Nowadays, water conservation is more important than ever. With a little research, you can find that around 780 million people lack access to improved drinking water supplies and 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation.¹ Those of us with access to clean water would be mindful not to waste such a precious resource. In the past, we’ve noted that water cooled ice machines are not only an expensive idea, but a wasteful one as well. Water cooled ice machines keep their condensers cool by using water and running it over the condenser and then purging it from the ice machine. In a single day, the largest water cooled ice machine may run through over 5,000 gallons of water or more when operating at maximum effort. That number adds up very quickly, especially if the ice machine is in use every day.
We understand that some businesses simply have no other option and must use a water cooled ice machine to keep ice production consistent. With this in mind, we figured we could assist in finding out which water cooled ice machines use the least amount of water in both the ice making process AND to keep their condensers cool. Water cooled ice machines use water for two different reasons. Potable water is the term given to the water that will be frozen and consumed. It is run over the evaporator plate, and in the end it is frozen and usually used for beverages in bars and restaurants. Condenser water is the water used to keep the condenser from overheating. If the condenser is too warm, the ice machine may not be able to make ice. In most water cooled ice machines, water is cycled through once, then purged from the ice machine.
In order to thoroughly examine ice machines from each major company, we broke the ice machines down into three categories: Low-output undercounter ice machines, 500 pound ice machines, and 1,000 pound ice machines. We looked only at cube producing ice machines, since they are most common in the foodservice industry. We also went into this project almost completely blind, so the results produced were new to us, and new to the industry. Only Scotsman made a claim about their water use, stating that their Prodigy ice machines use less water and electricity than the competition, so we were eager to test their claim.
We looked at each ice machine as if it were producing an equal, set amount of ice, since very few models produce identical amounts of ice. The values which we compared were at 100 pounds, 500 pounds, and 1,000 pounds. We also looked at which water cooled ice machine performs the best at higher temperatures since water cooled ice machines are almost exclusively operated at elevated temperatures. We were not concerned with which ice machine produces the most ice in a stressful environment (you can buy a larger ice machine for more production), but rather which produces ice the most consistently (closest to its listed maximum production) when temperatures increase. This is called the AHRI rating, and it is measured when incoming water is at 90 degrees, and ambient air is at 70 degrees. This should be a key piece of information sought when assessing the quality of any ice machine.
Note- In the chart, the ice machine that performed best (i.e. used the least amount of water, had the highest output, etc.) was highlighted in green, and the machine that performed the worst was highlighted in red for easier comparison.
If we examine this chart closely, we find that Scotsman ice machines do use the least amount of potable water during the ice making process, but in terms of water used to cool the condenser, they are not nearly as conservative. Hoshizaki repeatedly uses the least amount of water to keep their condensers cool, and in most cases, Hoshizaki uses the least amount of total water in the ice making process. Only when we get to the larger ice machines does Ice-O-Matic take over in terms of water use. But Ice-O-Matic takes over in a huge way, with their water cooled, 1,000 pound ice machine using much less total water than any of the others. This can make a huge difference for someone with upper level ice requirements who is looking for a relatively conservative water cooled ice machine.
One thing we took away from this study was the way Hoshizaki’s water cooled ice machines perform in adverse conditions. When temperatures increased, Hoshizaki’s ice machines saw their output decrease by the slimmest of margins, losing only a small percentage of their ice production. Scotsman frequently saw their ice machines’ production fall by the greatest margin, despite using the second highest amount of water to cool the condenser. This is one of the most important factors to consider, since water cooled ice machines are meant to produce ice when temperatures are higher. So, while Scotsman uses the least amount of potable water, they use by far the most water to keep their condenser cool, negating much of their otherwise conservative nature.
Despite Scotsman’s claim regarding their water use, it appears that Hoshizaki ice machines are the best choice if you must choose a water cooled ice machine. Their water cooled ice machines use the least total amount of water during the ice making process and to keep the condenser cool. Meanwhile, their ice machines maintain the most consistent ice production when temperatures rise. While Hoshizaki’s and Ice-O-Matic’s ice machines clearly use less water than the others listed, all of these ice machines will consume and waste a great deal of water over their lifetime. If you would like to keep costs low, consider a remote air cooled ice machine, which also tends to operate more consistently at higher temperatures since the condenser can be relocated outside, or to a cooler environment.
Water cooled ice machines are not a requirement for every business, but some simply have no other option. We recommend looking for an ice machine that features an Energy Star label for further savings, energy efficiency, and rebate opportunities. Refer to the infographic below for a few more interesting facts about water, and to see the aforementioned water cooled ice machines compared side by side. If you have any further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or give us a call! We’re always here to help.