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If you own a business in the food and beverage service industry, having a commercial ice machine is crucial to keep your business running every day. Whether you’re buying your first commercial ice machine for your new business, or replacing an older machine, you’ll find yourself looking to buy a commercial ice machine in Colorado at some point. But before making this big purchase, you need to consider a few important factors to ensure that you choose the ice machine that best fits the needs of your business.

Here are seven factors to consider before buying a commercial ice machine for your food and beverage business:

Type of commercial ice machine 

You have a variety of options when deciding on the type of commercial machine you will need for your business. There may be several terms for ice machines that you may encounter when doing research, but in general, there are only 2 main types of ice machines you should know, namely modular ice machines and self-contained ice machines.

Modular Ice Machines

A modular unit is also sometimes called an “ice machine head”. This type of commercial ice machine only produces ice. You will need to purchase an additional dispenser or storage bin that you can install or attach to the unit. The good thing is, you can easily replace the dispenser or bin to accommodate the amount of ice you use daily. This is convenient if you’re planning to scale up your businesses because you’ll end up needing more ice every day as your business grows.

Modular units come in different sizes but they are generally large machines that produce about 45 to 3,000 lbs of ice on a daily basis. This type of ice machine is a great choice for industries that use large quantities of ice regularly, such as hotels, large restaurants or bars, and hospitals.

Self-Contained Machines

Self-contained ice machines produce and store ice without the need for additional machines. They come with a built-in bin. There are several types of self-contained ice machines, including the “countertop machine” that you can put on top of a counter, or the under-counter machine that fits underneath a counter space for your convenience.

Self-contained machines are generally smaller than modular units and can produce only about 60 – 300 lbs of ice daily. If you don’t need large quantities of ice daily or have storage constraints, this type of commercial ice machine is your best option. A self-contained ice machine is perfect to sustain the ice needs of small restaurants and bars, as well as daycare centers and churches.

New or used commercial ice machine

When deciding which commercial ice machine to buy in Colorado, you can also choose from a new or used ice machine. The upfront benefit of buying a used commercial ice machine is that you will save money. However, you should also know that ice machines are used almost every day, so they withstand a lot of wear and tear. Buying a used machine puts you at risk of needing to pay for repairs, maintenance, and cleaning out of your pocket since it’s highly likely that the warranty has already expired. In the end, it may cost more to pay for these services than you would have spent on buying a new commercial ice machine.

Before buying a used commercial ice machine, make sure that you see the unit in person before purchasing it so you can inspect it for any possible damage. Inspect the ice machine parts for excessive wear and tear, and whether the condenser coils are bent or corroded. 

In addition, ask the ice machine dealer whether they can provide you with a history of the machine so you will have an idea of its previous owner, location, and the different maintenance services it went through. 

Your daily ice usage

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One of your top considerations when choosing which commercial ice machine to buy should be the amount of ice you need daily. Commercial ice machines can produce anywhere from 300-600 lbs. to up to 3,000 lbs. daily. But as with most businesses, there’s a tendency for your daily needs to fluctuate. Still, you should make sure that your ice machine can supply your needs for the busiest days of your business. If you know you need large quantities of ice on certain days, don’t buy a small machine with a low production rate just because you want to save money. Ice shortage on a busy day could result in unhappy and unsatisfied customers. Plan for your business’ growth and find a commercial ice machine that can produce more than your current needs. 

Below is a guideline that can help you determine the amount of ice you need daily per 100 drinks of different cup sizes:

  • 7-10oz cups – 40 lbs.
  • 12-16oz cups – 60 lbs. 
  • 18-24 oz cups – 90 lbs.

The type of ice you need

Another thing to consider when choosing an ice machine for your business in Colorado is the type of ice that you need. There are different types of ice and different types of ice machines that produce them. If you know what type of ice your business needs, it will increase your profits. Here are the different types of ice you should know about:

Shaved (Flake)

Shaved ice can cool down items quickly because of its large surface area. However, this type of ice melts quickly. Shaved ice is best used for cooling produce, seafood, meat, cocktails, as well as for hospitals, and nursing homes. 

Nugget (Pearl, cubelet, sonic ice)

This type of lightweight shaved ice prevents drinks from foaming, so they are best for carbonated drinks, cocktails, or salad bars.

Half cube

Half-cube ice takes longer to melt than shaved ice. It can keep drinks cool for a long period. It is best used in mixed drinks, carbonated beverages, and ice dispensers.

Full cube

Is very easy to make, and also melts slowly. They are good for banquets, mixed drinks, or ice dispensers. 


These “premium” cubes melt slowly and are best used in weddings and banquets, high-end restaurants and bars, and at waiter stations. 

The kind of condenser you need

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After deciding on the type of commercial ice machine and ice that you will need for your business, the next step is to think about the kind of condenser that you will need. The condenser is like your machine’s engine, which is responsible for producing the ice. There are three types of condensers, namely:


This type of condenser is the most common and the most cost-effective. In the US, about 70% of all commercial ice machines use an air-cooled condenser. These units release hot air to keep the ice at the ideal temperature, so make sure that all sides of the ice machine are empty spaces so that the air can escape safely. These units should not be exposed to environments of more than 70-90 degrees to prevent malfunction. An air-cooled condenser can also create too much noise for some commercial environments.


Water-cooled condensers do not need extra space around the unit because they use water instead of air to keep the unit cold. They are also less noisy. This type of condenser is best for environments that are 80 degrees or hotter and requires a constant water supply.


Remote cooling condensers also use air to keep the unit cold. However, the condenser is separate from the machine. They are usually installed on the roof, wall, or ceiling. This type of condenser costs more than air-cooled condensers, but also produces less noise. 

The right size for your space

Before purchasing a commercial ice machine in Colorado, make sure that the unit you want to buy will fit well in the space you designated for it. Consider the exterior components, namely the ventilation fans, water filters, hoses, and ice bins when measuring the area. If you choose a machine with an air-cooled condenser, you will need about 6 inches of space around it to allow the safe release of hot air. 

Make sure the designated area has the electrical and plumbing requirements needed to run the machine, and that they meet the local codes in Colorado.

Maintenance, cleaning, and repairs

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The maintenance and repairs of your ice machine should be part of your budget when buying a commercial ice machine. As mentioned earlier, a used machine will require more upkeep than a new machine. Before buying the commercial ice machine, ask the dealer about the machine’s maintenance history, warranty, and the price for part replacements. They should also be able to tell you how often the unit may need to be serviced, as well as how much you need to pay for those services. 

Commercial ice machine selection and servicing in Colorado

These seven factors can help you select the best commercial ice machine for your business or establishment. Shop our full selection of high-quality commercial ice machines at Mountain Sales and Service, or contact us today at 303-289-5558 or 800-847-2557 to discuss your options.