What Size Ice Maker Do I Need?

If you’re wondering what size ice machine you need, you’re not alone. The amount of ice usage is different for every industry. Here you can find a few general guidelines regarding typical ice needs in specific industries. This will help you gauge equipment size and output for your commercial ice machine. Easy Ice makes it easy to answer the question “What size ice machine do I need?”

The table shows you an approximate amount of ice you’ll need for each industry.  Keep in mind, this is a average calculation and your specific ice usage needs may vary.  

Our ice usage estimator chart is a good baseline as your search for the ice machine model that’s best for your business.


But while an ice machine is one of the most important purchases in your kitchen, it's also one of the costliest. Picking the right ice machine for your business is important to get right the first time, because hopefully it'll be several years before you're shopping for one again.

SIZING Ice Machine

Once you have an idea of the type of ice you need for your business, then you can start examining your volume. For example, a restaurant can estimate needing around 1.8 pounds per person, and multiply that by a 100 customers and you're looking at around 180 pounds of ice required for service. Sizing an ice machine appropriately for your business is important--too small and you won't have enough ice for service. Some may tell you to upsize your bin for the purpose of storing ice and being prepared for busier service hours, but consider this--leftover and wasted ice may slowly melt in the bin, contributing to bacteria and mold growth (not to mention wasted water).

When it comes to sizing your ice machine, also consider the unit's physical size. You'd hate to purchase the perfect ice machine, only to find out it won't fit in the location you've selected. Ensuring you have enough space for a machine, bin, filter, and adequate air flow clearances is crucial to the longevity of your machine. Not only that, consider where the placement of the machine will affect employee traffic flow.


If you have the space for it, consider picking up an ice machine and bin combination unit. These units come in a variety of capacities so you're sure to find just the right size for your business. Keep in mind that the unit you select also makes the ice type you're after (full cube, half cube, or flakes). The right ice machine and bin combination should fit perfectly into your back line without taking up much space.


When space is at a premium, look to an undercounter ice machine designed to fit beneath counters or where height restrictions prohibit the use of larger equipment. Due to their size you can expect a lower yield in ice production, with most machines topping out at about 350 pounds per day.


Modular ice machines give you the greatest flexibility because they enable you to select the bin and head unit separately. Typically modular units are available in cube, flake and nugget ice types so you can easily find the best ice for your business. You may also see modular ice machines sitting atop a soda dispenser, as these units range from a minimum of 250 pounds per day to as much as 1,000 or more pounds per day.

Part of keeping your ice machine in working order for the long haul (at least 10 years) is following the proper cleaning and maintenance schedule. Typically your ice machine should be cleaned and sanitized once every 6 months to prevent (and remove) the presence of scale, slime or mold. Failure to adhere to a regular cleaning schedule can cause scale buildup to occur on evaporator plates, impeding heat transfer and resulting in costly repairs; not to mention that you're putting customers at risk for not practicing proper food safety procedures.

Consult your ice machine manual for specific cleaning instructions and power switch locations since those tend to vary from machine to machine.


It all starts with the quality of the water flowing into your machine. Water naturally contains several minerals (like calcium) and other contaminants that will slowly build in the tubing and around the heating elements of your machine. Water filters are relatively inexpensive units made up of a simple screen with many microscopic holes which are designed to capture these contaminants. They also feature a scale inhibiter which helps protect the working parts in the machine from these contaminants. Most importantly, the water filter will make your ice look clear, smell better and taste great.