Article contributed by Easy Ice
Ice machines are temperamental pieces of equipment. Ice machines tend to break down more than any other appliance in your kitchen because they’re designed to run under strict temperature conditions. It’s easy to forget how hot your workplace can get as kitchen staff is scrambling to get orders out. An overly hot machine can lead to several problems, including a lower ice production rate (the amount of ice your ice machine drops in 24 hours) or break down altogether.
What Do Ice Machines Need?
Ice machines need to be installed where they can have specific internal temperatures to run effectively. All ice machines work best when the incoming water is around 50 degrees. For air-cooled ice machines (which are the most common type you’ll find), you’ll also need to supply an ambient air temperature of 70 degrees.
When these temperatures go up, your ice machine works harder and longer to produce a batch of ice, which means your ice machine will produce less ice in 24 hours.
We see it all the time. A business owner buys a perfectly sized ice machine to meet their ice needs, only to discover it’s not producing enough ice come summertime. The ice machine is working just fine, it’s just fighting against the higher temperatures to produce a batch of ice.
Below are some of the worst places to install an ice machine.
Areas Without Temperature Control
If you plan on owning an ice machine, one of our biggest recommendations is to install it in a room with temperature control. Without it, your ice machine’s production rate will rise and fall with the indoor temperature. If temperatures are too high, you can do severe damage to the machine, which will require expensive repairs.
There are a few work environments that are notoriously difficult to control temperatures. They include:
- Hot Kitchens
- Outdoor Bars
- Food Trucks
- Concession stands
- Storage sheds
If you plan on installing your ice machine in any of these environments, make sure to place the machine in an area that can stay at a cool 70 degrees.
Areas with Low Ventilation
Ventilation is another factor you absolutely must consider when installing an air-cooled ice machine.
Ice machines give off a lot of heat, and if you have an air-cooled unit (which is very likely), you’ll need plenty of space for that heat to go.
Areas with no ventilation trap heat emitted from the ice machine until it’s eventually pulled back into the unit. This is what we call a microclimate, where the area directly around the ice machine is much hotter than the surrounding ambient air.
Microclimates can be very hard to detect because the heat lingers around the ice machine while the rest of the room is perfectly cool.
Closets and Cubbies
Closets and cubbies are also a tempting place to install an ice machine. They’re out of the way and won’t take up much space – but doing so can make them difficult to service.
Ice machines require at least two preventive maintenance and cleaning visits a year. Both keep ice machines running efficiently and free of contaminants. For this type of service, you’ll need a professional ice machine technician – and he’s going to need some space to work.
Closets and cubbies will make preventive maintenance and cleaning very difficult because technicians won’t be able to reach the major ice machine components.
Technicians who don’t have enough space to work will either do as much as they can (which is often not enough) or deinstall the machine to get to the parts, which is expensive and time-consuming.
Lack of ventilation is also a concern when installing an ice machine in a closet or cubby for all the reasons we mentioned above.
Installing an ice machine outside is a tempting proposition for many bars and restaurants who operate on a patio. Barbacks don’t have to go far to refill ice bins, and the ice machine isn’t taking up a bunch of space indoors.
The truth is, no ice machine is truly designed to operate outdoors, namely because it’s impossible to control the elements.
Everything from warm temperatures, direct sunlight, or rain and snow can lower the efficiency of your ice machine or damage it.
While some businesses might get creative and build a temperature-controlled shed for their ice machine, the cost usually doesn’t justify it.
Near Heat-Emitting Equipment
There are several appliances in a kitchen that give off enough heat to negatively affect your ice production rate. These appliances push heat towards your ice machine, causing your ice machine to have issues.
Here is a list of equipment you should keep your ice machine away from:
- Heat Lamps
Plan Your Ice Machine Installation
If you’re installing an ice machine in your establishment, place it in the area where it will function the best – not necessarily where it will free up the most space.
Installing your ice machine in the wrong environment can drastically lower the amount of ice it can deliver in a day – which is a huge waste of money. Why buy a large enough ice machine for your business, only to hinder its production with a bad installation?
Even worse, ice machines that remain in sub-optimal conditions will require more repairs and maintenance – which means more money to spend. Remember, treat your ice machine right, and it will treat you with plenty of ice for you and your customers!