Ice Merchandisers Buyers' Guide
Ice merchandisers are freezer units specially designed to display bagged ice. Selling ice by the bag is a great way to make a profit with relatively little in the way of recurring costs. Indoor versions of these freezers can hold 54 to 117 8-pound bags of ice, while larger outdoor units have room for as many as 130 bags.
1. Automatic Defrost Saves Time and Labor
There are two types of refrigeration commonly used in ice merchandisers. The first, cold wall refrigeration, uses copper wires running through the wall of the unit. Particularly in warm, humid outdoor applications, this design can lead to condensation, which then freezes on the walls of the unit. Because of this, these models must be defrosted and cleaned regularly. To avoid that, many units are built with a fan system to spread the cold air throughout the cabinet, a setup that causes less condensation. In these units, what condensation does form is usually removed by an automatic condensation evaporation system, or an automatic defrost system, meaning much less work for you and your employees.
2. Doors Make a Difference
The doors an ice merchandiser uses can have a big impact on how the machine operates. The merchandiser will have either one or two doors, depending on its size. Most are self-closing, to ensure the ice will not melt from a customer leaving the door open. For those that are not self-closing, some models offer a feature where the freezer will begin to beep if the door is open longer than 30 seconds, alerting operators to close it up. A tight seal is important, and an easily removable gasket comes in handy when it comes time to clean or replace it to ensure that seal. Some ice merchandiser doors are heated, to prevent ice and condensation from forming on the doors and obscuring the customers' view of your product.
3. Energy Efficiency Cuts Costs
There are several features ice merchandisers can include to help improve efficiency and save you money in energy costs. A well-insulated freezer with a tight door seal will minimize cool air loss and keep the compressor from having to work too hard. Some models feature a fan motor delay, which halts the evaporator fan when the door is open to prevent warm, moist air from being drawn into the freezer. LED lights available on some ice merchandiser models are another great way to improve efficiency; they are brighter, last longer, and use considerably less energy than their fluorescent counterparts.
4. Durability Makes a Good Investment
Purchasing a durable ice merchandiser can save you service and maintenance costs, and ensure you have reliable equipment to serve you for years to come. Some ice merchandisers that are meant to be used inside offer a peel and chip resistant laminated vinyl exterior. Merchandisers that will be outside require a slightly tougher exterior, such as an acrylic polyurethane enamel. The compressor's location can have a big influence on how often you need service. Most interior ice merchandisers have bottom-mounted compressors, which may require service more often because dirt and debris can get pulled into the machinery. The upside is that the compressor is within easy reach, so it is much simpler to complete the service. Outdoor ice merchandisers usually have top-mounted compressors, to prevent all the outdoor dirt and debris from causing problems.
5. Special Features are Worth Considering
One of the special features that some ice merchandisers offer is a digital temperature display. This makes it easy to keep track of the internal temperature of the freezer, so you can know when maintenance is needed before all your ice starts to melt. Some freezers include a tank at the bottom of the interior cabinet, so that if there is ever a power outage or mechanical failure that causes the ice to melt, the water is caught in the tank, making cleanup simple. Ice merchandisers without a tank may require substantial clean-up in the event of an extended power outage.