Is a dedicated ice maker worth the space?

ILoveRedJune 12, 2014

And if you have one, do you still have one in your refrigerator?

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I think it would depend how much ice you use and how much space you have. It wouldn't be worth it to me, regardless, I just don't use enough ice.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:13PM
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It depends on your use.

I have a friend who has a dedicated refrigerator just for drinks. Lots of drinks and variety of drinks. It's good when I go to his house and have many choices, but when I go back home to my fridge, I'm OK with the limited choices of cold drinks that I have also.

I have a fridge that will chop up ice and give it to you when you press a button, so that means it also has some kind of reservoir to hold ice. That amount of ice is sufficient for my use, as it will also get refilled within hours before it is fully used up, but I could see that if it is a fridge without the icemaker, then all one has is maybe 2-4 trays of ice.

I would say that if i had a dedicated ice maker, I would probably stop that one in the current fridge and be able to put small items or baggies of food to freeze in place of using the reservoir for ice. Nothing too heavy but still stuff that needs to be frozen.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:19PM
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i think it's def recommended b/c a dedicated ice machine produces far superior ice to what comes from the freezer.

standard freezer ice is cloudy and often takes on the smell of what's in the freezer, or at the very least, the refrigerant odor. the off flavor impacts what you're drinking, and is most noticeable when you're drinking plain water.

ice made from a machine is clear, and tastes like nothing at all (which is what you want) and it constantly being replenished due to melt off, which is what produces new fresh ice.

i have an undercounter ice machine, and i absolutely love it. of course it's great for entertaniing, but it's also wonderful to have fresh, clear, restaurant quality ice for everyday use as well.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:42PM
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You can see why you need to decide for yourself - I simply couldn't care less about the "downsides" of refrigerator ice that gtadross mentioned.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:52PM
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Yes, yes and yes. We don't use our fridge icemaker at all. We have small groups over all the time and it's so nice not to have to worry about bagged ice. I just love the size and quality of it.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 3:24PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

We use our fridge ice maker constantly, and I wish it made big cubes like our last one. The other fridge is in the garage and we use it for overflow freezing and stuff like that, but we do not need the icemaker in that one, and it's not hooked up. We definitely love the one in our Kitchen Aid fridge.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 3:28PM
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what sjhockeyfan said.

it depends on what is important to you.

if i had the space, i would use it for extra cabinet before i would buy a separate ice machine.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 4:31PM
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Sophie Wheeler

It's a HUGE energy hog, as ice makers just make ice, they aren't freezers that keep ice. The ice melts and, and your money goes down the drain with the melted ice. You could buy a lot of bagged ice for the price that they cost.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 9:03PM
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If there is a "refrigerant odor" in your freezer you have bigger issues than yucky ice.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 10:30PM
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We entertain quite a bit and have a 25 ft. professional quality bar in our basement so we really debated on getting an ice maker. At the end of the day we really could not justify the $3500 we would have spent on it. At the end of the day that buys a LOT of bags of ice to make it worth it. Although, if money were no object we would have one. You have to decide what is worth it to you.. we have a built in coffee maker and yes you can buy a lot of cups of coffee for what we spent on it, but to us it is worth it!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:22PM
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I couldn't find this thread. Thank you so, so much for the great info. I had no idea they were so expensive. I was just thinking of the space they take up.

I really like the idea of having really good ice at the ready. But I don't know if it's worth it or not. But at least I know a little more about the subject and enough to do more research.

Holly, you know everything. No freezing capacity. It never occurred to me that ice is constantly thawing and being re-made. So, then I assume these appliances have to have a drain as well.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 9:08PM
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A drain will be necessary as the old ice is melted away and replenished by new ice. But that's (one of the reasons) why the ice tastes so good. It's always fresh and never gets a chance to pick up off odors. The other reason is that an ice machine makes ice by running water over a condenser plate, which freezes water, layer by layer, until the condenser plate is full and the ice falls out into the bin. This keeps the impurities from freezing and is why the ice is crystal clear, just like an icicle.

I've had one in my house for the last two years and I haven't noticed any significant increases in energy or water bills. It uses about 5 gallons of water per day (or the equivalent of three high-efficiency toilet flushes or one old school toilet flush). And bc the unit doesn't use electricity to keep the bin cold, the electricity usage is minimal.

This post was edited by gtadross on Fri, Jun 13, 14 at 23:29

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:26PM
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Gtadross--Is there any way you can control the amount of ice that is made in a day or is that a constant? What brand did you choose? Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 12:39PM
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There is a whole market segment for appliances that were designed to be retrofitted into the space that a trash compactor fit in. The two I've seen most are narrow wine coolers, and the ice makers. When you look at them from the point of view of "what can we fill an 18" appliance space with?" they make a lot of sense.

