Choosing the Right Sized Ice Maker and Ice Machine Bin

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Chicago businesses have unique ice needs. What works for one business may not for another – even if they are in the same industry. Choosing the right sized ice maker and ice machine bin can be a challenge. You have to have a clear understanding of where your ice is being used, whether it’s for drinks or other business needs.

Your ice maker and ice machine bin work together to meet your needs.

How an Ice Maker and Ice Storage Bin Work

Your ice maker and ice machine bin work together to meet your needs. Whether you plan on getting a crescent ice machine or office ice maker, your ice storage bin helps to manage the amount of ice your machine produces in a day.

Let’s see how an ice machine and ice bin work together to produce ice.

How an Ice Maker Works

An ice machine’s production size tells you how much ice a machine produces over 24 hours. Ice machines produce the most ice when the ambient air and water temperatures are at 70- and 50-degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. For example, a Hoshizaki KM-600MAH ice machine produces around 600 pounds of ice a day under these temperatures.

As these temperatures rise, your ice maker’s ice production rate drops. The ice machine has to fight against these elevated temperatures to make a batch of ice. For example, the KM-600 ice machine we mentioned above will end up producing closer to 500 lbs of ice a day in when air and water temperatures reach 90/70-degrees.

Unfortunately, ideal temperatures are not easy to maintain. A temperature-controlled room can maintain the air temperature, but there’s not much you can do about your business’s water temperature.

If you work in a business where you know it won’t be very easy to maintain these temperatures, try basing your ice needs off 90/70-degree temperatures. Ice machine manufacturers list these statistics for all their ice maker models.

How an Ice Storage Bin Works

Unless you plan on buying one of the many types of ice machines that come with built-in ice storage, you’ll need an ice storage bin.
Modular-style ice machines (the types that need bins) come with a shut-off switch that monitors the amount of ice in the bin. This switch shuts down the ice machine when ice comes close to the top of the bin. Without this switch, your ice machine would continue to produce ice indefinitely, eventually causing a freeze-up.

Ice storage bins are named after their maximum capacity. For example, a Hoshizaki B-700PF ice bin holds close to 700 lbs of ice before the bin switch shuts down ice production.

Note that the maximum capacity of an ice bin refers to the total amount of ice the bin can hold when the ice is completely level. When ice falls into a bin, it forms a mound. When the top of the mound of ice reaches the bin switch, the machine still shuts down, even though there’s extra space to store more ice. If you wanted to maintain the maximum capacity, you would have to level the ice as it drops into the bin – which isn’t practical.

Your standard ice bin will only hold around 80% of its maximum capacity before reaching the bin switch. For instance, a B-700 will likely only hold around 600 lbs of ice before shutting down.

How Do I Pick the Right Ice Maker and Commercial Ice Bin?

So, how can you the best ice machine for your business?

First, you need to estimate the amount of ice your business goes through in a single day. This differs between industries, so we’ve created a resource to help you determine what size ice maker you will need. 

Next, you have to consider any other stations you use ice. Popular areas include wait stations, beer troughs, or to prep food in the kitchens.

Like we previously mentioned, if you know the temperature will be hard to maintain, you’ll want to choose a machine with a little more ice production. Having an additional 25-35% more ice than your estimate will help cover busier days and hot summers.

What Happens if I Get the Wrong Sized Ice Storage Bin?

A few problems can occur if you choose a commercial ice bin that’s too large or too small.

Bins that are too small won’t allow you to access the full benefit of your machine’s production rate. Remember, the bin switch will shut down your ice maker as it comes close to full. It won’t resume production until ice is taken out of the bin.

For example, if you place a Hoshizaki KM-1900SAJ ice machine that produces 1900 lbs a day on an 800-pound ice maker bin, you’re only getting around 750 lbs of ice until it shuts down.

Believe it or not, you can actually run into problems if your ice bin is too big.

An ice bin isn’t a refrigerator. They’re great at insulating, but ice will eventually start to melt if it’s left in a bin too long.

Most bins have top access, meaning you grab ice from the top of the ice supply. If the bin is too big to the point where the bottom third of your ice supply never gets used, the old ice melts, new ice drops on top of it, refreezing it. Eventually, that ice freezes into a useless block of ice sitting at the bottom of your bin.

Large bins that hold over 1200 lbs of ice have access doors toward the bottom of the ice supply. This lets users grab older ice first, so it doesn’t have time to melt.

Take the Time to Choose the Right Ice Maker and Ice Storage Bin

If you’re looking for a commercial ice machine for sale in the Chicago area, don’t rush before you’ve done the proper calculations. Getting the wrong sized ice machine is a waste of money.
If you need help choosing the right type of ice maker, contact the experts at Automatic Ice Makers. We have commercial ice machines for sale or lease. Our leases make owning an ice machine easy. We include commercial ice machine repair, maintenance, and cleaning for a low monthly cost.

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