Best Ice Dispensers for a Bar 2021: Reviews & Buying Guide

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ice dispenser

Shopping for a Commercial Ice Dispenser for Your Bar?

You’ve come to the right place.

Who Needs a Bar Ice Dispenser?

All bars need ice to serve with their drinks, whether it’s whiskey, cocktails, or just plain iced water.

Ice makers sometimes cannot keep up with demand for ice in a bar unless it’s a smaller home bar.

Most home ice makers produce about 26lbs of ice a day, for example.

On the other hand, commercial bar ice makers/dispensers can produce over 100 lbs of ice in 24-hours. Some can dispense closer to 500lbs, perfect for larger and busier bars.

Given that the demand for ice varies greatly throughout the day – what size ice machine should you buy?

This is where getting the right-sized ice dispenser can make a difference.

If you buy an ice maker with an insulated bin large enough to meet peak demand, then you can get away with purchasing a less expensive ice maker to refill it during slower hours.

This strategy can save a LOT of money for a small- or mid-sized bar.


What’s in This Buying Guide?

In this buying guide, we review and compare the best ice dispensers for bars.

Most of our picks are commercial, though we also include a few home ice makers for home bars and smaller commercial bars.

By the way, these ice dispensers are good for any commercial space, not just bars. If you own or run a restaurant, fast food outlet, office, or entertainment venue, you can find the right ice dispenser for your business in this buying guide.

After the reviews, we explain what to look for when choosing the right ice dispenser for your bar (or any other business).

Note that all our picks below produce solid ice. If you are looking for crushed or shaved ice, read our reviews of the best crushed ice machines and the best shaved ice machines.

You’ll still need to buy an ice maker to make the ice, then put it in an ice crusher or shaver.

If you serve a lot of margaritas at your bar, take a look at our roundup of the best Margaritaville Frozen Drink Machines.


Best Ice Makers/Dispensers for a Bar

  1. Best Overall: Euhomy Commercial Ice MakerF
  2. Best Value: HomeLabs Freestanding Commercial Ice Maker
  3. Most Reliable: Manitowoc UYF-0140A NEO 26″ Undercounter Ice Machine
  4. Best for Large Bars and Night Clubs: VEVOR 110V Commercial Ice Maker
  5. Best Gourmet Ice Maker: Scotsman CU50GA Undercounter Ice Maker
  6. Best Nugget Ice Maker: GE Profile Opal
  7. Best for Home Bars and Smaller Commercial Bars: Euhomy Countertop Ice Maker
  8. Best Water and Ice Dispenser: SOUKOO 2 in 1 Water and Ice Dispenser

Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com

Ice DispensersBest ForType of IceDaily capacityStorage capacitySizeWarranty
Euhomy
best ice maker for home bar
Best overallCubed ice100lbs33lbs 17.3 x 15.7 x 31.4 in1yr warranty
HomeLabs
<br />
bar top ice maker
Best valueCubed ice143lbs29lbs15.7 x 17.6 x 31.4 in2yr warranty
Manitowoc Neo
small ice maker for bar
Most reliableHalf cube ice132lbs90lbs28 x 26 x 38.5 in5yr warranty
VEVOR
best ice maker for home bar
Best for large bars & nightclubsCubed ice440lbs77lbs29 x 26.5 x 35 in2yr warranty
Scotsman CU50GA
small ice maker for bar
Best gourmet ice makerBell shaped gourmet ice65lbs26lbs14.9 x 22 x 34.4 in1yr general warranty, 5yrs on compressor
GE Profile Opal
bar top ice maker
Best nugget ice makerCrunchy chewable nugget ice24lbs3lbs17.5 x 13.4 x 16.5 in1yr warranty
Euhomy Countertop
small ice maker for bar
Best for small barsCubed ice40lbs2.2lbs14.1 x 11 x 13.7 in1yr warranty
SOUKOO
best ice maker for home bar
Best water and ice dispenserBullet ice48lbs4.5lbs20.3 x 19.9 x 17.1 in1yr warranty

1. Best Overall: Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker

ice dispenser

The 100lbs/day production capacity of the Euhomy ice maker is adequate for most small and midsize bars. An LCD control panel lets you adjust ice size, set a timer, and clean the machine.

Pros

  • High production and storage capacity.
  • Adjustable ice size.
  • Includes timer.
  • Helpful control panel with multiple controls and indicators.
  • Easy to set up.

