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Do I Need a Water Cooled Ice Machine?

Do I Need a Water Cooled Ice Machine?

If you are looking to purchase a commercial ice machine, one of the first things to consider is if you will need it to be water or air cooled.. If you understand the operating requirements and environment for both water and air cooled ice machines, you will be able to make a more informed decision.

How Water Cooled Ice Machines Work
As the name suggests, a water cooled ice machine does not utilize a condensing fan to cool the ice machine components. Instead, it cools the components by circulating water through the machine which pulls away the heat. This heated water is then dumped out the secondary drain of the machine. This means water cooled commercial ice machines actually can use up to 20x the amount of water that an air cooled machines will use. They utilize water to make the ice and also for cooling purposes. This would explain why many cities across the United States have banned these single-pass water cooled systems.

Are Water Cooled Commercial Ice Machines Useful?
Let me first start off by describing the more popular air-cooled ice machines. Air cooled ice machines require proper ventilation and air temperature below 90 degrees F to operate properly. The condensing fan pulls air into the machine and this air passes over the components and draws heat away from the machine blowing this heated air into the room that they are located. Without proper venitiation, this heated air will raise the temperature in the room so the air in the room will no longer be as effective in cooling the machine causing the machine to work harder or produce less ice. There are also remote air cooled models where the condensing unit is placed outside where the hot air is discharged.. Remote units are great options, but are more expensive to purchase and install and you will also need access to your roof to install the remote condenser which limits many people.

Water cooled ice machines are ideal for locations where ambient temperatures are more than 90 degrees F or areas with limited or no airflow. These machines are excellent options for hot climates, such as those in the Caribbean. Water cooled ice machines also are ideal for basements, hot kitchens, closets and enclosed spaces with limited or no air circulation. If your commercial kitchen is packed with appliances and you don’t have adequate space for an air cooled ice machine or the kitchen temperature is hot enough, your better option is purchasing a water cooled ice machine. You will not be limited to its placement (other than water and power access) and can place it between other equipment or in an inconspicuous corner or closet without worries.

Pros and Cons of Water Cooled Ice Machine


  • Can work efficiently in hot environments
  • No restriction on placement of machine
  • Quiet operation
  • Does not emit hot air


  • Installation is a bit more involved compared to air cooled commercial ice machine
  • Excessive water use – No Energy Star
  • Can be expensive to operate due water consumption

This should be enough information to help you decide whether a water cooled ice machine is right for you. If you have any further questions, you can speak with one of our professional at icemachineclearance.com.

By Daniel Hirsch

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