Ice machines come in a dizzying array of sizes, styles, and capacities. An ice maker, ice crusher, or ice dispenser can refer to any user unit for producing ice; a stand alone unit for commercial use; or an industrial unit for mass production of ice. Typically the term “ice maker” refers to the stand alone appliance. Homeowners who attempt to make their own ice often find the results disappointing, because they were not thinking through the process from start to finish. The first step in the process is understanding the equipment and accessories required.
The basic ice machines have a simple mechanism that forces water into a bucket or ice bin. A water line is prepped from the house supply to the ice bin. The motor drive unit takes the water from the house and forces it to the ice bin. The motor then starts up and brings the bucket of ice through the chute and to the customer. Commercial ice machines generally have more features and are designed for commercial use.
Ice machines use an evaporator or compressor to produce pressure. Evaporators and compressors can be explained as follows. When a liquid is heated to its vaporizing point, it becomes hot enough to change its chemical makeup (i.e., it changes to a liquid) in a process called evaporation and can be moved by a compressor to create the desired amount of pressure.
The mechanical design of ice machines can be simplified as four basic types. The first type is the ultrasonic ice-making machine. This type of machine uses a special drum called the “ceramic collector” to generate the ultrasonic energy needed to heat the water. The collector needs to be placed in a location where there is plenty of direct sunlight so that it can function properly. Some of these units are now available with digital displays to display the results of the heating cycle.
Next is the pressurized water-extraction system, which is most often found in schools. In this case, a series of tubes called the “clean lines” carry the cold water to the different parts of the machines. Different types of cafeterias would need different types of water machines. For example, some would require cold water and others could use hot.
The third common machine that is commonly used is the electric ice-maker. The electric machine uses an accumulator to store the energy required to make the ice. The accumulator is usually powered by a 12 volt battery. This type of machine is most commonly used in dental offices, schools, restaurants, hospitals and laboratories.
One of the newest types of ice machines is the hybrid refrigeration/evaporation system. It combines the features of the accumulator and the condenser. What makes this system unique is that it has a thermostatically controlled evaporation collector and an evaporator. A thermostatically controlled evaporator contains a pre-set temperature that the ice will be frozen at, and an evaporator which converts the heat from the pre-set temperature to cold water. This hybrid combination allows for a lower energy cost.
Ice machines are very important to many businesses, especially in restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, laboratories, dental clinics and any business or work place that serves beverages. When buying commercial ice machines, it is important to consider your needs. You have to take into consideration the number of people who will access the machine, the space available and the capacity of the machine. Commercial ice machines are very common and there are many manufacturers to choose from. The internet is a good source of information when purchasing commercial ice machines.