flake/cube ice per bed
  • Nursing Homes - 6 lbs flake/cube ice per bed
  • Hotels and Motels - 6 lbs. flake/cubed ice per guest
  • Correctional Facilities - 7 lbs. per person


Stores & Retail Establishments

  • Supermarket Seafood Displays - 37 lbs. flake/cube ice per cubic feet of display. Flake ice is recommended.
  • Supermarket Iced Produce Displays - 61 lbs. flake/cube ice per cubic feet of display
  • Convenience Stores - 4 lbs. cube ice per person


How Much Ice Will I Really Get?

When choosing an ice machine and bin be aware of ARI ratings. Most restaurant supply merchants give their customers the standard manufactures rating of ice yield. These numbers are generated under "ideal" and usually unrealistic conditions: 70°F air and 50°F water. For everyone else who keeps their ice machine in a place such as a restaurant kitchen or storage area an ARI rating will be far more accurate and generally yields numbers typically 30% less than what the manufacturer tells you.

(Air-conditioning and Refrigerating Institute) test equipment in their laboratory to generate numbers that will more accurately reflect real life usage. Their laboratories let the ice machines operate in a controlled and consistent environment. Their "standard 810" rating uses the following:

  • Ambient temperature: 90.0ºF [32.2ºC] (For a Split System Ice-Maker, the
    condenser air inlet temperature shall be 90.0ºF [32.2ºC] with the indoor ambient
    temperature 90.0ºF [32.2ºC])
  • Water Inlet Temperature: 70.0ºF [21.1ºC]
  • Water Inlet Pressure: 30.0 +_ 3.0 psig [207 +_21.0 kPa] (ARI, Standard 810.
    pg. 2)

Jean's Restaurant Supply takes this into consideration when listing our ice machines. That's why you will see our ice ratings listed under both ARI and manufacturers' specifications. When you search for a 500 lbs. ice machine, we will offer you a machine that really yields you 500 lbs. Make sure to read the tech sheets for each ice machine and bin to review all the data before making a purchase. And as always, call us if you are ever unsure.


Remember That Ice is Food

Ice is used in a broad spectrum of industries. But never forget that ice is considered food. When used with beverages or when used to cool food, the ice is also consumed. Even when the ice is used solely for display purposes such as seafood and fish markets the ice is in constant contact with the product. The water used for producing ice must be potable drinking water. Water filters are always recommended when purchasing any kind of ice machine. This not only keeps your water more sanitary, it prolongs the life of the ice machine itself. Some manufacturers will extend their warranty if you purchase their water filters and ice machine together.


Ice Style

  • Dice Cube .............7/8" x 7/8" x 7/8" 100% ice to water ratio
  • Half Dice Cube .....3/8" x 1-1/8" x 7/8" 100% ice to water ratio
  • Regular Cube.........1-1/8" x 1-1/8" x 7/8" 100% ice to water ratio
  • Gourmet Cube ......1-3/8" x 1-3/8" octagon shape cube (SM-50 model). 100% ice to water ratio
  • Large Gourmet ......2" tall x 1-1/2" wide x 1- 3/4" thick. 60 grams, 100% ice to water ratio
  • Nugget Ice.............Countertop, Undercounter and Modular Ice Makers 3/8" to 1/2" pieces 90% ice to water ratio
  • Tubular Nugget Ice.............Modular Ice Makers 5/8" cylindrical 90% ice to water ratio
  • Flake Ice................Flake ice is smaller bits of ice. 73% ice to water ratio

Here are some possible hazards you need to be aware of with your ice:

  • Contamination may result from the scale build up and any damp mold from within the ice machine
  • Using a glass to scoop the ice from the bin is especially dangerous because if the glass chips, you will not be able to see the glass in the ice. Use only ice scoops, spoons or tongs to retrieve ice. Generally its better not to keep your scoops in the ice bin.
  • Bacteria and microbiological materials can contaminate your ice in a number of ways: using hand to get ice, un-sanitized scoops, waste water reentering the ice due to clogs, storage of non sanitized items in the ice bin such as cups, cans and bottles.

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