Can you use your commercial ice maker outside?

There’s nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold drink on the patio or poolside. You may want to place the ice machine as close to the active area as possible. While it may reduce the number of trips back and forth to refill the ice bucket, it may not be the best idea for your utility budget or the longevity of the machine.


Here’s an overview of how a commercial ice machine works and how outdoor activities affect its operation.


A commercial ice machine is a machine designed for use in commercial environments such as restaurants, bars, hospitals, supermarkets, cafes, etc. These machines range from ice-making heads above water dispensers to hospital countertop versions. They freeze ice and distribute it in chunks, chunks or flakes.


Some small ice machines designed for consumers are portable and can be used temporarily outdoors.

Ironically, ice machines generate heat when they make ice. They need to remove heat to cool the condenser and regulate the temperature of the machine. Heat is transferred from the machine through air or water.


Air-cooled ice machine

Using a fan to transfer heat from the machine

Much cheaper to run than water-cooled units

If you are in a commercial building this is usually your only option

Not suitable for outdoor use as dust and dirt may enter the machine through the fan.


Water-cooled ice machine

Use specialized water pipes and coils to transfer heat away from the machine

Costs 90% more than air-cooled commercial ice machines

Since water often cannot be reused, a lot of water is wasted

Typically the only option outdoors or in areas with ambient temperatures above 80 degrees


How these factors affect ice machines

Heat: If the air temperature around the ice machine is above 90 degrees, the machine will begin to suffer and eventually break. These high temperatures can also melt the ice in your freezer. It should be noted that while freezers are often insulated, they are not refrigerated. Your machine has to work harder to produce less ice.

Cold: As temperatures drop, cold ambient air can trick the thermistor (or thermostat switch) in a commercial ice machine, causing the unit to stop making ice. Below 32 degrees, waterline may freeze.

Dirt: When the machine is outside, the wind can bring more dirt and grime into the machine. Dirt can be drawn into the condenser fan of an air-cooled unit.

Sunlight: If your device is exposed to direct sunlight, UV rays can damage the exterior of the machine. Direct sunlight also increases the overall temperature of the machine, forcing it to work harder to maintain balance.

Rain: Water and electricity don’t mix. Rain can cause electrical problems or even flood your machine.


Ideal conditions for commercial ice machines

The ideal conditions for an ice machine are indoors at a relatively stable temperature (between 50-70 degrees), preferably with air conditioning.

If you insist on placing your ice maker outside, it’s best to place it in a climate-controlled shed or garage.

You can also build enclosures for freestanding machines to protect them from the elements.