Cons

  • Ice bin could be better insulated.
  • Machine does not recycle melt water.

Our Review

Ice Quality

The Euhomy ice maker produces small neat cubes of ice that are perfect for bars. In our opinion, they look better than the bullet-shaped ice home ice makers produce.

You can adjust the size of the cubes, though it’ll take longer to make a batch if you select a larger size.

Since the machine does not have a built-in water filter, we highly recommend adding one to ensure you get clear and high-quality ice. An inline carbon filter should work fine. If you have a RO system in your bar, you can also hook it up to that.

Capacity

The Euhomy ice maker should have no problem meeting demand for ice in a small to medium size bar. It makes up to 100lbs of ice cubes in a 24-hour-period.

A single batch takes between 11 and 20 minutes to be ready, depending on the ice size you’ve selected.

To ensure you have enough ice on hand for your customers, the bin stores up to 33lbs of ice cubes. Once it fills up, the machine stops making more ice and shows a bin full indicator on the LCD screen.

Setup and Controls

The LCD control panel is easy to use. You can adjust ice size (three size options), set a timer to specify when the machine makes ice (ideal if you don’t want to come to melted ice), and select the self-cleaning option.

Installing the Euhomy ice maker is easy. Since it is a freestanding unit, you don’t need to install it in a cabinet. Just set it up where it’s most convenient, plug it in, and connect the inlet and drain hose.

Note that Euhomy uses a gravity drain, so you’ll need a floor drain. If you want, you can install a small pump to drain the water into a sink.

The ice maker can be a bit noisy when it’s dropping cubes into the bin, so you may want to set it up where it won’t disturb your customers.

Issues & Limitations

Similar to most ice makers, the ice bin does not keep ice frozen. It’s minimally insulated, so ice starts melting pretty quickly if you do not use it immediately.

The worst part is that the Euhomy ice maker does not recycle the melt water; all of it goes down the drain.

To avoid losing ice and wasting water, use the timer feature to set when the machine makes ice. That way, you can use it immediately.

Bottom Line

The Euhomy ice maker has a few issues that need improving, but none of them are deal breakers. Overall, it’s the best commercial ice dispenser for most bars.


2. Best Value: homeLabs Freestanding Commercial Ice Maker

under bar ice maker

If you are looking for a good bargain, we recommend the homelabs commercial ice maker. For just a bit more money than the Euhomy ice maker, homeLabs offers 43lbs more in ice production capacity.

Pros

  • Large capacity at a great price.
  • Large ice bin.
  • Adjustable ice thickness.
  • Works quickly – batch ready in 11-20 minutes.
  • Includes timer.

Cons

  • Ice in the bin melts quickly.
  • Doesn’t recycle melt water.

Our Review

Ice Quality

The homelabs ice maker produces clear ice cubes. You can adjust the size of the ice cubes using buttons on the control panel. Thicker cubes will melt slower.

The homelabs ice maker doesn’t have a built-in water filter, so we highly recommend installing an inline carbon filter or hooking up the machine to a water filter system.

Capacity

The homelabs ice dispenser can produce up to 143lbs of ice per day. That’s a lot, and should be enough for larger bars.

It doesn’t just make a lot of ice; it makes it quickly. If you select the smallest cube size, you’ll have 66 ice cubes in a short 11 minutes. If you select the largest size, it takes just 20 minutes to have the first batch ready.

The ice bin is also large, ensuring you have adequate ice on hand. It holds up to 29lbs of ice, slightly lower than Euhomy but still adequate for most bars.

Setup and Controls

You can set up the homeLabs ice maker freestanding or undercounter. Just make sure you have access to a power outlet, a water inlet, and a floor drain.

Everything you need to start making ice is provided including the gravity drain hose, inlet hose, and ice scoop.

The control panel is easy to use. It has buttons for a timer, self-cleaning, and ice thickness adjustment. It also indicates the ambient temperature, which tells you if the room is too hot for the ice maker to work properly.

Issues & Limitations

The homelabs ice maker has the same limitation as Euhomy – the ice bin is not insulated well enough. If you delay using the ice cubes, they start melting.

Unlike some ice makers, it does not reuse the clean melt water to make more ice; it goes down the drain.

We recommend using the timer to set the machine to make ice when you are ready to use it.

