- 1 Benefits of an Ice Maker
- 2 Best Ice Maker Buying Guide
- 3 Top-Rated Ice Makers Comparison Chart
- 4 Here’s our picks for the Best Ice Makers:
- 4.1 1. Frigidaire EFIC102 – Best to Buy in 2020
- 4.2 2. Vremi VRM010636N – Best Portable Ice Maker
- 4.3 3. IKICH Electric Ice Maker – Best Countertop Ice Maker
- 4.4 4. Euhomy IM-02 – Best Commercial Ice Maker
- 4.5 5. Scotsman CU50GA-1A – Best Undercounter Ice Maker
- 4.6 6. FirstBuild Opal – Best Nugget Ice Maker
- 4.7 7. hOmeLabs HME010019N – Best Residential Ice Maker
There are two basic types of ice makers. Countertop ice makers are compact enough to fit on most counters, but cannot hold freezing temperatures, which means ice will eventually melt. Under-counter ice makers offer more capacity and have the ability to hold freezing temperatures for hours. These units are designed to fit under a kitchen or bar counter and may weigh much more, which makes them more difficult to install or move around.
With a variety of models out there, it can be difficult to find the right one. In this post, we will provide a detailed comparison of the various features, prices, sizes, and designs of most ice makers, including their ice-making capacity. We also discuss their strengths and weaknesses to give you a better idea of what’s like to own one.
With our guide to the best ice makers, you’ll be able to find one that fits your needs.
Benefits of an Ice Maker
A portable ice maker allows you to enjoy pure ice without sacrificing too much kitchen space, especially if you live in an RV or motorhome that doesn’t have space for a full-size refrigerator.
On the other hand, bar or coffee shop owners who need a large quantity of ice on a regular basis will find a reliable built-in ice maker to be worth the investment. Made primarily for commercial purposes, these devices can produce up to 300 pounds of ice per day. They make ice quickly and continuously, keeping a constant supply of clean, fresh ice on hand.
If you often host parties where a lot of ice is needed, this kitchen appliance can ensure there’s always enough ice on demand. It helps save time and effort so you don’t have to run to the convenience store while the party is still on.
Best Ice Maker Buying Guide
When finding a good ice maker, you will want to consider design, price, and ice shape. You should also pay close attention to the size and capacity of each type, because it’s important to ensure that your ice maker fits both your space and provides enough ice for your needs.
There are two main types of ice makers: countertop and under-counter.
Countertop Ice Makers
Countertop ice makers are popular choices for light use. They’re also convenient tools for those in compact living spaces, as they’re portable and easy to use. They’re smaller than their counterparts, but of course that also means they hold less ice.
Since these machines are designed to be easily portable, they freeze the water directly without being connected to a water line or drain. Their water tanks must be filled manually to keep the ice production running.
Most portable ice makers do not have a cold storage bin. They make ice but cannot store it. When unused ice melts, the machines will automatically recycle the water to make a new batch of ice. This means you need to use your ice right away or it will melt if left in the basket. If you want a machine that can keep your ice frozen until you are ready to serve it, you will probably have to buy an under-counter unit that includes an integrated freezer.
Under-counter Ice Makers
Like countertop ice makers, under-counter ice makers (aka built-in ice makers) are automatic, meaning they continuously produce ice until the bin is full. Though they cost more than countertop models, they offer greater production capacity. They also have bigger storage bins which can contain anywhere from 30 to 500 pounds of ice at a time.
While most countertop ice makers cannot keep ice frozen for an extended period, these larger units can ensure you always have a steady supply of ice. That being said, due to their larger size they require much more time to complete a batch of ice. They’re also more difficult to move around.
All built-in ice makers require a dedicated water line supplying them with enough water for their production rate. For that reason, a professional plumber may be necessary.
Under-counter ice makers are as tall as mini fridges and often come with big, oversized ice baskets. Countertop ice makers are about half of the height of the under-counter ones—often about as compact as toaster ovens. Make sure you know the dimensions of the space you intend to fit, and decide whether you’ll move the machine around or not.
A standard portable ice maker can produce 9-12 ice cubes per batch in about seven minutes. That’s enough for 2-3 small drinks and about twice as fast as under-counter machines. That means smaller units may work faster than big heavy ones. They also produce smaller ice sizes and may keep ice colder because there is less room for air to circulate.
