FAQs: Undercounter Ice Makers vs. Portable Ice Makers

If you find yourself buying bags of ice or filing up pesky ice trays on a daily basis, you may benefit greatly by purchasing an ice maker. They’re perfect for RVs, boats, entertaining guests, small offices, and for personal use in your home. When beginning your search for the one that suits your needs, the first step is deciding whether you need an undercounter or a portable ice maker.

Here we’ve compared what differentiates the two to make your choice as simple as possible.
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Why You Should Use a Filter in Your Ice Machine

Having an ice maker is extremely convenient. Gone are the days when you need to remember to pull out, fill, put back that ice tray in the freezer, and wait for the cubes to freeze. Any time that you want ice, you just need to go to your ice maker, pull out the bin, and put the ice in whatever container you want. Depending on whether or not you have a filter in your machine, you may notice the ice changing over time.

Clear Ice Cubes

Filters are not required for our ice makers, but we think they provide some clear benefits:

  • Improving ice quality
  • Reducing maintenance and repair needs
  • Assisting in better ice production

Although a filter may be an extra cost to consider for your ice maker, by examining the benefits, you might find it to be a good idea for you and your machine.

Improves Quality by Removing Contaminants

Many ice machines will produce great ice at first, with or without a filter. Without a filter, you might notice that your ice slowly changes. It may become cloudy and somewhat soft. In some cases, the ice may have a faint odor or undesirable taste. Although you may not be able to see it, these problems are often caused by contaminants getting into your ice.
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5 Places That Would Benefit From a Portable Ice Maker

There is nothing like coming inside the house on a hot day, filling a tall cup with a delicious beverage, and adding ice cubes. Within minutes, condensation appears on the side of the cup as the dropping temperature of the beverage creates a reaction between the cold cup and the warm air. A cup filled with an ice cold drink is rarely finished off quickly. Instead, it is held, savored and enjoyed for the cool relief that it brings with it.

A portable ice maker helps to ensure that ice is always available for those who prefer to enjoy a cool drink on an overly warm day. Here are some places that these small sized ice makers may come in handy.
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Types of Ice Makers Explained

Ice is no longer a one size fits all product. It has changed from simple cubes produced at home in silver or white freezer trays to frozen pieces of many varieties.

The varieties of ice today include:

  1. Crushed — used mostly in beverage dispensers.
  2. Flake — used to hold delicate foods without damaging them, beneficial for beverage presentation.
  3. Gourmet — Crystal type appearance, octagonal in shape.
  4. Nugget — Softer, more chewable.
  5. Dice Cube — Clear cube with a rhomboid shape.
  6. Regular Cube — traditional ice cube.

Those who enjoy different types of ice often wonder what types of ice makers are used to produce them. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of ice makers that are available to you today.
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Summer Cool Down Giveaway

Summer Cool Down Giveaway

This summer we are excited to be giving away a prize package of items to help fight off the summer heat. Unlike our other giveaways though, this one isn’t as simple as just entering your name to win. We’re asking entrants to write a blog post about why they want the products and how they will use them. The winner will be voted upon by the readers leaving comments on their favorite posts.

Here’s how the giveaway works:

June 27, 2012 – July 11, 2012 – Entry Period

During this time, entries are being accepted! Write your blog post and send it in to us. Don’t just write a single word or sentence. A blog post needs to be at least a few paragraphs and the more detailed you are, the more likely you will probably be picked as a finalist.

July 11, 2012 – July 17, 2012 – Choosing the Finalists

The entry form is going to disappear on July 11 and we’re going to start going through all of the entries to narrow them down to our favorites. Out of our favorites, no more than10 entries will be chose as our Finalists. All Finalists will be notified of their qualifying by July 17.

July 18, 2012 – July 31, 2012 – Voting Period

The Finalists will have their blog posts posted to our site along with a Facebook comment box for people to use to vote for their favorite post. Finalists are encouraged to share their post wherever they can to try to get as many votes as possible! Whichever post has the most comments by midnight on July 31, will be the official Grand Prize Winner! The post with the second most comments will be the First Runner Up.

The First Runner Up will win their very own Koldfront PAC701W portable air conditioner. The Grand Prize Winner will also get a Koldfront portable air conditioner (but the AP12000S model), a Koldfront portable ice maker, a Wagan travel cooler and a Little Snowie snow cone maker!

So hurry on over to our Summer Cool Down Giveaway and send us your blog post entry. Only one week left to enter!

Appliance Terminology Overview

I think a good way to start this blog post series will be to explain some appliance terminology and what it all means. A short encyclopedia, if you will. This is not necessarily all in alphabetical order.

I might get a little technical, but I’ll try to apply the K.I.S.S. rule (keep it simple, stupid) wherever I can.

