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Different Types of Ice Machines – Based on Ice Shape & Condensier

types of ice machines
Written by Robert Huisman
Last Update: August 23, 2021

With such an abundant supply of numerous ice shapes, ice maker manufacturing companies, implementations, and designs, it is important to understand the basic concepts, so you could choose an ice machine that best suits your needs. Commercial devices are most frequently found in pubs, restaurants, supermarkets, and hospitals whereas household ice makers, particularly built-in and under-counter ice machines, are ideal for individuals who appreciate to entertain or enjoy a unique kind of ice.

Different Types of Ice Machines

There are many types of ice machines and makers that are available on the market for you to purchase. They are not manufactured the same way, so knowing the distinctions between them is very important.

1. Portable/Countertop Ice Machines

Portable ice machines are usually small in size, require no permanent water source, and you need to pour water into them to work. Constructed to sit directly on your countertop, this model of ice maker is intended to make ice very quickly, usually in less than ten minutes.

It is also important to keep in mind, that they’re not refrigerators and will not keep your ice frozen for a long time. Whenever the ice melts the system will circulate the water repetitively to create more ice. Additionally, these compact ice makers can carry just a small portion of their maximum ice capability, so you’ll have to clean them regularly.

2. Modular Ice Machines

Modular ice machines are usually used to create a larger quantity of ice. These type of ice machines is the perfect solution for commercial assets like bars, restaurants, and hospitals. Modular ice machines will need a separate ice-collection unit, that will help store and preserve the ice ready for service.

These units are usually stackable and positioned under the modular component. When choosing your modular ice machine head, bear in mind that either water or air can cool the condenser. These models of ice machines are the most popular type of unit manufactured by commercial ice machines companies.

3. Stackable Ice Machines

Although stackable ice makers are a sort of modular ice machines, they differentiate in that you can install multiple components on top of each other. Stackable ice machines are developed for high demand workplaces where space is limited. Instead of purchasing two individual modular units that need two containers to hold ice, you can combine the two units to distribute ice into one ice storage container for faster response time while struggling with relatively small space. Stackable installations also need about two feet of space on either side of the module, otherwise, heat lingers around the devices and can cause issues and damage to the ice machine.

4. Self-Contained Ice Machines

Self–contained ice makers are built to produce and maintain the ice inside the same machine. Although they need less physical storage than modular systems, self-contained ice makers have a lower output rate and storage efficiency than most modular ice machines.

Self-contained ice devices are the most reasonable option when storage is a determinant factor of which ice-making system you will choose. These machines seem to be smaller than standard ice machines with a container attached, so they are a perfect choice for small companies that use about 100-350 pounds of ice each day.

Almost all self-contained ice machines are small and will fit under a countertop, which makes them a great choice for food trucks.

5. Built-In/Undercounter Ice Machines

As the name suggests, under-counter ice machines are built with front vents so that they can be mounted in or between the cabinets. Under-counter ice makers should always be implemented by a qualified plumber. They will need an extended line of water, and many of them also will require a drain line.

This version of the ice machine is built to store a large quantity of ice compared to a portable version and to keep it frozen for extended periods. Although purchasing an under-counter ice machine could cost more, it would provide you with a constant supply of fresh ice for many seasons to come.

Types of Ice Machine Condensing Units

Types of Ice Machine Condensing Units

There are three different types of condensing systems widely used in commercial ice makers. Depending on your business and local constraints, you should choose which one is appropriate for your establishment.

1. Water Cooled Machine

In water-cooled machines, the condenser is stored inside the device and cooled with water. Due to the cooling of the condenser, these ice machines will need a constant supply of water to guarantee that it is adequately cooled. Water-cooled ice makers are ideal for businesses and commercial kitchens that can not provide the storage and clearance necessary for air-cooled systems. However, water consumption would be substantially higher than in air-cooled ice makers.

2. Air Cooled Machine

Air-cooled ice systems are by far the most cost-effective category of ice maker since they do not require any additional water expenses. Air-cooled condensers are perhaps the most popular method used in commercial ice systems and are operated by a fan that pushes air over the equipment to cool it down. If choosing this model of condenser, ensure that you can have at least 5 inches of space around the exhaust system so that it can work properly. A lot of air-cooled versions even fulfill Energy Star criteria.

3. Remote Cooled Machine

If a water-cooled or air-cooled condenser for the ice machine is not available, you can also get a remote-cooled device. With this configuration, the cooling condenser is placed in a separate area or room from the main ice machine. Heat and noise are removed from the room with a remote cooling condenser, so remote-cooled ice makers are much quieter.

