19 Terms to Know Before Purchasing an Ice Maker

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Are you feeling lost in your search for the ideal ice maker? There are so many unfamiliar terms (or terms you thought you knew but are being used differently) that finding what you’re looking for can be challenging. To assist you in your research, we have compiled and defined the following terms related to ice makers: 

If you find any terms listed on any of our ice makers that you do not understand or would like clarification on, please leave a comment below, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, or call us at 1.800.297.6030. 

ADA Compliant 

If an ice maker is ADA-compliant, it meets the height and accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Ambient Temperature 

This term refers to the surrounding environment of the ice maker. Extreme ambient temperatures of the surrounding air or the incoming water supply will reduce the ice maker’s efficiency and production capacity. Statements regarding a supplier’s production capacity assume an ambient air temperature of 70°F and an ambient water temperature of 50°F. 


An automatic ice maker is precisely what its name suggests. Besides turning on the unit, the machine will produce ice on its own. It will make ice until its storage capacity is reached, and it will resume production once the ice is melted or removed. 


These terms about an ice maker indicate that the machine can be installed flush with the cabinetry or under the counter. Instead of venting through the sides or back, built-in ice makers vent through the front. If the front ventilation remains unobstructed, this allows for placement in tight spaces. 


A commercial ice machine is designed to withstand the rigorous use typical of commercial environments, such as restaurants and other food service settings. Numerous commercial ice machines have high outputs and are simple to maintain. 

Drain Pump 

One of the two options is using a drain pump to drain ice makers. You will need to connect the drain hose to a pump if your machine is not close to a drain. This pump will forcefully direct excess water from your device to the appropriate location. 


The term freestanding refers to your placement options for an ice maker. If your unit is freestanding, it cannot be installed under countertops or in other confined spaces. Since freestanding ice makers vent through their backs or sides, leaving ample space on all sides is strongly recommended. 

Gravity Drain 

Gravity draining is one of two ice maker draining options. If your machine is near a drain, use gravity and the included drain hose to direct the excess water to the drain. 

Ice Bin 

The purpose of an ice bin is to store all the ice produced by a modular ice machine. Numerous ice bins are designed to fit directly beneath a modular unit, catching and holding ice immediately after it is made. 

Ice Dispenser 

A modular ice machine can produce ice but has no storage capacity. Connecting a modular ice machine to an ice bin or dispenser is required. Despite having no power for storage, modular ice machines have incredibly high production capacities. 


If an ice maker is NSF-approved, it has been independently tested and certified by an organization specializing in trying food service products. 


Some ice makers are permitted for outdoor use. If a unit is designated as an outdoor ice maker, it has been completely encased in stainless steel and can operate in extreme temperatures. Even though outdoor ice makers are designed to withstand the elements, many will work less efficiently when temperatures are above 100°F or below 50°F. 

Production Capacity 

This term describes the quantity of ice a machine can produce in 24 hours. This estimate is based on ideal ambient conditions (air temperature of 70°F and water temperature of 50°F). 


This abbreviation means “Pounds per Square Inch Gauge.” In the context of ice machines, this term refers to water pressure. Numerous commercial ice machines operate within a specific water pressure range. Both abnormally low and abnormally high-water pressure will reduce the effectiveness of your ice maker. 


A self-contained ice machine has both storage and production capacities. A self-contained device eliminates purchasing a separate ice bin and ice dispenser. Self-contained ice maker in operation puts are more compact than modular units. 

Storage Capacity 

This term refers to the amount of ice that a machine can store at one time. Once the storage capacity of an ice maker is reached, it will cease producing ice. After melting or removing a portion of the ice, production will begin. 


This is an independent testing organization for safety. A UL listing and certification indicate that an independent third party has tested and certified the ice machine. 

Water Line 

When referring to ice machines, a water line connects the device and the water supply. If an ice maker installation requires a water line connection, you will need to hire a licensed plumber. Most units include all the necessary components for this connection. Now that you understand the terminology, you will be better equipped to find the ice maker of your dreams. Happy shopping! 


For the Safety of Everyone, Please Follow These Rules When Using This Machine: Wash or sanitize your hands before and after using this machine. Consider using a fresh cup or cleaning your cup in between refills. Do not dump any foreign beverages (including coffee) or food into the tray.

Ice machines need more than regular equipment maintenance to keep them in good shape. These particular pieces of restaurant equipment are very important to clean and sanitize. A neglected ice machine will develop scale, slime, or mold, which can contaminate the ice and make customers sick.

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.

Replacing a standard freezer-based ice maker costs $50 to $150, though you’ll also pay for an hour or so of labor, bringing the entire replacement price up to $100 to $400

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.

Ice maker energy use is around 350 kilowatt hours (kWh) in a month—at a typical rate of $0.06 per kWh, that would cost around $21 a month. The best commercial ice makers will handle a much larger volume than one meant for the home. It’s not unusual for a commercial ice maker to make 500 pounds of ice in a single day.

How long does a refrigerator ice maker last? With daily use, an ice maker will last about four or five years before it needs replaced. If you keep up with ice maker maintenance, such as changing the filters every six months, you may get up to 10 years of life out of your ice maker.

The national average materials cost to install an ice maker is $81.79 per icemaker, with a range between $73.38 to $90.20. The total price for labor and materials per icemaker is $369.09, coming in between $333.89 to $404.30.
Commercial Ice Machine Problems That Need Repairs
  • Water Flow Issues. Perhaps the most common type of problem an ice machine can suffer from is with water flow. …
  • The Ice Machine Leaks Water. …
  • The Ice Machine Is Too Warm. …
  • The Ice Machine Needs Cleaning.

On the other hand, modular units can produce more ice (300-1,000+ lbs per day), but require an additional storage bin to store it.

The good news is that most replacement kits are simple to install. Locate the model number on the wall of the refrigerator just inside the door, then buy a new icemaker at an appliance store or online (do a search for “appliance parts”).

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