hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine for Countertop scored high marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. The bullet-shaped ice cubes that this portable ice maker creates are perfect for drinks of all kinds. It can produce up to 26 pounds of ice per day and features a water reservoir of 2.2. You can choose from two sizes of ice cubes: small and medium. The first ice will be ready in 6 to 8 minutes. The quiet compressor takes very little energy to cool and doesn’t take up a lot of counter space either.
Ice Maker Buying Guide
Types of Ice Makers
There are many different types of ice makers on the market to choose from. Below, we have listed all three of these types along with some information about each of them so you can understand the difference between each type and see how it fits in to your specific needs. Standalone ice makers are considered a specialty item but if people understood how affordable, easy to use, and convenient they were everyone would want one. The three different types of ice makers are:
Freestanding Ice Maker – A freestanding icemaker can be placed anywhere you feel is appropriate. They are sturdy and larger than other types of ice makers. They do not fit onto a countertop and typically will need a good amount of floor space to be set up. Because they can be finished with paneling all around them they can look good in the den, rec room, kitchen, or anywhere you have the space. Commercial ice makers are typically freestanding models and take up a decent amount of floor space.
Built-In Ice Maker – A built-in ice maker is installed in the kitchen into existing cabinets or spaces. The do not have finished paneling on the sides of the ice maker and contains vents in the front for the compressors to have plenty of airflow. A built-in ice maker requires a dedicated water line to operate.
Portable Ice Maker – Portable ice makers are the most convenient, easy to use and cost effective appliances on the market. The can be kept right on top of the kitchen counter or wet bar and usually can produce as much as 26 pounds of ice daily or more. They are designed to make ice fast and can produce the first batch of ice in as little as 6-8 minutes. Portable ice makers can’t prevent the ice cubes that are being stored from melting but if this happens, the ice maker recycles the melted ice cubes back into the reservoir to increase your ice making ability. You do not need a water line for portable ice makers to work. They contain reservoirs that hold different amounts of water that is used to make the cubes. These reservoirs typically have indicators that will let you know when it is time to add water to the reservoir.
Factors to Consider While Browsing Your Options
There are several things you want to consider before you purchase an ice maker. We have listed these important factors below that will help ensure that you purchase an ice maker that is durable, easy to use, reliable, and that performs well.
Capacity & Size – Ice makers do not have to be huge units that you see in many restaurants. Many of them are much smaller and can fit either on the counter or in a space that fits well in your kitchen or a wet bar area. The size of the ice maker will determine how much ice can be produced. Most portable ice makers have a total capacity per day or anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds of ice. If you will be leaving the ice maker in one place in your kitchen you can look for a larger model and not have to worry about moving it around. Make sure the space you want to put the ice maker is measured so you are aware of what size will fit in that space. If you are looking for an ice maker you can carry around look for one that is lighter.
Speed & Production Capacity – Choosing an ice maker that takes forever to make ice is not going to help your situation at all. It is important to try and assess the amount of ice you will need on a daily basis before you purchase an ice maker so you choose the model that will be able to produce the right amount of ice cubes for your needs. The production amount that an ice maker can handle each day will be measured in the amount of pounds the ice maker can make each day. If you find that you go through ice quickly look for an ice maker that works quickly to reproduce ice cubes. There are some models that can make a batch of cubes in just minutes. This does not include the warm up time from when the ice maker is first turned on. It can take the first batch of ice as much as 10-20 minutes to create the first batch of the day.
Cost – Portable ice makers are affordable appliances that can be purchased for in-home use. There is a large range of prices available that can fit into almost any budget. If you want to start by setting a budget before you start browsing that is one good way to prevent overspending. With all of the different price points available you can be assured that you will be able to find an ice maker that fits what you want to spend. Durability, capacity, and speed are going to be the features most affected by the price point. A more durable ice maker is going to cost more than one that has a lower capacity, speed, and production level. Read customer comments on any ice makers you are interested in to see how they are performing in day to day usage. This will give you insider information that will help reveal how good or bad the ice maker is.
Style – If you want to purchase an ice maker that you will be putting on your counter top you want it to look nice and fit in with other appliances in your kitchen as well as the overall color scheme. Ice makers are available in a variety of finishes and colors so you have a choice when it comes to what is available. The most common finishes are stainless steel or black. You can also choose from white and red as well if your appliances are either of these two colors.
Ease of Use – An easy to use ice maker is very important overall especially if kids will be using it. Most ice makers are easy to use and there are no major installation instructions. Some may feature controls that are easier to use than others but overall, it is not difficult to use an ice maker especially if you take the time to read the directions first. If you have chosen a built-in model you may need to get professional installation unless you are familiar with how to install appliances of this nature that require water line hook ups. If you want an ice maker with very minimal requirements and nothing but plugging it in as set up, a portable ice maker is your best choice.
Durability – If you do not choose a high quality ice maker you may only get a year at best of usage before you have to choose another one, especially if you use it a lot. Even the higher end models will need replacing every few years. Look for ice makers that offer warranties if you can find them. This will help eliminate having to purchase them every year especially if they just stop working. Make sure that if you purchase an ice maker with a warranty that you know exactly what the warranty covers and how to ensure that you don’t void the warranty. This is another area where reading customer comments can come in handy. Customers will be the first to mention it if the item is not lasting as long as they were hoping.
Self-Cleaning – Ice makers that are self-cleaning will help eliminate a tiresome chore like cleaning the ice maker. Not all ice makers will have one if but if you can find one that does it is a good extra feature to enjoy.
Ice Size Choices – Many ice makers offer two or three different sized ice cubes that you can select from to fit your specific drink needs. This comes in handy for people who like different sizes of cubes and for different ice cube “jobs”.
Auto Timers – This is another extra feature that can come in handy when it comes to convenience. If you know that you will need more ice at a specific time you can set the auto timer to cut the machine on so the ice is ready when you need it.
Even though ice makers are not necessary appliances to have they sure can make life much easier when it comes to having plenty of ice cubes on hand. With the many different selections available for ice makers you can definitely find one that will match your budget, your ice preferences, and your ice capacity needs.
The three top-rated ice maker selections we have featured above have all the features you are looking for in an ice maker and will provide all of your ice cube needs. If you entertain a lot, have a large family that LOVES to use a lot of ice, or you make smoothies regularly, you will definitely want to purchase a quality ice maker.
The information you have learned from the buying guide will help you know what features to look for, what types of ice makers that are available and other information that will help you sort through all of the possibilities and make a confident decision on the right ice maker for your needs.