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Decide Between Air and Water Cooled Ice Machines

A Man Deciding
Ice machines play a key role in virtually all restaurants and food production companies. In fact, the importance of a fresh ice supply is so great that many businesses simply wouldn't be able to exist without it. Unfortunately, the high demands placed on ice machines mean that they run a high risk of burning out as the result of compressor overheating.

To help prevent this from happening, ice machines contain one of two types of cooling systems. These differ in terms of the cooling substance — either air or water. If you have plans to invest in an ice machine for your business and would like to learn more about which model to choose, keep reading.

This article will present three important things to know when deciding between an air-cooled and a water-cooled ice machine.

1. Air-Cooled Machines Are Only Effective if Placed Wisely

Like air conditioners and refrigerators, ice machines work through the use of refrigerant. This refrigerant absorbs heat from water in the trays, causing the water to freeze. In order to repeat this cycle, however, the refrigerant must then discharge this heat. This task happens inside of the condenser coil, which facilitates the transfer of heat to either air or water.

Air-cooled ice machines use fans to circulate air around the condenser coil. This air then absorbs the refrigerant's heat. As you can imagine, the colder the air being circulated, the more readily it will absorb heat. This can present difficulties for the placement of an air-cooled machine.

For instance, an air-cooled ice machine located inside of a restaurant kitchen will be hampered by the higher air temperature. As a result, the machine will take more time to refresh the refrigerant between cycles, often slowing ice production to unacceptable levels and placing strain on the fan system.

For best results, therefore, an air-cooled machine must be located in as cool an area as possible. A sheltered outdoor location may work, provided summertime temperatures don't climb too high in your region. Otherwise, an air-conditioned and well-ventilated area will provide the best results.

2. Water-Cooled Machines Can Be Much More Expensive

Air-cooled ice machines tend to drive up energy usage more than water-cooled machines. For one thing, the fan system requires electricity to continue circulating air around the condenser coil. For another, the warm air discharged from an air-cooled machine will raise ambient air temperatures for machines located indoors, placing additional load on air conditioning systems.

Nonetheless, air-cooled machines still tend to deliver less expensive results, due to the high water consumption of a water-cooled ice machine. Simply put, the cost of water far outstrips that of electricity. The exact cost difference largely depends on the relative costs of utilities in your area. These factors must be taken into account when selecting an ice machine.

3. Remote Air-Cooled Machines Can Save Money

The inherent weaknesses of an air-cooled ice machine can be greatly mitigated by investing in a remote air-cooled machine. This type of air-cooled unit differs in that contractors install the condenser used to refresh the refrigerant in an outdoors location — often on top of your roof — with refrigerant moving into an indoor ice-producing unit through special insulated hoses.

For restaurants located in relatively cool climates, a remove air-cooled machine allows an effective workaround to the problems associated with self-contained air-cooled machines. A remote compressor can also be used to provide refrigerant to multiple indoor ice-machines.

Ice machines have an indispensable role to play in many businesses. For more information about what it takes to select the ice-machine best suited to meet your particular needs, please contact the appliance experts at Maple Appliance Service.


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