Having an abundance of hard, clear ice is fundamental to a restaurant’s beverage and kitchen operations. Thus choosing a new ice machine is one of a restaurant operator’s most important equipment decisions.
- How many pounds of ice do I need each day?
- Will my machine make enough ice on hot summer days when cold beverage demand spikes?
- Which ice machines are easiest to clean and install and lowest in total cost of ownership?
- Which ice cube shape has the best liquid displacement and presentation?
In the following article, an expert from the world of ice clarifies some of the issues involved in choosing the right ice machine.
Size it right
The first step in choosing an ice machine is sizing it correctly. As a rule, a restaurant requires 2 pounds of ice per customer per day, according to Trey Hoffman, product manager, Ice Machines at Hoshizaki America. A restaurant with a daily customer count of 250 will want a machine with a capacity of at least 500 pounds per day.
However, there is more to the decision. Plan for additional ice-making capacity for your busiest periods and in the summer. That is because air and water temperature are highest in the summer, of course. The warmer the water and air, the longer it takes to make ice and the lower the production.
“It’s a conundrum in the ice world,” says Hoffman. “The time when you need the most ice — summer — is the time when your machine makes the least ice.”
Know your numbers
Operators should understand two key ice machine specs: the 70°/50° and 90°/70° numbers. The former refers to the poundage of ice that a machine produces when the air is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the incoming water is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The latter refers to ice production when the air is 90 degrees Fahrenheit and water is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The 70°/50° number is often reflected by the model number of an ice machine.
“So if you figure that you need 1,000 pounds of ice per day, don’t buy a unit that makes only 1,000 lbs. at 70°/50°,” Hoffman says. “Make sure you buy a unit that does 1,000 pounds at 90°/70°, so you don’t have to go out to buy ice.”
Operators should also be aware that there may be a large difference in ice production at 70°/50° and 90°/70°conditions for some ice machine brands. For example, a unit which produces 300 pounds at 70°/50°may yield only 250 or 225 pounds at 90°/70°.
Hoffman points out that this is not the case with the Hoshizaki. The KMEdge X series of ice machines, which range from 300 pounds to 600 pounds, have higher 90°/70° performance than other brands. An example is the KM-660 machine, which produces 617 pounds at 90°/70° and 665 pounds at 70°/50°.
Some knowledge about ice machine evaporators is helpful. The evaporator is essentially a refrigerated metal plate over which water flows and freezes into cubes.
The Hoshizaki KMEdge evaporator has a unique one-piece, dual-sided stainless steel design which produces crescent-shaped cubes. It transfers heat more efficiently than the evaporators of competing brands, which form cubes in a grid-cell design.
“Because of the way our evaporator works, the incoming water is cooled down a lot more than it is in competitors’ machines,” says Hoffman. “So you are making ice with colder water. That’s why our 90°/70° number tends to be higher.”
“We are the only manufacturer in the industry that changed the design of our evaporator to improve efficiency and meet or exceed Department of Energy requirements,” Hoffman says. This evaporator also saves water and energy while producing more ice.
Other factors that restaurant operators may want to consider in an ice machine choice relate to cleaning, installation and ice quality.
Improvements in technology and a reduction in the number of parts have cut the cleaning time of a Hoshizaki cuber from three hours to one hour, which reduces the total cost of ownership.
The shorter height and factory-installed ultrasonic bin control of the Hoshizaki KMEdge X series of ice machines make them easier to install. And models ranging up to 670 pounds run on 115 volts, so it is not necessary to rewire for 220 volts.
Finally, the crystal-clear Hoshizaki crescent cube not only looks great, it displaces more liquid than other cube shapes, reducing the amount of beverage poured.
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