Restaurant Equipment – Tips for Buying a Commercial Ice Machine


With the long list of responsibilities involved in opening a brand new restaurant, ice can be the last thing on your mind. But with time, you’ll find that it’s one of the key ingredients to your success. Just think about it – the most disappointing one you can find in a drink is that it lacks ice (second only to finding a bug). Without a doubt, cocktails and mixed drinks would be nowhere near as good without ice.

On a daily basis, a regular restaurant, bar, or cafe can go through tens of kilograms of ice. And after initially spending a fortune on bagged ice, you’ll find that a more cost-efficient solution in the long term would be to buy your own commercial ice machine out right. This way, you’ll always have the exact amount of fresh ice you need within your reach. If you’re ready to make this purchase, here’s what you need to consider.

How Much Ice?

The first thing you need to consider is the amount of ice you need on a daily basis. A busy restaurant running out of ice on the hottest of days will cost you time, money, and customers. On the other hand, producing large quantities of ice that go unused is also inefficient. In general, 200-300 ml beverages need 17 kg of ice per 100 drinks, while 300-500 ml beverages need around 27 kg per 100 drinks. These are just some guidelines for how much ice is needed under normal circumstances, but every business and menu is a different story, so make sure to assess your personal needs well.


Modular vs. Self-contained Unit?

Modular ice machines can produces large quantities of ice very quickly. This makes them a convenient solution for large commercial kitchens, nightclubs, and busy bars. However, they are very bulky, and as such, not the most space-efficient choice. Additionally, modular units also require a separate storage bin to house all the ice. On the other hand, if you’re running a small cafe, a self-contained commercial ice machine tends to take up significantly less space, and can be conveniently fitted under counters or on countertops. Another benefit of modular ice machines is that they come with an integrated storage unit.

Air or Water Cooled Compressor?

Most ice machines are divided into air or water cooled, which refers to the method used to cool the compressor, and as such, how effective the machine will be when ambient temperatures start rising. Air cooled machines need a good intake of the surrounding air for cooling. Generally, they are much cheaper to purchase and run. However, they are less efficient in a hot environment and need to be placed somewhere where their vents will be free of obstructions.

On the other hand, a water cooled machine is the ideal choice for a hot working environment such as a restaurant kitchen. Water cooled machines can be placed in areas with poor air circulation without any problem. However, they are a lot more expensive to run since they need a constant supply of water and may need more maintenance to reduce limescale build-up.

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