8 Best Undercounter Ice Makers – (Reviews & Guide 2021)

Undercounter ice makers are necessary for households and facilities with high ice demand as they can produce up to 550lbs of ice per day in intervals of 6 to 10 minutes. These units, also known as built-in ice makers, are equipped with water filters that can purify tap water and produce clear ice. They also have a large storage capacity of up to 350lbs.

Choosing the best residential ice maker in the sea of popular brands is hard. There is Whynter, Manitowoc, Scotsman, EdgeStar, SPT, Hoshizaki, and others. The pros and cons of each brand should be considered.

To find the best residential ice maker, factors such as storage, ice quality, cooling system, drainage, water supply, maintenance, and capacity should be analyzed. This residential ice maker buying guide includes all these factors.

The best undercounter ice makers are listed below:

  1. Whynter UIM-155
  2. Manitowoc UY-0310A
  3. Scotsman CU50GA-1A – Home Undercounter Ice Maker
  4. EdgeStar IB450SS
  5. Manitowoc SM50A-161 SM50
  6. EdgeStar IB120SS
  7. SPT IM-600US
  8. Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ

Best Undercounter Ice Makers Comparison Chart

PRODUCTDETAILS
Whynter UIM-155 Ice Maker

Whynter UIM-155

  • Price: $
  • Customer Rating: 3.3
  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Size: 18 x 15 x 25 inches
  • Production Capacity: 12 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 6 pounds
  • Drain: No Drain
  • Warranty: 1 year
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Manitowoc UY-0310A Ice Maker

Manitowoc UY-0310A

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 4.0
  • Weight: 209 pounds
  • Size: 40 x 32 x 30 inches
  • Production Capacity: 304 / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 100 pounds
  • Drain: Gravity Drain
  • Warranty: 3 years
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Scotsman CU50GA-1A Gourmet Ice Maker

Scotsman CU50GA-1A

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 3.3
  • Weight: 100 pounds
  • Size: 22 x 14.9 x 34.4 inches
  • Production Capacity: 64 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 26 pounds
  • Drain: Gravity Drain
  • Warranty: 1 year
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EdgeStar IB450SS Ice Maker

EdgeStar IB450SS

  • Price: $$
  • Customer Rating: 3.3
  • Weight: 78 pounds
  • Size: 23.6 x 15 x 32.8 inches
  • Product Capacity: 45 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 25 pounds
  • Drain: Gravity Drain
  • Warranty: 1 year
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Manitowoc SM50A-161 SM50 Ice Maker

Manitowoc SM50A-161 SM50

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 3.0
  • Weight: 100 pounds
  • Size: 35 x 28 x 19.5 inches
  • Product Capacity: 53 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 25 pounds
  • Drain: Gravity Drain with Optional Drain Pump Space
  • Warranty: 1 year
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EdgeStar IB120SS Ice Maker

EdgeStar IB120SS

  • Price: $
  • Customer Rating: 4.0
  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Size: 18.5 x 15 x 25.2 inches
  • Production Capacity: 12 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 6 pounds
  • Drain: No Drain
  • Warranty: 1 year
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DUURA DI50P

DUURA DI50P

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 4.1
  • Weight: 92.2 pounds
  • Size: 23.4 x 14.6 x 32.6 inches
  • Product Capacity: 65 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 25 pounds
  • Drain: Drain Pump
  • Warranty: 1 year
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Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD

Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD

  • Price: $$$
  • Customer Rating: 4.1
  • Weight: 120.75 pounds
  • Size: 22.5 x 15 x 31.5 inches
  • Product Capacity: 55 pounds / 24H
  • Storage Capacity: 22 pounds
  • Drain: Gravity Drain with Optional drain Pump Space
  • Warranty: 2 years
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Best Undercounter Ice Maker Reviews (Updated List)

1. Whynter UIM-155

Whynter UIM-155 Ice Maker

Whynter is a brand manufacturing ice makers, freezers, coolers, and ice cream makers. Whynter UIM-155 is a freestanding undercounter ice maker with front venting.

The Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker is special because it is equipped with a high-efficiency CFC-free compressor. It requires no drain to be installed and features a one-touch operation. A food-grade water line connection, an ice scoop, and an ice bin are included in the package. This ice maker comes with a single button and features a one-touch operation.

The Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker is priced at around $465.

