With the dog days of summer fast approaching, most people will want to stay hydrated. Ice makers are a great way for people to maintain a steady supply of cold and refreshing drinks during summer. Portable ice makers are perfect for use in boats, RVs, home kitchens and of course, your bar.
The biggest difference between these types of ice makers lies in the design and the type of ice cubes it produces. For more information about the different ice styles (shapes and texture) read as explained in IceMakersHub.com’s guide, “The Definitive Guide to Drink Ice Styles And How To Make Them”
Next, there are two types of ice makers; under-counter ice makers and portable ice makers (also called countertop ice makers). The design of under-counter ice makers is that it allows the machine to fit perfectly and permanently under the counter. Ultimately, the ice maker camouflages or blends with the preexisting décor. And, it is also possible to install under counter ice makers as stand-alone units.
Undercounter ice makers are perfect for people who desire large quantities of ice and at short notice. This is because they have large ice production capacities and most are also automated meaning they are continuously making ice and only stop when the unit is full. On the downside, under-counter ice makers often require a permanent water supply line with others even requiring a separate drain line. The biggest disadvantage (especially for people who are rarely indoors) is that under-counter ice makers are confusing and rather cumbersome to move around.
Portable Ice Makers
Countertop ice makers are also known as portable ice makers. As their name suggests, these are like smaller versions of under-counter ice makers, and it is possible to place them on top of the kitchen counter or another counter. Unlike under-counter ice makers, portable ice makers do not require any drain line or water supply line. Countertop ice makers were particularly suitable for people who love outdoor activities such as picnics and BBQs but at the same time, do not want to miss out on their ice.
Generally speaking. However, counter-top ice makers have lower ice production capacities than under-counter ice makers. Another general disadvantage is that one has to keep adding water to ensure continuous ice production.
What to Consider Before Buying a Portable Ice Maker
A portable ice maker is a must-have, particularly in the summer heat. There are many different brands and types of ice makers available in the market and settling on one ice maker is often a mind-boggling process. To choose the best countertop ice maker, one must consider some factors;
The most important feature in a counter-top ice maker is its portability. One should find it easy to move the ice maker around. Things that enhance portability include weight (the lighter it is, the easier it is to get around). Portability is an especially important factor for people who intend to take their ice makers on outdoor activities.
2. Production And Storage Capacities
Different countertop ice makers have different products and different storage capacities. Production capacity is about the amount of ice the maker can produce in a day. On the other hand, storage capacity refers to the maximum amount of ice the maker can store in its tray/bucket at any single one time.
A portable ice maker that has a high production capacity and large storage capacity is suitable for people who expect to use the portable ice maker in a situation where there is high demand for cold drinks.
3. The Ease of Use
A common complaint among people is that some ice makers are frequently hard to operate. For example, the ice maker may keep producing the undesired type of ice or the ice maker may keep overflowing. It is advisable to get an ice maker that is relatively straightforward to use; features to look for include timers, LCD displays and even control buttons. The easier it is to use a portable ice maker, the more reliable it is.
4. Other Factors
There are many other factors worth considering. These include price, the cycle time (how long it takes to make one batch of ice) and even the warranty of the ice maker. Some portable ice makers (particularly those in the higher price ranges have impressive bonus features such as the ability to recycle any melted water or capacity to alert the user when a refill is required.
Best Countertop Ice Makers
1. EdgeStar IP250SS ($219)
This portable ice maker makes the cut largely because of its enormous production capacity of 48 pounds in a day. This makes it the perfect ice maker to use at a bar or an event involving many guests. This ice maker’s design is also quite elegant, and the stainless steel finish allows it to complement any decor. Additionally, it has a well-insulated storage bin with a maximum holding capacity of 2.6 pounds.
Other notable features include;
- Ability to make small, medium and large bullet-shaped ice.
- Relatively easy to use LCD control panel.
- Programmable timer which allows the user to schedule the start and end times of ice production.
- Ability to recycle water from melted ice.
- A self-cleaning function which makes it easier to clean subsequently enhancing its longevity.
- Takes an average of 10 minutes to produce ice.
However, the EdgeStar portable ice maker is relatively heavy with a weight of $36.8 pounds. The heavy weight limits the ice maker’s portability.
2. NewAir AI-100R ($189.95)
(Source: The Best of Life)
Unlike the EdgeStar portable ice maker, the NewAir comes in a bold red color which makes it an ideal fit for contemporary kitchens and for people who fancy courageous and colorful designs. It has a production capacity of 28 pounds which makes it ideal for use in the home, for small parties, barbecues, and picnics among other outdoor applications. The ice is bullet-shaped and comes in 3 sizes; small, medium and large.
The stand-out features on this portable ice maker include;
- A side-mounted drain which makes it easier for users to clean the ice maker once they have finished ice production.
- Easy to use electronic control panel which includes push-button operation and indicator lights to alert the user on when to add water and also when the ice is ready.
- The ice-maker uses R-134A refrigerant which is eco-friendly.
- It is light and weighs just over 24 pounds.
- The NewAir also features automatic overflow protection to ensure that the user does not overfill the bowl with water.
The biggest disadvantage of the NewAir portable ice maker is its small storage capacity. It is only capable of making 9 Ice bullets every 6 to 15 minutes which makes it relatively slower than some counter-top ice makers on this list.
