There are a ton of commercial ice makers in the market place. You could spend weeks going over all the different makes and models and still end up not having the right ice maker for your specific business! So how do you choose the correct commercial ice maker? Easy! Look at how your business uses ice.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ICE MAKER
First, you need to take a look at how many customers you serve on a daily basis and how much each customer uses. Obviously, this can be a challenging to estimate for new businesses. You may have to “guesstimate” a little here. Use your best guesses to determine how many customers you’ll serve on daily basis. You’ll also want to consider peak customer days, or special events to determine the best ice maker size.
You should also factor in growth estimates. If business takes off unexpectedly you could exceed your daily ice supply and have to invest in a larger unit. It is better to oversize your ice maker a little so you have room to grow without the additional capital expenditure.
HOW MUCH ICE DO YOU NEED?
To help you estimate your ice making requirements, here’s some stats on ice consumption in various industries:
Restaurants: Use an average of 2 pounds ice per customer per day
School Cafeterias: Use an average of 1.5 pounds of ice per student per day
Hospitals: Cafeterias use 1 pound per day per customer, each bed uses 10 pounds per day
Bars and night clubs: Use approx 3 pounds per seat. So, if you have 100 seats, you are looking at an ice maker that has a capacity of 350 to 400 pounds.
Salad Bar: Uses an insane 40 pounds per cubic foot.
Hotels/Motels: Require 5 pounds of ice per room. This is easy math: A 20 room motel needs a 100 pound per day ice maker.
Seafood Market: Use 30 Pounds of ice per cubic foot. This is easy math too.
Fast Food Drinks: A good rule of thumb for ice consumption is 50 – 70 % of the cup volume. So you’ll need at least 8 oz of ice per 16 oz soft drink, x number of drinks per day.
With the numbers above you can figure out the ice maker capacity you need as volume used per customer x number of customers per day = ice maker capacity.
WHAT KIND OF ICE DO YOU NEED?
Your menu or type of business dictates what kind of ice maker machine you need, NOT the other way around!
On that note, here’s the general outline on types of ice used in various types of business:
Bars and Restaurant: Use Full Cube Ice makers
Fountain Drinks/fast food: Nugget Ice Makers
Full Service Restaurants: Use half-cube ice makers
Salad bars/seafood departments/other food displays: Use flaked ice
So you can see from the above that some businesses may in fact need two different type of ice makers. For example a restaurant may need a Nugget ice maker for their soft drinks, and a flake ice machine for their salad bar.
I hope this article has helped get your juices flowing to figure out how to choose the best commercial ice maker for your business. If you have any questions please ask!