Bottom Line

The homelabs ice maker is the best bargain we found on a bar ice dispenser. It’s a great choice for large bar owners that want to save money on good quality and reliable ice maker.


3. Most Reliable: Manitowoc UYF-0140A NEO 26″ Undercounter Ice Machine

small ice maker for home bar

Manitowoc ice makers are a fair amount more expensive than other ice dispensers with similar or even more capacity. While pricey, they are made to last. The Manitowoc UYF-0140A is our top pick for bar owners who want a reliable ice maker that requires minimal maintenance and will last for years.

It comes with a 5-year warranty on the evaporator and compressor, and a 3-year warranty on the other parts.

Pros

  • Reliable and durable, with a long warranty to back it up.
  • Large capacity – suitable for large bars.
  • Extra-large storage bin.
  • Delay timer.
  • Easy to clean.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Doesn’t recycle melt water.

Our Review

Ice Quality

The Manitowoc Neo ice maker produces clear half-dice ice cubes (you can also select a full-size ice cube maker). You can adjust ice thickness, which is handy if you want slower melting ice.

But keep in mind that adding thickness will increase how long it takes to make a single batch. You may also need to break up the sheet of ice since it’ll be too thick to come apart on its own when it drops into the bin.

The Manitowoc Neo doesn’t have a water filter. We recommend connecting it to a water filter system or installing an inline filter. A filter will protect the machine and ensure high-quality ice.

Capacity

The Manitowoc UYF-0140A Neo produces up to 132lbs of ice over a 24-hour-period, enough to make hundreds of drinks. So, it should be adequate for most bars.

What’s even more impressive is how big the ice bin is. It holds up to 90lbs of ice, three times what Euhomy and homelabs can hold. So, you always have plenty of ice on hand to serve your customers.

Setup and Controls

You have the option of installing the Manitowoc Neo freestanding or under the counter.

Air-cooling vents are at the front, so you don’t need to worry about clearance when installing it in a cabinet. Also, the bin opening angles outwards and the door slides up for easy access to the ice cubes.

Accessories provided include a sanitary ice scoop and connection hoses (inlet and drainage).

The Manitowoc Neo uses a gravity drain. If you don’t have a floor drain, you’ll need to buy a condensate pump to drain the water into a sink or some other drain.

Controls are easy to use. There’s an on/off button, a timer delay button, and self-cleaning. There are also “full bin” and “servicing required” indicators.

Something else worth mentioning is that the Manitowoc Neo is designed to be really easy to clean. In addition to the self-cleaning function, the ice bin is easy to access and has rounded corners so it’s easy to wipe.

Any parts that you need to remove for cleaning can be taken off without any tools.

Issues & Limitations

If you are shopping on a budget, the Manitowoc Neo is probably not what you are looking for. The homelabs offers more production capacity for way less money.

But considering how durable and reliable it is, we think it’s worth the price.

For the high price tag, however, it would be nice if the Neo had a water recycling feature. As it is, it wastes a lot of water if you leave the ice in the bin to melt. Use the timer to set the machine to dispense ice when you are ready to use it.

Bottom Line

The Manitowoc Neo is a pricey investment for your bar, but it’s one that will serve you well for years with minimal problems.


4. Best for Large Bars and Nightclubs: VEVOR 110V Commercial Ice Maker

bar top ice maker

If you often serve hundreds of customers a day, we recommend the VEVOR commercial ice maker. It has a daily production capacity of 440lbs, making it suitable for large busy bars as well as nightclubs.

It also comes with a large 77lbs bin to match its high production.

Pros

  • Extra-large capacity.
  • Large ice bin.
  • Built-in water filter.
  • Drainage pump – gives you more flexibility on where to drain water.
  • Well insulated bin – keeps ice frozen for hours.

Cons

  • Pricey

Our Review

Ice Quality

The VEVOR ice maker produces clear cubed ice. We love that it comes with a filter, so you can hook it up to a faucet right away.

The standard size of the cubes is 0.9”, but you can increase thickness to make slower-melting cubes.

Capacity

This VEVOR ice maker is a beast. It cranks out 144 ice cubes in just 8 to 15 minutes depending on how thick you want your cubes.

Over a 24-hour-period, it can make up to 440lbs of ice, more than any other brand we’ve come across. That’s enough to make over a thousand drinks. That’s why we recommend the VEVOR ice maker for large bars and nightclubs. You can be sure you won’t run out of ice.

