Put Sonic Nugget Ice In Your Kitchen, Check Out These Cool Ice Makers!
Anyone who enjoys a cold refreshing drink knows just how annoying it is to run out of ice. However, having to regularly buy bagged ice or use the old fashion slow ice trays is something many people would rather avoid. Enter stand-alone and portable sonic nugget ice makers; the relatively small machines which make ice cubes or nugget ice from water fed or poured into them.
Probably one of the most popular forms of ice is “Sonic ice”. This type of ice gets its name from the Sonic drive-in restaurant chain where this type of ice is readily available and has gained quite a significant following as well. Sonic ice is soft, cloudy, and easily chewable. Luckily, it is possible to make this type of ice right in the comfort of one’s home thanks to a number of under-the-counter and portable sonic nugget ice makers.
However, do realize that though ice makers make ice nuggets, they are not freezers and ultimately, do not keep the cubes frozen for long. Instead, the ice melts and flows back into the machine’s reservoir and makes the ice all over again. The process only stops when the machine is full of ice, empty of water, and obviously when the machine is off.
Why Opt For A Stand Alone or Portable Ice Maker?
There are several reasons why one should buy these ice makers. Foremost, they are small, which means that one can easily move them from one location to another as long as there is a power source. Their small size also makes them ideal for kitchens, RVs, boats, or households in which space is an issue. Indeed, the fact that one can simply place them on the counter has earned them the name “countertop ice makers.”
As noted, portable sonic nugget ice makers are ideal for people who regularly need to keep cool while on the go or while engaged in outdoor activities and events. This enhances the versatility of portable ice makers in that one can use them in a wide range of applications including camping, road trips, fishing, and even at the beach. However, these machines do require a power source.
While making ice on the traditional ice trays is a time-consuming task that often takes hours, portable nugget ice makers make ice in a matter of minutes. They are therefore ideal for use in environments in which there is a demand for a continuous supply of ice.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Ice Makers:
Countertop ice makers are in most cases quite affordable with most ranging between $100 and $300. On the flip side buying a stand-alone ice maker can cost you $1,000 to $3,000. One ought to consider the amount of money he/she is willing to spend and tailor the available options based on that budget. Most experts seem to agree that higher prices may signify higher quality, especially regarding production capacity and durability.
2. Size And Storage Capacity
Though they sound similar, size is a distinct feature from capacity. Portable ice makers are considered small particularly when compared to under-counter units or even the more traditional fridges. Nonetheless, they come in different variations of “small.”
Smaller portable ice makers are preferred for use in places where space is an issue such as in a boat or an RV. And large ice makers, on the other hand, are ideal for use in spaces where there is a high demand for ice; such as in an office or at an outdoor event.
Capacity refers to the amount of ice the machine can hold at any one time. One should take care not to buy an ice maker that is too small. Similarly, a large portable ice maker may hold more ice than needed and hence, waste energy and space.
3. Production Capacity And Speed
Production capacity simply refers to the amount of ice the ice maker can make in a day. It is important to get an ice maker that is capable of making enough ice for one’s needs. The whole point of getting a portable ice maker is to increase the convenience of getting ice. Speed is, therefore, a vital factor as it has a direct impact on how long people wait before getting an ice refill.
Portable ice makers are designed to provide a continuous supply of ice. To do this, the machine requires a constant supply of electricity. The huge workload impacts negatively on the durability of the machine. It is not uncommon for ice makers to develop issues after a short time of regular use. It is desirable to opt for ice-makers that have warranties or those that provide buyers with the option of buying a warranty.
5. Ease of Use And Extra Features
Although many portable ice makers are easy to use, some have better and more interactive features making them even simpler to use. Additionally, countertop features may include extra features such as intelligent water use (which saves water and saves energy), self-cleaning features, automatic timers, and even ice scoops. Some ice makers may also allow users to choose from different ice-sizes based on preference.
Top 4 “Sonic” Ice Makers
1. Scotsman Brilliance SCN60
Scotsman has built quite a strong reputation as one leading manufacturers of nugget ice; in fact, it is at Scotsman that the concept of nugget ice or chewable ice was first pioneered. Further, it is a well-known fact that they are the manufacturers of the ice machines used to make the much famed sonic ice. It comes as no surprise then that one of their machines, the Brilliance SCN60 model is undoubtedly the industry leader when it comes to making chewable ice.
Buyers have the option of choosing from 4 series of the Brilliance SCN60 model; the SCN60GA-1SU and the SCN60GA-1SS as well as the SCN60PA-1SU and the SCN60PA-1SS. These series are quite similar except for some distinct differences in drainage as well as in the finishing. More specifically, the first two series (GA-1SU and GA-1SS) use a gravity drain where the melted water flows down to a floor drain with the help of natural gravitational forces. On the other hand, the PA-1SU and the PA-1SS series come installed with a pump and are therefore ideal for use in high rise homes or where drainage is on a higher level such as a sink.
