What You Need to Know Before Purchasing an Outdoor Ice Maker
An outdoor ice maker is, perhaps, the best friend an outdoor drinks bar could have. However, as cool as the idea of an ice maker by the patio might sound, choosing the right one can be tricky. This is why we’re here. In this article, we will show you what to look for when you’re out there looking for your first outdoor ice maker. So, chill, keep on reading, and let us work our magic on you.
What Are the Most Important Factors Involved in Choosing the Right Ice Cube Rig for Outdoor Use?
We have a patio, a barbeque, a couple of drinks. The only thing missing is the ice-cube machine. It’s easy to ride to the nearest electronics shop to buy one, but are you sure you’re making the right call? To make sure you’re buying the right types of ice machine, we have prepared a not-so-humble list of features to look for when scouting the market.
So, the best outdoor ice makers should be chosen according to ice-production rate, capacity, size, price tag, drain options, and, of course, installation. Your ice maker of choice must, not should, balance all the factors. For instance, an ice machine might have the right price, and everything in between, but still produce too much ice for an average family.
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Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to keep when choosing the perfect ice machine.
Not all ice-makers are the same. Some produce a truck-load of ice and others, not so much. Bear in mind that an ice machine is not a magical device that materializes ice when you open the door. It needs time to “weave its magic.” Most manufacturers will write in the user’s manual the machine’s ice-production capacity within a 24-hour interval.
However, this is an estimation and, therefore, should not be taken for granted. Why? Because there are other factors that directly affect the machine’s ice-production rate.
For instance, if the ice maker is placed in a hot area, right under the sun, it will obviously hamper its capacity of delivering the nominal ice quantity. This is due to the fact that the machine needs to reach a certain temperature before it can start producing ice (usually, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
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So, take a good look at the machine’s ice-prod cap and make sure that the spot is not directly under the sun.
Another thing to keep in mind is the machine’s storage capacity. Even the best machine could be for naught if it’s not capable of storing enough ice for your needs.
If you’re more of a person who likes quiet family parties or maybe one or two friends, then it’s best to stick with one with a storage capacity between 20 and 40 pounds per day.
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Otherwise, if you’re, for instance, into office parties, family reunions or any kind of social meeting that implies many thirsty people, you should consider buying one with an 80+ pounds per day ice storage capacity.
Note that the machine’s ice store cap directly impacts things like drainage, ice-production rate, and even the size. So, make sure you to think twice about what you’re buying the machine for.
Size matters even when it comes to outdoor ice makers. Granted that the size of the machine’s essential for indoor models, which have to fit a certain space (e.g., undercounter ice makers), but it’s also pretty import for the outdoor ones.
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For instance, the bigger the ice maker is, the more trouble you will have installing it and moving it around. And yes, you will need to move it from time to time, because it’s not really “healthy” for a machine to stand around in cold weather or the rain, regardless of how protected it is.
Size also dictates ice-production and storage capacity. In general, bigger rigs can store and produce more ice, but they tend to take their sweet time reaching the optimal temp point.
An outdoor ice maker can cost anywhere between $250 and $5,000. Why do you ask? You can’t expect a machine that makes 195 pounds of ice per day and stores 80 pounds at a time to have a price tag of 200 bucks. Again, you should figure out your needs. Ask yourself questions like – “will this machine be useful after the party is over?”, “will the ice be enough for all my guests?”, “do I have a good spot to install the machine?”
When it comes to draining options, there are two types of ice makers – one relies on gravity and the other on drain pumps. For an outdoor ice maker, it would be best to go with a gravity drain system, as the pump option requires additional outlets. Of course, you can design the spot to accommodate specific drain pump outlets, but it kind of beats the purpose of an outdoor ice maker which should, no doubt, fit in that barbeque area.
Photo by Fogazzo Wood Fired Ovens and Barbecues LLC via Houzz
Compared to indoor ice makers, outdoor ones are easier and, why not cheaper to install. If you really want to make sure the machine is up to the task, you might want to ask the salesperson if it’s possible for someone to come over and install the whole rig. Some stores offer free installation, while others usually charge a small free which includes transportation.
As you can very well see, choosing the right ice-maker is neither quite rocket science, nor a piece of cake. Before deciding on purchasing that ice-making machine, you will need to keep in mind all these factors and choose the one that balances them all.
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