3. Ice Shape
- Dice ice: This ice is great for soft drinks and mixed drinks. With less surface area, it melts slowly so it will not change the flavor of your drinks as drastically.
- Crescent ice: This is the best ice for soft drinks, mixed drinks and blended drinks. It’s generally half the size of dice ice. This means it will melt and cool your drink more quickly than dice ice, making it less desirable for sipping drinks like cocktails and whiskey.
- Nugget ice: This small, soft ice is the perfect choice for soft drinks, fountain drinks, and blended cocktails. If you love chewing ice then nugget ice can satisfy your craving, as it’s easy to break down when chewed. Due to its soft consistency, it melts and waters down your drinks quickly. If you want ice that lasts, this chewable kind probably isn’t right for you. Many nugget ice makers use less energy than other types, though, so it saves money on energy bills.
- Bullet-shaped ice (aka pearl ice): This ice is ideal for soft drinks, margaritas, iced tea, and blended beverages. True to its name, it’s shaped like a small bullet. Because it’s hollow in the middle, it will melt into your drink more quickly than dice ice or crescent ice. While most other ice cubes are transparent, bullet-shaped ice tends to be cloudy or white throughout.
- Gourmet ice (aka top-hat ice): This ice is crystal clear and elegant, explaining why it’s usually served in high-end liquors and upscale drinks. It’s the slowest melting on this list, and cools your drinks quite well.
Top-Rated Ice Makers Comparison Chart
|Ice makers||Production capacity (pounds)||Storage capacity (pounds)||Ice Size||Ice shape||Warranty|
|Vremi VRM010636N||26||1.5||Small||Bullet-shaped||2 years|
|Euhomy IM-02||100||33||Large||Diamond||1 year|
|Scotsman CU50GA-1A||65||26||Large||Gourmet||1 year|
|Bullet-shaped||2-year (+6 months with product registration)|
Here’s our picks for the Best Ice Makers:
1. Frigidaire EFIC102 – Best to Buy in 2020
The EFIC102 is our choice for the best ice maker this year because it offers everything you’d expect in a high-quality package without costing a fortune. It’s one of the fastest ice makers on our list, producing nine-cube batches of bullet-shaped ice in about six minutes, which is enough for two or three small drinks. This comes out to 1.1 lbs of ice per hour, making it quite efficient.
The ETL-certified ice maker offers two ice size options: small and medium, allowing users to choose a suitable cube for their favorite drinks. It weighs 19 pounds and has a footprint of 15 by 11 inches. In other words, this is a small, lightweight unit that’s easy to carry around and takes up little space when you’re on the move. Despite the small size, it can hold 2.2 L of water and 1.2 pounds of ice at a time. (Though that storage capacity is slightly smaller than most other models on our list, it still ensures enough ice for 5-7 drinks.
While the device is mostly made of plastic, having a stylish design makes it fit in well with any stainless steel kitchen appliance. It even comes with several color options (copper, red, and silver). Frigidaire seems to stand by it as well, since they offer a 1-year warranty for this model.
This countertop ice maker is very simple to operate. It features a backlit LED control panel, which features just a few buttons (on/off and ice size) and warning lights for when the ice bin is full or the water tank is empty. It also comes with an underside drain plug, making it quicker and safer to clean than side-drain models.
Many owners praise the cooling fan, which they say is quieter than those found on other models, such as the Opal. Besides a removable ice tray and BPA-free ice scoop, they also love the large transparent window that allows them to easily see how much ice is in the bin without opening it and letting in warm air.
With a great feature set, this unit is well-equipped to make ice very quickly. If you’re looking for an affordable countertop ice maker that’s easy to use and convenient to clean, the EFIC101 is worth the investment.
2. Vremi VRM010636N – Best Portable Ice Maker
The Vremi ice maker comes equipped with almost all the same specs and features as the Frifidairebut but costs about $15 more, including a 1.5 pounds storage bin, 2.2 L water tank and BPA-free plastic ice scoop for easy, hassle-free ice retrieval. Besides an automatic shut-off function, an underside drain plug which makes it quickly to drain unused water is also a nice feature to have.
For further conveniences, there is a straightforward control panel located on the front that allows users to easily check the ice-making progress. On the dashboard, there are indicator lights which light up to notify you when the machine needs more water or when the ice bucket is full.
