Every food service business needs to have some types of ice for drinks, packing or cooling, which come in a variety of styles; crushed, dice, nugget or flake. Because of that, there are many different configurations of ice machines available today. This is why it's very important to have a better understanding about ice machines, before you make a valuable investment on an ice machine that should continually provide the precise amount of ice every time and possible never run out.

So to produce the type of ice you need, there are variations within each type of commercial ice machine, generally they fall into three basic types: Modular (head & bin combination), Undercounter and Countertop. As well as, a variations of condenser units that supplies Freon to the ice maker: Air-cooled, Water-Cooled and Quiet Cube Remote (condenser is installed outside).

There are many questions you will need to ask yourself before buying an ice machine for your establishment. For example: How much ice do I need? or What size of Ice Machine do I need?

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Types of Ice Makers

Modular (Ice Machine Head & Ice Bin)

A Manitowoc Modular comes with the ice maker head and ice bin sold separately, for the ability to customize your setup for your specific needs. With this option you can pair up a small ice head with a large capacity ice bin for low ice demand or use a high production head with a small bin for a high ice demand.

Before you buy an ice head with an ice bin separately, need to make sure that the two are compatible with each other. Some combinations are not compatible and can not be paired at all. Yet others units may require an adapter plate between the bin and head, so be sure to do your research.

Using an adapter plate between the head and the ice bin it will ensure the units fit tightly together. This will guarantee the unit will run efficiently and prevent air from escaping, also won't leave room for dirt or pest from getting inside the ice bin, which can develop into a sanitation issues.

Ice maker separate bin or ice dispenser.

  • Remote option for condenser.
  • For higher output machines; 250 – 1000+ lbs/day.
  • Common widths: 22"/ 30"/ 48"
  • Ideal for restaurants and bars.

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Manitowoc NEO undercounter ice machines are designed to provide ice right where you need it - within reach. Improvements in Performance, Intelligence and Convenience make your ice machine easy to own and less expensive to operate. AlphaSan added to key internal components.

  • Performance – NEO produces more ice than ever before while using less water and energy. The storage bin provides industry leading capacity.
  • Intelligence – NEO provides feedback with full bin and service indicators. Delay function allows you to pause your machine for slow periods or days when you're closed.
  • Convenience – NEO offers a forward-sliding storage bin for easy access to refrigeration components without having to move the entire ice machine. Smooth, sealed food-zone with removable water trough, distribution tube, and damper door for faster cleaning.

Self-contained ice machine.

  • For machines up to approx. 350 lbs/day.
  • Fits under most 40" high counters.
  • Popular for small cafes and small bars.

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Manitowoc countertop nugget ice maker with water dispenser and a small 12 – 20 lb bin, making this a great compact commercial ice maker for your countertop. You can find compact units in hospitals, hotels lodge area, and school cafeteria, to help create an entirely self service station. Countertop ice dispenser are designed to couple with beverage dispensing unit available at Jean's Restaurant Supply. Once implemented you will have a complete unit ready for beverage and ice dispensing. These are the typical ice dispensing set ups you will encounter at most established fast food restaurants.

Self contained; ice maker + dispenser.

  • Some make up to approx. 400 lbs/day, despite small bin.
  • Usually nugget type ice; may also dispense water.
  • Popular in healthcare facilities; easy to chew ice.

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Types of Condenser Units

Commercial ice machine come with three types of condensers; air-cooled, water-cooled or remote. Of the three an air-cooled condenser unit is the most popular, solely because it won't drive water bill up like a water-cooled one would, and typically have a lower initial cost. However the air-cooled condenser can raise the ambient temperature in the room and generate noise during operation. But with a remote unit it will move the heat and noise generated outside, typically on the roof or anywhere outside your building, this will keep the location of the ice machine cool and quiet, and can save on energy costs by reducing AC demands.



Air-Cooled Condenser System

The air-cooled ice machine has a condenser that uses a fan to blow ambient air thru the condenser coils to remove the heat generated from the evaporator. But in order for the condenser unit to obtain a effective air flow, the ice machine requires at least 6"of clearance around all air intake and discharge area.



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Water-Cooled Condenser System

Water-cooled ice machine can produce more ice using less electricity, the negative side is its high water usage. However it is not impacted by high-temperatures that may reduce the efficiency of an air-cooler ice machine nor produces any heat which won't require any additional space for air flow, also won't produce noise around the ice machine. The way it works is by pumping water through the condensing unit which will absorb the heat and carried away. Some models aren't hooked up to a closed-loop water system, so the warm water is dump down the drain, which raises your water bill, this type is being outlawed due to its waste of clean water. If a cooling tower is available, circles through the tower and runs through its own coils, cooling through exposure to the outside air before it's circulated through the system again.

