Ice merchandisers are freezers made to display bags of ice for customers to purchase. The ice freezer you need will be determined by where you plan to put it, and how many bags of ice you plan to store at once.
Ice merchandisers list cubic feet like most freezers, but the determining factor for most purchasers when it comes to size is how many bags of ice the freezer will hold. Indoor freezers can hold from 54 to 117 8-pound bags, while an outdoor unit may be able to hold as many as 130 7-pound bags. Obviously, the ice freezers that hold more ice will also have a larger footprint, so make sure you have the room for the unit you want.
Because you will be selling product directly out of your ice freezer, visibility and merchandising is important. The outdoor units cannot have glass doors, but they are clearly labeled. The indoor units have glass doors, which are often heated to prevent condensation from obscuring the view of the ice inside. The interiors of indoor ice merchandisers are lighted, either by fluorescent or LED lights. LED lights put out a brighter light and often last longer than their fluorescent counterparts.
Some ice freezer units also offer a lighted advertising panel on top of the door, which can also be lighted by either fluorescent or LED lights. This panel can come with an 'Ice' sign from the manufacturer, or you can customize it.
Ice merchandisers that use cold-wall refrigeration, which consists of copper tubes running through the wall of the freezer, will eventually build up some condensation that will freeze and require manual defrosting. Freezers that instead use a fan to circulate cold air tend to build up less condensation, and most of these defrost automatically on a timed schedule. These freezers are usually a little more expensive, but can save you many hours in labor over the life of the ice freezer.
Another variable to keep in mind is the clean-up required in the case of an equipment failure or power outage. Some ice merchandisers come with a built-in tank under the display area that water will drain into as the ice melts, limiting clean-up to emptying the tank. Ice freezers without this tank will require much more clean-up in the case of the freezer failing for any reason.
An energy-efficient ice merchandiser can save you lots of money in utilities. Look for an ice freezer with good insulation and a tight seal around the door to prevent the loss of cold air to the surrounding environment. LED lights are also more energy efficient than fluorescent. Some freezers even have a feature that turns off the evaporator fan when the door is opened, to prevent drawing warm, moist air into the freezer, which would make the compressor have to work harder to return the freezer to the proper temperature.