No one enjoys waiting for ice on a hot day.

So stay cool all summer with ice makers that make ice in a few minutes and skip that store trip right before your party.
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Keep it cool with an ice maker

Ice makers quickly and seamlessly provide ice cubes in the home or, with portable models, even on the go.

Whether it’s summer, winter, spring, or fall, an ice maker machine is one of the most important small appliances you can add to your kitchen. A portable ice maker makes it easy to always have ice on hand for every day or for special occasions.

What is an ice maker machine?

An ice maker machine, also known as an ice maker countertop, is a small kitchen appliance that makes ice quickly and easily. Unlike a built-in ice maker that’s an option on refrigerators, a portable ice maker is a freestanding appliance that sits in a corner on your countertop and can make large quantities of ice.

There are many benefits to having a portable ice maker or a nugget ice maker. Instead of bringing home heavy bags of ice and finding room in your freezer to store it, you can make your own ice in a convenient countertop appliance. You don’t need to have a water line to use a portable ice maker either. To make ice, you’ll just add water and turn the appliance on.

Ice maker countertop is easy to use and store

An ice maker countertop is compact enough to fit in the corner of your kitchen counter. They are available in a variety of different colours and sizes so they can blend in with your home décor, and they work fast. Most ice maker machines will have ice within 10 minutes. Depending on the capacity of the machine, it will take approximately 4 or 5 hours to fill up with ice. When the interior ice compartment is full, some ice maker machines will have auto turn off. Some portable ice makers will also store the ice they make, others will require you to remove the ice and put it in a freezer bag to store it.

How do ice makers work?

Built-in refrigerator ice makers connect to a water line and dispense ice from the fridge door, while fixed ice makers also require a water line hook-up and can be installed under a counter or are even freestanding. Portable ice makers, meanwhile, only require a power source. Add water to a reservoir and it pumps into a container.

Ice makers use freezing metal prongs filled with refrigerant to turn water into solid ice. A heat exchanger warms up the prongs, just enough for cubes to form. They drop into the bucket, and voila! Ice.

Fixed ice makers are designed to fit seamlessly in a kitchen, either flush with the counter (with matching paneling) or even beside the fridge. Most portable ice makers keep ice cubes frozen for up to 24 hours, while fixed ice makers keep larger amounts of ice cubes frozen for longer and generally work much more quickly.

Which ice maker is best?

If upgrading your refrigerator, finding one with a built-in ice maker can be useful for ice (and filtered water!) at your fingertips. With the right space, or in a home bar, a fixed ice maker installed at the water line makes sense.

Portable ice makers produce anywhere from 26 lbs. of ice (holding up to 1.5 lbs. at a time) up to 44 lbs. (holding up to 3.3 lbs. at a time) per day. For parties, go as big as possible. For occasional use on a boat, RV, or in the kitchen, something smaller would suffice. For permanent set up in a home bar, RV, or kitchen, find a finish that matches the décor.

Some ice makers produce different sized (or even shaped) cubes, crushed ice, and even water. For frozen cocktails, entertaining, or a basement bar, a fixed or portable ice maker that can produce more than just cubes, and quickly, may be best.

There are many brands who make ice maker machines including Insignia, KitchenAid, Frigidaire, Danby, and Costway. You’ll find that Insignia portable ice makers and Frigidaire nugget ice makers are the most popular and highest rated. They don’t use a lot of electricity, have easy to read screens, offer self-cleaning functions, and can make an average of 44 lbs of ice per day. They can store ice too, so you’ll always have small, chewable ice for drinks and keeping other foods cool.

What features should you look for in an ice maker?

Some ice makers are quicker than others. As noted, you'll get constantly flowing cubes with a fixed ice maker or one built into a fridge versus portable, which is designed for infrequent use or travel. Some portable ice makers can produce cubes as quickly as six minutes while others take up to 15. Some have a Max Mode to output ice at double the rate when you need it in a jiffy, like a party where drinks are flowing or to fill a cooler.

Many portable ice makers, though not all, come with a scoop so you can easily grab a few cubes to pop into a drink as needed. Self-cleaning models, meanwhile, make clean-up a breeze.

With fixed ice makers, especially ones built into a fridge or that also dispense water, you'll need to replace a filter a few times per year, which is worth factoring into the cost.