The large bin stores 77lbs of ice when full.

Unlike other ice dispensers, the bin in the VEVOR ice maker is much better insulated. The thick foam surround keeps ice cubes frozen for several hours, and reduces melt water wastage.

Note: If 440lbs/day is too much for you, VEVOR also sells other ice makers with 265lbs/day and 320lbs/day capacity. That’s still more ice than most other brands make.

Setup and Controls

It’s up to you how you want to set up the VEVOR ice maker. You can install it under the counter, in a cabinet, or leave it freestanding. Just make sure you leave a 15cm clearance all round for efficient air cooling.

The control panel can be confusing at first because of all the info that’s on it, but you’ll get used to it and the wealth of information is useful in controlling and monitoring the ice maker.

The touch LCD panel shows current temperature, machine status (e.g. bin full), water inlet status, and other status indicators. It also has buttons for ice thickness, delay timer, self-cleaning and other functions.

Issues & Limitations

The VEVOR 440lbs/24h ice maker is pricey. But this is not surprising considering how much ice it makes. In fact, for its capacity, we think the price is a good bargain.

But if you are on a budget, you can choose the less expensive VEVOR ice makers with lower production capacities though they are only slightly cheaper.

Bottom Line

Granted, the VEVOR 440lbs/24h ice maker is overkill for most bars. But if you have a large bar with hundreds of customers a day, or you run a nightclub, it’s exactly the machine you need to keep your customers happy.


5. Best Gourmet Ice Maker: Scotsman CU50GA Undercounter Ice Maker

under bar ice maker

Gourmet ice is a type of ice that’s crystal clear, hard, and slow melting. It’s perfect for serving premium drinks like whiskey. It not only looks good; it also doesn’t dilute the drink.

The best gourmet ice maker for bars is the Scotsman CU50GA undercounter ice maker. It makes 64lbs of gourmet ice a day and the bin stores up to 26lbs of ice at a time.

Pros

  • Produces high-quality gourmet ice.
  • Makes ice fast.
  • Narrow design makes for easy installation in tight spaces.
  • Built-in water quality sensor.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Noisy when ice drops in the bin.

Our Review

Ice Quality

Gourmet ice looks and feels very different from ordinary ice cubes. For one, it’s larger. The Scotsman ice maker produces gourmet ice cubes that measure 1″ x 1-1/8″ x 1-3/4″.

The larger size makes the cubes look great in premium drinks, and also ensures they take longer to melt.

Another important distinction is that gourmet ice is harder. Ordinary ice makers dispense ice that feels a bit soft and is easy to chew. Unfortunately, that also means it melts quickly in drinks.

The Scotsman gourmet ice maker uses a process that produces hard ice that melts much slower, thus ensuring it doesn’t dilute drinks.

The gourmet ice from the Scotsman CU50GA is crystal clear without any hint of cloudiness. That’s because the machine keeps out air bubbles and mineral impurities from the ice.

In fact, it comes with a built-in water quality sensor that detects hard water and purges mineral concentrated water through the drain. This maintains ice quality and reduces how often you have to clean the machine.

Though we are calling the Scotsman gourmet ice “cubes”, they are actually bell-shaped. They look like cylinders but with one end wider than the other.

Capacity

The Scotsman CU50GA produces up to 65lbs of gourmet ice a day. This makes it ideal for most small and medium-size bars, as well as home use.

Unlike smaller ice cubes, you only need a single gourmet ice cube to chill drinks. So 65lbs a day should go a long way.

The ice comes out pretty quickly, so you can easily keep up with demand. The bin holds up to 26lbs of gourmet ice.

Remember that the bin is not insulated. While gourmet ice melts quickly, it’ll still melt. If you are not planning to use the ice immediately, put it in a bag or container and store it in the freezer.

Installation and Controls

The Scotsman CU50GA is an undercounter gourmet ice dispenser. It’s only 15” wide, so it fits easily in tight undercounter spaces. It’s perfect for small bars and kitchens.

All the accessories you need are provided including the inlet and gravity drain hoses and an ice scoop.

While the Scotsman CU50GA has a water quality sensor, it lacks a water filter. To ensure the best quality ice and keep your appliance working well for years, we highly recommend adding an inline water filter or connecting it to a filtration system such as a RO filter.

If you have very hard water, consider installing a water softener.