Like most portable ice makers, this machine also features an automatic standby which works with an infrared sensor to detect the ice level in the basket and turn off when it’s full, saving you from having to monitor it. Users can monitor ice production through the transparent viewing window.
In terms of performance, it works slower than the top pick, producing nine bullet-shaped ice cubes in 8-10 minutes. However, with a thick layer of PU foam that can insulate the heat very effectively, this model can keep the ice cool longer compared to its peers.
While most portable ice makers can make from two to three sizes of ice, the Vremi VRM010636N offers only one ice size option. But we think this barely matters, because having less settings makes the device more simplicity and easier to use. Each ice cube is about 8 grams, which makes it best suited for mixed beverages or small water bottle openings.
The VRM010636N is a reliable and reputable portable ice maker. Vremi seems to agree, as they back it up with a 1-year warranty and a 30-day return policy. It has ETL certification to guarantee its safety.
If you’re on a budget and looking for a reliable countertop ice maker that works well, the Vremi VRM010636N is a worthy choice, and it may even exceed your expectations.
3. IKICH Electric Ice Maker – Best Countertop Ice Maker
The first thing you will notice about the IKICH countertop ice maker is its unique looks, with the prominent LED display on the tank. The control is useful since the machine has a variety of features, including two ice sizes (small and large bullet ice), automatic standby, and a warning when water is low.
You might also love the clear window that lets you view the progress of ice making without opening it, and recommend it for camping. In agreement with many buyers, you’ll want to run the occasional cleaning cycle in addition to a wipe-down.
The IKICH features a 2.0 L water tank and an ice basket that can hold 1.5 lbs of ice. Despite this large capacity, it is the lightest portable ice maker on our list, weighing 17.35 pounds, with dimensions measuring 13.4 by 10.2 inches. It can produce 26 pounds of ice per day and works as fast as its larger competitors, making nine-cube batches of small ice in six minutes. It also has the option of large cubes, though those take longer.
Between the basket and the wall is a thick layer of PU foam for efficient insulation to keep the ice cool longer. It also includes a BPA-free plastic ice scoop, saving you an extra purchase. Its compressor and DC fan are both low noise. Granted that many components are plastic, the whole unit is well-built, solid, and it will blend in nicely among other kitchen appliances.
It’s totally fine and reasonable not to spend a large sum of money on fancy ice makers when a little one like the IKICH can get the job done. It’s a nice blend of price and functionality, and it enjoys some positive reviews among owners.
4. Euhomy IM-02 – Best Commercial Ice Maker
With high production capacity, a low-set profile, and simple controls, the Euhomy IM-02 is perfect for restaurants, bars, canteens, and other food service businesses that need a steady supply of clean ice.
The Euhomy IM-02 is a powerful undercounter ice maker which can hold 33 pounds and produce 45-cube batches of diamond-style ice in about 13-20 minutes, resulting in about 100 pound of ice per 24 hour. Few undercounter models can claim to produce ice faster, and those that do may produce lower quality ice.
The machine weighs 67 pounds, and has a footprint of 17.3 by 15.7 inches—suitable for most standard-sized counters. Compared to most undercounter ice makers, this model is lighter and more compact. Because of the smaller size, it works relatively faster and requires less installation space.
By equipping their products with a delay feature, the engineers at Manitowoc have successfully come up with a new approach to make their brand more special. This function permits the users to pause the ice-making process for 4, 12, or even 24 hours and leave the machine dormant.
There is an illuminated power button with LED lights for easy viewing and a full-bin indicator, which will give you advance notice when it’s nearly full. The Euhomy IM-02 is also designed with easy cleaning in mind, removing the need to use a sponge or towel to clean the inside. The cleaning function requires only water and vinegar to run its cycle.
The filter, ice bin, and other parts are detachable using hand screws. Plus, its tall legs make cleaning under the machine just as easy. Those are the small features that make it pleasant to use on a daily basis.
The Euhomy IM-02 ice maker possesses many exclusive features aimed at providing users with more flexibility. It comes at a high price tag, but its high-quality design and sustainable construction make it worthwhile for commercial applications.
5. Scotsman CU50GA-1A – Best Undercounter Ice Maker
With the ability to crank out up to 65 pounds of high-quality ice per day, this air-cooled undercounter ice maker is a serious investment that is very suitable for commercial purposes.
