Types of Self-Contained Ice Machines

Self-contained ice machines are indispensable equipment for a wide range of settings, from bustling restaurants and bars to quiet office break rooms and cozy homes. These machines are designed to produce and store ice within a single unit, providing convenience and efficiency. Self-contained ice machines come in various types, suitable for different applications. This article will introduce the different types of self-contained ice machines to help you find the one that best meets your needs.

Types of Self-Contained Ice Machines by Cooling Mechanism

  • Air-Cooled Ice Machines

Air-cooled ice machines use ambient air to cool the condenser. They are the most common type of ice machines due to their lower initial cost and ease of installation. However, they require adequate ventilation and can be less efficient in hot environments. Air-cooled machines are best suited for well-ventilated areas with moderate temperatures.

  • Water-Cooled Ice Machines

Water-cooled ice machines use water to cool the condenser, making them more efficient in hot environments. These machines are quieter and more consistent in their ice production, regardless of ambient temperature. However, they consume more water and may have higher operating costs. Water-cooled machines are ideal for locations with limited ventilation or high ambient temperatures.

Types of Self-Contained Ice Machines by Ice Production Capacity

  • Small Capacity Ice Machines

Small capacity ice machines are ideal for home use or small offices. These machines typically produce between 20 to 50 pounds of ice per day. They are compact, easy to install, and often portable. Their production rate is sufficient for personal use or small gatherings, ensuring that you never run out of ice during a party or family get-together.

  • Medium Capacity Ice Machines

Medium capacity ice machines are suitable for small to medium-sized businesses, such as cafes, small restaurants, and bars. These machines can produce between 50 to 150 pounds of ice per day. They strike a balance between size and output, making them versatile and efficient for establishments with moderate ice demands.

  • Large Capacity Ice Machines

Large capacity ice machines cater to high-demand environments like large restaurants, hotels, and hospitals. These machines can produce over 150 pounds of ice per day, with some models reaching up to 500 pounds or more. They are robust, durable, and designed to handle continuous, heavy-duty use.

Types of Self-Contained Ice Machines by Ice Type


Cube ice machines produce the most common type of ice, which is versatile and suitable for a wide range of applications. Cube ice comes in various sizes, including full cubes, half cubes, and regular cubes. Full cubes are ideal for beverages as they melt slowly, while half cubes are perfect for blended drinks and quick cooling.

  • Nugget Ice Machines

Nugget ice, also known as chewable ice, is popular in healthcare settings and fast-food restaurants. Nugget ice machines produce small, soft, and chewable ice pieces that are easy to consume and gentle on teeth. This type of ice is also excellent for blending and cooling drinks quickly.

Flake ice machines produce soft, thin flakes of ice that are perfect for food presentation and preservation. Flake ice is commonly used in seafood displays, salad bars, and medical applications. Its soft texture makes it easy to mold and pack around delicate items, keeping them fresh and visually appealing.

  • Gourmet Ice Machines

Gourmet ice machines produce high-quality, crystal-clear ice that is often used in upscale bars and restaurants. Gourmet ice, also known as top hat or octagonal ice, is slow-melting and visually appealing, making it ideal for premium cocktails and spirits. These machines are designed to create ice that enhances the overall drinking experience.

Types of Self-Contained Ice Machines by Intended Use

  • Commercial Ice Machines

Commercial ice machines are designed for high-demand environments such as restaurants, bars, hotels, and hospitals. These machines are built to produce large quantities of ice quickly and consistently. They are durable, reliable, and often come with advanced features like self-cleaning functions and antimicrobial protection to ensure hygiene and efficiency.

  • Residential Ice Machines

Residential ice machines are designed for home use, offering convenience and ease of use. These machines are typically smaller and produce less ice than commercial models, but they are perfect for everyday use and small gatherings. They often feature stylish designs that blend seamlessly with home decor and are easy to install and maintain.

  • Specialty Ice Machines

Specialty ice machines cater to specific needs and applications. For example, some machines are designed to produce ice for medical use, ensuring that the ice is free from contaminants and safe for consumption. Others may be designed for outdoor use, with weather-resistant features and robust construction to withstand harsh conditions.

Types of Self-Contained Ice Machines by Installation

  • Undercounter Ice Machines

Undercounter ice machines are designed to fit neatly beneath standard countertops. They save space and improve space utilization, typically producing 50 to 300 pounds of ice per day. These machines are ideal for bars, small restaurants, cafés, and residential use.

  • Countertop Ice Machines

Countertop ice machines are compact units that can be placed on countertops. They usually produce nugget or chewable ice, which is very popular in healthcare settings. These machines are suitable for offices, break rooms, healthcare facilities, and small kitchens. They are also easy to install and move, making them user-friendly.

  • Freestanding Ice Machines

Freestanding ice machines are larger, standalone units that can be placed anywhere with a water supply. They can produce up to 1,000 pounds of ice per day and store significant amounts of ice, typically between 100 to 500 pounds. These machines are designed for frequent use in high-demand environments and are suitable for hotels, large restaurants, hospitals, and catering businesses.



Freestanding ice machines come in a wide variety and are continuously evolving. From small countertop units for home use to large industrial machines for high-volume production, freestanding ice machines can meet diverse needs. The variety in ice shapes, cooling methods, installation types, energy efficiency levels, and additional features offers users a broad range of choices.

When selecting a freestanding ice machine, it is crucial to consider the following factors: the required ice production capacity, available space, preferred ice type, energy efficiency, and any specific features that might benefit the intended use. Whether you need a compact undercounter ice machine for a small office or a commercial ice machine for a large hotel, Grant Ice Systems can provide the optimal ice-making solution for you.



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