The control panel is easy to use. It consists of three indicators to show when the machine is making ice, to alert you to check the water inlet, and to remind you to clean the machine.

Issues & Limitations

For its production capacity, the Scotsman CU50GA is expensive. But, on the other hand, you are unlikely to find another ice dispenser that produces high-quality gourmet ice at this price point.

We think it is a worthwhile investment for your bar. And with the 5-year compressor warranty, your purchase is protected.

Note that the machine does make a bit of noise when dropping the hard ice into the bin. So, you may want to think carefully about where you install it, to avoid disturbing your customers.

Bottom Line

Pricey? Yes. But if you want the best quality gourmet ice to serve with whiskey and other high-end drinks, the Scotsman CU50GA is the best choice.


6. Best Nugget Ice Maker: GE Profile Opal

bar ice machine

Nugget ice is the opposite of gourmet ice. Instead of hard and slow melting, it’s soft, chewable, and melts easily in your mouth. It’s perfect for fun drinks like cocktails and margaritas.

The best nugget ice maker for most bars is the GE Profile Opal. It produces 24lbs per day of soft crunchy nugget ice.

Pros

  • Makes delicious nugget ice that’s perfect for cocktails, margaritas, and other beverages.
  • Compact countertop installation.
  • Integrated tank – no need to hook it up to a water inlet.
  • Recycles melt water – no drainage needed.
  • Great for small bars and home bars.

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger bars.

Our Review

Ice Quality

If you’ve ever had Sonic ice, the nugget ice from the Opal ice maker is like that. It is soft, crunchy, and addictive. Your customers will love it.

Add it to beverages like cocktails, and the soft airy ice absorbs the flavors, making it even more delicious to chew.

To get the best nugget ice without any weird tastes, we recommend filling the tank with water from a RO system or water filter.

Capacity

The GE Profile Opal only makes 24lbs of nugget ice a day, the same amount as small home ice makers. So, we only recommend it for home bars and small commercial bars.

The bin stores up to 3lbs of ice. Any melt water from the bin flows back to the attached water tank and gets recycled to make more ice.

If you have a large bar and need a lot of nugget ice, here are some larger capacity alternatives, though they cost several thousand dollars apiece.

Installation and Controls

One of the best things about the GE Profile Opal is that it needs no installation at all.

It comes with its own water tank that you fill and attach to the machine. So, there’s no need to hook it up to a water inlet. A single refill makes several bins of nugget ice.

Any melted ice goes back to the water tank where it’s recycled. So, there’s no need to connect a drain hose.

Finally, the Opal ice maker is compact enough to place on the countertop. There’s no hassle of fitting it under the counter.

As for controls, there’s only one on/off button with an indicator light ring around it. It doesn’t get easier than that.

Issues & Limitations

If you own or run a large bar, the GE Profile Opal may not meet your customers’ demand for nugget ice. It produces only 24lbs of ice per day.

You’ll have to shell out several thousand dollars for one of the full-size nugget ice makers from Scotsman or Manitowoc.

Alternatively, get two or three Opals. It’ll still be cheaper than buying an undercounter nugget ice maker.

Bottom Line

Keep your customers coming back with delicious crunchy nugget ice from the GE Profile Opal.


7. Best for Home Bars and Smaller Commercial Bars: Euhomy Countertop Ice Maker

bar ice maker

If you serve only several dozen customers in your bar, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a large ice dispenser that serves hundreds of customers. We recommend the smaller Euhomy countertop ice maker.

With a low-price tag and a daily production capacity of 40lbs, it’s perfect for small commercial bars and home bars.

Pros

  • Adequate capacity for smaller bars.
  • No installation – has its own water tank.
  • Recycles melt water – no drain needed.
  • Compact countertop design.

Cons

  • Ice comes out wet, requiring re-freezing before storage.
  • Cubes come out as a sheet that needs to be broken up.

Our Review

Ice Quality

The Euhomy countertop ice maker produces clear cubed ice. It doesn’t have the cloudiness of refrigerator ice, and it’s harder, meaning it melts slower.

You can adjust the thickness of the ice using the + and – buttons on the control panel.

While the ice maker works well enough with normal tap water, adding filtered water to the water tank ensures higher quality ice and protects the machine.

