Since there are so many versions of this equipment available, deciding on the best one can be a challenge. There are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind that will make the process a little easier. Details like how wide a space you have for your ice storage and what brand ice machine head you'll be using it with are crucial to finding the right model for your operation. More
The most important thing to remember is that you must find a bin that works with your head unit that produces the ice. If you're purchasing a new head unit, consider buying a head and bin combo ice maker. To see if your bin is compatible with your existing ice machine head, check the specification sheet for the unit, available on the individual product pages of our website.
Getting the Right Capacity
Commercial ice bin capacities range from 100 to 3250 pounds, and you can separate them into four groups:
- Small (less than 500 pounds)
- Medium (501-900 pounds)
- Large (901-1300 pounds)
- Extra Large (more than 1301 pounds)
Small and medium models tend to be the most popular for restaurants. They offer ample capacities while still being able to fit in kitchens and other crowded spaces. The extra-large models with capacities over 1300 pounds are for storing large volumes of ice and are not found in a typical restaurant, but have a useful place in high-volume facilities like hotels and casinos. Some of the largest units come with their own cart for transporting large amounts of ice to additional bins or ice displays.
When searching for the right ice storage bin, you need to keep in mind how much ice your establishment will need at one time. This can usually be determined by identifying the amount of ice you'll need available during a rush period. For example, a medical facility that uses a consistent amount of ice throughout the day may choose a capacity of about half of what the head unit will produce in 24 hours. Since the use will be spread out over the day, the head unit will have time to create new ice and keep the bin full. On the other hand, a stadium concession stand that may only use ice for a few hours a week should go with a bin that stores the total 24 hour production amount or more. They will use the ice quickly, maybe faster than the machine can produce it, and they'll need a bin large enough to hold all the ice they need.
Make sure to measure the space where you want to put your ice bin and compare that to the dimensions of the equipment to be sure it will fit. There is some degree of variation between the shapes and sizes of these units, and just because a model has a larger capacity does not mean that it will be larger in every dimension. Low-profile units are significantly wider in order to compensate for their lower height. Be sure to accommodate for the equipment's height with the ice machine head you'll put on it included.
To combine certain bins and head units, you may need an adapter kit. Sometimes called a top kit, these include a plate that sits between the head unit and bin to ensure they're properly aligned and sealed, safe from pests and contaminants. Check the manufacturer's spec sheet for the bin to see a list of compatible head units and adapter plates.
The most space-conscious units include roll-up doors and sliding doors. Roll-up doors slide up into the unit, and sliding doors move side to side within the unit. These don't stick out and can preserve space in narrow aisles and cramped kitchens. Drop down and lift up doors are mounted on hinges and will swing out into the space in front of the unit, resting against either the top or side of the unit. These are found on larger bins and are better for locations where conserving space is not a concern.
Two specialty options are available to help streamline your operations.
- A viewing window lets you look inside the bin without opening it so you can quickly check bin levels and call a service technician if you find yourself running out of ice
- Some bins are fitted with a chute for filling caddies, so you can roll a caddy under the unit and quickly dispense ice into it. This is very useful if a lot of your ice is transported to a secondary bin or an ice display.