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9 Best Nugget/Sonic/Pellet Ice Makers – (Reviews & Guide 2021)

Nugget ice makers are unique because of the built-in auger system that produces soft and chewable ice. Once the water starts turning into ice on the walls of the cylinder, the auger starts spinning, scraping the ice from the walls, and pushing it towards the compressing chamber. Compressed ice or ice nuggets then get transferred to another chamber. The sonic ice produced by these machines is used in drive-ins, restaurants, bars and salad bars, schools, and hospitals.

Best nugget ice maker brands are GE Profile, TaoTronics, Frigidaire, KBice, NewAir, Northair, Litboos, and others. The advantages and disadvantages of each sonic ice maker brand are analyzed in this buying guide.

To find the best sonic ice maker, factors such as speed, ice production capacity, storage, power consumption, size, and special features such as Bluetooth connectivity, timers and alarms, and ice scoops should be analyzed.

The best nugget/sonic/pellet ice makers are listed below:

  1. GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker
  2. TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker
  3. FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ Crunchy Chewable Nugget Ice Maker
  4. Scotsman UN0815A-1 Air-Cooled Nugget Undercounter Ice Maker
  5. KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Soft Ice Maker
  6. NewAir NIM040SS00 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
  7. Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
  8. LITBOOS Stainless Steel Pellet Ice Maker
  9. NewAir AI-215SS Crushed Ice Maker

Best Sonic Ice Makers Comparison Chart

PRODUCTDETAILS
FirstBuild Opal01 Opal Nugget Ice Maker

GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 4.5
  • Weight: 44 pounds
  • Size: 15.5 x 10.5 x 17.2 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 24 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon
TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker

TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker

  • Price: $$
  • Customer Rating: 4.8
  • Weight: 40.3 pounds
  • Size: 10 x 16 x 17 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 26 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On TaoTronics
FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ

FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ Crunchy Chewable Nugget Ice Maker

  • Price: $$
  • Customer Rating: 3.9
  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Size: 12 x 17 x 19 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 44 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon
Scotsman UN0815A-1 Air-Cooled Nugget Undercounter Ice Maker

Scotsman UN0815A-1 Air-Cooled Nugget Undercounter Ice Maker

  • Price: $$$$
  • Customer Rating: 4.5
  • Weight: 108 pounds
  • Size: 15 x 24 x 38 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 79 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 3 years
View On Amazon
KBice Self Dispensing Countertop

KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 4.3
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Size: 16 x 17.5 x 12 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 30 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon
NewAir NIM040SS00 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

NewAir NIM040SS00 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

  • Price: $$$$
  • Customer Rating: 2.8
  • Weight: 38.4 pounds
  • Size: 16.5 x 10.5 x 16.3 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 40 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon
Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

  • Price: $$
  • Customer Rating: 4.1
  • Weight: 40.7 pounds
  • Size: 9.8 x 16.1 x 19 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 0.97 gallons
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon
LITBOOS Stainless Steel Pellet Ice Maker

LITBOOS Stainless Steel Pellet Ice Maker

  • Price: $
  • Customer Rating: 4.2
  • Weight: 19 pounds
  • Size: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 26 pounds / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon
NewAir AI-215SS Ice Maker

NewAir AI-215SS Crushed Ice Maker

  • Price: $$
  • Customer Rating: 4.1
  • Weight: 36.1 pounds
  • Size: 17.2 x 15.3 x 16.5 inches
  • Ice Capacity: 50 lbs / 24H
  • Warranty: 1 year
View On Amazon

Best Sonic Ice Maker Reviews (Updated List)

1. GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker

FirstBuild Opal01 Opal Nugget Ice Maker

The GE Profile Opal is a nugget ice maker designed to produce chewable ice used for the preparation of cocktails and other beverages, as well as in the medical industry. GE Profile is a trustworthy brand popular for selling home appliances such as microwaves, blenders, water softeners, and ice makers.

