What Size Ice Maker Do I Need?

What Size Ice Maker Do I Need?

Whether you own a hotel, restaurant, bar or other facility, having a commercial ice machine is an important part of your business. How do you know which size to get? Other than calling their ice machine sales, repair and maintenance company for advice, finding the answer to this question can stump business owners. If your machine is too large, it could take up valuable real estate. If it’s too small, you won’t be able to adequately supply customers, clients and employees as needed.

Here’s a quick guide to the right ice machine size.

General guidelines

You might already know how much ice you use on a daily basis—if so, that makes your decision a lot easier. If not, your ice needs depend on the type of business, the cubic feet of your cold bar and how many seats are in the establishment. Then you add 20 percent to the estimate to leave room for growth (and for rush crowds).

Typically, you want an ice bin that can hold about 75 to 80 percent of what your ice machine produces. The “head” or production unit might be able to make 500 pounds of ice per day. That means you’d need a bin that can hold 375 to 400 pounds—if you constantly use the ice, that is. For places like event halls and other places where ice isn’t constantly needed, look for a bin that holds 150 percent of the total production capacity. For 500 pounds of ice, you’d need a bin that could hold 750 pounds. Even if the ice has time to build up, you should be safe.

Restaurant sizing

To size a commercial ice machine for a restaurant, think about how many customers you serve per day and what types of service you offer. If you don’t have past sales data, you can use these guidelines to estimate. You may need multiple machines if your place includes a bar. Always add 20 percent to your estimate to account for rush crowds and growth.

A standard restaurant uses about 1.5 pounds per customer. If you serve cocktails or have a self-service beverage station, make it three pounds per customer.  Meanwhile, drive-through customers use anywhere from five to 12 ounces per drink sold.

Other establishments

If you run a different type of establishment, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Convenience stores: Use the same guidelines as a drive-through establishment.
  • Healthcare facilities: Estimate 10 pounds of ice per bed per day.
  • Hotels and motels: You’ll need about five pounds per room per day, and up to eight pounds per room per day if you expect people to fill their ice chests.
  • Cafeterias: Typically, you’ll need one pound of ice per customer.
  • Grocery stores: Estimate 35 pounds of ice per cubic foot of display each day. If you offer a beverage station, also use the convenience store and drive-through guidelines.

Following these guidelines will help you determine just how much ice you need.

When your ice machine needs maintenance and repair services, be sure to call American Refrigeration Inc. right away.