How do I choose the right ice machine for my situation?
Now that you know your average daily ice production requirements, you will have to select a machine that can keep up with that need.
When looking at the manufacturer’s specification sheet you will see an approximate number of pounds of ice produced per 24 hours. Many times the production rate will be provided for ideal conditions of 70˚ F for the surrounding air and 50˚ F for the incoming water supply.
Your air and water temperatures may differ, thus making it difficult to determine if the machine is appropriate for meeting your needs.
To help standardize the production rates for comparing from machine to machine or manufacturer to manufacturer, production rates are also determined by the Air-conditioning and Refrigerating Institute (ARI), an independent organization that tests ice machines. ARI laboratories use controlled conditions of 90˚ F Air and 70˚ F Water to test the machines, duplicating the environment of a typical restaurant kitchen and creating a standard.
Always consult the current ARI rating, but keep in mind your typical surrounding air and incoming water temperatures. Different climates will affect the rate of ice production. The temperature of the working environment where the ice machine will be placed can affect the volume of ice produced. You should consider increasing the size of the ice machine to ensure that you are meeting your daily production requirements.
What size ice storage bin will I need?
It is two to three times more expensive to produce a pound of ice than to store it, depending upon your air and water temperatures. Either way, having full bins of ice at the ready will save you time and money. Even if you don’t use all of the ice, it costs less to keep it in the bin than to have to produce it.
However, consider your peak usage when determining your bin size and add 20% capacity to be safe. If your daily ice requirements are fairly consistent then your ice bin capacity will need to hold the daily production quantity. For example, if your machine produces 400 lbs. of ice, your bin holds 400 lbs. and your customers use 400 lbs of ice by business day’s end, leaving you with an empty bin to be filled by your machine again. But this does not take into account any unexpected increase in need for ice on hand. Again, you know your business better than anyone, but always plan for the peaks.
In a situation where the daily amount of ice needed is larger than the daily production capacity of the icemaker, having a larger bin to store extra ice previously made will enable you to meet your needs.
It is wise to start sizing your bin based upon your highest day’s ice requirement. However, depending on the usage patterns of the other days, this may not be enough, your bin supply will be low, and your ice machine will not have sufficient time to produce the needed ice. In this case, the bin needs to be large enough to store the highest day’s requirement amount as well as the previous day’s needs and still have sufficient ice supply available for the next peak day.
Will I need a water filter?
A water filtration system, either installed in the water supply line to the ice machine or built into the ice machine itself, will remove mineral sediment such as calcium and lime and prevent scale formation. The filter also keeps out parasites and other bacteria such as slime fungus, removes odor, and creates a tasteless ice that will not change the flavor of beverages.
Regularly removing sediment will increase the lifetime of your ice machine. The cause of many ice machine breakdowns can be traced to issues with the water supply. Therefore, if you know your water has a high mineral content, invest in a good water filtration system to prevent problems from occurring and replace the filter cartridge frequently.
Some manufacturers will extend the warranty on the evaporator of your ice machine if you also purchase a water filtration system and keep to their regular schedule of changing the filter.
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