How to buy the correct size ice maker

A properly sized ice machine is crucial for entablements like restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, and cafeterias. Commercial ice machines are manufactured in various sizes and capacities ranging from 60lbs. to 3300 lbs. Running out of ice can cause the major inconvenience of having to go purchase ice or have it delivered in order to serve customers. An ice machine that is oversized will sit for long periods of time causing water to stagnate causing mold to grow quickly.

The most common sizes of commercial ice machines used in restaurants range from 500 lb. to 1800 lb. ice makers. To properly size a restaurant ice machine, you can estimate 1.8lbs. of ice per customer. For bars a person can assume 3lbs. of ice per person, and beverages can be estimated by dividing the size of the cup by 2. So, a 32oz. beverage would require 16oz. of ice. Hotels can assume 5lbs. of ice per room, per day.

Using the chart below will make it easy to determine what size ice machine you may need.

When a commercial ice machine is on a good maintenance plan and serviced regularly, that ice machine will perform at a higher efficiency and produce ice to a higher quality, with higher ice clarity and faster. Commercial ice machines take on average between 11 and 32 minutes to make ice. A Manitowoc or Koolaire ice machine rated to make 500 lbs per day, in good working order will make ice in 11-13 minutes. That comes out to 5.2lbs of ice each time the machine drops ice. When an ice machine is not maintained properly this production time for each batch of ice can potentially rise to 20-24 minutes. This would take the overall production of a 500lb. ice machine to 360 lbs per day. This would be a 28% reduction in ice making capabilities.

How much ice will my ice maker make?

Say that 5 times fast! Determining how much ice an ice maker will make is a done by a simple math equation.

Using the Hoshizaki ice machine model number KM-515MAJ, for example:

Take the Hoshizaki ice machine model number KM-515MAJ. Using the 515 from the model number will tell you how much ice the machine will make, in a 70-degree room with 50-degree water, this ice maker will make 515 lbs of ice, in a 24-hour period. Divide the 515 lbs. by 24 hours and this will tell you how much ice this machine will make in 1 hour; 515 divided by 24 = 21.45lbs. of ice per hour.

Using the Hoshizaki service manual found here: ( we can determine that this ice machine will make ice every 34.4 minutes. To make the math easy, we will round that to 1 new batch of ice every half hour. 21.45 ÷ 2 = 10.7lbs. of ice, every time your ice machine goes into harvest.

515 lbs. ÷ 24 hours = 21.45lbs. per hour

21.45lbs. ÷ 2 = 10.7lbs of ice made every time this machine makes ice

Another example of how much an ice an ice maker can produce is the common Manitowoc IYT0500A-161 commercial ice machine. Again, we need to know how long it takes this machine to make ice and we find that by looking at the service manual located here: ( We learn it takes on average 12 minutes to make a batch of ice.

500lbs. ÷ 24 hours = 20.8lbs. per hour

20.8lbs. ÷ 4 = 5.2lbs. of ice made every time this machine harvests ice

Properly sizing an ice machine for your custom application may seem like a daunting task. If you need more assistance or would like some help making sure you are making the right decision with your ice machine needs, call Tri-Point Refrigeration, Inc. in Lubbock, Texas at (806) 686-0050, or for Austin area customer please call (512) 651-4565 and our team would love to help guide you to the right solution for your ice maker needs.

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