What size ice machine do you need?
In order to answer that question, we need to determine what kind of ice usage we're talking about—how are you going to be using the ice machine? We like to break ice machine usage down into categories based on the customers we typically work with:
Restaurants & Bars
Restaurants and bars require a different kind of ice machine due to the risk of hitting peak ice usage at random times. For instance, a bar or restaurant might use 300-400 pounds of ice per day on a typical high-volume day, but that does not mean the owner should buy a 400-pound/day ice machine. Typical days should not be used to establish what size ice machine you need. Instead, you should think about how much ice you'll need at your peak capacity on an extraordinarily busy night. We recommend at least a 500-pound/day ice machine with a 350- to 400-pound capacity bin. This gives you room to work with, meaning that appropriate ice storage will be one less thing to worry about when your staff is in the weeds.
Convenience stores use ice machines similarly to bars and restaurants as they also experience peak-usage days that are difficult to account for. However, convenience stores usually use more ice on weekdays, whereas bars and restaurants use their ice machines more frequently on weekends.
Where the convenience store differs from bars is how they store their ice. Restaurants and bars have the luxury of being able to keep their ice machine on a large ice storage bin that can store hundreds of pounds of ice. On the other hand, convenience stores are usually forced to keep their machines over a dispenser or a soda fountain with a dispenser. These dispensers have only a fraction of the ice storage, meaning it's crucial to choose a machine that can make ice fast enough to recover ice lost during a peak time of day.
For example: a facility owns an 80-pound ice machine, but it goes through 150 pounds of ice during a typical two-hour midday rush. This facility would need an ice machine that can produce at least 80 pounds of ice in two hours (40 pounds per hour or 1,000 pounds per day). Many clients think that they'll have too much ice, but this simply isn't the case. Ice machines can sense when their ice storage is full, and when this happens, they stop working until ice is either used or melted. Additionally, an ice machine that is able to take a break after making a large load of ice will last you longer and cut down on the cost of ice machine repair.
Industrial Facilities & Hotels
For these types of clients, it's best to call an expert and actually discuss your company's size and ice machine needs at length. Buying the wrong ice machine—or ice dispenser in the case of hotels—can be an enormously costly mistake. We recommend that butchers, fisheries, and groceries go through a much lengthier process than reading a couple blog posts to determine the ice machine they need.
Some people like to own a commercial ice machine for their garage, beach house, lakeside cabin, or hunting lodge. The idea here is determine how much ice you'll need from your ice machine on a peak day, like when your gang of friends comes over for the big game or your entire family is at the lake house for a holiday. Remember that a bag of ice you buy from a store is usually 10 or 20 pounds, and think about how long that might last during a big event. If you'd usually buy three 20-pound bags (60 pounds of ice) for the afternoon, then you'll need an ice machine that has at least 30 pounds of ice storage and the capacity to recover 30 more pounds between the time you start emptying it and the time it usually takes to go through the first bag of ice. It's pointless to buy an ice machine to avoid running to the store for more ice and then realize that you didn't buy a big enough ice machine.
Landscapers, roofers, painters, tree removers, and other general contractors who primarily work outside usually share a similar expense come spring and summer: bags of ice from the gas station. Not only does the money spent on these daily trips to fill up the coolers start to add up, but the time does too. Think about how long you or your employees spend getting ice from a gas station every day over the hot season. It's a no-brainer when you think about it: you have as much need for a commercial ice machine as a restaurant or bar. Where you have an advantage over them is that you already know how what size of ice machine and ice storage you'll need; you already have the receipts to show you. If you're buying ten 20-pound bags per day every morning, then you need an ice machine that can make at least 200 pounds of ice per day and an ice storage bin that can hold at least 200 pounds of ice. You need it all in the morning, so you can't skimp on ice storage.
If you fit into any of these prospective groups or if you're unsure where you fit in, feel free to give us a call. We'll be happy to discuss your ice machine needs.