Several features make the Scotsman Brilliance model the perfect sonic ice maker;
- They are specifically designed and purposed to make the original nugget ice pioneered at Scotsman. This Sonic ice is perfect for use in smoothies, cocktails, and fruit juices.
- They produce 85 lbs of soft and chewable ice per day and have a storage capacity of 26 lbs. These make them perfect for use in places where there is a high demand for ice.
- Ice made in the Brilliance ice maker stays solid for longer due to the excellent insulation of the storage bin. As a matter of fact, ice may stay solid for several days.
- Series in the model feature LED lights in the bins as well as self-closing doors.
- Has an easy to use control panel.
- They are energy and water-efficient.
- Brilliance nugget ice machines are also usable in the outdoors as long as they are connected to a power source.
- It is impressively quiet.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this ice machine is the complexity of setting it up. In some cases, particularly when a floor drain is required, individuals may need to seek professional help. The second major drawback is the price which currently stands at approximately $3000.
2. Ice-O-Matic GEMU090
This is also an under counter ice machine. At 85 lbs of ice a day, its production capacity is similar to that of Brilliance Nugget machines. However, it has a slightly smaller storage capacity of 22 lbs. It is ideal for use in offices, bars, cafes, or suites due to its fairly large production capacity. Most importantly, however, it makes chewable ice which the company has dubbed “Pearl Ice”.
Some of the more impressive features of this sonic ice maker include;
- A sensor that automatically stops the ice-making process once the chest (storage bin) is full. The sensor also notes when the amount of ice in the storage bin falls too low and automatically restarts ice production.
- Pure Ice® Protection is a feature that ensures that the ice made in the machine is suitable for consumption. This built-in protection prevents the growth of fungi and bacteria on the interior surfaces of the machine. This also ensures that the ice is protected from developing an odor.
- The machine is usable even in the outdoors provided one connects it to a power source.
- Also, includes quiet operation.
The ice maker is also easy to use, easy to clean due to its stainless steel exterior, and has compact dimensions enabling it to fit right under the counter and in tight spaces. The only limiting factor about the GEMU090 sonic ice maker is definitely the price which stands at $2,500; cheaper than the Scotsman ice machine but relatively more expensive than other ice makers in the market.
3. Della Portable Ice Maker
The 2 prior mentioned ice machines share two common characteristics; they are both under the counter machines and secondly, they are significantly costly. Anyone looking for a more affordable sonic ice maker ought to seriously consider the Della portable ice maker.
Just like its name suggests, this is a small and compact ice maker that weighs just 21 pounds. The machine’s small and compact nature makes it ideal for use in small spaces such as in an RV or even for outdoor camping. Even at home, the machines will take up little space on the counter.
Despite its small and compact nature, the Della portable ice maker comes loaded with features such as;
- A production capacity of 26 pounds a day and a storage capacity of 1.5 pounds.
- A short operating cycle of just 6 minutes.
- Easy to use controls
- A see-through window to allow for easier monitoring of the ice-making process.
- A light indicates when the water reservoir is running low and even when the ice bucket is full.
Unfortunately, this ice maker does not make the high-quality chewable ice that the Scotsman and Ice-O-Matic make. Regardless, among portable ice makers, it sure does make some of the best nugget ice. There is also the issue of ice cubes developing a plastic-like taste when left in the tray for too long. The Della portable ice maker is available for less than $150 making it perfect for those individuals who are on a tight budget.
4. Avalon Bay AN-ICE26S
(Source: Avalon Bay)
Avalon Bay has built a reputation for itself as one of the leading brands in the ice maker industry and this portable sonic machine is one of its best sellers yet. It weighs just 20 pounds making it suitable for use in small spaces.
Bullet or nugget shaped ice is produced at least every 6 minutes with a complete batch taking only 15 minutes to make. It is also quite simple to use this machine as it comes with easy to push-button controls and features such as automatic overflow protection.
Best of all, this sonic ice maker has a feature that allows it to reuse melted water to make new ice nuggets. However, users can only choose between 2 sizes of ice nuggets. The machine costs approximately $139.
Top 8 “Portable” Ice Makers
If Sonic Ice is not a critical factor, consider some of these other portable ice makers that have taken the market by storm and it is no wonder there are numerous ice maker brands and models available in the market. The huge number of substitutes may intimidate or confuse some people especially if they are not familiar with the portable ice maker industry.
Below are 8 countertop ice makers definitely worth considering. The prices quoted are based on Amazon.
1. Gourmia GI110
This is one of the smallest and lightest countertop ice makers in the market. It weighs just 21.6 pounds and comes in a sleek design and an ivory finish. This makes it perfect for use in places where space is an issue such as small kitchens and in boats.
