Shopping for major appliances can be a stressful process. When looking for a new commercial ice machine, some of the stats and features presented can be filled with overwhelming jargon or nonsense. At times it may be like trying to understand a foreign language. While most companies do not try to mislead the consumer, some of the information presented may not be understood easily by those who are reading it. For example, every ice machine is rated based on the amount of ice it has the ability to create in a 24 hour period. Very infrequently will an ice machine actually create the exact amount of ice that is listed in its name or description however. There are various factors (quality of construction, external temperatures) that affect each ice machine differently. Indeed, sometimes you can learn more from what a company doesn’t tell you than you can from what they do.
What’s True: Scotsman Prodigy cuber heads use less energy and water than competing cuber heads. They also create a great amount of ice for what they cost. Scotsman has a competitive warranty program too- on par with all other major ice machine companies at this time. Their Prodigy ice machines provide a few luxuries that other companies do not, which makes Scotsman ice machines a great buy for their ice production and their exceptional value. The AutoAlert System employed by Scotsman makes owning and operating their ice machines a stress free task as well.
What’s Left Out: While Prodigy ice machines may use less water and electricity during the ice making process, Scotsman’s water cooled ice machines are not quite as conservative, using (on average) the second highest amount of water when compared to other top brands (160 gallons of water per 100 pounds of ice created). Only Manitowoc water cooled ice machines use and waste more water. Scotsman air cooled ice machines, while conservative, face a massive drop in ice production when air and water temperatures rise. Some Scotsman ice machines lose nearly 30% of their ice production capabilities in these adverse conditions, so if air or water temperatures increase, ice production suffers.
What’s True: Ice-O-Matic frequently boasts that they offer “more ice for the price”, and for the most part, they do. Doing a bit of research, it can be shown that Ice-O-Matic ice machines offer very good value in terms of ‘pounds per dollar’ (pounds of ice your ice machine creates per dollar spent on the machine). Ice-O-Matic ice machines are some of the most affordable around, and they have the ability to produce great quantities of ice. They are also covered by the longest warranty in the ice machine industry.
What’s Left Out: Like Scotsman ice machines, Ice-O-Matic ice machines perform rather poorly when air and water temperatures increase. They show a similar drop in production, around a 30% loss, when asked to make ice in 90 degree air and with 70 degree water. Ice-O-Matic ice machines are not exactly “keeping up with the Joneses” in terms of technology either, providing little in the way of technological advances. These machines are best for those whose ice machine will be housed in a cooler, stable climate, and simply require ice – with no desire for additional technological features. The warranty coverage on an Ice-O-Matic ice machine also comes with an asterisk. While Ice-O-Matic does provide the longest warranty in the industry, the user must purchase and replace an approved Ice-O-Matic water filter over the life of the ice machine. (This is however, a smart addition to any ice machine under any circumstance).
What’s True: One cannot argue with the fact that Manitowoc produces the most popular ice machines in the United States. There are also no ice machines more technologically advanced than those from Manitowoc’s Indigo Series. They are the closest thing to artificial intelligence in the ice machine world today, and feature an onboard computer system for foolproof maintenance and operation. With the introduction of the NEO Manitowoc has effectively revolutionized the world of undercounter ice machines as well. Manitowoc ice machines have enjoyed a continued popularity for a while, and are proudly manufactured in the United States (Manitowoc, Wisconsin – a short drive from Green Bay).
What’s Left Out: For all their popularity and technological advances, Manitowoc ice machines are on the short side when their ice making capabilities are compared to competing brands. With so much added technology, the consumer often ends up paying more for the “bells and whistles” than actual ice production. Manitowoc’s air cooled ice machines tend to make less ice than similar, competing models in similar temperature conditions, and they still cost more up front. While most Indigo ice machines are Energy Star qualified, many of these units use slightly more electricity during the ice making process than their competitors. Their water cooled ice machines use the most water to keep their condenser cool during the ice making process as well. Cuber heads from Manitowoc also require the most clearance (8 inches) on the top and sides to create ice effectively, which can make finding room for them to operate somewhat difficult if space is at a premium. Almost all competing air cooled ice machines require only six inches or less to operate effectively. With Manitowoc, you may pay a little more for brand recognition and features than actual ice making capabilities.
What’s True: Hoshizaki was once described as the ‘Cadillac of ice machines’, and with a bit of research, you will find that this description is relatively accurate. Hoshizaki ice machines are superiorly constructed. Their stainless steel evaporator plates are one of a kind, and these evaporator plates have a great life expectancy, as it is virtually impossible for them to flake or peel due to continuous wear or from operating with lower quality water conditions. Hoshizaki ice machines also provide the most consistent ice production in adverse conditions, due to their superior construction. The crescent ice produced by Hoshizaki cuber heads is long-lasting and versatile, and is often preferred in bars and restaurants. It is easily recognizable, resembling a crescent moon.
What’s Left Out: While the stainless steel evaporator plate is an excellent, reliable feature, it is often very difficult to access the evaporator plate if it requires service, so repairs may be a bit more costly and difficult if service is required. Hoshizaki ice machines also make the least amount of ice per dollar spent, as their price tag is often markedly higher than the competition. Just like a Cadillac, Hoshizaki ice makers are going to cost you a bit more for their consistent, reliable performance. Hoshizaki also allows little to no ‘haggle room’ in terms of price, unlike the aforementioned brands. If you want top of the line quality, you are forced to pay for it with a Hoshizaki ice machine.
Your ice machine should fit your business as well as the environment in which it operates. Like most products, you will pay more for higher quality, while higher quality ice machines last longer and produce ice more consistently. In an ideal world, your ice machine will create exactly the amount of ice you need, no more, no less. But for those that own a bar in the Arizona desert, or whose ice machine is located in the 120 degree kitchen- you probably won’t be able to get by with an ice machine that does not perform consistently when temperatures increase. To get the most out of your ice machine, do your research. A good bit of information to pay attention to is the AHRI ice production, which shows what your ice machine can be expected to produce in stressful conditions. This rating can be found in the ice machine’s spec sheet, found on the product page. For more information, consider reading our article listing the ten things to consider before purchasing a new commercial ice machine.