What You Should Know Before Buying a Portable Ice Maker in 2021

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This past summer, I was so excited to enjoy the warmer weather.

I’m a big fan of the summer heat; I love sitting back with a nice cold beverage on my favorite chair. Life doesn’t get much better than this!

I wish that I had a built-in ice maker in my fridge, but I don’t. Instead of whining about it, I decided to take the plunge and purchase a portable ice maker for my home.

If you’re like me, you probably have some questions before you follow suit and get your very own portable ice maker. I decided to take some time and answer the top 10 questions or concerns with purchasing an ice maker. If you have a question, not answered in this post, you can always add it to the comments below.

What is a Portable (Countertop) Ice Maker?

A portable ice maker is a small appliance that sits on your countertop and makes ice, compared to one installed inside the freezer of your fridge. It’s normally small and compact and can easily be moved if need be.

Portable ice makers are common for those that go RVing or camping and don’t want to buy bags of ice regularly.

It’s also popular for those that do not have that fridge ice maker and still want to have ice for their home. 

I use to purchase big bags of ice and store them in my freezer. Having an ice maker that will make ice when you need it, is so much better. 

Do Portable Ice Makers Work Well?

I came into this purchase with a lot of scepticism. You’re always wondering if it’s a good investment or are you just wasting the money.

Do portable ice makers actually work or will it be another appliance on my countertop that I never use?

Portable ice makers work well. They do what they are supposed to do and that is make ice. Portable ice makers are not freezers. Most people will purchase a countertop ice maker and when the ice melts, they return it because it doesn’t work.

Enjoying the summer weather with ice is great. I love having a portable ice maker.

Most portable ice makers don’t have a built-in compressor designed to freeze the ice while its in the bin. They use an insulated bucket to keep the ice frozen as long as possible. 

I purchased the ice maker and set it up.

I filled it with water and turned it on. It worked great. It produces about 48lbs of ice every day, and with the insulated bucket, the ice will typically be there if I need it.

How Do Portable Ice Makers Work?

Portable Ice makers have a brilliant design that allows it to cycle the water, so you’re never wasting.

Waste not, want not – right?

Water is pumped into a small tray where small cylinder tubes of freon are surrounded by water. Ice begins to form around these cylinders until after about seven minutes you have bullet shaped ice.

After the formed ice is complete, it drops into a bucket and pushed into the main basket.

When the ice melts it goes back into the main water reservoir where it’s use to make more ice.

There is no draining and no wasting. 

Do Portable Ice Makers Use A lot of Electricity?

Most countertop ice makers use about 120 watts of power.

Let’s say that you run the ice maker for 8.33 hours; it will consume 1 unit of electricity (1Unit=1kW.hr).

Depending on how much you pay for a 1kW hour of electricity, it’s not a lot.

It’s very affordable to own a portable countertop ice maker, and if you’re not using it, then you should unplug it anyway. What’s the point of running the ice maker all day if you have no intention of using the ice.

How Do You Clean a Portable Ice Maker?

It’s amazing how dirty an ice maker can get. I have owned an ice maker for many years, and I find that just running it for several weeks will leave it grimy.

It’s best to give it a cleaning every couple of weeks to ensure that it’s running correctly and protect it from future damage.

Cleaning an ice maker is pretty straightforward, and it only takes about 5 minutes.

Take a damp rag, and gently wash down the inside of the ice maker. If your ice maker is bulky and hard to handle you may need to scoop the water out so that you don’t make a mess.

You can use a portable ice maker cleaning solution, and mix it with the water during the cycle or two cups of white vinegar will also do the trick.

Why Should You Buy A Portable Ice Maker? Questions Answered.

We do this to descaling our ice maker. You want to make sure that there is no build up of calcium caused by hard water.

To make a natural cleaning spray for your ice maker, you can mix two cups of white vinegar, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and one cup of water in a spray bottle and shake it around.

Use this solution to wash down your ice maker and get rid of any musty smells that may be lingering from usage. This is a perfect way to deodorize your ice maker as well.

That’s it. It’s not difficult to clean an ice maker, but those couple of minutes could protect your ice maker from damage down the road.

If you would like more information on how to clean your ice maker, you can click here to read a more thorough article.

Are Portable Ice Makers Worth Buying?

I believe so.

Again, I have owned a portable ice maker for several years and love it. I bring it upstairs in the summer and use it almost every day, and then bring it downstairs in the basement during the colder months, and still end up using it a lot.

It’s perfect for hosting special functions like birthday parties, family gatherings and so on.

The option to have ice on demand is fantastic.

Usually, I’ll fill a bowl with ice and have it available for those who want to scoop some into their drink. Most people wish to add ice in their drink, and so it adds a certain luxury to the event.

Who Sells Portable Ice Makers?

Oh, Wow! That’s a great question.

You can find a countertop ice maker in most larger box stores. If you go to the small appliance section, there should be a wide variety of options.

I purchased my ice maker on Amazon for an excellent price.