3. Luma Comfort IM200SS Portable Clear Ice Maker ($212.42)
Anyone who owns a bar or fancies a restaurant-style portable ice maker ought to seriously consider the Luma Comfort. It weighs 25.5 pounds and comes in a stainless steel finish and has a front flip-up lid which makes it a flattering addition to any kitchen or even bar counter. The Luma Control is capable of producing 28 pounds of ice a day and has an impressive storage capacity of 2.15 pounds.
The most impressive features on the Luma Comfort include;
- In contrast to most portable ice makers which produce cloudy ice, this ice maker produces crystal clear, restaurant-quality cubes. Clear ice is known to melt up to 5 times slower than cloudy ice.
- Low water and even a full ice indicator.
- An LED control panel that includes push-button controls.
- Environmental friendly R-134A refrigerant.
- Built-in accessories such as an ice scoop and a removable ice bin.
Nonetheless, there also some downsides in the Luma Comfort portable ice maker. Firstly, it only produces small-sized ice; a disadvantage for people who prefer medium and large-sized ice.
Secondly, despite the high storage capacity of the Luma Comfort, it has a long cycle time of 15 minutes. Furthermore, when one uses it the first time, the cycle time is sometimes longer than the stated 15 minutes.
4. Igloo ICE103 ($116.70)
One of the most affordable portable ice makers on this list, the Igloo ICE103 also scores highly in aesthetics. It comes with a stainless steel body and best of all, in a broad range of colors including black, red and even white.
Capable of producing just 26 pounds of ice in a day, most other portable ice makers out-perform it. It makes up for this with an oversized ice storage bucket capable of holding up to 2.2 pounds. The ice maker’s short cycle time of just 6 minutes easily outperforms most other countertop ice makers. This is undoubtedly the best feature on this portable ice maker.
Users of this ice maker can choose between small-sized, medium-sized and large-sized cubes. Furthermore, it is easy to use and operate thanks to the LED indicator which features push buttons.
At 25 pounds, it is relatively light and ideal for outdoor use. At just over 100 dollars, this ice maker is also one of the most affordable ice makers in the market; most importantly, it offers value for money.
5. Avalon Bay AN-ICE26S ($152.32)
At just 20 pounds, the silver-colored Avalon Bay is one of the lightest portable ice makers in the market. The lightweight also makes it the perfect choice for outdoor enthusiasts such as campers, hikers or even a garden barbecue.
Despite its compactness and lightweight, it has a production capacity of 26 pounds a day; quickly matching other portable ice makers in its range. It is capable of making a batch of 9 bullet-shaped ice in 6 to fifteen minutes.
This small ice maker has also earned rave reviews for making it so easy to make ice. The LED screen display has push buttons that are quite responsive to touch. What’s more, all the functions are labeled making it easier for users to navigate through the controls.
Bonus features in this Avalon Bay portable ice maker include:
- A removable ice basket which also includes an ice scoop.
- A water recycling feature which allows it to reuse water from melted ice.
- It is also capable of producing soft chewable ice; commonly known as nugget ice.
- Indicator lights to signal when water levels are low and even when the ice basket is full.
- Automatic overflow protection
- The drain is located at the bottom and is easy to empty and clean.
- Environmental friendly R-134A refrigerant.
However, users can only choose between two sizes of ice; small and large.
6. Della Portable Ice Maker with Easy Touch ($109.97)
This is the most affordable portable ice maker on this list. It is also among the lightest; weighing just 21 pounds. It has a glossy red finishing which enhances its aesthetics. It is capable of producing 26 pounds of soft and chewy nuggets of ice. This makes it an ideal pick for barbecues and garden parties, especially where smoothies or cocktails are involved.
Despite having a short cycle time of just 6 minutes, this unit is only capable of holding 1.5 pounds of ice which translates to roughly nine small bullets shaped ice. When compared to other portable ice makers in its range, this unit is out-performed in storage capacity.
It makes up for this with “Easy Touch” control buttons that respond to the slightest tap. It also features a see-through window which allows the user to monitor it easily and check for levels. A light indicator feature is also included for purposes of alerting the user to low water levels or a full ice basket.
Unfortunately, this unit is only capable of producing ice in two sizes; small and large. It is also not ideal for use in situations where demand for ice is high.
7. Whynter IMC -490S ( $235.58)
It is the most expensive portable ice maker on this list. However, it is also packed with more features than most countertop ice makers. This unit is capable of producing a whopping 49 pounds of ice in a day. A single batch of 12 ice cubes is delivered in between 10 and 15 minutes. The storage capacity of 2.7 lbs is significantly higher than many other portable ice makers.
Unlike most portable ice makers which require one to refill them with water regularly, this unit takes away the need to check water levels all the time with its 5-liter water reservoir. Even more impressively, this unit is portable Energy Star certified. It only requires 120 watts of power to run, an incredible feat for an ice maker its size.
Nonetheless, it is not without its shortcomings. Firstly, it weighs 38 pounds making it the heaviest ice maker on this list. The heavyweight and large production and storage capacities make it ideal for use on the kitchen counter, in the office, in bars or even for outdoor events with many guests. This unit also does not have any lights to indicate that the ice basket is full or to indicate a need to add water to the premises.