The Scotsman CU50GA-1A is significantly larger and heavier than the Euhomy IM-02. It measures 35 inches high by 15 inches wide, and weighs approximately 100 pounds. It makes full ice cubes and can store a maximum of 26 pounds of ice at a time.
The stainless steel ice maker is equipped with WaterSense technology, which can detect hard-water conditions and purge mineral-laden water after every freezing cycle. Thanks to this capability, it can produce pure ice and leave you with less worry about water quality. Pure ice doesn’t affect taste and stays cold longer than unfiltered ice.
The added value is that this unit has been tested and meets all of the UL standards and NSF International standards for safety. It is certified for outdoor use and is also Energy Star certified. This means your undercounter ice maker will be more energy-and water-efficient than most standard models.
A typical Energy Star-Rated ice maker is 10%-16% more energy efficient and 20% more water efficient than conventional models, possibly saving about $1,200 in utility costs over the machine’s life.
The durable Scotsman CU50GA-1A is designed for commercial use and can even be used outdoors. It’s exceptionally powerful and relatively low maintenance, so it’s a good fit for small businesses and large families.
6. FirstBuild Opal – Best Nugget Ice Maker
The Opal might be the only portable ice maker that produces nugget ice. As mentioned above, the chewable texture of nugget ice makes it a great option for any beverage dispenser as well as anyone who loves to chew ice.
If you have young kids, this unit is certainly worth your consideration. As nugget ice is soft and chewy, you can safely use it in your child’s drink with less concern about choking hazards.
The FirstBuild Opal is the largest and heaviest countertop ice maker on our list. It measures 15.5 by 10.5 inches and weighs about 44 pounds. It’s about the same size as a mini fridge.
The ice maker’s relatively large size not only takes up space but causes the machine to work slowly. It takes nearly one hour to produce half a pound of ice, which is enough for just 2-3 small drinks. Our top pick— the h0meLabs— can make enough ice for at least four small drinks by that point.
The Opal is also the loudest portable ice maker in our list, running at 64.5 decibels with the compressor running. This noise level is tolerable during daylight hours but not at night.
If we are pressed to describe the Opal in one word, it’s “simplicity.” The machine itself is pleasing to look at—with a smooth and shiny stainless steel finish. To make things even simpler for consumers, there’s a sole starting button at the front, which is encircled with a ring-shaped LED indicator. There are three color codes—white for operating, blue for water replenishment, and yellow for self-cleaning. If the light is moving in a circle, it means the selected mode is in progress.
The transparent ice bin lets you monitor the interior as the Opal generates ice cubes. You can retrieve the ice cubes by opening the bin partially or removing it completely from the unit. The ice bin can hold three pounds of ice at a time. When it’s full, the machine will stop running automatically.
This expensive device is bluetooth-equipped, so you can set an ice-making schedule and monitor the machine’s status via your smartphone using the FirstBuild app. The app is free for both IOS and Android.
The FirstBuild Opal is a good product, but it’s quite pricey for something that does nothing but make ice. So unless you find yourself desperately craving nugget ice every day, you might want to look elsewhere.
7. hOmeLabs HME010019N – Best Residential Ice Maker
The hOmLabs HME010019N works in a similar way and is roughly the same size as our top pick but costs more. It weighs 19.3 pounds, has a footprint of 12.9 by 9.5 inches, and is mostly made of plastic. It makes eight-cube batches of ice in about six minutes, resulting in about one pound of ice per hour— enough for 2-3 small drinks. Owners can choose between small- and medium-sized “bullet” cubes.
Compared with the Frigidaire EFIC102, this model has a bigger storage bin that carries 1.5 pounds of ice at a time. That’s enough ice for 6-8 drinks. Once the ice bin is full, the device issues an alert and automatically turns off to prevent overflowing.
Besides the compressor cooling system, this countertop ice maker also comes with a low-noise, high-speed exhaust fan, which helps carry the heat away from the coils. That’s why the machine is totally perfect for indoor use.
The machine has received a safety certificate from ETL. For this reason, you can trust that it is absolutely safe to use. The only trade-offs is a slightly higher cost.
The hOmeLabs HME010019N is a great choice for an RV or outdoor entertainment. If you’re after a fairly-priced ice maker with solid values, this one has what you need.