Water Cooled Ice Machines: Are They a Good Fit For You?

We have written many articles and spoken at great lengths about the benefits of air cooled and remote air cooled condensers for your ice machine. Less is talked about or written about water cooled models, and for some good reasons, but this article will examine the benefits (and also note the drawbacks) of the ice machine that makes use of a water cooled condenser. In the second part, we will be comparing ice machines from the four major brands in the United States, and it will become clear that water cooled ice machines do provide some great benefits, but it is up to you to find out if they are right for your establishment.

*Note: Water cooled ice machines can be identified by the suffix “W” at the end of the ice machine’s name. Air cooled ice machines are generally followed by an “A”, and remote air cooled ice machines generally end with an “R”, although Manitowoc uses an “N” to denote a remote air cooled ice machine. Manitowoc’s water cooled ice machines are also listed only as odd numbers (ID-503W, IY-505W).

H2O Spelled out in waterWater Cooled Ice Machines are More Consistent
Consistent ice production is one of the biggest benefits that is reaped by an ice machine with a water cooled condenser. This is possibly the most important reason for selecting a water cooled ice machine. With air cooled ice machines, the condenser is cooled by the air around the unit, so if your ice machine operates in a warm environment, production may fall drastically (up to 30% in some cases) when temperatures increase. Water cooled ice machines make use of water to keep ice production more consistent, and your ice machine performs much more reliably. Their performance tends to fluctuate markedly less than their air cooled counterparts.

Water Cooled Ice Machines Keep Things Quiet
If you have ever stood next to an air cooled or remote air cooled condenser, then you have probably heard the fan kick on and the loud whirring that follows and can last for a few minutes as it operates. This noise can aggravate customers and employees and interrupt the workflow of your business. Water cooled ice machines operate at a much quieter level, and are less of a nuisance to the people around them. If you own an ice machine with a higher production rate, it may operate at even higher sound levels. Water cooled ice machines tend to keep the noise to a minimum however.

Water Cooled Ice Machines: Same Price, Better Performers
In general, water cooled ice machines from Scotsman, Hoshizaki, and Manitowoc are all priced the same as their air cooled counterparts. Currently, Ice-o-matic is the only brand offered at IceMachinesPlus.com that prices their water cooled models slightly higher than the air cooled models, and it is a mere fraction of a difference. With this in mind, you can receive a greater output from two identical ice machines, simply due to the way in which their condensers are cooled.

Drawbacks of Water Cooled Ice Machines
Unfortunately, water cooled ice machines are not impervious to faults of their own. As they cool by way of water, they tend to consume a lot of it. Ice machines may use anywhere from upwards of 150 gallons of water per 100 pounds of ice created, and this water is not reused or recycled in any way. Most often, this water is simply wasted, which can lead to a dramatic increase in your monthly water bill. This overuse of water also leaves all water cooled ice machines from being approved by ENERGY STAR. In some areas, the use of ENERGY STAR qualified appliances will qualify the owner for a rebate, and they will receive money back for participating in the ENERGY STAR program. This is negated however with the use of a water cooled ice machine.

Because of their liberal use of water, some southern and southwestern cities in the United States have actually banned the use of water cooled ice machines, making them illegal to own or operate. While water cooled ice machines do tend to use less energy and electricity than air cooled and remote air cooled units, the savings do not ever equal the amount paid for the water used and wasted.

Water cooled ice machines are not for every establishment. They are great for reliable, consistent, quiet production, but the cost of operation is often much greater than their air cooled counterparts. For some, there is no other option than the ice machine with a water cooled condenser, but this choice is not for everyone. For more information regarding water cooled ice machines, contact one of our ice experts at IceMachinesPlus.com, or check out our follow up article on water cooled ice machines where we compare the performance of four similar water cooled ice machines, and examine the water they consume in the ice making process and to keep their condensers cool.

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