Best Commercial Ice Machines – a Comprehensive Guide
Commercial ice machines have a range of uses, from hospitality and catering to healthcare environments, and offer numerous benefits wherever they are used. Whilst budget, output and capacity will be important deciding factors when it comes to choosing the best commercial ice machines, brand will also play an important role. This makes it essential to do your homework and get to know what each ice machine manufacturer has to offer.
Why invest in a commercial ice making machine?
Commercial ice makers are specifically designed for the type of large scale output that’s required in the hospitality, catering and healthcare industries.
The machines are the preferred choice to buying in ice, offering longer term cost efficiency, as well as the added convenience of always having sufficient ice on hand as you need it.
Commercial ice machines come in a range of sizes, with varying options in terms of output and capacity. So there is something to suit every need. You can also choose from a variety of types of ice, such as cubed, flaked, nuggets and pebbles or, with certain brands, special shapes.
Ice machines are designed to create ice within minutes, which can be beneficial during times of high demand.
The importance of choosing the right ice machine brand
Not every ice machine brand or model is made equal, which is why it is so important to weigh up which are the best commercial ice machines for your specific needs before making your purchase.
For example, the best ice machines for restaurants will not necessarily be the best for catering, or for medical use.
Some ice machines require more maintenance and repair callouts than others, as reliability may not be their strong point. Others may be less energy efficient, so whilst they may require less of an upfront investment, the long term cost implications may prove a false economy.
Ice machines are either water cooled or air cooled. The air cooled models tend to be noisier in operation and less energy efficient, and not always suitable for warmer environments.
The way the ice is made may also differ. Hoshizaki ice machines for example use a closed cell ice making system with an automatic rinse and flush cycle. This sees the machine fully drain, rinse and then refill with fresh water for every batch of new ice, resulting in the best quality, crystal clear ice that melts very slowly.
The key message here when looking at which are the best commercial ice machines for your specific needs is firstly, to read plenty of reviews. And secondly, take tailored advice from a professionally qualified commercial refrigeration specialist who will be able to recommend the right machine to suit your requirements and budget.
What are some of the best commercial ice machine brands?
Good quality commercial ice machines will be constructed using high grade, stainless steel. This is essential, as the machines are in constant contact with water. The stainless steel helps prevent rust, and provides the necessary durability to withstand everyday use. It’s also easy to clean, which is imperative for food safe ice production.
A good tip when comparing the best commercial ice machines is to look out for WRAS (Water Regulations Approval Scheme) approved models. These demonstrate compliance with water fitting approval schemes in the UK. You should also seek out HACCP compliance (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). These models show compliance with UK food safety management procedures.
The brand of ice maker you ultimately choose will usually depend on budget. Just beware the false economy trap, as spending less on your purchase may lead to higher costs in the long term.
Here is an overview of some of the main player ice machine brands on the market:
Hoshizaki ice machines are the market-leading brand, and often the first choice for those prepared to invest in the best. The brand benefits from UK manufacture, and exceptional reliability and durability. What’s more, the choice of models, sizes and ice styles is by far the most comprehensive. Hoshizaki ice makers are designed with hygiene and ice quality as a priority, and are trusted worldwide.
Scotsman and Foster can also prove reasonable choices for those seeking a quality machine with superior ice production. Both come with enhanced quality, performance and efficiency as standard.
Interlevin, Simag and Whirlpool can be viable options for those looking for a ‘budget versus quality compromise’, offering fairly good quality equipment at a reasonable price. And for those with a limited budget, the likes of Prodis, Polar and Ice-O-Matic are usually the first choices here.
What to consider when buying a commercial ice machine?
As well as choosing the best commercial ice machine brand for your needs, you should be looking at a variety of other factors before making your ultimate decision.
Type of ice machine
Under-counter models are often the best ice machines for restaurants and bars, whereas freestanding ice machines are better suited to commercial kitchens and healthcare environments.
There is also a choice of modular and self-contained. Self-contained machines make and store the ice in the same unit, whereas with a modular machine, you’ll need to purchase a separate ice storage bin.
Finally, check whether the machine is water cooled or air cooled. As mentioned previously, this will make a difference in terms of noise and energy efficiency.
Ice machine features
Features vary from one brand and model to the next. Output (Kg/hour), storage capacity (Kg), timer facilities and ice size and shape are things to look out for.
Also check whether the machine has a built-in or self-cleaning system or an automatic rinse and flush cycle, which will make maintenance easier.
Installation and maintenance costs
An ice machine that will fit straight into your existing plumbing will cost less to install than one that requires plumbing modifications, so bear this in mind. Also think about the location of your ice machine. It will benefit from plenty of ventilation and being away from heat and bright light, otherwise it may not operate as efficiently as it could.
Professional installation is vital if your machine is to run efficiently and avoid costly repair callouts, as well as to comply with any warranty. Installers must by law be F-Gas qualified, and should also hold relevant certifications to prove their competence.
Always obtain a quote for installation and also for an ongoing maintenance contract, and compare these as well as your ice machine purchase costs so that you can base your decision on the full picture.
The type of warranty supplied will depend on the brand. Generally, cover will be on a parts only or full parts and labour basis. For new machines, this will come direct from the manufacturer.
If you are buying a reconditioned model, the warranty will usually be shorter, and will come from your installer, so do check what they are offering. At Barnet Climate Control for example, we offer a three month parts and labour warranty on all reconditioned Hoshizaki ice machines.
Looking for the best commercial ice machines?
At Barnet Climate Control, we specialise in the supply, installation, servicing and repair of Hoshizaki ice machines across the UK.
In terms of the best commercial ice machines, we consider the Hoshizaki brand at the top of the list, based on its world-renowned quality and reliability.
If you are considering investing in a new or used commercial ice machine and are keen to take some tailored advice on your options based on your budget and individual requirements, you are welcome to contact us at email@example.com or call us on 0203-4888-663.