It is capable of producing 26 pounds of ice in a day and with every cycle taking approximately 10 minutes. It also has a relatively small storage capacity of just 2 pounds.
Despite the small size, this ice maker offers 3 different cube size options as well as a scoop, removable bucket, refill alarm and even an auto-start and stop feature. It has also earned a reputation for operating relatively more quietly than other ice makers. However, the best thing about this machine is that at $99.99, it is one of the most affordable portable ice makers on the market.
2. NewAir AI-100R
This portable ice maker weighs just over 24 pounds making it relatively bigger than other ice makers. It is capable of making at least 28 pounds of ice every day with a single batch taking 15 minutes to make.
For those who love bold colors, the NewAir AI-100R comes in bold finishes that include orange and red as well as classic finishes such as black and silver. The body of the ice maker is also well insulated meaning ice stays frozen for longer. Extra features include a scoop, a removable bin, and a full basket indicator to signal when the bin requires emptying. Users have the option of choosing from 3 different ice cube sizes.
Regardless of size, the machine makes soft and crunchy ice, making it perfect for those who enjoy the chewable ice. One downside of this machine is that it is sometimes noisy. It retails at $154.20.
3. Edgestar IP210SS1
Retailing from $139.00, this is yet another portable ice maker worth checking out. It comes in two variations; one a sleek stainless steel finish and the other with a silver finish. These classic finishes allow it to fit perfectly in any décor. The machine makes 28 pounds of ice cubes a day and has a storage capacity of 2 pounds.
One of the most impressive features of this ice maker, however, is the water reservoir which is capable of holding a gallon of water. This takes away the need to constantly refill the machine with water.
Speed is a major feature of this ice maker as it takes between 6 and 10 minutes to make a batch of ice cubes. On the downside, at 25 pounds, it is relatively heavier than most other ice makers in its category.
4. Koldfront Ultra Compact Portable Ice Maker
Koldfront is yet another brand that is quickly gaining reputation and market share within the ice maker market. It is easy to see why this is so with the Koldfront Ultra Compact Portable Icemaker which weighs just 20.3 pounds.
It has a production capacity of 26 pounds a day and has a storage capacity of 1.5 pounds both of which are relatively lower than those of similar ice makers in its category. However, it makes up for this with a good speed of fewer than 10 minutes. Users can choose between either small or large bullet-shaped ice cubes. It retails from $119.99.
5. Ivation IVA-ICE M25WH
This is downright one of the best portable ice makers in the market. A number of features set this machine apart from its competitors. Firstly, it features the latest compressor refrigeration technology which facilitates efficient ice-making.
As a matter of fact, a batch of ice is made in just 6 minutes. This makes it one of the fastest ice-makers for the home. Daily production capacity stands at a maximum of 26.5 pounds. Even when the ice melts, the water is not wasted and is instead recycled for the next batch.
This countertop ice maker also has a storage capacity of 2.2 pounds and a water storage capacity of 2.8 liters both of which are way higher than many other portable ice makers. It also features a number of smart alerts including one for when the bucket is full and even when an ice-making session is on standby. The clear LCD display, intuitive icons, and easy0push buttons also make it quite easy to operate. However, all this comes at a relatively higher price of up to $160.54.
6. NutriChef PICEM62
With a production capacity of up to 33 pounds of ice a day, this is exactly the type of portable ice maker needed for use in places where demand for ice is high. The production capacity is especially impressive given the fact that it is quite small and weighs just 20.4 pounds. This makes it the perfect machine to use during parties or in large households.
This particular ice maker has also gained a reputation for bringing about the convenience of speed while at the same time, operating relatively more quietly than other ice makers. To enhance its use for outdoor events around the house, this ice maker features a power cord measuring 5.9 feet.
Extra features include a self-cleaning function, front panel LCD display with button controls, and also indicators for an empty bucket or a full tray. The biggest con of this product is its price which at $179.99, is relatively high.
7. Igloo ICE 103
This countertop portable ice maker has a stainless steel finish which makes it a perfect fit in modern kitchens. It has a production capacity of 26 pounds and offers users a chance to choose from 3 different sizes of ice cubes. Additionally, a single batch of ice takes at least 6 minutes.
The machine has a storage capacity of 2.2 pounds. These features make it ideal for use in small families, boats, and small events among others. While the ice maker is quite easy to use, it lacks certain features such as automatic overflow protection and self-cleaning features. It sells at $116.70.
8. Mr. Freeze MIM-18 Maxi-Matic With Lid
The last portable ice maker on this list retails for $110.34 and weighs 22.6 pounds. The production capacity is at 26 pounds a day with each batch producing 9 ice cubes. It is ideal for use in small homes as well as for “on the go” purposes such as a road trip.
It is definitely one of the easiest portable ice makers to use thanks to its push-button controls and indicator lights. It also has a clear viewing window which enhances the ability of the user to monitor it. Extra features include an ice bucket and ice shovel.