Amazon made it easier for me to compare and find the ice maker that was best for me.

What’s the best ice maker?

Finding the best ice maker is based on what you are looking to use your ice maker for.

If you would like more help on buying that perfect ice maker, you can check out our buyers guide here.

If you are looking for an ice maker for camping, then you’ll want a smaller unit.

If you want an ice maker for hosting large gatherings, then you’ll want an ice maker that has a large tray and water reservoir.

All of these characteristics are important as well as the price.

Will A Portable Ice Maker Keep Ice Frozen?

This is a question I get a lot and a question that’s hard to answer.

The answer is yes and no.

Most portable ice machines uses an insulated bucket to keep the ice frozen. Though this is not perfect and after a while, the ice will melt, it does do an excellent job to prolong the cycle of ice.

There are some ice makers like the MRP US Portable Ice Maker that uses cooling technology to keep the ice from melting for a good price. Most ice makers with compressors are for commercial use and end up costing you well over $500.

Though you could use a commercial machine if you wanted to, I would suggest that you purchase a home unit that has the insulated bin.

A nice home unit. 

Should I Purchase a Cheap Ice Maker?

No.

I would stay clear of extremely cheap ice makers. You usually get what you pay for, and you don’t want to waste your money.

My first ice maker was a cheap one, and it only lasted one summer. Buying a dud turned me off from using portable ice makers until I finally broke down and bought another one from Amazon.

This ice maker is fantastic, and I have never had a problem with it. It’s a larger unit, so it produces more ice and a lot faster. It did cost more money, but it’s still working great!

Just be careful about buying units for almost nothing. They will probably give you trouble early and you’ll end up wasting your money.

Another reason I like Amazon is that you can read the reviews and make sure that people are not having issues with the machine before you buy.

I hope that this answered some of those lingering questions about portable ice makers.

You can read my full comprehensive buyers guide here.

Buying an ice maker is a great investment. I think you’ll enjoy having an abundance of ice available to you.

How Quickly Do Portable Ice Makers Produce Ice?

Every portable ice maker produces ice at different rates. Some units can make ice in less than 6 minutes, where other machines can take 10-15 mins to make ice.

Before you purchase a portable ice maker, make sure that you read its features to see how long it takes to create ice.

How Small are Portable Ice Makers?

Normally, portable ice makers are small enough to fit on your countertop. These units are designed to be carried from one location to another.

There are certain units that are much heavier and bulkier in size. It’s very important to read the features and determine which type of unit you will need before you buy. If you are looking for an ice maker to carry with you camping or an ice maker for your boat or RV, then the small the unit the better.

Larger units will produce more ice, but are extremely difficult to move around.

What is the Difference Between Ice Production Capacity and Ice Storage Capacity?

Before you purchase an ice maker, make sure you determine how much ice you are going to need each day. Each ice maker produces a certain amount of of ice as its overall capacity. Most portable ice makers will produce anywhere from 24-28 lbs of ice each day, though some can produce up to 50 lbs of ice in a single day.

The amount of ice that it can store at one time, before the storage full indicator light comes on is another important feature that you should know about the ice maker that you’re going to purchase.

For example, the hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker found on Amazon can produce 26 lbs of ice every 24 hours, but will only store 1.5 lbs of ice at one time. This means that if you leave the ice maker running all day, it’s going to turn off when the ice bucket is full.

My opinion is the larger the ice storage and capacity the more ice you’ll have available to you.

Do I Need a Drain Line for my Portable Ice Maker?

Portable ice makers do not need a drain line because the excess water from the melted ice drips back into the water reservoir to make more ice.

In fact, portable ice makers do not need water lines or drain lines. The unit is completely portable and can be set up anywhere there is a power near.

What Type of Ice do Portable Ice Makers Produce?

Most portable ice makers produce ice that is shaped like a cap or a bullet. Often this type of ice is called bullet-shaped ice. This type of ice is kinda hard and cloudy in color.

There is one portable ice maker that produces nugget ice and this unit is called the Opal Nugget Ice Maker. This is the only truly portable ice maker that makes REAL nugget or sonic ice.

You really do have to be careful because some portable ice makers claim that they produce nugget ice but they do not.

If you would like a complete list of the different type of ice, please click here.

Can Portable Ice Makers Be Used Outside?

Absolutely. Just make sure that you put your unit inside each night so that it doesn’t get wet. It’s also important not to use the unit in the direct sunlight or all the ice inside can melt before you get to enjoy it.

I hope that we answered all your questions about portable ice makers. If you would like to purchase your very own for your home, then I would suggest you choose one of our top picks.

Check here to check out our top portable ice makers on the market today.

Ice Maker Geeks are ice enthusiasts that review ice-making appliances, research ice-related topics, and do their best to help you make an informed decision before you make a purchase. Over the years of running this website, they have learned a lot and are excited to share that knowledge with you. The article you just read is just a small sample of the work that they have been doing over the last several years.

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