I use quite a bit of ice, and looked into getting one, but they're loud, messy (you do need to dump and clean them, and the access can be awkward), and inefficient. I realized I could have the same effect by buying an occasional bag of ice and keeping my well insulated OXO ice bucket full. It seems to keep the ice as well as any cooler chest. Turns out my freezer has a big drawer that I can dump its ice into, and it's good ice, so I can use its maximum output. That being the case, I only buy ice when there is going to be a lot of company. I must have spent $30 in the last four years! At that point, I'll have a Scottsman paid off in...nope. Not in my lifetime.

OTOH, a friend's husband is an ice freak and has a commercial ice machine in the garage...

If you're particular about a particular shape or clarity, a free standing unit might be the thing for you. The ice maker is also the most delicate part of any fridge, and most likely to need repair.

Some ice machines make ice by spraying layers of water, rather than filling. I think this is meant to get rid of the air bubbles that make ice opaque.

If you're looking for a budget or space item to trim, this would definitely be a good candidate. If you're looking for a fun splurge, this might also be a good candidate. Or you could compromise and get a portable unit, which is cheap, but you have to add the water manually. :)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 3:10PM
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Hey red

On mine, I can't control the level of ice made, unless I turn off the unit completely. Maybe on others you can, but my Uline CLR2160, it's not an option. It makes ice commensurate to the rate of melting so that the bin is filled with fresh, new ice.

Also mine isn't very loud at all. It's in my kitchen which is in an open floor plan to the living room. If it were loud, it would interfere with the tv or conversation, but it's hardly noticeable.

As to maintenance of it, every 6 months or so, I dump all the ice out, sanitize the bin with a weak bleach solution, rinse it out with hot water and run a cleanser through the condenser plate. Takes about an hour.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 3:35PM
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I bought a small one to set on my counter top, but when I read the cleaning details I returned it to the store. To much cleaning and my freezer makes plenty. It was just one of the silly things I do once in awhile.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 8:11PM
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The idea appealed to me when we were planning out kitchen, but space was an issue and I couldn't justify the cost of the ice maker, putting a hole in my slab foundation for a drain or having a machine running all the time for what would be mostly occasional use. Instead I gave up another 6 inches and put in a second DW. ;)

We have a space for a fridge or freezer in the utility room, but it never had an ice maker connection. We had an old refrigerator in there with an ice maker that hadn't worked for a very long time. When the energy/economy rebates were offered, we updated the fridge and tapped in an ice maker connection. That has worked for us, especially when we had two kids in marching band at the same time (they each filled a gallon jug with ice, then water everyday for practice and games) and lots of family gatherings and parties. We rarely have to buy ice.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 1:04AM
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I like the idea of a dedicated ice machine, and toyed with it for our on-going remodel, but we just do not have the space.
OTOH, we do appreciate nice ice cubes, and have found very little information about refrigerators that make particularly good ice. Do any of you have any leads on that?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:10AM
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Unfortunately, all fridge made ice is made the same way- by having water fill preset molds, then freezing, and dumping in a bin for use either through a machine or by scoping by hand.

So all the ice in these machines comes out cloudy, and if not used frequently, comes out tasting stale. Also they absorb the refrigerant smell, which is constantly being used by the freezer to keep itself cold.

I'd love to see a fridge incorporate clear ice technology in their units, even if it's on a much smaller scale. But so far, no manufacturer has attempted it.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:00AM
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I would never fork out the money for one but have often had them in upscale vacation homes I've rented. Never yet had one that worked properly. Lots of noise and dripping. Maybe they were old or abused, but I get the feeling under counter ice makers are, in general, an under-engineered appliance. YMMV, of course.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:01AM
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I can't thank you enough for all of the great information provided by all of you. If anyone else has more to add please do so..especially brands, etc.

I was honestly leaning towards not putting one in our new house after reading all of this. I had dh read all of this and he still wants to put one in. He is adamant. So we shall see.... We don't even have our construction drawings completed yet so we have some time. But thank you!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:29PM
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Re refrigerators, I'm pretty sensitive and have never noticed refrigerant smells with ice cubes in SubZero or Miele. They also don't get fridge odors because there are separate works. The ice will, of course, evaporate over time, and it is usually cloudy from air bubbles.

