The Different Types of Ice Makers
Ice maker, ice generator or ice machine are same names for an artificial ice making machine which sees its birth in 17th century. The first patent was filed by Dr. John Gorrie in the year 1851. They come in variety of shapes and sizes and are usually a standalone appliance. The principle of ice making is usually the same in all types which is similar to refrigerator or air conditioner. It uses a refrigerant gas and its four main components i.e. Evaporator, condensing unit, a Compressor and a throttle valve are same in all kinds of ice making machines. Nowadays, a lot of them are available in the market which are not only energy efficient but are also compact and classy. Before buying, one should know the types of ice machines available in the market and which type suits you the most.
Best Ice Makers Review
Under this, we have three main types:
The first one is the modular and also known as ice machine head. This is usually available in a range of 22″ to 50″ width and are made to be kept on top of a dispenser. It can also be topped on a soda dispenser. The output varies from 100 Kgs. to 450 Kgs. of ice per day.
The second type under this class is under counter ice machine which is usually used by small bars or coffee houses. It is mainly used by small bars or coffee shops. They prefer this type of ice making machine because of their lesser daily requirement of ice. This kind is usually a combination of maker and an ice storage bin and can be fitted with a counter which can be as high as 35 to 45 inches. Its daily output is around 150 to 160 Kgs per day.
The third type is counter top ice machine which usually comes with a dispenser. It is a small machine which is often used by families at home or places where the daily requirement is up to 150 to 180 Kgs. For example, health care units etc.
Type of ice
Basically there are three types of ice which are cubes, nugget and flake ice which are available in the market. The most common type of ice machine based on this classification is cube ice machine.
Type of cooling system
It is used for compressor in the machine. Compressor is a very crucial component of this machine and one must ask about the life and warranty of compressor as if compressor of a machine is sturdy then the whole machine is sturdy. On the basis of cooling mechanism, we have three types of ice makers’ i.e. air cooled, water cooled and remote cooled. It is important to understand this classification as maintenance and fitting depends on the kind of cooling also.
Air cooled as the name suggests cools the machine and the heat is dissipated to air, these don`t require extra water supply and a pump and are cost effective. They can achieve high energy conservation as they are not using any extra power. Air cooled ice generator just requires some space where air can be circulated, at least half a feet ground clearance is must for an air cooled type.
Water cooled compressor are cooled by a regular flow of water and water takes away the heat and get cooled and circulates in the circuit. Water cooled ice maker is used where air cooled compressor won`t give full efficiency. For example, in places where air circulation is less for example under the tables etc. Efficiency of an air cooled compressor is less where outside air temperatures always remain more than 30 deg. Celsius or 85 TO 90 deg. Fahrenheit. Water cooled is preferred over air cooled where air contamination is more for example carries grease or soot particles. In this case, the mechanism for air cooling might get particles in it.
Water cooled ice machine requires exchange of hot water with fresh or cooled water so that the heat can be dissipated but this leads in excessive loss of water. As water circulation requires a pump which also required more energy making this type less energy efficient.
The third kind under this classification is remote cooled, this was designed to reduce the usage of water cooled system. In this type the cooling of condenser is air cooled and the condenser is kept away from the main unit. This is done using strong insulated pipes which can keep refrigerant. Remote cooled type is best where you have less space and you don`t want to use water cooled. Apart from costly installation, the amount of refrigerant used is more as compared to other types.
The sound is usually made by the compressor only and if compressor is kept at a distant location from the main unit, it means the sound will be very less as compared to air cooled model. Remote cooled also give an advantage of flexibility of compressor as the coils can be bent and once installed don`t need much attention if out of reach of touch or tampering.
Other types of this machine depend on the size of the ice maker which varies from compact to a large machine with connected bin with it from where further packing of ice can be done. One should be careful about the size chosen as the daily consumption of ice should be very close to ice production from the machine.
How an Ice Maker Works.