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Remote Condenser System

A QuietCube condenser remote unit moves the heat- and noise-generating components outside, typically to the roof or otherwise outside your building. Installing one means running refrigerant lines between it and the ice maker. This keeps inside conditions cool and quiet, and can save on energy costs by reducing HVAC demands.

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Types of Ice

There are several types of ice shapes available, some easily chewable, some harder, which is good for other uses such as keeping cold food displayed safely. When choosing your ice machine there are two important factors to keep in mind: which ice shape fits your needs and how much ice you will need per day.


Half Cube aka Half Dice

Hard, clear ice cube with unique "rhomboid" shape 3/8" x 1-1/8" x 7/8" (0.95 x 2.86 x 2.22 cm) in dimension, 96 cubes per pound of ice, maximum cooling with nearly 100% ice to water ratio.


Cube aka Dice

Hard, clear ice cube with unique "rhomboid" shape 7/8" x 7/8" x 7/8" (2.22 x 2.22 x 2.22 cm) in dimension, 48 cubes per pound of ice, maximum cooling with nearly 100% ice to water ratio.



Hard, clear ice cube with unique "rhomboid" shape 1-1/8" x 1-1/8" x 7/8" (2.86 x 2.86 x 2.22 cm) in dimension, 32 cubes per pound of ice, maximum cooling with nearly 100% ice to water ratio.



Hard, clear, individual ice cube with unique "octagon" shape 1-3/8" x 1-3/8" (3.49 x 3.49 cm) in dimension, maximum cooling with nearly 100% ice to water ratio.



Easy to chew but hard enough to be dispensed without hand scooping, 3/8" (.95 cm) to 1/2" (1.27 cm) in width and length on average.


Tubular Nugget

Provides a softer, chewable texture while still providing maximum cooling effect. 5/8" (1.59 cm) diameter cylindrical-shaped nugget with average length of approximately 1" (2.54 cm).



Small, soft pieces of ice with a 73% ice to water ratio. Perfect for displaying products and hand scooping into drinks.



Small pieces of ice with a 100% ice to water ratio, dispensed by Servend's FLAV'R PIC ice beverage dispenser. Perfect for displaying products and hand scooping into drinks.

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How Much Ice do I need?

This is probably the first question you will need to ask yourself. Knowing how much ice you will need for your restaurant, bar or other food service establishment will keep you from getting an ice machine that is too big or just simply not enough. The following guidelines will help you in deciding what is right for you.

Restaurants & Bars

  • Full-Service Restaurants - 4 lbs. per customer
  • Fast Food Restaurants - 4 lbs. per customer
  • Iced Salad Bars - 36 lbs. per square foot
  • Bars and Cocktail Lounges - 4 lbs. per customer
  • Cafeteria - 3 lbs. flake/cubed ice per person. 5 oz. flaked/cubed ice per 8-10 oz beverage
  • Carryout Food Service - 8 oz. flake/cube ice per 12-16 oz. beverage

Hospitals and Guest Facilities

  • Schools and Educational Facilities - 4 lbs. per person
  • Hospitals - 7 lbs. flake/cube ice per bed
  • Nursing Homes - 6 lbs. flake/cube ice per bed
  • Hotels and Motels - 6 lbs. flake/cubed ice per guest
  • Correctional Facilities - 7 lbs. per person

Stores & Retail Establishments

  • Supermarket Seafood Displays - 37 lbs. flake/cube ice per cubic feet of display. Flake ice is recommended.
  • Supermarket Iced Produce Displays - 61 lbs. flake/cube ice per cubic feet of display
  • Convenience Stores - 4 lbs. cube ice per person

Here is a chart to estimate the amount of ice you may need to help demand the size of ice machine.

*This is available in the manufacturer's specification sheet.

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Ice Machine Sizing

Once you have selected the type of ice, ice machine and condenser unit, you must select the right size to meet the capacity of ice you will need. Manitowoc ice machines are available in 22", 30" and 48" widths, with ice output ranging from 250 lbs. to over 1000 lbs. per day.

Here are few other things to consider before selecting the right size and capacity of your ice machine:

  • Are you a new business: When estimating the amount of ice you presently need, you also need to allow for growth to avoid the possibility of exceeding the ice machines production capacity.
  • Are needing to replace your ice machine: Has the ice demand exceeded your current ice machine? If by chance your growth of ice demand has exceeded your present ice machine,
  • you need to include how much you are lacking and add that to your estimate.
  • Peak Time Consumption: It is always better to have extra ice available for those peak times, and any future increase in demand.


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Please don't hesitate to contact us to find out more about our many choices of available commercial ice machines and how they can work for you. For starters consider how many pounds of ice the ice machine would need to produce on a giving day. If you are not sure, reading our Ice Machine Buyer's Guide to help narrow down your selection.

You can also call us today to learn more about our various types of ice machines, as well as water filters and accessories.


Call us today: 1-866-618-4449

"Let us take the worry out of choosing the right supplies and equipment for all your needs"

Email: quotes@jeansrs.com