SubZero has (had? I haven't checked the new ones in a number of years) long, narrow crescent shaped ice. I was never that fond of the shape, but it has lots of surface area, which is what you need to make your drink colder, faster. My Miele all freezer has pillbug shaped ice. That is, it's shorter and fatter than the SubZero. It does take noticeably longer to chill a drink, and I sometimes leave the glass of ice sit for a minute or two before pouring, for a faster overall chill. The pillbugs are a nicer feel in the glass, however, and fit in the mouth better. :) They're also nicer on booboos. :)

Perhaps, a compromise if you're okay with the shape and clarity, but want to have fewer odors, would be to get a fridge with dual compressors and evaporators. There are a few that are well below the Miele/SZ price range. I can't attest to the refrigerant part, but I'm sure others here who own the units would be able to.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Your hubby is like me. I was adamant about having one and my wife was completely against it. But now, she's like that's the best decision we made from a kitchen perspective. The only downside is she said that ice water at anyone else's house just don't measure up.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 5:44PM
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Pillog..we have a SZ now and the cubes are big and are good. The main reason he (we) wanted the ice maker is because we are putting in a dedicated Beverage Center area with a filtered water sink, place to make drinks, coffee etc. He really wants ice there. Your post intrigued me for another reason. You mentioned Miele All Freezer. Right now I have my big SZ in my kitchen and a freezer in my garage. When you mentioned All Freezer...My thoughts turned to maybe using an All frig since I would not need ice and putting an All Freezer in my Pantry. Sooo, did you use an All Frig as well? And if so do you like it? Do you think I would be wise to consider this configuration? thanks.

Gtadross...thanks. Yes he wants ice in the beverage center. Pick your battles. I think I will make the maintenance of this appliance his job. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:51PM
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My icemaker cost nowhere near $3500. I have a 15" undercabinet KA and it was around $1500. Not cheap but certainly not $3500. And no it doesn't keep the ice frozen but I've never had a problem with the ice melting, even when sitting overnight.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 11:39PM
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Okpokesfan makes a good point. Ice, in my insulated ice bucket (standard bar size) lasts for hours and that's without an insulated top, and with people digging in it.

The reason I went back to the fridges is that was your original question, Red_Lover. If you're changing out your SZ for a new fridge, you might definitely think about an all fridge. I have my fridge and freezer right next to each other. I went with Miele 30" because I couldn't fit SZ 36", and the 27" were too small. I love having a big freezer in the kitchen (pantry would do). I have my old GE manual defrost with freezer coil shelves in the garage for things like spaghetti sauce, stock, etc., that I make in big batches, and I have fridge drawers in my prep area, which makes up for the lost 6" in the fridge. :) (I do sometimes feed mobs...)

This group has worked out very well. Unless you do a ton of ice bath work, I'd think that having the ice maker in the beverage station, if it's not too far from the kitchen proper, wouldn't be a big issue. Or you can make it your husband's job to fill them up for you as a price of agreeing to the ice maker. In that case, there would be no reason to have a secondary ice maker. It's good to have some ice trays around for freezing stock and lemon juice and stuff like that, so if the ice maker were on the fritz, you could still make a few cubes to tide you over.

I don't know about SZ, but Miele comes with a water filter for the ice. It has to be changed about twice a year, and it's expensive. :) Since you're already paying for a water filter system, having your separate ice maker running off that certain means you don't need another ice maker in the kitchen.

With the all fridge and all freezer, it's really not much different than having an SZ, because you're running two separate cooling systems. It's just that it's in two separate boxes. I like the layout of mine, which is similar to Thermador (Miele make their own interiors and electronics, but buy the boxes from BSH). In the fridge there are two drawers at the bottom with separate temperature controls. I use the bottom one for meat (and often eggs, and a few other things when I run out of room. The next up is for produce. There's also a deli drawer for flat packages. I like that the door shelves are narrow. I liked the old SZ configuration with the fruit basket drawer under the middle shelf, but when I was looking the all fridge didn't have that, I think.

If you're considering separate units, do go to a big showroom and see all the models you can. I hated the Thermador but love the Miele, and they're not really all that different! I loved the SZ over/under, but wasn't wild about the straight all fridge and all freezer. They were fine, but before I realized I couldn't get those and my stemware cabinets, I was looking into getting the fruit basket shelf as an extra. I liked the ones with the exterior drawers, but making the 36" fridge and 27" freezer work together, would have meant the full overlay kit, and that stops the door at 90°, which is way too inconvenient for me. I didn't allow that in my full overlay cupboards either. I was so excited when I found the Miele, which I liked, and which fit! Really look over the options and think about how you live, and you'll figure out what you need.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 3:06AM
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>> i think it's def recommended b/c a dedicated ice machine
>> produces far superior ice to what comes from the freezer.
>> standard freezer ice is cloudy and often takes on the smell
>> of what's in the freezer, or at the very least, the refrigerant odor.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 3:16AM
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The Kitchen Aid 15" ice maker is now $2600. The Sub-Zero is $3640. I was looking at the SZ since my fridge and beverage center are both SZ's. And the $1000 savings to go to a Kitchen Aid isn't huge when already at this price point.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:43AM
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Have you considered Perlick? They make great products and have a few ice makers on their factory seconds page. I just picked up an outdoor fridge that was regularly $3500 for $2000, has a dent on the outside that will be hidden once installed and a shorter warranty, but a great deal.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:55AM
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Dedicated ice makers require lots of maintenance and cleaning or they develop off-flavor ice.

