Nugget ice makers are expensive because they use more sophisticated technologies and more complex systems than any regular ice freezer or ice machine to compress a multitude of ice flakes and produce light, airy, easy to chew, and flavor-absorbing ice. There are several other reasons, such as the materials used, size and weight of the unit, capacity, smart regulatory functions, technical set-up, and their overall design.
Reasons in Detail
1. Technology Used
Unlike traditional refrigerators that come with evaporator plates, nugget ice makers use a unique auger-style system (note that some models use different pushing systems). The auger-style system consists of a large metal cylinder and an auger that cools down the walls of the cylinder. As snowflakes form, the auger pushes them to the compression chamber where the flakes are compressed and where nugget ice is made.
Nugget ice makers are so expensive also because stainless steel is used for their production. Not only the body but some parts of nugget ice makers (the auger) are made of stainless steel as well, which is why they are so expensive.
3. Size and Weight
Most nugget ice makers are bulky units, best suited for commercial use. The larger the unit, the more materials, and parts are used for its production, the heavier and more expensive it becomes.
Some nugget ice makers are capable of producing up to 1,000 pounds of ice per day which adds to their price. Although there are exceptions to the rule, most regular ice makers are capable of producing up to 70 pounds and others no more than 500 pounds of ice every 24 hours.
5. Regulatory Functions
Nugget ice makers produce massive amounts of ice and work 24/7 and come with special features that ease their use and provide better operational control (Bluetooth connectivity, f.e.).
6. Technical Set-Up
Installation of a nugget ice maker includes multiple parts such as sturdy base construction and a built-in drain pump to name a few (mostly included in the package) and requires a certain degree of technical know-how. The more complex the technical setup, the more expensive the product.
7. Overall design
The overall design of a nugget ice maker that suits its commercial functionality as well as the attractive finish of a unit like this contributes to its cost.
Affordable Alternatives to Expensive Nugget Ice Makers
As said earlier, typical nugget ice makers are machines meant for commercial use. However, a few models on the market come at a slightly lower price, not because they are of poorer quality but because of their smaller size and slightly lower capacity.
Our two favorites are the Opal nugget ice maker and TaoTronics nugget ice maker. Both units are perfect for home use, easy to use in any space, lightweight, and are capable of producing 24 and 26 lbs of ice per day.