Everyone is having a grand time at a party with their drink in hand and exchanging great conversations, or perhaps you’re having a quiet night in, unwinding as you sip your favorite drink. An ice machine can help maintain these good vibes by ensuring no one waits too long for their next chilled beverage. But do ice makers keep ice frozen indefinitely?
Ice makers can keep ice frozen but usually not for an extended period. After all, they’re ice makers, not freezers. So, once a batch of ice is made, it’ll typically melt within a few hours if not used immediately.
Now, given the various types of ice makers available, finding the right one for you can be confusing. To give you a better understanding of ice makers, I’ve put together a guide below.
Common Types of Ice Makers for the Home
If you’re looking for an ice maker for your home, your two best options are countertop (portable) and undercounter (built-in) ice makers.
Countertop Ice Makers
These ice makers sit on your countertop and are usually portable because of their size, weight, and compactness. Most can make ice in as little as 6-7 minutes.
Countertop ice makers only hold a fraction of their daily ice production capacity. So, depending on how much ice you need, you may need to empty your unit frequently.
Undercounter Ice Makers
As the name suggests, these ice makers are built into surrounding cabinets and fit under most 40 in (101.6 cm) high counters. They require connection to a water line as well as a drain line in some units.
Undercounter ice makers have a larger storage capacity and keep ice frozen longer than portable ice makers. They also tend to have a higher price tag.
Can Ice Makers Keep Ice Frozen?
Ice makers generally can’t keep ice frozen because they aren’t freezers. Their purpose is to make ice quickly for immediate use, not store it. As the ice gets produced, it collects in a storage bin and sits there until you scoop it out.
If you don’t use the ice as soon as possible or store it in a cooler or freezer for later use, it’ll melt. Depending on the ice machine, the meltwater is either recycled into new ice cubes or drained away.
Some portable ice makers come with an insulation space that slows down the melting process for a couple of hours. A great example I’d recommend is the NewAir AI-215SS Portable Ice Maker from Amazon.com.
The NewAir AI-215SS can make bullet-shaped ice daily up to 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms), producing a new batch of ice every 6 minutes. You can choose from three different ice sizes, allowing you to pair your drinks with the appropriate size of ice.
But if you prefer an ice machine that’ll keep ice from melting for as long as needed instead, a unit with a built-in freezer is what you want. One such ice machine worth checking out is the EdgeStar IB120SS Built-in Ice Maker, also from Amazon.com.
The EdgeStar IB120SS makes up to 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) of crescent-shaped ice a day and can store up to half that much. It also operates as a freezer, eliminating the need for a drain as it keeps the ice frozen. And being front ventilated, you can either have it installed as a built-in undercounter ice maker or a freestanding unit that you can place anywhere.
How Long Do Ice Makers Keep Ice Frozen?
If you leave the ice in an insulated portable ice maker to sit in the bin for too long, it’ll slowly begin to melt and clump together. And within a few hours, about 3-4 hours, the ice completely melts.
Exactly how long the ice makers keep ice frozen will depend on factors, such as the density of the potable water and external temperature. On the other hand, ice makers with a freezer compartment keep ice frozen as long as needed.
How Long Does It Take Ice Makers To Make Ice?
Most ice makers take 6-7 minutes to make a batch of ice. And given a freezer takes hours to make ice the traditional way, ice makers are way faster and more convenient.
Some portable ice makers can make up to 26 pounds (11.8 kilograms) of ice in 24 hours. And there are standalone or built-in ice makers that can make up to 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms) of ice in the same period. With that much output, you no longer have to worry about running out of ice when you throw a party.
Factors Affecting the Output of an Ice Maker
If you want an ice maker that has a daily ice-making capacity of 26 lb (11.79 kg), I recommend the Frigidaire EFIC189-Silver Compact Ice Maker from Amazon.com because it also makes ice every 7 minutes.
For the ice machine to meet the output listed in the specifications, it needs to be in good working condition. The following factors can affect the performance of an ice maker and, in turn, the amount of ice produced:
- Water quality. Hard water can cause mineral deposits to form and build up in the internal components of your unit, reducing its efficiency. So ensure to feed your ice maker with filtered water for optimal ice production.
- Water temperature. Ice machines work best if the incoming water temperature is 50°F (10°C). So when you introduce water that’s too warm or hot to the unit, you’ll see a minimal to a significant drop in ice production rate. And according to Easy Ice, if the water temperature reaches over 100°F (37.8°C), production may cease altogether.
- Air temperature. If the air in the room where your ice maker is in reaches temperatures higher than 100°F (37.8°C), the machine may take longer than expected to make ice or not make any at all. Ice in the storage bin will also melt faster despite being insulated. To maintain or increase ice production, keep the room temperature around 70°F (21.1°C) and ensure the ice machine has enough ventilation above, below, and around it.
- Machine cleanliness. Clean your ice maker ideally four times a year to prevent a slip in output and ensure ice safety. There are self-cleaning ice makers that take away the tediousness of cleaning them yourself. I recommend the Igloo ICEB26HNSS Portable Ice Maker from Amazon.com, which automatically starts cleaning itself at the touch of a button. It also comes with a carry handle that makes it easy to carry and move around.