It works on refrigerator principle. As discussed, there are four main components in ice generator which are the evaporator, condensing unit, a compressor and a throttle valve. To explain it in a simple way usually the working gas is called as refrigerant. It is a gas which is compressed and expanded. There is a property of gas that if it is compressed, the temperature of the gas increases, this compression is done in a compressor, vice versa when the gas will be expanded, the temperature of the gas will decrease. So this compressed gas is cooled either through air or water as we discussed. So now the compressed gas which was at a temperature say 30 Deg. Celsius is compressed and the temperature rises by 20 and reached 50 Deg. Celsius. This 20 Deg. Celsius depends on the compression. Through external cooling this 50 Deg. Celsius is brought down to 40 Deg. Celsius i.e. a decrease of 10 points. This temperature is reduced while keeping the pressure same.
When the gas is allowed to expand in the evaporator, the temperature has to decrease by 20 Deg. Celsius. So it reaches 20 Deg. From 40 Deg. Air pp passing through this cooled gas becomes cooler and chills the water. Usually they have a solenoid coil valve which helps the user to control the temperature of the coil as the sensors present in the ice freezer monitors the temperature in chamber and the electric circuit sends current to solenoid to increase or decrease the compression. The higher the compression, the more will be the range for cooling. Once the user wants to extract the ice cubes, the electric circuit gives message to solenoid to increase the temperature suddenly. Once the temperature increases, it becomes easier for the user to extract the ice.
The principle behind ice making is actually the heat exchange, once the heat is extracted, the system becomes cooler and reaches the freezing point of water.
The idea is to take heat from water, so the most important part is water which is fed in the system for converting into ice. The water which is to be converted into ice should be clean and pure. For that it is always advisable to get a water purifier attached to the main unit or to intake valve. Good brands are giving ice generating machines connected with water purifiers but still one should be particular while buying one. People usually inquire about the difference in working of a normal ice cube maker and a flake ice generator and have a lot of doubts in this regard. Whereas the truth is that the working is absolutely the same but flake ice makers come with an additional part which is ice crusher. Ice crusher is attached to a metallic cylinder which has access to water intake. The water is running inside and outside of the cylinder. It also houses the heat exchange coils which let the water form layer of ice inside and outside of the cylinder. After the ice is formed, solenoid valve releases gas at high temperature which allows the ice fall in the ice crusher positioned below. Ice crusher breaks the ice into small pieces. The kind of ice crushed depends on the kind of crusher. In flake ice generators, ice is crushed to fine flakes which is then collected in the bin.
A lot of researches are going on and day in and day out we get to hear about new methods of ice generation but the crux is that the chamber where water needs to be converted into ice should be at freezing temperature and mechanism keeps on changing for heat extraction of that chamber.
Tips while using an ice maker
It is a machine and the best part about machines are they don`t lie. The user should know her machine in order to utilize the machine in the best possible way. Once a machine needs anything, it tries to communicate it to the user. Commercial ice making units have their maintenance teams but people having portable ones at home, need to be more careful. There are four main tips which can not only increase life of your ice machine but become your best ice maker by giving you efficiency in its operations. These tips are:
1.Feed Clean Water
Clean water is one of the most important things for giving beautifully white ice and keeping interior clean and free from microbes. No matter if you are using a portable ice maker at home or you are using at your bar, no one like to have patchy or dirty ice in their drink. More over one should keep in mind that the water which is left in the ice maker is re used for ice making and if the water is not clean that can not only lead to foul smell but can be a reason for less efficiency.
Apart from this cleanliness is always given respect. It is important that clean water should go in, it helps in keeping water duct clean as well as gives clean ice. If the water is unclean, it will freeze slower. You must have heard about adding salt or foreign particles in clean water to delay its freezing. This concept is used in cars and other vehicles which have water cooling where at lower temperature we want water to be in liquid state for circulation.
One should be careful that there is a scoop used to take out ice and not everyone`s hands touch the ice as if it gets contaminated, the water will be re used. Another thing is that the user should keep the bin dry when the machine is not in use. This is because water or moisture is an important requirement for microbes to grow.
For feeding in clean water, one must be sure that there is a water purifier attached to the intake and the same is properly serviced from time to time. Water purifiers are usually combinations of filters which needs cleaning from time to time.
2.Place the ice maker carefully
It is important to place ice maker in such a position that it is on an even surface as it contains moving parts like compressor and if the machine is not kept on an even surface, it might fall and also vibrations may increase.
