5 Different Types of Ice Machines

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We live in a great country that affords us the privilege of enjoying ice in so many places we go to each day. In this modern technological age, we can have ice makers even in our homes. There are not only different types of ice makers but also different types of ice that come from those ice makers.

  • nugget or sonic ice
  • full-cubed ice 
  • half-cubed ice 
  • clear or gourmet ice 
  • bullet-shaped ice
  • crescent ice 
  • flake ice 
  • crushed ice

This post isn’t about the different types of ice found in an ice maker. If you want to read more about the different kinds of ice, then you can read my article here

 In this article, we’re going to look at the different types of ice makers that are available for purchase. We are also going to learn what makes these ice makers beneficial to you, and how you can utilize them in your home, business, or anywhere else you’re looking to put an ice maker.

Commercial Ice Makers

The first type of ice maker we want to learn about is a commercial ice maker. These ice makers usually are more substantial in size than the other ice makers on this list and produce large quantities of ice.

Types of Ice Makers: Commercial Ice maker

You would find commercial ice makers in a whole host of business settings. These types of ice makers are rarely used in homes, but there are times that it does happen. Commercial ice makers need to be professionally installed and require a drain line and water line.

Most commercial ice makers can produce all of the types of ice listed above. Hospitals will purchase a commercial ice maker to produce nugget ice because it’s soft and easily can be chewed. Bars, restaurants, cafes, schools will use full-cubed or crushed ice for the beverages that they serve.

In an industrial setting, commercial ice makers are used for producing flaked ice. Flaked ice, which is almost like heavy snow, is often used for packing and shipping meats or dairy.

As I mentioned above, some purchase a commercial ice maker for their home. These are normally stored in a basement or garage. Most people that buy a commercial ice maker for their home will purchase a much smaller one than what a business would use. Typically, a commercial ice maker for a home will only produce 100 lbs or less. The COSTWAY Commercial Ice Maker is an excellent fit for one’s home. It provides 88 pounds of ice every 24 hours and is very easy to use. Click here to get the best price for the Costway Commercial ice maker here. 

Undercounter Ice Makers

The next type of ice maker that you can purchase is an under-the-counter ice maker. These ice makers are built compact so that they will fit under your cabinets in your kitchen. This is why they are called under-the-counter ice makers – I guess they named them correctly. 

The cool thing about an under-counter ice maker is that most of them can be customized to your kitchen cabinets so that no one even knows it’s an ice maker. If you are getting a new kitchen installed, they leave an opening for the size of the ice maker and build a panel that attaches to the front door. Now the ice maker looks like a drawer in your kitchen. 

Undercounter ice maker is perfect for your kitchen

Undercounter ice makers also come in different sizes from large to pretty small. What I love about under-the-counter ice makers is that they are not limited to just being placed under your counters. You can also use it as a stand-alone unit.

These ice makers produce most of the ice types that I mentioned above. Most of the time, under-the-counter ice makers will produce nugget ice. This soft, chewable ice is perfect for so many occasions.

The Manitowoc SM-50A is a great ice maker for producing octagonal-cubed ice. This ice maker can produce 100 lbs of ice each day and will hold 25 lbs of ice at one time. You can click here to check out the price on Amazon.

Another great under-the-counter ice maker that I just absolutely love is Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 under-the-counter ice maker that you can purchase on Amazon right here. This ice maker produces 85 lbs of pearl ice, which is like nugget ice and can hold 22 lbs of ice at one time. This is a great ice maker for any kitchen, and if you are looking to start a kitchen renovation and need an ice maker, then this is an excellent choice for you. 

Portable Ice Makers

Portable ice makers are smaller units that are more compact and can easily be moved. Often time portable ice makers are called countertop ice makers because they can be placed on your countertop. This gives you an idea of how small and compact countertop ice makers really are. 

A portable ice maker on your countertop

These ice makers won’t produce as much ice as the commercial or under-the-counter ice makers, but they still produce enough to satisfy your needs. I own a portable ice maker that produces 48 lbs of ice each day, and it makes plenty of ice for my entire family. The unit that I personally own is the Frigidaire EFIC115 ice maker. Click here to follow this link to Amazon and see how much I paid for it. 

Portable ice makers mostly make bullet-shaped ice, which is a harder type of ice to chew and can be very cloudly in color. There are some specialty portable ice makers like the Opal Nugget Ice Maker that produces nugget ice, but that is the expectation and not the rule.