The GE Profile Opal nugget ice maker allows setting ice production cycles through the smartphone app, as well as monitoring the ice status. It doesn’t require a water hookup. Once plugged into an electrical outlet and filled with water, it starts producing ice. The ice that doesn’t get used melts away into the water and turns back to the reservoir where it is reused. The machine automatically starts the ice making process when ice is running low.

The price of the GE Profile nugget ice maker is around $550.

GE Profile Opal nugget ice maker is equipped with a 1-year warranty and it is relatively durable. A 2-year additional warranty can be bought for this product as well.

The components of the Opal nugget ice maker are made of stainless steel and BPA-free, food-grade plastic that makes it durable and safe to use.

The Opal nugget ice maker requires regular, weekly maintenance and cleaning. Whenever it is time for a new cleaning session, the round button on the front of the unit will be displaying yellow light in a form of a circle.

The Opal nugget ice maker is capable of producing 1lb of ice per hour or 24lbs per day. If the side tank is attached, the unit will produce up to 3 times more ice per day.

The storage capacity of Opal nugget ice maker is 3lbs. The lid of the storage bin is transparent. This makes it possible to check on the amount of ice left in the bin without opening it.

The advantages of Opal nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The GE Profile Opal is a nugget ice maker refills the water reservoir and produces ice automatically.
  • Bluetooth connectivity enables remote control of the GE Profile Opal is a nugget ice maker.
  • The round button on the front of the GE Profile Opal is a nugget ice maker clearly notifies when it is time for a cleanup.

The disadvantages of Opal nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The more the GE Profile Opal is a nugget ice maker is used, the more maintenance it needs.
  • The GE Profile Opal is a nugget ice maker produces a certain degree of noise.

Read More: Opal Nugget Ice Maker Review

2. TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker

TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker

TaoTronics is a brand behind numerous home appliances such as refrigerators, food processors and blenders, and ice machines. TaoTronics nugget ice maker is a unit that produces pebble-looking ice suitable for personal or commercial use.

The TaoTronics nugget ice maker is unique because it comes with overflow protection. Once the ice bin is full, the device stops producing ice. If not used on time, the ice from the ice bin gets back to the water reservoir and gets re-processed. When connected to the water supply, this device will automatically refill the reservoir when low on ice.

The price of TaoTronics nugget market is around $550. The discount price of this product is around $330.

TaoTronics provides a 1-year warranty for this nugget ice maker.

Made of high-quality materials, ABS, and stainless steel, TaoTronics nugget ice maker is a durable and reliable appliance.

The TaoTronics nugget ice maker is low-maintenance. Pressing the “clean” button triggers the cleaning cycle that lasts for 5 minutes. During this process, clean water flushes the entire system and mixes with detergent to clean the ice bin.

The TaoTronics nugget ice maker has an average production capacity of 26lbs of ice per day. It takes about 18 minutes to produce a batch of ice.

The storage bin capacity of TaoTronics nugget ice maker is 3.3 lbs – similarly to other products from this category.

The advantages of TaoTronics nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • When connected to the water supply, the TaoTronics nugget ice maker automatically refills the reservoir and produces ice.
  • The overflow protection prevents producing ice if the ice bin is already full, which reduces the pressure on the TaoTronics nugget ice maker’s motor.
  • The self-cleaning feature makes the TaoTronics nugget ice maker easy to maintain.

The disadvantages of TaoTronics nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The TaoTronics nugget ice maker sometimes produces loud sounds.

Read More: TaoTronics Nugget Ice Maker

3. FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ Crunchy Chewable Nugget Ice Maker

FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ

FRIGIDAIRE is one of the world’s most popular kitchen appliances brands. The feature-rich FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ nugget ice maker is capable of producing soft, crunchy ice used for preparing cocktails and frozen desserts.

The FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker is special because of the UV light that kills viruses and bacteria and sterilizes the inside of the machine. It doesn’t need a water hookup to produce ice and it is portable. This makes FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ nugget ice maker suitable for camping and tailgating. The machine starts producing ice once it is plugged into an electrical outlet. If the ice produced per batch is not entirely used, the unit will automatically return it to the reservoir and reuse it.

The FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ nugget ice maker is sold at a price of around $370.

The stainless steel and thick plastic construction can guarantee the durability of FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ nugget ice maker.

Backed up with a 1-year warranty, FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ nugget ice maker should last as twice as long.

The FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker is equipped with an intuitive control panel with 4 buttons. Pressing the “clean” button is all that it takes for the machine to get cleaned and sterilized.

The ice production capacity of the FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker is 44lbs of ice per day. A new batch of ice is ready within 10 to 15 minutes.

The FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker has a 3lbs ice basket capacity, which is an average storage capacity.

The advantages of TaoTronics nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker’s compact and portable design makes it suitable for camping, picnics, and excursions.
  • The melted ice within the FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker gets automatically transferred back to the reservoir and used to produce more ice.
  • The intuitive panel simplifies cleaning and operating the FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker.

The disadvantages of TaoTronics nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker produces loud sounds while operating.
  • The FRIGIDAIRE nugget ice maker produces ice that melts at a fast rate.

Read More: FRIGIDAIRE EFIC235-AMZ

4. Scotsman UN0815A-1 Air-Cooled Nugget Undercounter Ice Maker

Scotsman UN0815A-1 Air-Cooled Nugget Undercounter Ice MakerScotsman is a brand popular for producing high-quality, energy-efficient ice makers that use less water than average ice machines. The UN0815A-1 is a compact undercounter nugget ice maker that is certified by Energy Star and meets the Safe Drinking Act requirements.

The Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker is only 15 inches wide. It can fit into any kitchen space and doesn’t require any clearance to be installed. It comes with adjustable legs, an ice scoop, NEMA 5-15P plug, and a power cord – everything needed to install it and use it right away.

The price of Scotsman UN0815A-1 nugget ice maker is around $2,520.

The Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker is equipped with a 3-year limited warranty.

The Scotsman nugget ice maker comes with a stainless steel auger and evaporator and corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy side panels. This combination of materials ensures maximum durability and maximum lifespan of the unit. The entire Scotsman nugget ice maker is engineered and assembled in the USA.

The Scotsman nugget ice maker should be cleaned at least twice a year. The “clean” button will illuminate to indicate the ice maker needs cleaning. Use the recommended cleaning solution for the type of evaporator this ice maker is equipped with.

The production capacity of Scotsman nugget ice maker is 79lbs of ice per day, which is an above-average capacity.

The Scotsman UN0815A-1 nugget ice maker is capable of storing 36lbs of ice, which is impressive considering its small footprint. The ice stored in the bin is easy to access due to the ergonomic slide back doors.

The advantages of Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker boasts a space-saving design and easily fits into tight spaces.
  • Made of the highest-quality materials, the Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker is low-maintenance and very durable.
  • The average daily production of the Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker is 79lbs of ice when it is used at a temperature of 70°.

The disadvantages of Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • Air and water temperature and quality can reduce the ice production capacity of the Scotsman undercounter nugget ice maker.

5. KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Soft Ice Maker

KBice Self Dispensing Countertop

Kitchen Basics 101 designed the first no-touch countertop soft ice maker on the market. Using distilled, filtered, or bottled water with this unit improves its performance and results in the best nugget ice.

The KBIce self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker delivers ice at a touch of a button. The contact with the ice is minimal as it is dispensed directly into a glass. This eliminates the chance of spreading bacteria, microbes, and viruses and ensures the highest level of hygiene.

The KBIce nugget ice maker is made with BPA-free parts and it is filled with an eco-friendly refrigerant. This verifies, once again, that the machine is completely safe to use.

Priced at around $500, the KBIce soft ice maker is among the higher-end units in this category.