Whynter provides a 12-months warranty for UIM-155 undercounter ice maker. An extended 5-year warranty can be bought for this model as well.

The Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker’s casing is made of thick stainless steel that guarantees the durability of the unit.

Cleaning the Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker’s interior and exterior, condenser, water disturbing tube, and the ice-making system should be done regularly. The interior should be cleaned using a sanitizing solution and rinsed with water. The stainless steel exterior should be cleaned using a mild detergent and warm water.

The Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker produces 12lbs of crescent-shaped ice per day. It falls into the category of low-volume ice machines.

The Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker can store up to 6lbs of ice in the ice bin.

The advantages of Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The unit is easy to install and comes with all the necessary parts to be used right away.
  • The unit is freestanding, takes up minimum space, and has reversible doors.
  • Durable stainless steel construction.

The disadvantages of Whynter UIM-155 undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • This ice maker is noisy.
  • The unit requires frequent defrosting.

2. Manitowoc UY-0310A

Manitowoc UY-0310A Ice Maker

Manitowoc is a brand behind numerous undercounter ice makers for both residential and commercial use. The UY-0310A is a high-end large ice maker with an even larger capacity.

The Manitowoc UY-0310A boasts a unique design and construction with 4 sturdy legs that make it more stable. These legs provide better ventilation for the unit and make the installation easier.

This Manitowoc undercounter ice maker is among the most expensive units in this category. It can be found at a price of around $2,950.

The Manitowoc undercounter ice maker is backed up by a 5-year warranty for the condenser and evaporator and a 3-year warranty for parts and labor.

The Manitowoc undercounter ice maker is made of stainless steel. The evaporator, pop-out air filter, and growth inhibitor built-in this unit make sure grease, dust, bacteria, or yeast can’t affect its performance.

The Manitowoc undercounter ice maker is equipped with an illuminating LCD display located next to the slanted bin. The button on the display will indicate when to do the cleanup.

This Manitowoc undercounter ice maker produces up to 304lbs of ice in 24 hours.

The Manitowoc undercounter ice maker has 100lbs of storage capacity. The storage bin with an angled door makes ice easily accessible. The bin is forward-sliding and removable.

The advantages of Manitowoc undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The intuitive LCD display with several buttons – power, clean, delay, and service on the side of the ice bin makes this ice maker easy to operate.
  • The delay button saves energy and resources and extends its motor life.
  • The removable ice bin makes large batches of ice easier to access and simplifies servicing the unit.

The disadvantages of Manitowoc undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • Installing this ice maker in a room where the temperature is very high will drastically reduce its ice production capacity to 80lbs per day.

3. Scotsman CU50GA-1A – Home Undercounter Ice Maker

Scotsman CU50GA-1A Ice Maker

Scotsman is a reputable ice maker brand that has been on the market since the 1950s. Their CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker is capable of producing restaurant-quality, clear, gourmet ice and it is meant for home use.

The CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker is unique because of the built-in water quality sensors. The machine recognizes hard water and further filters it so it doesn’t put too much pressure on the motor. This also extends the time between cleanups. As it is only 15 inches wide, the Scotsman CU50GA-1A can easily fit into any space.

The Scotsman CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker comes at a price of around $1,970.

This Scotsman undercounter ice maker has a 1-year warranty for parts and labor and a 5-year warranty on the condenser and compressor.

The Scotsman undercounter ice maker is mostly made of rust-proof, durable stainless steel.

The CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker is equipped with a control panel that reminds the user when it is time for a cleanup. Use a specialized cleaning agent for interior and mild detergent for exterior cleaning.

Daily ice production of Scotsman CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker is around 64lbs.

The Scotsman CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker has an average ice storage capacity of 26lbs.

The advantages of Scotsman CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The ice this unit produces is crystal-clear, free of odor and taste, and melts slowly.
  • The water-quality sensor purges hard water, which lessens the pressure on the motor and prolongs cleaning.
  • The user-friendly control panel signalizes when the unit is on, lights up when it requires to be cleaned or when there is no water in the reservoir.

The disadvantages of Scotsman CU50GA-1A undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The unit generates a lot of noise.

4. EdgeStar IB450SS

EdgeStar IB450SS Ice Maker

EdgeStar is a home appliance brand established in 2004 in the USA. This EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker is an attractive unit that easily fits any kitchen and it is designed for home use as well as for hosting large dinner parties.

The EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker is special because it is equipped with a front venting system. This makes it easy to built-in under almost any counter. The adjustable legs allow setting the unit at the right height. The doors are reversible for increased ease of use. Computerized controls simplify using and cleaning the unit.

The EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker is priced between $1,100 and $1,160, depending on the color.

A 1-year warranty covers parts and labor for EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker.

The EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker is well-insulated, equipped with a tough, commercial-grade stainless steel door, and a curved handle. This type of construction ensures maximum durability of the unit. EdgeStar recommends buying a water filter – AP707, along with the unit to extend its life and maximize its performance.

The EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker is equipped with a “clean” button at the bottom that triggers the cleaning mechanism. However, the unit should be cleaned manually every 6 months as well.

The ice production capacity of EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker is 45lbs per day. The ice is produced in sheets of different thicknesses.

The EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker’s ice bin can hold up to 25lbs of ice.

The advantages of EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The control panel with several built-in buttons makes operating, maintaining, and cleaning this ice maker straightforward.
  • The reversible door makes this unit easy customizable and more convenient to fit into tight spaces.
  • The removable ice bin makes this ice machine’s interior easier to clean.

The disadvantages of EdgeStar IB450SS undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The unit shuts off once the ice bin is ¾ full.

5. Manitowoc SM50A-161 SM50

Manitowoc SM50A-161 SM50 Ice Maker

Manitowoc SM50A-161 is a stand-alone undercounter ice maker that produces gourmet top-hat ice. It is air-cooled and designed to fit into standard, 15-inch cabinet dimensions.

The Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker produces purer ice cubes than standard units because of the built-in scale inhibitor and filter. The indicator on the machine signalizes when it is time to replace the filter.

The Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker is backed up with a 3-year warranty for parts and labor and a 1-year limited warranty for residential use.

The price of Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker is around $1,900.

The Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker is mostly made of stainless steel while some parts are made of plastic.

The Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker is equipped with patented cleaning and sanitizing functions. This simplifies the cleaning process and makes the ice safe to consume.

The daily ice production capacity of Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker is 53lbs. The machine can produce ice on a time delay. Ice production can be delayed for 4, 12, or 24 hours.

The ice storage capacity of Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker is 25lbs. The interior of the ice bin lights up when the door is opened to provide maximum visibility of the amount of ice stored inside.

The advantages of Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The built-in water filtration system prevents scale buildup and the spread of bacteria inside the machine.
  • The delay start option increases the convenience of using this unit.
  • The lighted LED bin makes ice easier to estimate the amount of stored ice.

The disadvantages of Manitowoc SM50A-161 undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The ice at the bottom of the ice bin melts fast.

6. EdgeStar IB120SS

EdgeStar IB120SS Ice Maker

The EdgeStar IB120SS is a built-in/freestanding undercounter ice maker that needs minimal installation. Because it doesn’t need a permanent drain line, it is ideal for kitchens, RV, boats, and offices. This ice maker is ADA compliant, meaning it fits into any 25-36-inch high x 15-inch wide counter.

The EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker is a low-intensity unit that doesn’t use much electricity. This unit comes with a well-insulated refrigerated freezer compartment that ensures the ice stored barely melts. The machine starts producing the ice as soon as it is plugged into an electrical socket.

EdgeStar provides a 1-year limited warranty for the IB120SS undercounter ice maker.

The price of EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker is around $500.

The EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker’s doors are made of true, durable stainless steel while its body is painted black.

The EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker should be cleaned every 3 weeks. As soon as the ice production slows down, the unit should be defrosted and left open for 3 hours.

The EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker can produce 12lbs of crescent-shaped ice per day.

The ice storage capacity of EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker is 6lbs. The unit shuts itself down when the ice bin is full.

The advantages of EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • Installation of this ice maker requires minimum effort as there is no need to set a permanent drain line.
  • The well-insulated ice bin keeps ice solid for as long as it is needed.
  • The unit starts producing ice right away after being plugged in and turns off automatically when the bin is full, which saves energy.

The disadvantages of EdgeStar IB120SS undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The unit sometimes produces rattling noise.

7. DUURA DI50P

DUURA DI50PDUURA manufactures premium quality ice makers, freezers, and wine coolers. This DI50P undercounter ice maker is suitable for commercial and residential use. It is energy-efficient and holds an EnergyStar certification.

The DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker is convenient to install and comes with a built-in drain pump and finished side legs. The front-breathing design ensures proper airflow and maximum efficiency of this ice maker. The lockout feature on the digital controller protects this unit from unauthorized use.

The price of DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker is around $1,295.

A special warranty should be bought for DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker.

The DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker is mostly made of stainless steel. The reversible doors make it convenient to open the unit from either left or right. Opening the door makes the unit’s interior illuminate in bright blue LED light.

The DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker features simple push-button controls. The automatic cleaning mode is activated at a single touch of a button.

The ice production capacity of DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker is 65lbs per day.

The DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker has an ice bin capacity of 25lbs. When the bin is full, the automatic overflow festure will prevent further ice production until the bin is emptied.

The advantages of DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • This ice maker is certified by EnergyStar, NSF, and UL, which means it is completely safe to use, energy-efficient, and that it meets standard counter installation requirements.
  • The unit is equipped with a digital controller that has on/off, clean, and adjust mode buttons.
  • The blue LED light enlightens the inside of this ice maker and makes the amount of ice easier to check on.

The disadvantages of DUURA DI50P undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • The warranty for this unit is not provided by the manufacturer.

8. Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD

Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-ADThe Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD is a high-end undercounter ice maker that produces top hat ice cubes. This air-cooled unit can be installed under any standard counter.

The Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker is suitable for both residential and commercial use. It is even UL-approved for outdoor use. The machine is ADA compliant as well, meaning it doesn’t need any clearance and can be fitted into tight spaces.

The price of Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker is around $2,380.

The Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker is backed up with a 1-year warranty on the optional drain pump assembly or a 2-year warranty on the entire machine.

The Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker boasts a durable and rust-proof stainless steel construction.

External water filters of the Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker, as well as its exterior, should be cleaned every month using a neutral cleaner. The ice storage bin should be cleaned every 3 months. Ice storage, drain pump, condenser, and water hoses bin should be cleaned yearly.

The Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker produces up to 51lbs of ice per 24 hours.

The storage capacity of Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker is 22lbs.

The advantages of Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • Despite its compact size, this ice maker can produce an impressive 51lbs of ice in a day.
  • The unit is clean and maintain, which leads to its longer life.
  • This unit can be used outdoors for any outdoor catered event, at poolside bars, etc.

The disadvantages of Hoshizaki AM-50BAJ-AD undercounter ice maker are as follows:

  • Low ice storage capacity when compared to other high-end ice makers on the list.

What is an Undercounter Ice Maker and Who Needs One?

Best Undercounter Ice MakerUndercounter ice makers are convenient ice-making machines perfect for ice lovers that have limited space. Freezing technology has changed considerably in the last couple of decades, and under-counter ice makers are no exception to this. Before, they had the capacity of making ice and only storing it temporarily.

Now, they can filter the water, make perfect clear cubes, and even store the ice cubes for a long time. These and other features will be discussed in our unbiased buying guide. By being designed to fit under most kitchen counters and cabinets, you can save a lot of space, and still have a continuous supply of ice on hand.

Thanks to the compact freezing process, you can have fresh ice every 6-10 minutes, depending on a few factors. The shape and size of the ice cubes are usually the determining factors with most ice makers. But the freezing method, or mold being used, can also influence ice cube production speed.

Another useful feature is that these units require a dedicated water line. This feature prevents human contact with the water that is meant for the ice cubes so you cannot bring in any pollutants personally. Some ice makers come with built-in water filters for better hygiene and prevention. This method offers a superior quality of ice cubes and most importantly – these machines readily provide a large volume of ice.

Thanks to their efficiency, these ice makers are used both commercially and residentially. Thanks to their size, you can use them in any kitchen, but also in juice bars, cafes, refreshment stands, coffee shops, and so on.

How Do Undercounter Ice Makers Work?

The working principle for undercounter ice makers is pretty much the same for all ice making machines. The system functions thanks to four essential parts, needing an electric line, a water line, and a drain. Be warned, higher-end ice makers require a dedicated circuit breaker, due to their electrical demands.

So, how exactly undercounter ice makers work? First, the water makes its way inside the unit through the water line, entering the area where there is a mold or some other cooling element. At the same time, the compressor turns on, and it starts compressing low-pressure coolant vapor into the high-pressure coolant vapor. This coolant is then delivered to the condenser.