Capacity

The Euhomy countertop ice maker doesn’t dispense as much ice as commercial dispensers, but it produces more than ordinary home ice makers. This makes it suitable for large families, and small bars.

It makes up to 40lbs of ice cubes a day and produces a full batch (24 cubes) in a quick 12-18 minutes depending on thickness settings.

The ice basket stores up to 2.2lbs of ice.

Installation and Controls

The Euhomy ice maker doesn’t require any installation. Just set it on your countertop and fill the attached tank with filtered water; no need to bother connecting an inlet hose.

The machine recycles melt water to make more ice cubes, so you also don’t need to connect a drain hose.

The control panel is easy to use. It has buttons for adjusting ice cube thickness, setting a timer, and on/off. The LCD screen displays indicators telling you when the water tank is empty and when the bin is full of ice.

Issues & Limitations

The most common complaint among customers of the Euhomy countertop ice maker is how the ice comes out.

One, it comes out wet. This is not a problem if you are using it immediately. If you plan to store it in the freezer for later use, it’ll stick together. Most people freeze it for a further 30 minutes in the freezer before storing it in a bag or bucket.

Two, the ice comes out as a sheet that’s a bit difficult to break up. However, this is only an issue if you increase ice thickness too much. Try reducing thickness (using the – button). This will produce a thinner sheet that breaks up when it hits the bin.

Bottom Line

The Euhomy countertop ice maker is a great choice if you are looking for an affordable ice maker for your small home or commercial bar.


8. Best Water and Ice Dispenser: SOUKOO 2 in 1 Water and Ice Dispenser

best ice maker for home bar

If you are looking for an ice maker that also dispenses cold water, we recommend the SOUKOO water and ice dispenser. It has a 48lbs/day capacity, making it suitable for smaller bars.

Pros

  • Dispenses ice and cold water.
  • No installation.
  • Recycles melt water.
  • Adjustable ice size.

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger bars.
  • Average build quality.

Our Review

Ice Quality

SOUKOO produces clear bullet-shaped ice that’s good for most beverages from whiskeys to cocktails. It’s hard and melts slowly.

The control panel lets you select among three ice sizes: small, medium, and large.

As for the water, it comes out cold. The same compressor that freezes the ice also cools the water. It’s great if you often serve chilled water at your bar.

We like that the water spout is retractable. You extend it when you need cold water and conceal it out of the way afterward.

Capacity

SOUKOO has a daily production capacity of 48lbs and the ice bin stores 4.5lbs of ice. That’s good enough for home bars and smaller commercial restaurants.

A single batch takes 6-10 minutes to make, so you can keep up with demand on busy days.

Installation and Controls

Similar to other countertop ice makers, SOUKOO doesn’t need any installation.

Just set it up on the countertop and place a 2, 3, or 5-gallon water bottle on it. The machine will use the bottled water to make ice, so no need to connect a water inlet.

If you don’t need to dispense water, you can add water directly to the built-in tank.

The ice bin is only insulated, not refrigerated. If you leave the ice there for some time, it’ll start melting. Luckily, the SOUKOO ice maker recycles the melt water to make more ice, eliminating the need for a drain hose.

The control panel is straightforward. It has three buttons that let you turn the machine on/off, select water dispensing, and select ice size. There’s also an indicator to let you know when there’s no water for making ice.

Issues & Limitations

If you have a large bar, the SOUKOO ice maker will probably not be adequate for your needs. Consider buying two of them (still cheaper than a commercial full-size ice maker), or shelling out more dollars for a large ice dispenser.

The SOUKOO is surprisingly affordable, but that’s probably because the build quality is not the best. Combined with the relatively short 1yr warranty, we are not sure how long the machine will withstand frequent use in a bar.

Bottom Line

The SOUKOO ice and water dispenser is a great choice if you want an ice maker that dispenses high- quality ice and chilled water.


Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Ice Maker for Your Bar

How Do Ice Dispensers Work

ice dispenser

Ice dispensers, or ice makers, have a tray with molds for the ice cubes. A pump continually runs water over the tray. This allows the compressor to freeze the ice in layers, ensuring the ice comes out clear, instead of cloudy like freezer ice (the process is a little different for nugget and gourmet ice makers).

Once the ice cubes reach the right thickness, the tray is heated to thaw the bottom of the ice and release into the bin. In some machines, instead of heat, a piston knocks the ice out of the tray and into the bin.

