Commercial Ice Bin Standards

Ice Bin Capacity Ratings

Some recent changes to standards set forth by an agency that represents manufacturers of ice makers may dramatically change how commercial operators shop for that equipment. While ice storage bins have traditionally been rated by many pounds of ice each can hold, the Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) dictated a 2018 standard change that directs manufacturers to measure bins by cubic footage.

What is AHRI?

AHRI is a trade association that represents manufacturers of heating and air conditioning units, water heaters, and refrigeration. AHRI offers resources such as education, research, and shipping data. When needed, the institute also advocates on behalf of its members where government legislation is concerned.

Where AHRI comes into play for most restaurant operators is performance standards. Manufacturers can apply to be AHRI Certified, which indicates equipment performs as its specifications indicate. Manufacturers of certified equipment can feature the blue and white AHRI Certified logo in their literature, so those considering the purchase know the claims listed can be trusted.

AHRI logo

Ice Bin Standard Changes

In January 2018, AHRI issued an addendum1 to its 2016 set of standards for automatic commercial ice makers, or more specifically, the ice bins accompanying them. In the past, an ice bin's storage capacity was given in pounds, though some manufacturers argued that figure can be difficult to measure due to the differences in ice cube sizes and shapes that impact how well they fit together. The differing amounts of empty space between cubes means that the weight of the ice that fills the bin might vary by quite a bit. Because of this, this measurement was called "theoretical storage capacity" by AHRI.

In an effort to avoid possible ambiguity, the January addendum changed the standard from theoretical storage capacity to "measured internal volume." That means bins are now measured in cubic feet, just like commercial freezers and refrigerators, with that volume measured from the bottom of the bin to whatever device the given machine uses to determine when the bin is full.

While the change to AHRI standards for rating ice bins in self-contained ice makers represents a significant shift, it doesn't necessarily mean buying an ice maker will soon be vastly different. Some manufacturers have indicated they are looking at how they implement the mandate while preserving specs customers have come to rely on. Production ratings can still be given, they just will no longer be part of the AHRI certification process.

  1. 2016 Standard for Performance Rating of Automatic Commercial Ice-makers. AHRI. Accessed April, 2018.