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How to Choose the Right Size Ice Maker and Bin for Your Commercial Needs

Commercial ice machines are a significant investment, and selecting the appropriate size ice maker and bin is essential to avoid ice shortages and the additional cost of purchasing bagged ice. A well-maintained commercial ice maker has a lifespan of more than ten years, and by determining your ice requirements beforehand, you can avoid an early upgrade or the need for an additional machine.

Ice makers are usually specified by pounds of ice per day. A 500 lb machine, for instance, produces 500 lbs of ice over a 24-hour period, provided the ambient air temperature is about 70°F, and the incoming water temperature is about 50°F. If the ice machine is in a 90°F kitchen or bakery, and the incoming water temperature is closer to 70°F, then ice production may reduce by as much as 15% or more. Manufacturers such as Ice-O-Matic, Scotsman Ice Systems, and Manitowoc Ice publish output for various models at different ambient temperatures. Machines can range in output from 50 to well over 1200 lbs of ice per day.

It is better to have an excess of ice than a shortage, and a good rule of thumb is to choose an ice maker that produces approximately 20% more ice than your daily needs. For instance, if your operation requires 500 pounds of ice per day, purchase a 600 lb ice maker. Once your needs exceed 1000 lbs per day, 10% additional output should suffice, providing surplus ice in the event of sudden business rushes, temporary power outages, unforeseen rises in ambient temperatures, or other unexpected eventualities.

When calculating ice needs, consider your peak business days. For example, some operations need more ice during Friday and Saturday nights for bar and dinner business, while others require more ice in summer when heat and cold drink consumption rises. Calculate your daily needs based on your busiest days, not typical days.

Ice bins are usually specified by the maximum pounds of ice they can hold when leveled off at the top. Ice makers typically feature an automatic shut-off switch that prevents the bin from overfilling. A bin that holds approximately 10 to 20% more ice than your ice maker produces is a good rule of thumb to compensate for less accumulation than specified and allow for some extra ice.

An exception to this rule is when ice is only used one or two days a week, in which case, it might make sense to have a smaller ice maker atop a larger bin, which saves on the initial purchase price. Ice requirements vary significantly depending on the application and the type of service provided, and ambient temperatures may also impact ice machine output. By calculating your ice requirements and following some guidelines, you can select the appropriate size ice maker and a bin for your operation, ensuring a continuous supply of quality ice.

If you’re in the market for a new commercial ice machine, Service First USA can help. We offer a range of options, including purchasing, leasing, or financing, to help you find the best solution for your business. Our team can also assist you in choosing the right size ice maker for your specific needs based on your daily ice requirements and budget. With our help, you can ensure a continuous supply of quality ice for your customers while saving money and avoiding unexpected expenses. Contact us today to learn more.

For 24/7 Commercial Refrigeration Service, Call: 1866-922-2580

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