The KBIce self-dispensing soft ice maker is equipped with a built-in control panel and a self-cleaning button. The front of the unit is detachable, making the ice reservoir easy to clean. The cleaning process lasts about 25 minutes.

KBIce provides a 1-year limited parts and labor warranty. Buying the additional warranty for the KBIce soft ice maker would be highly recommended. KBIce offers hassle-free returns within 30 days after purchase.

The KBIce countertop soft ice maker can produce up to 30lbs of ice per day. It takes 25 minutes to produce one batch of ice.

The storage capacity of the KBC self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker is 2lbs.

The advantages of KBC self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker are as follows:

  • The KBIce self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker produces ice and dispenses it at a touch of a button so there is no direct contact with ice.
  • The built-in self-cleaning function reduces the need for the KBIce self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker’s maintenance.
  • The dimensions of The KBIce self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker make it suitable for home and office use.

The disadvantages of KBC self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker are as follows:

  • The KBIce self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker produces noise while working.
  • The KBIce self-dispensing countertop soft ice maker is heavy and difficult to move.

Read More: KBice Self Dispensing Countertop

6. NewAir NIM040SS00 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

NewAir NIM040SS00 Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

NewAir is a popular ice maker brand with more than 10 products in this category. The NewAir NIM040SS00 is a compact countertop nugget ice maker that can produce a significant amount of ice considering its size.

The NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker is unique as it keeps the ice cooler for an extended period of time. The insulated, melt-resistant interior prevents ice nuggets from melting even hours after they are produced. If the ice is left for too long to sit in the bin, the melted ice will get reused in the next ice making round.

The price range of NewAir NIM040SS00 is around $650. It falls in the category of most expensive units in the category, yet it is packed with features that justify the price.

NewAir provides a 1-year warranty for NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker.

The The NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker is entirely made of stainless steel and BPA-free parts. That means it is completely safe to use and the ice it makes is free of any harmful chemicals.

The self-cleaning function of the NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker makes it low-maintenance. This system cleans the interior of the unit of mold and mildew that can spoil the taste and quality of pellet ice.

The NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker features ultra-fast cooling that speeds up the ice making process. It takes less than 12 minutes to produce a batch of ice. It has the capacity of producing 40lbs of chewable ice per day.

The ice bin capacity of NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker is 4.8lbs. The bin is removable, which makes it easy to clean.

The advantages of NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The extra-thick insulated wall of the NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker improves ice retention.
  • The 40lbs production capacity of the NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker is amazing considering its size – 16.5 x 10.5 x 16.3 inches.
  • Compared to other units for the same category, the NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker produces ice at the fastest rate – within 5-12 minutes only.

The disadvantages of NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The noise level the NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker produces is high.
  • the NewAir NIM040SS00 nugget ice maker may sometimes leak.

Read More: NewAir NIM040SS00

7. Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

Northair Countertop Nugget Ice MakerNorthair stands behind numerous refrigeration-related products – freezers, wine coolers, and ice makers. It has been present on the market for over 50 years, which speaks of the quality it provides. Northair countertop nugget ice maker is a compact, easy-to-use unit with solid ice making capacity.

The unique shape of ice produced using Northair countertop nugget ice maker is square. This machine requires no water hookup. It starts the ice making cycle as soon as the reservoir is filled with water and plugged into an electrical outlet. The built-in powerful fan prevents this sonic ice maker from overheating and extends its lifespan.

Found at roughly $410, Northair nugget ice maker is among the mid-priced machines in this category.

Northair provides a 90-day warranty that covers all mechanical and technical issues. The product can be returned within 30 days after purchase if it doesn’t meet expectations.

The primary material Northair nugget ice maker is made of is high-quality, durable stainless steel, while the basket is made of tough plastic.

The Northair nugget ice maker boasts auto-self cleaning. Pressing the “clean” button triggers automatic cleaning. The machine comes with an intuitive LCD screen with indicator lights. The screen lights up when it should be filled with water or when the ice bucket should be emptied or cleaned.

