A Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a Portable Ice Maker

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The party is going splendidly. Everyone’s got a drink in hand. The food is popular. People are getting along and enjoying themselves. Then, when it is time for refills, you realize there is no more ice. 

You do not want your guests to be forced to drink warm beverages, so someone must drive to the nearest convenience store while the others wait. It is not the end of the world, but it is inconvenient to deal with. 

A portable ice maker will save you time and effort. 

What is a Portable Ice Maker? 

Portable ice machines are straightforward devices that do exactly what their name implies: they create ice when you add water. They are compact, require little counter space, and are simple to store when not in use. They do not require a water connection, making them easy to transport. You will have ice within minutes if you have access to a standard outlet and (clean) water. Designed to operate quickly, you won’t have to wait long for your next cold beverage. 

Portable & Countertop Ice Maker 

Before purchasing a portable ice machine, it is essential to understand this distinction. While this type of ice maker is designed to produce ice quickly, it is not intended to keep the ice frozen for extended periods. As the ice begins to melt, the water will trickle back into the reservoir, and the device will initiate refreezing. This process will continue until all ice is consumed or all water is drained from the machine. 

If you’re looking for a standalone ice maker that can keep its contents frozen for extended periods, you’ll likely have better luck with a built-in model. These ice machines will have a higher price tag and specific installation requirements. 

Ice Maker, Mobile, and Countertop 

These machines are not inherently superior to one another. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, as they are designed for specific purposes. Before purchasing either type of ice machine, you must clearly understand what you’re getting and how you intend to use it. 

Why Purchase Portable Ice Maker? 

This “running out of ice” scenario is just one of the many reasons why you may want to purchase a portable ice maker. They are also helpful for any situation where you ordinarily buy a bag of ice. Typical uses include: 

  • Camping 
  • Tailgating 
  • Boating  
  • RV trips 

They are also helpful in several other locations where more ice is needed than a freezer’s ice maker can produce, such as office break rooms and retirement communities where many people want to refill their drinks throughout the day. And naturally, they can be helpful in many homes, both for parties with more guests than the ice maker in the refrigerator can accommodate and for families that consume a lot of ice daily. 

Suppose you frequently find yourself in situations where you require additional ice. In that case, a portable ice machine will be a convenient and cost-effective solution, allowing you never again to purchase ice from a convenience store. 

Considerations when Purchasing a Portable Ice Maker 

If you’ve decided it’s time to purchase a portable ice machine, there are a few key considerations you should keep in mind to find the best one for your specific needs. 

Size and Capacity 

Portable ice makers are typically compact; this is what makes them portable. However, there is variation in the amount of space they require and the amount of ice they can produce or store. Manufacturers will include dimensions and capacity rates in their product specifications, so it will be simple to confirm that you are purchasing the appropriate size or capacity. 

If your portable ice maker spends most of its time sitting on a countertop in your home kitchen, RV, or boat, you should double-check the available space to avoid purchasing a machine that won’t fit. However, if you intend to carry your ice maker from place to place or only use it when you have guests, you should check the device’s weight to ensure that you’ll be comfortable carrying it. 

If size and weight are of no concern, then capacity is the most critical factor. You need a machine that can hold as much ice as you need unless you are willing to bag the ice and store it in a freezer. An ice maker that is too small will not adequately solve your problems, while an ice maker that is too large will waste energy and space. Before making a purchase, consider how much ice you anticipate requiring, as this will help you determine which ice maker is ideal for your specific situation. 

Production Capacity and Speed 

In addition to determining how much ice your ice machine must hold, you must also ensure that it produces ice quickly enough for your needs. Typically, production capacity is expressed in pounds of ice per day. 

If you and your family or coworkers regularly consume large quantities of ice, or if you want to ensure that your party guests never have to wait for a refill, a higher production capacity will be advantageous. 

Be mindful that someone will need a minute to add more water if you are melting ice quickly. This type of ice maker is partly considered portable because it does not require a dedicated water line. While this eliminates any complicated installation requirements, manual water addition will still be necessary. Someone must ensure that the ice is not depleted, although it is a relatively simple task. 

In addition, most manufacturers specify in their product specifications how long it will take for the ice to begin to form. Most countertop ice machines begin producing ice between 10 and 20 minutes after water is added and the device is turned on. This varies from model to model, so if speed is essential, you should watch it. 


