Ice Maker Basics
Types of Ice
Ice can be divided into several different colors and shapes. For example, clear ice is a restaurant-quality gourmet ice whose impurities have been removed (as well as the "cloudy" appearance of regular ice). This ice is completely odorless and tasteless, and this helps to make clear ice makers more expensive.
Also found in a variety of shapes, ice can be formed into cubes, cylinders, crescents, and more. Cylindrical ice is rounded and often has an indentation in the top and a rounded out bottom. Crescent ice cubes are similar to those made in refrigerator ice makers: long with flat tops and round bottoms. At present, crushed ice cannot be made in family-sized ice machines, but only in commercial machines.
Portable Ice Makers
The biggest benefit of a portable ice maker is that it does not require a permanent water line. Instead, they plug into a standard outlet and water must be poured into them to keep them running. These portable units make ice very quickly, but since they are not freezers, they will not keep the ice frozen. When the ice melts, the machine will recycle the water to make more ice. If you need a ton of ice made, you will need to empty these units frequently, as they only hold a small fraction of their full ice-making capacity.
Built-In Ice Makers
Built-in ice makers require a permanent water line, and therefore should be installed by a professional plumber. Some of these units also need a drain line to easily drain residual water from the ice makers. Built-in ice makers can store much more ice than a portable unit, and they can also keep the ice frozen longer.
Some built-in ice makers can be used outdoors, but only those that specifically say so. Otherwise, they will not be able to keep the ice frozen in high-temperature environments like the outdoors. Some ice makers meet ADA standards to be easily used by the elderly and disabled. Some built-in ice makers can accept custom door panels to blend in with existing cabinetry, and their descriptions will specify whether or not this is the case.
Storage of Ice
Most ice makers have a greater production capacity than storage capacity, which means that you can only store a fraction of what ice makers produce in a small amount of time. Keep in mind the storage and production capacities when deciding on which ice maker to buy.
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