Most of them require electric supply, drain and space to vent out heat. Remote cooled are a good bet which given enough room for keeping the unit. One should be careful while keeping the outer unit as if it is very hot outside, the heat exchange will be little difficult. Heat is exchanges with ambient air and if ambient air is very hot, heat exchange is less. In this case the installation is lengthy and one should be mentally prepared for this.
Each type comes with its own requirements be it big commercial type or be it compact ice maker. While talking about the portable type, one should always keep the machine in an accessible area as it may need cleaning from time to time. Drain is also an important aspect. At home, it should be kept in the kitchen area or the bar area where there is electricity supply and drain nearby. In café, the machine should be kept near the serving point, then only the ice will remain more time in the glass and will serve its purpose. One should be careful as air cooled ice maker needs to vent out hot air. The pressure of air might not be much but still there should be a ventilation in that area or at least it should not be a total enclosure.
Ice formation is a process and the cycle we are talking about works on heat extraction which is a constant process and take time. Storage of ice is required when the daily requirement is more than 100 Kg per day. Commercial machines are coming with storage bin but portable ones are not having bins so it is important to take out ice and store it in a cooler area. If that is a problem, one can easily buy ice box which is a plastic box which is insulated.
Once ice is stored, one can be at peace as your guests or customers will not have to wait for ice. Nothing happens to stored ice. Also one should not keep ice for long time as ice maker uses the same water kept and in case the maker has to be shut, the left over ice will melt. Storage bins which are connected to ice maker are crafted in a way that they can be easily cleaned.
4.Keep track of Icing patterns
Your ice maker is a machine and like all machines, it requires maintenance and close watch. One should be careful about the time taken for freezing same amount of water. Also the user should pay heed to the kind of sounds coming from the machine.
While buying, the user should check for the warranty. Usually ice generators come with one-year warranty and also offer replacement. Some companies even offer more warranty. If warranty is not there with the product, user may get warranty from third party. A lot of companies are offering replacement within a defined time. If in case there is an issue for usage of the machine, one can even go for replacement.
Top 10 Uses for a Portable Ice Maker
A portable ice maker may just seem like a normal freezer but is much more than what we think. Ten uses of a portable ice maker are:
It frees up the freezer chamber of the refrigerator and it can be used for other purposes, for keeping meat etc.
It is an efficient and an effective way to make ice. It takes as less as 6 minutes to form ice. This is in case of a portable ice maker and hence can give ice quickly.
It can be easily used by anyone and the most of the operation is automatic. In conventional freezers, one needs to fill trays with water and put in the designated place for freezing. It relives you from usage of trays.
You cannot use a full-fledged freezer while serving drinks but it can easily be used on a wet bar. Neither ice box looks good on a wet bar. It not only looks smart but also gives quick ice for cocktails and mock tails.
They can easily be used in offices as it is not possible to keep refrigerators everywhere and ice generator takes 8 times less space and can provide ice for refreshments. This not only gives an option but also makes employees more productive.
They are best to be used in pool party as a party is not possible without drinks and refreshments and all need ice for this. At any pool party or outhouse ice maker can be very useful.
Ice is good for cooling down temperature of any drink but is also used for preservation. This ice maker is good, for taking it along with you on a boat. With small size and effective output, it can be used to keep fish in ice or you can have a drink on boat too.
It can be used while camping to provide fresh and quick ice. Same can also be used while on recreational vehicle also called RV as not only this ice maker saves space but also consumes less energy.
One can take this portable machine anywhere out for picnic as it requires a small setup and is easy to use.
They are good to keep at home if you have a big family as it can easily fulfill ice need at home.
Terms to know before You Buy an Ice Maker
Before buying an ice maker, you should be aware of few terms, which are Storage Bin Space, Main Unit, Condensing Unit, Filter, Energy Rating, Drain Pump, Solenoid Valve, Floor drain. Power supply, Exhaust, Remote cooled, Warranty etc.
These terms are not difficult or alien terms but all these things should be clear to you while understanding the machine. You should be aware of the requirements, space you have and the way you need your ice. Once you are aware of the product and the requirement, decision making gets better and ultimately you will buy a useful portable ice maker.