The Northair countertop nugget ice maker has the capacity of producing 44lbs of ice per day. It takes 15 minutes on average to produce one batch of sonic ice. The machine can be set to produce ice at the desired time.

The ice bin of Northair nugget ice maker can hold up to 3.31lbs of ice. The ice that melts down is transferred from the bin to the reservoir and used to make new ice.

The advantages of Northair countertop nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The intuitive with 3 buttons and indicator lights make using the Northair nugget ice maker straightforward.
  • The Northair nugget ice maker allows the production of new batches of ice to be set at a specific time.
  • The Northair nugget ice maker  boasts fast ice-making – ice making cycles last from 8 to 15 minutes.

The disadvantages of Northair countertop nugget ice maker are as follows:

  • The water reservoir of the Northair nugget ice maker tends to leak.
  • The Northair nugget ice maker ‘s ice bucket insulation is poor.

8. LITBOOS Stainless Steel Pellet Ice Maker

LITBOOS Stainless Steel Pellet Ice MakerThe LITBOOS pellet ice maker is among the most compact units with a relatively high ice production capacity. This portable ice machine, most suitable for homes, bars, and RVs, is certified by ETL, meaning it is completely safe to use.

The unique selling point of LITBOOS nugget ice maker is that it runs at only 150W. This makes the unit consume less energy while still being more cost-efficient. It is equipped with a powerful compressor system that ensures maximum ice production and minimum ice waste. The unit is almost noiseless.

The LITBOOS pellet ice maker is made of durable stainless steel. The corrosion-resistant nickel-plated ice lattice makes the produced ice 100% safe to use.

The LITBOOS pellet ice maker is a low-budget option and its price varies between $120-$160.

LITBOOS The product comes with a 60-day free return or refund warranty.

The inner button drain hole of LITBOOS nugget ice maker makes it easy to drain and clean within 5-10 minutes. The machine’s stainless steel exterior is convenient to clean as stainless steel doesn’t show fingerprints.

The LITBOOS pellet ice maker produces 26lbs of ice per day. Air vents placed on both sides of the machine speed up the heat dissipation process and contribute to faster ice making. An average ice making cycle duration is around 10 minutes. Indicator lights on the display shows when the machine is low on ice or when the ice bin is full.

The storage capacity of LITBOOS pellet ice maker is 1.5lbs.

The advantages of LITBOOS pellet ice maker are as follows:

  • The insulated LITBOOS pellet ice maker’s interior slows down the ice melting rate,
  • The 3 intuitive indicator lights on top of the LITBOOS pellet ice maker make it easy to use,
  • The powerful compressor system speeds up the ice making process. The LITBOOS pellet ice maker takes 7 to 10 minutes to produce a new batch of ice.

The disadvantages of LITBOOS pellet ice maker are as follows:

  • The LITBOOS pellet ice maker’s ice bin has a low storage capacity.
  • The LITBOOS pellet ice maker’s water reservoir is challenging to access.

9.NewAir AI-215SS Crushed Ice Maker

NewAir AI-215SS Ice Maker

NewAir is an innovative home appliances brand that designed this technologically advanced crushed ice maker. The NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker is an attractive, customizable, and compact sonic ice maker with amazing ice making capacity. It is available in 2 color options – stainless steel and red.

The NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker shuts off automatically when the ice bin is full. This protects the motor and extends the unit’s life. The overflow protection is another useful feature of this unit that serves the same purpose. Properly insulated, this crushed ice maker can keep ice cold and solid for hours.

Priced around $250, NewAir AI-215SS nugget ice maker is considered a mid-priced product that offers great value for the money.

NewAir provides a 1-year warranty for AI-215SS while it is possible to buy an extended warranty as well.

Made of stainless steel, NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker is a durable nugget ice maker. All of its parts are BPA-free, which means the ice it produces is completely safe to use.

The NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker is the self-cleaning type of crushed ice maker. Pressing the “clean” button located on the front of the machine will start the cleaning process. It comes with a side drain that makes it convenient to drain water when cleaning the unit manually.

