We’ve come a long way. From ice chopped out of frozen lakes and stored placed in ice-boxes, to refrigerators, to refrigerators with tiny freezers, to stand-alone freezers, to larger refrigerators with bigger freezers, to automatic ice makers in our freezers. Gone are the days of cumbersome ice trays cluttering up our precious freezer space. Then again, those automatic ice makers take up space of their own inside freezers, and some folks don’t have an ice maker at all. What if you want to make ice automatically without a freezer mounted ice maker? Enter the stand-alone countertop ice maker.
Portable ice makers are small enough for small apartment kitchens, dorm rooms, RV’s, boats, and great for a home bar. They could even be used by someone with a small food-service or beverage operation. They make ice more efficiently than a typical freezer-mounted model. Great for entertaining, they allow you to keep the ice flowing, or tinkling, or whatever the word for ice is.
Made by companies such as Igloos, Avalon Bay, Ivation, Della, Rosewill, Luma Comfort, Hamilton Beach, and more, portable countertop ice makers are like mini versions of the large ice makers restaurants use. But don’t let their portable size fool you. They can make more ice than a typical freezer-mounted ice maker, and do it quicker. Most standard-size models can produce up to 26 pounds of ice per day (24 hour period) and can hold around 2lbs of ice in the reservoir. There are larger units capable of making almost twice as much ice.
Features and Specs of Typical Countertop Ice Makers
- No installation needed: just plug in the unit and put in water (a batch is typically 9 cubes of ice)
- Makes a ‘batch’ of ices in 6 to 13 minutes
- 2 or 3 ‘ice cube’ sizes to choose from
- Makes around 26 pounds of ice in a 24 hour period.
- Holds from 1.5 to 2lbs of ice at a time.
Features to Look For
- Full ice bucket indicator, alerting you to empty ice bucket so more ice can be made.
- Overflow protection (shuts unit off if the ice bucket is full to overflowing)
- Add water indicator – can’t make ice without water!
- Melted ice recirculated back to make more ice (see disadvantages, below)
How Fast are They?
They are very fast. This review shows one at work and it’s impressive how efficiently the machine makes ice.
Avalon Bay Portable Ice Maker
The Avalon Bay AB-ICE26S Portable Ice Maker is an Amazon Best Seller. It comes in three colors, black, red, and silver, and lets you choose from 2 ice sizes. With push-button controls, it makes ice in 6 minutes, and as above, 26lbs of ice in a day. There is a water refill indicator and overflow protection. The unit’s dimensions are 11 x 14.8 x 14.7 inches. If the ice sitting the ice bucket melts, the water will run back into the water reservoir to be turned into more ice.
If you like to entertain, a portable ice maker will perform better than the ice maker in your freezer. Even if you’re refrigerator has one, but you need a quick ice maker so you can have more ice for get-togethers or other occasions, a portable ice maker can be useful. What’s more, as long as you have a place to plug it in, you can carry it with you, even to your friend’s backyard barbecue. If you need even more capacity, there are larger, but still portable units such as 50-lbs capacity units made by NewAir. If you give it some advanced notice, the Newair AI-215R Red Portable Ice Maker can make 50lbs per day, enough for most parties, producing a batch in 7 minutes, and it even has a self-cleaning function. This brings us to some of the drawbacks of portable ice makers.
Disadvantages of Portable Countertop Ice Makers
Counter top ice makers are not freezers. Although the ice reservoirs are well-insulated, the ice will melt if left inside too long. Look for a unit, like the Avalon, above, which lets the water from melted ice run back into the water reservoir to make more ice. Although most units seem to have this feature, you’d certainly regret it if you bought one which did not! Regardless, a countertop unit certainly could serve as your only source of ice, they are more suitable for temporary use or for situations where no other ice production is available.
If the unit is not kept clean and care is not taken when taking ice out of the unit, contamination and bacterial growth could occur. It is important to use an ice scoop, preferably metal, no hands, plastic cups, etc. and to clean the unit periodically according to manufacturer instructions. Portable ice makers are not ice dispensers. Having them actually, dispense the ice would make them much larger and no longer very portable.
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