The ice maker can detect when the bin is full and stops making more ice until you scoop some of the ice out.

Why Buy an Ice Dispenser for Your Bar

  • It’s cheaper than buying bags of ice from a store, especially if you have many customers.
  • You have ice on demand. Most ice dispensers work quickly, making a large batch of ice in 10-20 minutes. So, you can have ice whenever you want.
  • You can make the kind and quality of ice you want for your bar. E.g., you can use filtered water to improve ice quality or you can buy a special ice maker to make gourmet, nugget, or some specific kind of ice.

What to Look for In a Bar Ice Dispenser

1. Type and Quality of Ice

The most important thing when shopping for an ice dispenser for your bar is to find one that makes the type and quality of ice you need.

Luckily, most ice makers do a pretty good job dispensing high-quality ice. Most produce clear cubed ice, but you can also get one that makes bullet ice, or half dice ice.

If you want nugget ice for margaritas and cocktails, look specifically for a nugget ice maker. If you want extra-hard and extra-clear ice for whiskeys and other high-end drinks, look for a gourmet ice maker.

2. Production and Storage Capacity

Next, decide how much ice you need. This will depend on how big your bar is and how many customers you serve on average per day.

For small bars that serve a few dozen customers, a residential ice maker is adequate and much cheaper than a commercial dispenser. These ice makers produce between 24 and 50lbs of ice a day, and the bin can store between 2 and 5lbs of ice at a time.

For medium size restaurants that serve a couple hundred or so customers a day, look for a commercial undercounter or a freestanding ice maker that dispenses between 100 and 200lbs of ice a day, and can hold at least 30lbs in the bin.

For large restaurants and nightclubs, look for a commercial ice maker with a production capacity between 200 and 500lbs, and which can store 60lbs or more of ice in the bin.

3. Installation & Setup

ice dispenser

Most commercial ice makers can be installed freestanding or undercounter. Make sure you check the exact dimensions of the machine to determine if it’ll fit in the space you have.

Check what kinds of hookups it needs including power, water inlet, and drainage.

If you are getting a smaller residential ice maker, most are countertop and don’t need any installation. They come with an integrated water tank and they recycle melt water instead of draining it.

Also, take a quick look at the controls to see what options and settings you have. The most important settings are:

  • Ice thickness adjustment
  • Delay timer
  • Indicators for “bin full”, and “no water”

4. Build Quality & Reliability

Finally, check how well built the ice maker is. You can usually tell by price and the length of the warranty.

You can get a high-capacity machine for an affordable price, but it’ll likely last just a few years before the motor, pump, or some other part gives out. These cheaper ice makers tend to have a one or two-year warranty, with no added coverage for the compressor or evaporator.

Brands like Scotsman and Manitowoc usually have the highest quality and most reliable ice makers. But you’ll pay a lot more for one. On the upside, these machines can last well over five years without an issue. They come with longer warranties of up to 5 years.


Pros and Cons

The Good

  • Free ice on demand.
  • You get the exact quality and type of ice you want.
  • They are fast.
  • They are easy to install and operate.
  • They don’t use a lot of power.

The Not So Good

  • Commercial-grade ice dispensers are expensive.
  • They can be noisy.
  • Most commercial ice makers waste quite a bit of water since they don’t recycle melt water.

Frequently Asked Questions

ice dispenser

Do ice dispensers/makers keep ice frozen?

No, they do not. The storage bin is insulated, not refrigerated. So, the ice will start melting if you do not use it or store it in the freezer immediately.

Why is gourmet ice better than regular ice cubes?

Gourmet ice is hard and dense, which allows it to melt slower. This ensures it doesn’t dilute the drink it’s in. That’s why gourmet ice is often used in premium drinks like whiskey.

How do I make clear ice cubes?

Most bar ice dispensers will produce clear ice without you having to make any special effort. To increase clarity even further, use filtered water or install an inline water filter.

Which countertop ice maker makes Sonic ice?

If you want Sonic-style nugget ice, get the GE Profile Opal countertop ice maker.

How long does an ice maker take to dispense ice?

Usually between 10 and 20 minutes depending on how thick the ice is.


Final Verdict: Which is the best Ice Dispenser for a Bar?

The Euhomy Commercial Ice Maker is the best overall ice dispenser for a bar. It makes enough ice for most bars, provides lots of options through the easy-to-use control panel, and the price is not too bad.

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