Another excellent characteristic of portable ice makers is that they are cheaper than the other types of ice makers I list in this article. You can purchase a portable ice maker for $100-$200, and it’s for a solid unit, where commercial ice makers could cost you thousands. 

The biggest downside of portable ice makers is that they need to be manually filled with water. Commercial ice makers connect directly to a waterline and take water on demand. Countertop ice makers must be refilled every time the water runs out. Is this a bad thing? Well, it’s not very pleasant, but it’s the price you pay to have an ice maker that you can take with you where ever you go.

Speaking of taking portable ice makers with you where ever you go, people have taken countertop ice makers with them camping, have put them on their RV, accompanied them on their vacation. If you have electricity and some water, then you can use a portable ice maker. 

Built-in Ice Makers

The next type of ice maker that you can purchase is one that’s built-in the freezer compartment of your fridge. This type of ice maker would be already installed at purchase, or you can buy one separately and have it installed.

A built-in ice maker for your fridge

Built-in ice makers produce about 10 lbs of ice every 24 hours and usually will dispense right from the door of your fridge. Often, fridge ice makers will allow you to choose the type of ice: crushed or cubed. 

One feature that is not usually present with all the other ice makers that we list in this article, that’s available in the built-in fridge ice makers is that they keep your ice frozen. The commercial units and under-the-counter ice makers have a drain hose installed, and the water naturally runs away from the unit. Some ice makers will have a pump that will push the water down and away from the ice maker. 

The melted ice water from portable ice makers drips back into the water reservoir to make more ice. You can purchase countertop ice makers with built-in freezers, but this type of portable ice maker is rare and expensive. 

Fridge ice makers are also installed with a water filter to ensure that you are getting cold, fresh, clean ice every time you fill your glass.

Manual Ice Production 

Lastly, there is the old fashion way. I am talking about making ice using an ice cube tray. I don’t think that this method is going away anytime soon. It’s easy, and its price cannot be beaten. There is only one huge downside to using this method – it’s sloooooooow.

Manual ice production can make cool ice shapes

It takes all night to freeze your ice, and there are times when you do not have that long to wait.

One of the great things about ice trays is that you can make different shapes with your ice. The picture on the right is a perfect example of this. Someone bought some heart molds and froze ice in the shape of hearts – perfect for a date night.

Some pretty cool gadgets online use this method, though. You can purchase an ice ball tool that produces clear, gourmet ice using your freezer. Those who use high-end specialty drinks will buy these types of contraptions to create stunning ice balls for their beverages.

You can learn about the best way of producing clear ice by using the old fashion way by reading my article here

There you have it, folks. These are the types of ice makers that you can purchase for your home or business. Which one should you buy? Well, that’s totally up to you. To know which type of ice maker is right for you here are five simple questions you should ask yourself: 

How much ice do I need? 

If you need a lot of ice, then you probably want to aim for the commercial ice maker. If you own a small or large business, run an office, church, or school, then a commercial ice maker is probably your best bet. If you only need 20-50 lbs of ice each day, then I would go for the cheaper option, the portable ice maker.

Do you need it to be mobile? 

Do you need to take the ice maker anywhere? Do you want to bring it with on your vacation or your RV? Do you want the option of taking the ice maker to a tailgate party, a friend’s house, or a family gathering? If so, you need to look at the portable ice makers.

Portable ice makers weigh about 20-30 pounds. This makes it easy to move from location to location. If you are looking for a portable ice maker, then I would suggest you read my full buyers’ guide and top portable ice makers here

Do you want it to fit the design of your kitchen?

If the design of the ice maker is important to you, then I suggest that you purchase an under-the-counter ice maker. These ice makers allow you to customize the look by adding your own panels to the front. They are small and compact and fit nicely under your counters. 

If you are planning shortly of redesigning your kitchen, then I strongly suggest that you check out undercounter ice makers.

What kind of ice do you want? 

As I listed above, there are several types of ice that you should consider.

If you have a kind of ice in mind, then you should find the right size ice maker that produces your desired type of ice. 

Nugget ice is probably the most popular type of ice for home ice makers. If you are running a business and need a specific type of ice, then most commercial ice makers produce all of the kinds of ice listed in the intro of this article.


Ice is wonderful. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have an ice maker in my home. I thought that I would only use it a couple of times a year, but it turns out that I use it every single day. 

If you have any questions or observations, you can use the comment section below this article. 

Thanks for reading my article and have a great day. 

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