The ice making capacity of NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker is 50lbs. It is capable of producing new batches of ice every 7-13 minutes. The duration of the ice making cycle depends on the size of ice chosen and there are 3 options to choose from. This unit comes with a programmable ice maker timer that can be set to produce ice continually.

NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker comes with a removable ice bin that can store 4.8lbs of ice.

The advantages of NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker are as follows:

  • The NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker comes with several customization options, including the size of the ice, timer, and cleaning function.
  • Fast ice making production cycle. The NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker produces new ice in less than 15 minutes.
  • The ice bin is removable, which makes the NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker easy to clean.

The disadvantages of NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker are as follows:

  • Although very compact, the NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker is heavy and hard to move.
  • The NewAir AI-215SS crushed ice maker uses more electricity and it is impossible to power off completely. This means it will use some electricity even when not making ice but being just plugged into an electrical socket.

Read More: NewAir AI-215SS Review

What Can You Do with Nugget/Sonic Ice?

Nugget ice can be chewed, used for making cocktails, desserts, and throwing parties.

1. Plain Nugget Ice

Nugget ice is the only form of ice that can be easily chewed. Due to their cold and wet soft form, ice nuggets tend to break pretty easily and they don’t damage teeth. Chewing nugget ice can also alleviate the heat.

2. Large Cocktail Versatility

Large Cocktail VersatilityNugget ice is used for making margaritas, mojitos, or similar drinks. The best margarita machines are specifically designed to produce ice for making margaritas, while nugget ice makers have greater versatility. Nugget ice chills down beverages at a fast rate. When poured in larger quantities, nugget ice can keep its form for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Dessert

Nugget or sonic ice is used for making juleps, slushies, snow cones, and other icy treats containing colored sweet syrups.

4. Backyard and Pool Parties

Nugget ice is used at grill cookouts, birthdays, and pool parties.

What is Nugget Ice?

Nugget ice is the only chewable ice that consists of millions of compressed snowflakes. This is its differentiating point from other types of ice. Synonyms for nugget ice are sonic, pellet, pebble, chewlet, chewy, chewable, soft, and crunchy ice.

The Advantages of Nugget Ice

1. Chewability

Sonic ice feels great when chewed and it makes a special sensation in the mouth.

2. Fast Cooling and Slow Melting

Because of its porous structure, nugget ice lets the liquid penetrate the ice while not changing the drink consistency. Besides having the ability to cool drinks fast, nugget ice tends to stay in its icy form for a longer time than regular ice. This longevity makes pebble ice great for parties and hangouts.

3. Accessibility

Nugget ice is more accessible and safer to consume for people of all ages. No extra precautions should be taken when chewing nugget ice. Parents can use nugget ice to make summer snacks and desserts, such as ice cream, for children.

How Do Nugget Ice Makers Work?

How Do Nugget Ice Makers WorkNugget ice makers compress ice into snow, which is a different process from how other types of ice makers work. A large metal evaporator cylinder is filled with water. As the walls of the cylinder cool down, the water follows. Once the ice is formed, the stainless steel auger pushes it to the compressing chamber. There, the ice is shaved and turned into flakes that are further compressed into nuggets and transferred to a container.

1. The Cooling Chamber

Also known as the freezer tube or a freezing chamber, this part of the ice maker is where the starts turning into ice. It consists of the main tube and refrigerant tubing around it. The insides of the main tube contain the ice, while the refrigerant tubing surrounds the tube’s outer surface in a spiral fashion. A thin layer of water gets frozen and stuck on the insides of the tube almost instantaneously. When the whole inside surface is covered with ice, the auger starts spinning.

2. The Auger

The extra-thin ice is stuck on the inner sides of the tube, and the auger helps push it to the compression chamber. Some nugget ice makers come with stainless steel augers that boast better durability and higher resistance. The auger’s speed can often determine the consistency of nugget ice. It would be best to let it work on default programming.