Technology

Compressor-Based System: An appliance that uses a compressor, or pump, with a closed refrigeration system, and uses a refrigerant to cool a particular space.  This could be a refrigerator, wine cooler (some), kegerator or deep freezer. Common refrigerants include R134A and R410A, among others.

Thermoelectric / TE: An appliance that uses electronics/electricity to cool a small space without the use of refrigerants. These typically consist of a cooling node (Peltier effect) and fans to distribute the air inside the cabinet and dissipate the heat to the outside. They are, for the most part, efficient, although there are a few drawbacks, especially if you are trying to build it into a cabinet.  I’ll delve into that in a later post, along with what exactly a Peltier unit is in simple terms.

LED: Refers to a Light Emitting Diode, which is a commonly used electronic component. All diodes allow electricity to flow in one direction only. Think of it as a one way street, except this one glows when the electric flows. They are used for operation and mode indicators, and also for general lighting purposes. Sometimes they use different colors and are commonly used to highlight and display wines in wine coolers.

Cooling Fans: This will mostly apply to thermoelectric, or TE, wine coolers. They do different jobs: some distribute the cooled air inside the cabinet or at the evaporator coil on compressor-based units, and others get rid of the hot air at the back of the cabinet or from the condenser coils on compressor-based units. Most of them consist of the same small DC-powered fans you find in your desktop computer.

Product Descriptions

Countertop Dishwasher   Portable Air Conditioner   Portable Ice Maker   Kegerator   Portable Freezer Refrigerator   Wine Cooler

Portable Dishwasher: This isn’t the one your mom used to roll around the kitchen and store in a corner. These actually are small enough to sit on a countertop. These are really simple to install. Most come with two hoses, a drain and supply, and a quick connector to attach to a standard kitchen faucet, in place of the aerator. They are typically not meant for a permanent installation. They come in different sizes and capacities, also.

Portable Air Conditioner: An alternative to the typical, window-mounted A/C unit. These usually have one hose used to exhaust out the hot air produced during the cooling process, though some will also have an intake hose. They are mounted on casters, so they can be moved room to room. Most will evaporate the majority, if not all, of the water produced in the exhaust air, but if they don’t get rid of all of it, they will usually have a drain at the bottom of the unit to get rid of the collected water. Portable air conditioners usually will require a 15 amp circuit to run properly, although there are some that require 20 amps or more. Most will come with a window fitting kit that is easily assembled, as they have to be vented to the outside of the room being cooled in most cases.

Portable Ice Maker: An ice maker that is small enough to sit on a counter, produces 6-12 cubes at a time, uses a self-contained water supply and storage for the ice after the cycle is complete. These are not high volume units. Typically, they will not refrigerate the ice and it will melt back into the water tank to start the process over yet again. I recommend moving each batch of ice out of the ice maker and into your regular freezer.

Kegerator: A refrigerated appliance used to keep beer cold and dispense beer. Usually has a connected tower and faucet, with dispenser head to pour the beer and on board CO2 storage to pressurize the beer. They also usually have casters for portability and can be used with multiple beers of your choice, sometimes more than one keg can be used (called a dual tap kegerator). Some kegerators are much smaller and utilize a 5 liter mini keg. These are fairly new on the market. The larger kegerators fit a half shell sankey keg, or Cornelius keg. Some of the mini keg 5 liter units will run on 12V DC and are popular with tailgaters.

Portable Freezer / Refrigerator: These are unique, as they can be used in a vehicle, or boat, or while camping and for emergency uses. Some use compressor-based refrigeration, while others use TE technology. A TE unit typically will not be able to refrigerate to freezing or below, and they will usually be good for 40 degrees F below the ambient temperature around the unit. Think short term storage,  like trips to the grocery store. The compressor-based units are infinitely more flexible, allowing for -0 degrees F operation, up through 50+ degrees F, in most cases. Both can be operated from 12V DC and 120V AC, depending on the model. Each type has their pluses and minuses and I will cover those later. Personally, I like them both!

Wine Cooler: These come in a wide variety of sizes and capacities.  The same can be said for the refrigeration system used. While they have a large temperature range to work with, the TE models generally will hold wines from 45 degrees F-65 degrees F, depending on the ambient temperature of the room they are located in. A compressor-based unit will usually hold wines at 40 degrees F or less, and can be built into a cabinet, as the condenser coil and fan is at the bottom front of the unit. One thing to  remember with wine coolers in general:  They are designed for long term STORAGE, not drinkability, and that applies to TE units in particular. Again, that is a general guideline, so YMMV, or Your Mileage May Vary. (I love acronyms, don’t you?)

Til next time!

Dave

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