How to Find the Best Automatic Ice Maker on the Market Today
An ice maker is one of those appliances that you never really think about until you realize that you do not have enough ice immediately before a party or event. If you are in the middle of hosting a party or packing the cooler for a picnic, it’s already too late to make more ice. Your only real option is to take an emergency trip to the convenience store for a bag of pre-made ice.
An ice maker might not be the most exciting tool in your kitchen, but it could be one of the most useful ones. Those old-fashion ice cube trays will definitely be the cheapest option, but they take up so much space in the freezer, and it takes hours to make ice with them. Also, why has no one come up with a tray that allows you to remove the cubes easily? It’s always a struggle.
If you value convenience and utility, an automatic ice maker is the way to go. Which type should you choose?
Are Portable Ice Makers Worth the Investment?
Most refrigerators today have built-in ice makers. However, a stand-alone automatic ice maker has a few advantages.
- They are portable. You can take a stand-alone ice maker with you camping, tailgating or on a picnic or barbecue.
- You can get a maker with a larger capacity. If you routinely need several pounds of ice, you can choose a brand that holds more ice.
- They won’t take up space in your refrigerator. As we pointed out, these are stand-alone appliances, so you can place them and store them wherever you want, and you can use the extra freezer space for something else.
- They are easy to operate. Most quality models come with an easy-to-set LED control panel and alerts for adding water or removing ice.
Which Brand Should You Purchase?
The answer to this question depends on the type of features that you need and the amount of ice that you require. You will find some very high-quality options on the market, which we will highlight shortly, but you will not make a good investment if you end up with an automatic ice maker that has extra features that you will never use.
Aside from the “how much ice do you need?” question, you might want to consider the following:
- How quickly does the ice maker work? You should see how long the ice-making cycle is for each option. These times can vary. One ice maker could produce a dozen pieces of ice every eight minutes, while another might make nine pieces every six minutes.
- Size may also matter to you. These devices are portable, so you should choose an option that will fit in your car (so you can take it to a picnic or barbecue), on your countertop, and anywhere else you envision using it.
- You will also want a readable screen that will tell you when it is time to add more water or when the ice container is full.
- A removable ice bucket could make ice more accessible for you and your guests, and it could help you get more capacity out of a smaller maker.
- Self-cleaning and self-draining features could add to the level of convenience. However, you need to ask yourself if these features, which will usually add to the price tag, are worth it.
Let’s take a look at which automatic ice maker could be the best for you.
Ideal for New Users: The Igloo Model ICE103
The Igloo Model ICE103 is a countertop ice maker that works well for casual use and for times when you host bigger events. It can produce a total of 26 lbs. of ice in one day, and it can hold 2.2 lbs. of ice at any given time. The ICE103 offers a respectable level of control. You can set it to make ice in three different sizes. The controls consist of an easy-to-use LED touchscreen that has a reasonably intuitive user interface.
The machine itself weighs about 25 lbs. when empty, so it certainly fits in the “portable” category, and it is light enough to place on a table or countertop and to carry to your car. The water reservoir is large enough that you will not continually be refilling it, and the neutral steel grey color and black top mean that this device will blend well with your kitchen regardless of its color scheme or decor.
This unit can make a new batch of ice in as little as six minutes, which is good performance for the price point. While it lacks self-cleaning and an automatically closing top, these features are not available in any devices at this price level.
Convenience and More: The NewAir AI 100R
The NewAir AI 100R can make 28 lbs of ice in 24 hours. A nine-piece ice-making cycle takes between six and 15 minutes (depending on the size setting), so you will have more than a pound of new ice per hour. The maker has three different size settings (small, medium and large), and the user can control size and other variables via a straightforward LED touchscreen.
The 100R boasts a sensor that automatically shuts off the ice-making process when the bucket reaches capacity. Also, this ice maker has a system that reuses melted water in the next batch of ice. This will save water, and it will also keep you from having to constantly refill the reservoir.
Like the ICE103, this automatic ice maker is conveniently sized. It weighs 24 lbs, and it can fit on a standard countertop. As long as you have a reliable electricity source, you can readily take it anywhere.
Reviews claim that this automatic ice maker is quite quiet. However, it is still an entry-level model, so if you are seeking a reversible door, automatic top or self-cleaning functions, you may want to consider investing in a different model. That said, overall, this particular New Air model offers excellent value for a stand-alone ice maker.
A Sleek Design: The Avalon Bay AB ICE26S
The lightweight Avalon Bay AB ICE26S is a great option for people who want to take advantage of the convenience of a stand-alone, portable ice maker. This model is easy to carry; it only weighs 20 lbs. However, it can almost match the competition when it comes to ice making. It can make a batch of ice in six to 13 minutes, and it can reach a daily total of 26 lbs of ice.
The ice comes in two different sizes, which you can select by using the LED touchscreen on the front of the maker. The design is noticeably sleek, and the color is a neutral steel silver. The appearance means that this unit will fit in well on your counter regardless of your kitchen’s design and color scheme.
If looks and portability are important to you, this is one of your better ice-maker options. However, if you want a unit that has self-cleaning functions, a reversible door or a removable bucket, then you will have to move your search to a higher price point.
Small and Powerful: The Avanti IM12CIS Ice Maker
The Avanti IM12CIS Ice Maker can make 25 lbs. of ice in a 24-hour period. It is extremely portable, weighing only 21 lbs. when empty. Like the other options in the countertop automatic ice maker category, it has a sleek design and neutral silver color that will help it blend in regardless of the design and color of the surrounding room.
The IM12CIS has all the features and settings you’d expect from an entry-level ice maker model. An indicator will alert you when you need to refill the water reservoir. This model is only 13 inches tall, meaning that it will fit almost anywhere. The convenient size is a positive attribute for anyone looking for an unobtrusive ice maker that will not crowd out other kitchen appliances.
Conclusion: Balance All the Features to Find the Best Value
These automatic ice makers offer a great balance between features and price. They will meet the demands of most users quite well, especially in a casual setting like a barbecue, picnic or party.
They can take the strain off of your freezer and those old-fashion ice cube trays, and they can put an end to those inconvenient trips to the store to buy bags of pre-frozen ice.
The final things to consider with these ice makers are value and flexibility. These ice makers are capable enough to make more than a pound of ice per hour, but they are small enough that you can keep them on a countertop and carry them with you in your car.
They are also flexible, producing ice much faster than an ice tray in the fridge, so if you need a few pieces for your after-dinner drinks, you can turn the unit on and have ice in your glass in a matter of a few minutes.
So, if you are looking for a blend of value, convenience, and portability, one of these four ice makers will likely be your best option.