Some models utilize different pushing systems when it comes to transporting nugget ice into the compression chamber. However, the stainless steel auger is proven to be more effective and cost-efficient. Smaller ice makers still use a standard cylinder model instead of an auger.

3. The Compressing Chamber

After the auger pushes the thin snowflake layer up, it gets compressed into a firm nugget. This is done in a separate (compressing) chamber which is usually located on top. All the thin snowflake shavings from a batch are pushed inside, and the chamber is briefly closed until the batch is done.

A piston or a press comes down and presses the ice into aggregated nuggets that are ready to fall through the other side, usually into some kind of container. The pressure which the piston is putting on the ice pile can be changed.

To make nuggets of the same size and texture, all three parts (the freezer tube, the auger, and the compressor) need to work together.

Sonic Ice Maker For Home Buying Guide

The characteristics to be mindful of when buying a nugget ice maker include size, weight, power consumption, and operating temperature.

1. Speed of Nugget Ice Making

The most important feature of a nugget ice maker is how long does it take to make a batch of ice. The time needed to make the first batch is usually a bit longer since the machine needs to achieve an initial temperature drop. After the starter batch, the ice making process should take between 6 and 20 minutes.

2. Nugget Ice Machine Capacity

An average ice maker can make from 20 pounds of sonic ice a day. Larger units can produce 600+ pounds per 24 hours, which is why nugget ice makers are so expensive. Nugget ice machine capacity matters even more if the demand for ice is continuous. Also, it matters when using the product for commercial purposes or for hosting parties.

3. Nugget Ice Storage Capacity

Nugget Ice Storage CapacityLarger nugget ice maker models have up to 5lbs storage capacity. Smaller units can store around 1.5lbs of ice while only some ice machines can keep ice frozen. The ice storage capacity is always lower than the ice production capacity. The more ice a machine can store, the slower it will melt (due to the lower temperatures of the ice storage).

4. Surrounding Temperature And Power Consumption

If the ice machine is placed next to, or near a refrigerator/freezer, the temperature of the refrigerator can make the ice within the ice maker increase. This makes the ice in the ice maker melt at faster rates. Vice versa, bigger pebble ice makers radiate a substantial amount of heat into the environment, and that can negatively affect the cooling/freezing cycles of other appliances in the room.

The bigger the nugget ice maker, the more electricity it will need. Large sonic ice makers can drain up to a few kilowatts of power per hour. This should be considered when using a nugget ice maker on camping trips and using it inside RVs. A nugget ice maker can drain all the power out of the vehicle if running continuously.

5. Size Of Nugget Ice Makers

Nugget ice makers can be divided into two major groups: small, countertop machines and undercounter ice machines. Smaller, portable pellet ice makers consume less energy while larger models use more kWs and deliver more ice.

Sonic ice maker models that weigh under 10 pounds that deliver less ice are best suited for use in an RV. Large nugget ice machines can weigh up to 200 pounds and use more than 2 kW per hour. These machines can freeze, compress and deliver over 100 pounds of nuggets per day.

6. Special Features And Extras

Special features such as Bluetooth connectivity, timers and alarms, ice scoops, and additional gear can increase the functionality of any nugget ice maker.

  • Bluetooth connectivity – Some more modern sonic ice makers utilize Bluetooth and can connect to a smartphone. The benefits of this connection include delayed start, operation completion notifications, and “assistance needed” alarms.
  • Timers and alarms – These features, not necessarily bound to Bluetooth, can help with planning the ice-making cycle. They send notifications about the state of the ice maker at any given time. Some models have delayed starts, others have alarm notifications that tell when it is time to clean the ice maker. Models with these features usually have some sort of monitoring screen as well.
  • Ice scoops and additional gear – Ice buckets, scoops, and even ice picks are some of the accessories nugget ice makers come packed with. These accessories simplify the use of any ice maker, such as scooping the ice out of the bin.