Bear in mind that remote-cooled condenser will require more maintenance and upkeep, but if you can have that, then this is an ideal solution for you.

Types of Ice Machine Based on Ice Shape

Knowing the different sorts of ice cubes that ice makers can create will help you to select the right kind of ice machine for your preferences. Some types of ice melt quicker, are easy to chew or have different shapes to match particular applications.

Types of Ice Machine Based on Ice Shape

1. Cube Ice Makers

Cube ice machines make large rhomboid ice cubes that you can find inside bars and in soft beverages in some restaurants. The solid structure of full ice cubes makes it ideal for spirits and soda. This shape of ice has a high ice-to-water ratio that ensures exceptional cooling and delayed melting, accommodates customers, and reduces production needs. They are also useful in large-volume applications, such as bulk cooling and self-bagging.

2. Half-Cube Ice Machines

Half cubes tend to be miniature versions of full cubes and dice ice. Half-cube ice is known to be the most flexible form of ice, and that is why it appears in restaurants, dispensers, convenience stores, and baggers. That versatility turned this commercial ice machine the most common, even though you won’t probably find it in most pubs. Such as full cubes, this type of ice has a pretty high ratio of ice-to-water.

3. Crescent Ice Makers

Hoshizaki is perhaps the only manufacturing company making an ice machine that makes crescent cubes. While unique only to one company, crescent ice seems to have a large fan base, both among restaurant owners and consumers, who are going to look for it. The use of crescent cubes is identical to that of half cubes. What separates it from the half cube is the curved edge, which helps it to fill a cup easier, meaning more ice and less drink, which will lower costs for restaurant owners.

4. Gourmet Ice Makers

Gourmet ice appears in a unique octagonal design. The single cube is larger than other forms of ice and has an almost ideal ice-to-water ratio, which means a stunning, clear cube that is especially effective at cooling drinks. Since the chunks are solid and large, you need less of them to do the work, and they’re also too bulky for chewers, you won’t have a lot of journeys to the tables to replace the ice cubes with new ones.

5. Nugget Ice Machines

These little cubes of ice have many names, but one factor that makes them famous is the appeal they bring for those who enjoy ice chewing. Besides being chewable, nugget ice is thicker than flake ice, so it is ideal for dispensers, consumes the drink’s flavor easily, and mixes well with frozen beverages and smoothies. Since people demand more ice once they get this chewable ice sort and because you can bundle these small chunks more closely, you will save a lot of money on beverages.

6. Flake Ice Machines

Flake ice cubes also have some fan base among ice chewers, although they are less likely to appear in beverages unless combined or frozen. The primary application is in healthcare facilities, where its compact size makes it suitable for drinks without the risk of patients to choke on chunks of ice. It’s also the ice of preference on packing across injuries since it is easy to form and has no edges to penetrate flesh.


No matter what ice machine you choose, make sure it is the best choice for your company. An under counter ice maker might seem like a perfect addition to your pub, but if your pub goes through 500 pounds of ice per day, you’ll probably need to have a bigger, modular ice machine.

Stackable ice machines might seem like a perfect solution to increase ice output while restricting your space, but in the longer-term, if you have space for another standalone ice machine, you’ll get much more ice.


1. What Is the Ice Called at Sonic?

Ans. This form of ice is also known as nugget ice or chewable ice. The nuggets are lighter and easier to chew than other types of ice cubes.

2. What Is the Good Ice Called?

Ans. Manufacturer Opal creates ice machines that generate the chewable, melting, taste-saving nugget ice cubes that you might also know as “the good ice.” The Opal is a compact and cheap nugget ice machine ideal for home use.

3. What Is Crushed Ice Called?

Ans. Crushed Ice is liquid that has been transformed into ice, generally in the form of a cube, and then shattered. It can be slightly smashed, or significantly. Crushed Ice has more edges than cube-shaped ice, and it cools things faster.

About the author

Robert Huisman


Robert started his career as a food reviewer at Feast magazine in Kansas City. He’s a food lover and studied Nutrition & Dietetics as an academic. He’s been in China and India to explore the diversity of local cuisines and traditional dishes. He shared his experience in a book and published a series of anecdotes and stories in his column. He is also a huge Red Sox fan and hardly misses any match in Major League competition. Here at Meatballly, Robert contributes as a full-time writer and part-time researcher. He shares his exclusive culinary insights through numerous blogs on the site.

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