When it comes to ice machines, they operate best in optimal temperatures of 70-degree air and 50-degree water – not exactly an easy temperature to maintain in a commercial kitchen. Higher room temperatures will cause your ice machine to work extra hard to make ice. Sometimes a room can be so hot that it will overwork the refrigeration system until your ice maker is not making ice altogether. To provide an optimal environment for your ice machine, consider the unit’s placement in the area rather than where it’s most convenient.
How Temperature Affects Your Ice Maker
A hot room is the worst place to install an ice machine. Ideally, you want the temperature of the room to be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but anyone who’s worked in a kitchen knows that’s a hard temperature to keep. Temperatures can easily reach over 100 degrees on a busy summer night.
So, what happens to an ice maker when the surrounding temperature reaches 100 degrees?
When the room temperature exceeds 100 degrees, you’ll find that ice melts faster and you’ll run the risk of your ice maker not making ice at all. In extreme cases, ice machines can suffer damage and require expensive repairs before you can restore ice to your business.
Many people find it hard to believe the internal temperature of a room can reach over 100 degrees without them noticing. The truth is, ice machines can produce microclimates where the temperature around the unit is much higher than the room itself. Some ice machines can have temperatures reach 25 degrees warmer than the surrounding ambient temperature when measured from less than 5 feet away!
Don’t Forget Your Bin!
Once your ice machine drops ice into your ice storage bin, it stays there until someone comes and scoops it out. It’s important to note that while an ice storage bin is insulated, it’s not a freezer. It’s more like a commercial grade cooler, but even the largest cooler is going to experience some melted ice over time.
The more heat your ice bin is exposed to, the faster your ice supply will melt.
Ventilation and Your Ice Machine
Air-cooled Manitowoc or Hoshizaki ice machines use a fan to suck air from the environment and pass it over the condenser to cool refrigerant which the unit uses to freeze ice. The unit then expels the resulting hot air out of the unit through a vent.
It’s imperative that this vent is at least a foot and a half away from a wall. The hot air needs enough room to slam against the wall and dissipate into the surrounding environment. If the space between the unit and the wall is too short, the air has nowhere to go but around the machine. The air then drifts toward the fan where it’s sucked back into the machine.
When hot air drifts back into the ice maker, it causes “hot air recirculation” which results in a microclimate. As the hot air continues to recirculate, it gets hotter and hotter, resulting in much warmer temperatures around the machine than the surrounding area. Microclimates cause the same problems you’d face if you place your unit in a hot room – less ice production and the possibility of a complete system shutdown.
The best way to prevent a microclimate from forming is to make sure the unit has plenty of ventilation. Ideally, ice makers should have a foot and a half distance from the walls and ceiling. Don’t install your ice machine in an area with low ventilation, like a closet or cubby. Finally, make sure your ice maker is free from any debris or items, such as boxes or buckets that can block vents.
Appliances that Generate Heat
Certain appliances, like oven or furnaces, can raise the temperature around your ice machine and cause heat problems as well. Most restaurant floorplans designate areas for each appliance – the only problem is most floorplans don’t account for cumulative heat. The room may be “room temperature” on paper, but that’s before you start installing heat-generating appliances, set up equipment that takes up space, and introduce hard-working employees. These factors will significantly raise the room temperature and cause your ice maker to work harder in the process.
Keeping Things Cool with Temperature Control
Whether it’s a hot room caused by a particularly warm summer or heat-generating appliances raising the heat, a good temperature control system is your best way to keep your ice maker cool. Remember, ideally you want to keep your ice maker’s environment around 70 degrees, and an AC unit is the best way to do this.
A lot of factors can cause your ice maker to run hot but making the right decisions can keep your unit cool throughout the year. Remember, make sure to install your ice maker in a room with plenty of ventilation and temperature control. Also, keep it far away from any heat-generating appliances.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line ice maker and need help finding the perfect place to install it, Automatic Icemakers has been in the ice machine business for almost 60 years! We only lease the best Manitowoc and Hoshizaki ice machines to you and our experienced staff will find the right place to install it, so you never have to worry about overheating.
Give us a call at (773) 975-2005 for a quote today!