Portable ice makers are reasonably priced appliances. They typically begin at around $100 and range up to approximately $250 for larger-capacity models. Overall, this is not a significant price range. A close examination of the reviews indicates that moving up prices from the least expensive models typically results in a longer-lasting machine. Numerous inexpensive ice machines appear to develop issues within the first year, mainly when they are heavily utilized. 

Consider a unit with a slightly higher price tag primarily due to its superior durability. If you intend to use the ice maker frequently or keep it always plugged in, you may want to spend a bit more on a durable model. However, a less expensive ice maker will likely suffice if you only intend to use it for special occasions or when you have guests over. 

The production capacity will also play a role in determining the final price. The higher-capacity models will likely be priced slightly higher. A few features, such as intelligent water use or user-friendly controls, may also increase a machine’s worth. 


If your portable ice maker is permanently placed on a countertop, you will likely want to consider which models will fit in well. You will quickly notice that countertop ice makers are available in various colors and finishes as you explore your options. 

Black, white, and stainless steel will be the most typical colors. Numerous units are available that allow you to add a splash of color. Therefore, if all your appliances are red, you will have options to complement them. The aesthetic appeal is entirely subjective, so you will need to browse your options to determine which models you prefer and which you believe will complement your current home’s decor. 

Simplicity of Use 

Portable ice makers are generally simple to operate. Most have user-friendly controls, straightforward instructions, and no installation requirements (you need an electrical outlet). Some ice machines may have slightly more straightforward controls than others, and some include features that make it easier to determine when the ice machine is complete. In general, however, you shouldn’t be too concerned about figuring out how to operate a portable ice machine. 

An intelligent water use feature that filters and re-freezes water as the ice in the machine melts contributes significantly to the ease of use. You will not have to refill the machine frequently or dispose of the ice you do not consume. You will still need to clean the machine between uses, but this feature eliminates a few steps you would otherwise have to complete. 


Freezing water is hard work. As a result, any machine that is not exceptionally well-made is likely to develop problems within a short period. Unfortunately, portable ice machines are not the type of appliance you can purchase once and use for at least a decade; even most of the highest-quality models are unlikely to last that long. However, spending a little more can often mean the difference between a year or less of use and several years. 

Some portable ice makers come with warranties, giving you an idea of how long you can expect the machine to last (or the peace of mind that you’ll get a replacement if something goes wrong). Others allow you to purchase a warranty, which may be well worth the cost, given the number of reviewers encountering problems with various models. 

Reading reviews is the best way to determine how long you can expect your portable ice maker to last. People will complain if their model does not stay long enough to their satisfaction, and many will also take the time to recommend a machine that functions reliably for enough time. 

Intelligent Water Use 

Intelligent water use is one of the most excellent features a portable ice machine can offer. If you don’t consume all the ice your engine produces before it melts, the device will recycle it and create more ice. 

Since countertop ice makers do not keep the ice frozen, without this feature, you risk wasting water if you don’t transfer the ice to a freezer or use it quickly. And there will be more mess to clean up between users. Intelligent water use conserves water saves you the trouble of refilling the machine and ensures that you can use the product without running out of water and adding more frequently. 

Extras Features: 

  • Self-Cleaning — A self-cleaning ice maker simplifies the most laborious aspect of using a portable ice maker: cleaning it. 
  • Automatic Timer: An automatic timer allows you to set a specific time for the ice maker to begin producing ice so that it is ready when you need it. 
  • Ice Size Selection: Some portable ice makers allow you to select between two or three different ice sizes based on your preferences. 
  • Ice Scoop: A select number of portable ice makers include an ice scoop. 

What Customers Say About Well-Known Ice Maker Brands 

An ice maker has a difficult task, as freezing water is not simple. You should choose a reputable brand for a portable ice maker that can get the job done without wearing out quickly. To better understand which brands typically provide the best performance, we analyzed all customer reviews of ice makers manufactured by some of the industry’s leading brands. The following is a summary of customer feedback. 

Avalon Bay 

Avalon Bay sells a fashionable portable ice maker that is available in three colors. While many customers appreciate the availability of red ice machines, others appear to have encountered problems with their devices. Customers report that their ice machines function correctly and produce ice rapidly. Less satisfied customers complain that their units are noisy and loud, which is the most common complaint about this brand. According to other customers, their ice machines did not last long when they utilized them frequently. If you don’t mind the noise, you will likely be pleased with your Avalon Bay ice maker for as long as it lasts, but you shouldn’t expect it to last very long. 


