Whether you’re drinking cocktails, sodas, spirits, or water, an ice maker is an important sidekick. With a quality ice maker, filling and emptying ice molds or buying a bag of ice becomes a thing of the past. It’s a handy tool no matter the setting, though if you’re one to entertain, this appliance is sure to become your best friend.
How Does an Ice Maker Work?
A portable ice maker works a little differently, too compared to commercial ice makers. So how does a portable ice maker work exactly? Instead of filling an ice mold with water and then putting the ice mold into a freezer, a portable ice maker freezes the water directly, so it takes much less time to complete a batch of ice. Here’s a detailed explanation of how an works.
1) Water is added into the unit’s water reservoir, up to the fill line. Because these units are meant to be portable, they’re not connected to a water line and must be filled manually. That means you just pour the water directly into it with a faucet, bucket, jug, etc.
2) The water is pumped via a hole in the bottom of the reservoir through a water filter and up to an ice tray at the top of the unit. Any overflow spills back into the reservoir.
3) When the refrigeration cycle begins, the 1/2-inch prongs on the heat exchanger are lowered into the water of the ice tray. These submerged spikes get cold very quickly, and ice begins to form on them in a matter of minutes.
4) The size of the ice cubes depends on how long the prongs are left in the water. A longer cycle means thicker pieces of ice. Small ice usually takes about 6 minutes, while large ice is about twice that, though freezing times can be affected by the ambient temperature and how long the unit has been running.
5) When the ice has reached the proper size, the ice tray empties any remaining water back into the water reservoir. At the same time, the heat exchanger reverses itself and the spikes start to heat up – just enough so that the ice pieces slide off the prongs and tumble into the ice bin that’s above the water reservoir.
6) A second sensor on the storage basket monitors the amount of stored ice and shuts off the system if it gets too full.
Here are some important tips on how to use an ice maker:
A portable ice maker is not a freezer. Once the ice is made, it will not keep stored ice frozen. Either use it right away, or move it into your refrigerator’s freezer to keep it from melting.
Ice that melts in the storage bin will drain back into the water reservoir for reuse.
Because the freezing element of a portable ice maker is placed directly in the water, it can make ice much more quickly than a regular freezer, which lowers the air temperature.
Choosing the perfect ice maker for your home or bar comes down to a few key details: What kind of space you can allocate, the quality and type of ice you’re looking for, and how much you need at one time. For instance, if you’ve got a large household that consumes significant amounts of ice, you’ll want something in the home-friendly commercial range or a powerful countertop option. If you host the occasional small gathering and plan to bring your machine to other functions, consider something portable.