Commercial Ice Machine Installation Guide
Installing your commercial ice machine properly is just as important as purchasing the right one for your needs. Even a small installation mistake can lead to decreased ice production, water leakage, or shortened equipment life. Because ice is considered a food product by the FDA Food Code, improper installation can also lead to lower health inspection scores. To help you prevent these issues, we've put together a general ice machine installation guide. Keep in mind that it is also important to read the manufacturer's installation guide all the way through before beginning your work. Failure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations will usually result in a voided warranty.1.
Table of Contents
- Upon Arrival
- Evaluate Your Space
- Remote Condensers
- Water-Cooled Compressors
The very first thing you should do when your ice maker arrives is inspect the packaging for any visible damage. If you see any damage that may impact the machine inside, alert the delivery agent and note the damage on any paperwork you sign for the delivery. In most cases, products damaged by the carrier cannot be replaced by the manufacturer. If you find visible damage immediately upon delivery or concealed damage after you begin unpacking the unit, filing a claim with the carrier as soon as possible can help move the repair or replacement process along quickly.
Evaluate Your Space
Before you get into your commercial ice machine installation, you must first make sure the space you have can accommodate it. Every ice machine has a range of ambient temperatures it can tolerate, which, depending on the manufacturer and model, may include temperatures as low as 35 degrees and as high as 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that the ambient air in the location where you'll install the machine doesn't fall outside of that temperature range. The ice maker should not be installed near ovens, ranges, grills, or other heat-emitting equipment.
Most ice machines must be installed with a certain amount - typically between 5 to 14 inches - of clearance on each side, though some are engineered for installation flush with walls or other equipment. If a clearance requirement is specified, it's critical that it's provided to allow for the air circulation that lets the condensing unit operate properly and create ice efficiently.
To make retrieving the ice easy, keep foot traffic in mind when deciding where to put your commercial ice machine. It should be easily accessible, but not in an area that is so busy that servers pausing to get ice will cause a backup in foot traffic. Because an ice machine requires ongoing maintenance, try to install it in a location that allows easy access to things that will need regular cleaning or changing, like condenser coils and air filters.
Every commercial ice maker installation involves connecting the unit to three things: water, electricity, and a drain. Make sure you can accommodate these requirements in your location.
Most ice machine spec sheets include measurements for the incoming water line, but don't expend too much energy trying to find one that matches what you have; plumbing fittings are easy to come by, and if you're having the machine professionally installed, any plumber should have the right ones on the truck.
The most important considerations for water connections are ensuring a supply line is available within 6 feet of where you want to place the unit and that a dedicated shut-off valve is located near the ice machine. A dedicated shut-off valve is vital if an overflow ever happens and can make servicing the unit much simpler. Ideally, the water line will be positioned where it will be easy to install and change a water filter system. Depending on your incoming water pressure and the tolerance of your ice machine, you may also need a water pressure regulator. Check your model's installation guide for the maximum gallons per minute (GPM) it can handle.
Every commercial ice machine will require a drain in order to empty purged and melt water. The easiest way to do this is with a floor drain, but if that is not an option for your location, you will need a drain pump. Some commercial ice machines can be ordered with built-in drain pumps. Others can be equipped with sold-separately pumps. If you choose to purchase an external drain pump, speak with the ice machine's manufacturer to determine the purge water volume the pump will need to handle so you can avoid overflows that lead to hazardous puddles on the floor. Local codes may also specify what type of drain you need, so be sure to consult those. Hiring a licensed plumber can help ensure your ice machine will meet all local codes and regulations.
Before you purchase an ice machine, you should confirm that its voltage and fuse size requirements match the resources available in your building. If your equipment includes a cord and plug set, ensure there is a suitable receptacle within reach of the cord. Many models need to be hardwired by a licensed electrician. Incorrectly connecting the ice machine to electricity can lead to severe damage or injuries and void your warranty.
Because remote condensers are large, heavy components that are often installed on roofs and must comply with applicable codes and regulations, professional installation is generally required. When considering potential installation locations, choose an area that's easy to access in order to make maintenance and service calls easier. To make sure you have what will be needed for your remote condenser to be installed, measure how far the lines will have to travel between the condenser and the ice maker. In most cases, remote condensers will come with pre-charged lines. Any additional refrigerant must be added by an EPA-certified technician.
After a licensed technician has installed your remote condenser, there are a few things you can do to verify it's installed properly. The unit should be level and have adequate clearance on each side as specified in the user manual. The power supply should match the rating on the unit, and the unit should also be grounded. The fan blade should turn freely, and the refrigerant lines should not touch other lines or surfaces.
Water-cooled compressors have some extra installation needs in addition to those of the more common air-cooled compressor. A water-cooled compressor uses water instead of a fan to cool the refrigerant as it exits the evaporator, leading to lowered energy costs. However, those savings can be quickly offset by the incredibly high water costs, as water must constantly be circulating through the system. Because of this, water-cooled compressors are not recommended for use unless they are on a closed-loop water system, and are even banned in some locations due to their high water usage. A closed-loop water system is just what it sounds like – a system that reuses the water that circulates through certain equipment instead of dumping and replacing it. Installing a closed-loop water system is cost-prohibitive for many businesses, but if there is already one in place in your building, a water-cooled compressor may be a good choice for you.
Water-cooled ice makers will require two water lines, and if you are installing it without a closed-loop water system, the more significant water flow must be taken into account when planning the drain size. When installing this kind of compressor, it is essential to make sure the water lines are connected to the proper inlets, so you don't end up cooling your unit with filtered water and emptying your closed-loop water system into your ice bin.
When preparing to place the ice maker where it will be installed, first make sure to remove any protective film that may have been included and screw on the legs if your setup requires them. If the ice maker is a modular unit, level the dispenser or bin before using mounting brackets or a bin adapter kit to mount the head to the dispenser or storage bin. Each manufacturer will include specific instructions on how to attach these parts properly and without damaging internal components. If your ice machine is a self-contained unit, making sure the bin is level is still an important step; an uneven machine can lead to leaks and decreased production.
Before proceeding with startup, use the following checklist to ensure installation has been completed correctly.
- Make sure all screws and fasteners are firmly in place. Check the bin or dispenser to make sure none of the hardware has fallen in, as these can pose a dangerous choking hazard.
- Check once more that the ice maker is level.
- Measure the clearance on each side to be sure it meets the standards set by the manufacturer. Additionally, ensure any gaps required for neighboring equipment is provided.
- Make sure all packing materials - including cardboard, Styrofoam, tape, and plastic film - have been removed.
- Check refrigerant lines to be sure they do not touch each other or other surfaces.
- Turn the fan blade to be sure it moves freely.
Each ice machine has a very specific startup sequence, so instead of giving you a general overview here, we will instead suggest you consult your installation guide or user's manual and follow those instructions carefully. Before you start up your unit, however, we strongly recommend filling out any warranty documents that may have come with your equipment and sending it back to the factory, as this is a step that is easy to forget once the unit is up and running. This is also a good time to make sure the name and contact information of a local authorized service agent is easily accessible to any who may need it.