Energy-efficient Ice Machine Buyers' Guide
Lately, commercial ice makers have been the target of tightening Department of Energy standards, which aim to reduce the electricity and water consumption of foodservice equipment. That's good news for operators because it means that newer ice makers are the most energy efficient that have ever been available. Investing in a new energy-efficient ice maker can save operators hundreds of dollars a year on utility costs.
Green Ice Machine Tips
- Look for the blue ENERGY STAR logo. ENERGY STAR is a federal program run by the EPA that's designed to encourage the development and purchase of energy-efficient equipment and appliances for homes and businesses. ENERGY STAR ice makers are, on average, 15 percent more energy efficient and 23 percent more water efficient than standard models.
- Check for ENERGY STAR rebates available in your area. Many cities, states, and even some federal organizations offer valuable cash rebates to businesses that invest in energy-efficient equipment, including ENERGY STAR ice makers. See our article on finding ENERGY STAR rebates for restaurant equipment.
- Choose air-cooled models. The heat that's removed during an ice maker's freezing process has to be carried away from the equipment, either by air forced over the machine's condenser or circulating water. Unless your building is equipped with a central water chiller, water cooled units require a great deal of clean water that ends up going down the drain. That waste is avoided with an air-cooled ice maker.
- Size your ice machine correctly. Ice machine bins aren't very well insulated, so any ice that's left in the bin for an extended period of time will melt and go down the drain. To avoid wasting ice, make sure you size your commercial ice maker according to your customer volume. A good rule of thumb for casual restaurants is 1-1/2 pounds per
- Consider a remote condenser. Standard air-cooled ice machines have all their refrigeration components built in. Those are affordable and easy to set up, but the heat that's removed from inside the machine ends up in your kitchen, which can put an extra burden on your HVAC system. Consider investing in a commercial ice maker with a remote condenser, which has its refrigeration components placed on the roof or somewhere else outside your building. That setup can cost more upfront, but produce lower cooling bills later on and help eliminate the noise generated by self-contained condensers from customer areas.
- Look into equipment with timers. Commercial ice machines are available with controls that let operators set the hours during which they will make ice. You can set the machine to produce ice only when you need it, so that it isn't needlessly producing ice during your closed hours that will only melt in the bin. Ice bin controls are another option on some machines that let operators choose the precise amount of ice that's held in the bin, adjusting it to keep up with business demands.
- Keep your machine well-maintained. Once you've purchased and installed your machine, implementing and sticking to a regular maintenance routine will do wonders for preserving your ice machine's energy efficiency - and extend the lifespan of the equipment, too. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning your equipment's air filter and interior using approved chemicals. Dirty components waste energy, create health hazards, and put undue wear and tear on the equipment.
ENERGYSTAR.gov. Commercial Ice Makers. Accessed September 30.