At this point, the condenser takes the high-pressure coolant vapor and gets rid of heat from the compressor phase, by routing the coolant through the coiled pipes. These pipes are usually placed near the unit, on the back. Once this is done, the high-pressure vapor turns into the high water pressure.

The pressurized coolant will move on to the inlet valve. The inlet valve releases the pressure from the coolant transforming back to vapor, but at a lower temperature. Finally, the refrigerant will move to the evaporator. Here is where the heat exchange happens.

The coolant comes into contact with a mold where the water will freeze upon contact, or via another cooling element. Once the mold is full, the ice will fall out into the tray where it will stay until you need it. Note that this is just one very common way of making ice, and some undercounter ice makers may work differently depending on the compressor and the condenser.

Any water that is created by condensation, along with the melting ice, goes into the drain via the outlet hose.

Undercounter vs. Portable Ice Makers?

When you are doing your research about ice makers, you may consider opting-out for a portable unit, instead of an undercounter model. People think that the portable machine is just a smaller version of the undercounter unit, but it’s not. In the following section, we will talk about the differences between the two.

These machines have their own uses and are solutions for different situations. Let’s begin with the first obvious difference – the size. When it comes to kitchen machines and appliances, size indicates power. Portable machines are much smaller, and therefore have a lower ice cube production capacity than home undercounter ice makers.

Your average portable ice maker can make up to around 30 pounds of ice per day. Whereas, an undercounter unit can make as much as a portable unit, or twice the amount.  There is, however, one benefit to the size of portable units. Since they are smaller, portable units can easily fit on most counters, and in various places where space is an issue.

From an installation point of view, most of the time you don’t have to do anything except assembling a portable unit. Some units are preassembled so that you only have to turn them on. You can also store these units away when you don’t need them. Undercounter models are installed once and then used as permanent fixtures in homes, offices, coffee shops, and so on. Also, you may need a dedicated circuit breaker for some undercounter models, as well as a water line and a drain.

Next, you need to consider the ice storage. Here, under cabinet ice machines have a clear advantage as they can hold various amounts of ice in a tray, and keep it chilled until you need it. But portable models generally lack any storage capability as it would make them bigger and less portable.

Pure ice making capacity is probably the most important factor to consider when comparing these machines.

The wrong types and insufficient capacities are the most important things to avoid when choosing your ice maker.

Undercounter Ice Maker Buying Guide

Best Residential Ice MakerIf you want to get the right unit from the start, you can save yourself from making the wrong decision simply by reading our buying guide. We have condensed hours of research into one reading material. By knowing what to look for, you can get a unit that best suits your needs. In the following section, we will go over the seven characteristics that you need to take into consideration.

1. Storage/Size

As we have said before, when it comes to kitchen appliances, size can play a vital role. Because undercounter ice makers are made to specific dimensions, you need to be sure that it can fit into the place that you have imagined for it. Take extra precaution when measuring your space, and factor in that you will have some wires and tubes going out of the machine when you are installing an ice maker.

Fitting the freezer into an enclosed space is just one side of the coin though. The other side is how much storage space is inside the unit. When the ice is made, it usually goes to some type of insulated tray where it is kept nice and chilled. How much ice can be put in the tray varies from unit to unit.

Smaller home undercounter ice makers generally have a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning they can store as much ice as the machine can produce in a 24hour period. The bigger models, however, are not so lucky as they can only hold half, or less of their total capacity, especially if they produce around 60 pounds of ice a day or more. Thankfully these more powerful models do offer an automatic shut-off feature when the ice tray gets full.

The size of one standard ice maker that makes about 20 pounds of ice per day, can fit neatly into a space smaller than your average dishwasher, depending on the brand. This would be enough for a family of four, plus a small group of friends. That means you can enjoy chilled drinks all day long.

2. Ice Quality

Best Undercounter Ice Maker ReviewThe quality of ice depends on the quality of water and the machine you are using. When water comes into contact with air, surfaces or human skin, it picks up impurities and bacteria. Because of this, you get the ice that isn’t see-through, and usually has some kind of opaque look. Undercounter ice makers come with the option of having a water filter to help you purify the water, remove sediment and other pollutants.

Despite having a filter system, you still may not get perfect ice cubes, and there are reasons for that, which we will cover in our FAQ section. But first, what is a good ice cube? You know you have top quality ice if you have a pristinely clear ice cube that disappears if you put it in a cup. Like with diamonds, clarity is the key to quality.