Customers say Danby’s portable ice makers produce ice quickly, operate flawlessly, are simple to use, and last long. A few reviewers mentioned that the ice initially tasted strange, but one returned to say that the taste disappeared after a few batches. Several customers express their eagerness to recommend Danby to others. This is unquestionably a dependable brand for the purchase of a countertop ice maker. 


EdgeStar offers an extensive selection of portable ice machines in various colors and finishes. As the market leader for this type of appliance, it should be no surprise that customers are typically satisfied with their devices. Most reviews for EdgeStar mention that it is simple to use and produces ice quickly. Customers who were pleased with the durability of their first portable ice machine returned to the brand for their subsequent purchase. Their standing among customers is high. This is a brand that you should strongly consider when shopping around. 


Igloo sells several portable ice makers with mixed reviews. Most of their units are still favorable, with many customers stating that their ice machine is quick, quiet, and straightforward. Other customers, however, describe devices that stop working within a couple of months, along with the aggravating experience of being given the runaround when they attempt to claim the warranty. Igloo is inexpensive, but you run the risk of receiving a product with a short lifespan. If you purchase an Igloo ice maker, you should carefully examine what customers say about the model you’re considering. 


Ivation is another budget-friendly brand that sells portable ice makers with mixed reviews. Most customers praise their ice machines for being efficient, user-friendly, and capable of producing large quantities of ice. However, several reviewers complain about how quickly they stopped working, with some stating that they only lasted a few weeks or months. As with Igloo, you can save some money upfront with Ivation, but you may soon need to purchase a new portable ice maker. 


Koldfront offers two reasonably priced ice makers praised for being efficient, quiet, and simple to operate. As with the other more affordable brands on the list, a few dissatisfied customers claim their ice machine did not last very long. Other reviewers mention using theirs without issue for years. There’s a good chance you’ll be satisfied with a Koldfront portable ice machine, but there’s also a chance you’ll receive one that doesn’t work as well. 

Master Chef 

Magic Chef manufactures various countertop ice machines that receive mixed customer feedback. Most customer reviews are positive, with many customers stating that their units work well, produce ice quickly, and are reasonably priced. Unfortunately, many of their products have no reviews whatsoever. All indications point to Magic Chef being a reputable brand, but do your research on the model you’re considering purchasing. 


Look for an ice maker that offers the advantage of having multiple ice size and shape options to choose from. These will let you choose which ice type to make with each batch at the touch of a button. Some ice makers offer a self-cleaning feature, which can help ensure crystal clear cubes with lots of crunch.

What should I look for when buying an ice maker?
  1. Ice production – Families that go through large amounts of ice every day should consider machines with a higher production rate.
  2. Storage capacity – If you need your ice maker to fill coolers, look for a machine with a larger storage capacity.

Absolutely! Portable ice makers are designed to run without stopping. The water reservoir is placed under the ice storage bin for that very reason. When the water from the ice bucket melts, it drips back into the tank to make more ice.

At 350 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in a month—at a typical rate of $0.06 per kWh, that would cost around $10-$21 a month to run a portable ice maker.

Factors such as how much it’s used and how well it’s maintained affect how long a machine lasts. Seldom, though, will an ice machine last longer than 10 years if it is used everyday. A safe estimate would be roughly 4 to 5 years, or within the warranty of the machine. But beyond the warranty there is no guarantee.

No, most portable ice makers are not designed to keep ice cold and frozen. They do not have the insulation to keep the ice from melting. Any unused or remaining ice cubes will slowly melt over time and replenish water back into the bottom water reservoir.

Ice makers are worth it as long as you use a lot of ice daily and have space for a new kitchen appliance. These appliances allow you to have ice on hand all the time, and they are the perfect option for people who don’t have fridges with ice makers or who use ice frequently.

Keeping your air filters clean is one way you can help prevent the growth of mold and slime. Air filters trap many of the particles they feed on. At Easy Ice, we recommend employees clean air filters every week to prevent a dirty ice machine.

With the drain plug removed from the ice maker, pour fresh water into the water reservoir, and let it drain directly into a bucket or sink. In my kitchen, we have a removable tap, and I can rinse the ice maker with the tap. Rinse and rinse again!

By adding a small 12-volt DC to 120-volt AC inverter, these ice makers can be powered all day from a single 12-volt RV/marine battery, which in turn can be recharged each day using a solar panel.


Portable ice makers provide convenience and will save you money if you frequently purchase bags of ice from the grocery store. They are an inexpensive solution to an annoying problem. Find the ideal portable ice maker to ensure that you always have great ice in your home, at parties, camping trips, and at the office. 

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