/ Refrigerators & More

An Introduction to Ice Makers


Courtesy of Sub-Zero

An ice machine can be an important appliance for a kitchen used for entertaining.

Most refrigerators have an in-unit ice maker, but if you entertain frequently, consider adding an ice machine to your kitchen's repertoire. Available in both indoor and outdoor models, ice makers can be freestanding or built into your base cabinets. They typically come in white, black or stainless steel, with more expensive built-in models able to accept custom door panels so that they will blend in with surrounding cabinetry. Some are rated for outdoor use, too.

Undercounter ice makers typically measure 15 or 18 inches wide and produce 12 to 60 pounds of ice daily. However, many ice makers can only store about half as much ice as they can produce in a day. The excess ice will melt and ultimately need to be drained. Unless your kitchen already has a floor drain, you'll want to purchase an undercounter ice maker that has its own drain pump. You'll also need a direct water line to provide a constant supply of water. Hire a professional plumber to do the installation.

Dedicated ice makers create a higher quality ice than what a refrigerator with ice maker can provide. Undercounter ice makers create sheets of ice that are formed in layers, keeping the cubes crystal clear by preventing them from trapping air bubbles and mineral concentrations that lead to a cloudy look.

Price: $500 to $3,000


Portable Ice Makers
Portable ice makers can sit comfortably on countertops and are small enough to be stored in cabinets when not in use. They require an electric outlet but not a direct water connection, as you add water to them manually. Although these mini ice machines can produce between 20 and 30 pounds of ice per day, they don't keep the ice frozen for long, have a small storage capacity and most likely won't provide crystal-clear cubes.

Price: $200 to $500

Types of Ice
Ice can be divided into colors and shapes. Clear ice is restaurant-quality, gourmet ice whose impurities have been removed so the cubes do not have the "cloudy" appearance of regular ice. This ice is completely odorless and tasteless; however, clear icemakers are always more expensive. Ice can also be made in a variety of shapes, including actual cubes, cylinders, and crescents. Cylindrical ice is rounded and often has an indentation in the top and a rounded out bottom. Crescent ice cubes are similar to what many ice makers in refrigerators make: long with flat tops and round bottoms.