The next thing to keep in mind is that these clear ice cubes should be so strong that you cannot bite into them. Also, the taste should be better than tap water since clear ice cube makers are generally more expensive, and usually come with a water filter. The last thing to remember is that they will melt slower, and keep your drink cold for twice as long your average ice cube.

The shape of the ice cube purely depends on the mold, or evaporator that the machine uses. This is why top-quality ice cubes are called ‘clear ice cubes,’ but that doesn’t define their shape. If we are talking about shape, the ice cube can have a bullet shape, standard cube shape, crescent moon shape, nugget shape, or some specific style created by an ice machine manufacturer.

The only real role that ice shape plays in drinks is when we are talking about crushed ice(see our top-rated blenders for crushing ice article), shaved ice, or crunchable ice – which is specifically used for various soft drinks and some cocktails. Smaller ice cubes will chill your drink faster, but they will also dilute the drink just as fast, and in this way slightly change the overall taste.

3. Cooling System

Cooling SystemCooling systems for ice makers are defined by what type of condenser is used to manipulate the coolant. The two main systems used for ice makers are air and water-based systems. Firstly, let’s talk about the air-based system.

An air-cooled condenser relies on the ambient temperature around the machine to be cooler than the condenser’s hot coils. Fans or vents are used to suck in the cool air, and circulate air through the condenser, thereby cooling it. To ensure they work properly, these condensers need to be unobstructed by anything when they are working. Also, they can produce some extra noise due to their fans.

Moving on to the water-cooled condensers. These types of condensers use an additional water line to provide cold running water which would be used to cool down the coils of the condenser. However, this method is less practical, so most manufacturers chose the air-cooled condenser system for undercounter ice makers.

4. Drainage

In the process of making ice cubes, you will always have some left-over water. That is evidence for the inefficiency of ice makers in water consumption. But you can’t have that water just sitting there because bacteria can develop and contaminate it. Most undercounter ice makers are equipped with one of two possible solutions for their drain needs, while some models don’t use drains at all, and require periodic defrosting.

The simplest option is what is known as a ‘gravity drain’. If your ice maker is close to a standard drain, around 2 feet, and if you can hook up the drain hose so that it goes down towards the drain, then this gravity drain is a great choice. Because of the height difference, the excess water or condensate will move to the drain by the sole power of gravity.

Now, if you find yourself in the position where the drain is not near enough, or you can’t make the hose go downward from the machine to the drain, you are going to need a pump. An ice maker with a drain pump solves this problem easily. This pump pushes the excess water from the unit, through the drain tube, and into the drain.

Undercounter ice makers with drain pumps are a common sight, but they aren’t present in every model. So, you need to check this beforehand and make sure what drainage system the unit uses. Depending on your specific situation, you may be put into the position of buying an external drain pump if the model you want doesn’t have one, and you can’t freely access the nearest drain.

5. Water Supply

The one thing you cannot do without is water, logically. Undercounter ice makers require a dedicated water line. You can connect this ice maker water line pretty quickly with the tubes that most manufacturers give with the ice making unit. But if you don’t feel confident about installing it, you can always contact a professional plumber.

These tubes are usually smaller than your average water line. Because of its size, you have to be sure to secure it and make certain it won’t get scratched or ripped when you are moving the unit into its allocated space. Thanks to having a dedicated water line, you eliminate most of the household contaminants that can reach your ice.

Most ice makers can operate with a water supply that isn’t under 45°F or over 85°F year-round. The water pressure needs to be at a minimum of at least 15 PSI, but some ice makers can be more demanding with a minimum of 30 PSI.  Also, the water pressure shouldn’t exceed 80 PSI for most undercounter ice makers, for safety reasons.

6. Maintenance

When it comes to undercounter ice makers, maintenance is mostly done for the sake of prevention. It generally boils down to inspection and cleaning the ice maker. First off, you need to take an active role in inspecting the inside parts of the machine. These areas can come into contact with bacteria through the air, or by your hands.

To avoid the bacteria spreading and forming scales on the metal cooling elements, you are advised to use a  homemade cleaning solution and wipe down the exposed parts. Cleaning instructions like what cleaner you can use, and how much, are specified in the guides of each unit and should be followed rigidly. Once you clean the insides, make sure to thoroughly rinse the ice maker with water. Some models have a built-in ‘wash’ function just for this purpose.