FAQ About Pellet Ice Makers

1. How to make sonic ice at home?

To make sonic ice without a dedicated machine, flavored carbonated water or club soda should be halfway poured into an ice cube tray. The tray should be placed flat in the freezer and left there for at least 6 hours. After the time needed for ice to freeze, the tray should be removed from the freezer and the ice should be popped into a blender. Use a blender that operates at least 400 watts so that it is capable of crushing ice.

It is also possible to make ice without using a tray. Use a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon to crush several ice cubes at once in a glass bowl. Lastly, fill a Lewis bag with a lot of ice, and pound it with a rolling pin.

2. Can I make sweetened and/or colored ice nuggets by pouring the mix in before freezing?

Sweetened and/or colored ice nuggets shouldn’t be made by pouring the mix in before freezing. Not only will everything get sticky almost instantaneously, but doing so can permanently damage the sonic ice maker.

The reason behind these risks is solid mater accumulation on the sensitive inner parts of the machine. Colors and food additives usually contain a lot of sugar, which will crystallize inside the machine during the cooling process. These crystals aggregate and make a solid obstruction to the auger. Use only water to make the ice nuggets.

3. How often should I clean my nugget ice machine?

If using the nugget ice maker daily, clean it once a week. Other factors that determine the frequency of cleaning include the quality of the water and the number of minerals dissolved in it.

Hard water contains a lot of minerals that create sediments that can further cause blockages inside the machine. In this case, cleaning the nugget ice maker should be done more often using weak acids like vinegar. Some manufacturers offer special ice machine cleaning agents, which can be a good choice in areas with low water quality.

4. Can I leave my nugget ice maker working overnight?

Nugget ice makers can be left to work overnight. Some models come with safety switches that automatically make the machine turn down when ice is not being made. Other models have a timer for delayed operation. If the nugget ice machine doesn’t have any of these features, it should not be left on for longer than 1 hour after the ice cycle is over.

5. The outside walls of my nugget ice maker are getting warm. Should I be concerned?

In most cases, it is not a bad sign if the outside walls of a nugget ice maker are getting warm. This happens due to the process of depressurizing that happens inside the freeze tube. During this process, some heat may escape towards the outside walls. If the sonic ice machine gets warm while making ice, it is not a problem. However, if this occurs often, and if the sides of the unit stay warm even after the machine is done with the ice production, the machine should be unplugged. This could be a problem of electrical nature a certified technician should analyze.

About Aaron Walters

Aaron Walters is a code writer by day, and a cocktail enthusiast by night. Once he realized that high-quality ice is equally important as other ingredients, he started researching ice machines of all types and sizes. Icemaking101.com is a library of researched topics regarding all things ice he made along the way.

5 thoughts on “9 Best Nugget/Sonic/Pellet Ice Makers – (Reviews & Guide 2021)”

  1. This is very helpful thank you.

    Do you have any more info on indoor nugget ice makers?

    I am specifically looking for:
    -15″
    -accepts a panel front
    -has a pump
    -is the quietest possible!

    Reply
    • Hello Peter,

      These 6 units are the only ones I have seen in the time this article is written.
      Sadly, none of them can meet your expectations.

      If you find it, please let me know.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  2. This was a very good article. However, I disagree with the comparison of nugget ice and pebble ice. Nugget ice is larger than pebble ice. Most available machines make nugget ice and it is notably larger than ice you get from Sonic Drive-in. The one thing though is this … to get an ice machine that is going to produce ice like from Sonic Drive-in , it will set you back $2,000 to $3,000 usd. Nugget ice is the affordable option.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      I can not say that you are wrong, but these terms are impossible to categorize over the internet.
      If I did try to have two separate guides, you won’t be seeing this article on the first page results.

      So, to be honest, I had to do it this way.

      Cheers!

      Reply
  3. Thank you so much. I was really wanting something like this and I thought that Opal was the only choice I had.

    Good info. And I’ll let you know what I buy and how I like it!

    Reply

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