Besides the exposed areas, you also need to check electric connections, to see if any wires are dangling, not connected, or are simply fried. If any of the above is true, contact an electrician or an authorized serviceman, and don’t use the ice maker if you are facing electrical problems.

The condenser and its grill need to stay clean from dust, grease, and anything else that can prevent them from doing their job. This can be done with a non-corrosive cleaner. You can use a fine comb or a brush to get rid of any tough grime. If the ice maker uses water filters, these need to be periodically cleaned or replaced, depending on the instructions given by the manufacturer.

7. Capacity

CapacityAll ice makers aren’t created equal. They are tailored to have different characteristics so that they can fit various needs. Undercounter ice makers can make a set number of ice cubes per cycle. The number of ice cubes that can be made at the same time and the length of the creation cycle lets us calculate the total capacity of an ice maker.

The total capacity is measured in the amount of ice created in 24 hours. The smaller units can make around 12 pounds of ice a day. But the higher-end models can push out approximately 80 pounds of ice a day. Any more than that, and we enter the realm of big standalone ice makers.

The type and shape of ice do factor in a bit. Cheaper ice makers are usually faster and produce more ice cubes per cycle. More expensive models sometimes produce fewer ice cubes per cycle, but the trade-off is a superior quality of ice cubes that don’t melt as fast, so you would need fewer of them anyway.

FAQ about Undercounter Ice Makers

We have compiled a list of the most frequent questions and interesting answers you need to know about ice makers.

1. The machine is working, but no ice is coming out, what do I do?

If you have correctly installed your ice maker and yet no ice is being produced, try and check the following. First, see if the water line is hooked up properly, and that there are no leaks. You also want to make sure the inlet water isn’t too hot, thus preventing the machine from making ice.

Next, you want to check the compressor to make sure it is running, and there are no ruptures for the coolant or refrigerant where they could leak. Finally, check the water filter for any possible blockages. If none of the above is helpful, contact an authorized serviceman to take a more in-depth look.

2. Why is the machine making half or incomplete cubes?

When an undercounter ice maker creates unfinished ice in the time of a normal creation cycle, you need to check a few things. First, the machine may not be level – if it is not level, then the water inside the machine won’t be either, preventing the ice cubes to form normally.

It can also be a problem with the wrong water pressure. Make sure that your ice makers water pressure fits the parameters specified by the manufacturer in the manual. Other reasons for this include poor water filtration, or possibly a faulty ice thickness switch that needs to be repaired or replaced.

3. Ice production capacity suddenly drops, what is the cause?

If ice cube production suddenly slows down, first you check the temperature and pressure of your incoming water. If both of those are fine, then you may want to check the condenser. Condensers won’t work well if they are dirty, or are physically obstructed by objects blocking their fans.

4. Why is my ice cloudy when it used to be clear?

Undercounter units do sometimes come with filter systems to help get that top-shelf clear ice. These filters can become dirty or blocked over time, and require cleaning or replacement. If everything is fine with the filter, then your machine could need a thorough cleaning to get rid of any invisible bacteria that has spread inside of it.

If you are periodically cleaning your residential ice machine and its filter, but you still get cloudy ice, you may need to check your water supply. The water quality directly affects the clarity of ice and it can cause your ice to be cloudy.

5. Do I need to defrost or drain my ice maker?

Most of the time, the answer is no. Undercounter ice makers are usually equipped with some kind of drain system that gets rid of any excess water, be it a gravity drain, or a drain pump. However, there are models that don’t have this feature and act as a freezer when they are full of ice, not letting the ice melt and eliminating the need for a drain.

But if you notice an ice buildup, then you should unfreeze the ice maker regardless of them having a drain or not.

Wrap Up

Ice makers were once a convenience that regular people could only dream off, but now you can have luxury ice made in your very own home. Thanks to modern cooling technology and refrigerants, every home, coffee shop, office, or bar can have perfect ice on-demand, 24/7. What makes the best residential ice maker depends on the needs of the person using it.

By reading this buying guide, you are now armed with the knowledge that will allow you to choose the best undercounter ice maker for your needs. If there are any unanswered questions left, feel free to leave a message in the comments section, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Bonus blog: Why Do Ice Makers Make a Knocking Sound?

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.

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