If they break, they are NOT cheap to fix because they are a "commercial" appliance.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:59AM
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You might do some more research on models. I seem to remember hearing that SZ was a rebadged Scotsman. At the time, Scotsman were the best regarded, I think. Though, from what Lazygardens says, perhaps it's best to buy SubZero if only for the service and warranty! OTOH, comparing the $2100 model Scotsman to the over $3000 model, I'd go for the more expensive one...

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:08PM
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This thread makes me laugh - because I have no idea what shape ice my freezer makes. I'd probably notice if it were crescent shaped, because I don't like crescent-shaped ice - doesn't fit most glasses well.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Sjhockeyfan - LOL! #firstworldproblems

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:00PM
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When I first joined this forum, more than six years ago, it was a hot topic of discussion, pursued in many threads. I was blown away. I was so excited to get my first automatic icemaker since my childhood home, it never occurred to me that people cared that much about shape and clarity. I think a lot of the people who do are guys. But I don't think my father's scotch on the rocks all these years has tasted any different than it would have with clear, square ice. I know the diet coke sure doesn't! But I do like my pillbugs because they're more comfortable against the lips than the longer, sharper crescents. ;)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:12PM
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Ok--thank you. Your comment is helpful.

Pillog--lots of information to digest...thanks for taking so much time to spell it all out for me. Clipping for future reference. I do like the idea of all frig and all freezer. My little SZ freezer won't hold much and dh wants my deep freeze out of the garage. I do not want it in the basement, so this is a real option. Not too many showrooms around here with the appliances we are talking about (none!). But....I am going to seriously consider this option. Never thought about freezing stock or lemon juice in trays. Think I could learn from you. Great ideas.

Cold weather---such a cynic ;-)

Realhwnj--I agree.

Saeydoc--I remember beekeeperswife got hers from this site. Thanks for reminding me.

Shockley--I know. First world problems.

Pillog--maybe it means more to dh than to me because he is the one that is always having to run out for the last minute forgotten bags of ice. And he does like his Black Russians.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 10:33AM
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My two cents .... again. If you're gonna put the icemaker I'm the basement, don't even bother. First, drainage will be more difficult as a pump will be required. And second, and more importantly, you guys won't use it that much if you had to run downstairs every time you wanted ice. At first, you probably would bc of the novelty, but after a few months, it'll get very little use at all.

I have mine in my kitchen by the bar area where I have my filtered water. So we always use it. In fact, my wife says it's the ONE appliance (aside from the fridge) we use more than any other bc we don't always cook every night or run the dishwasher etc.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:02PM
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There are a few threads on this topic on these forums. Here is one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ice machines

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 9:24PM
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I learned to make stock and lemon juice cubes from my mother, but I think she learned it from a magazine or TV a few decades ago. It's one of those tricks that gets passed around, but probably not mentioned much in cookbooks. You could do the same thing with any fresh liquid you want to use in small quantities.

The trick is to let them get good and set. Most anything with more stuff in it than water will take longer to freeze. Give it a good week to set up properly. Then pop the cubes out and seal in a food saver or zipper bag. The more air you can get out the less oxidation you'll get. That's really the point of not leaving it in trays. Even the ones with the covers allow for evaporation and oxidation. The cubes last pretty well even in zipper sandwich bags.

Considering the price of the appliances you're looking at, you might find out where the nearest showrooms that do have them on the floor are to you, and arrange for a trip to go see. At the same time, do find out who in your area does the repair work for the brands you're looking at. Perhaps interview them first. Sometimes something shakes loose in shipping or has a faulty part that doesn't show a problem before installation, and you need a repair right away. That's part of the point of the standard one year warranty. It costs them masses less to have you test it in situ and over time, than to try to run each unit through complete diagnostics before shipping--and they can't run them after.

Bit of unasked for advice: If you get the freezer in the pantry, put the old one in the basement. ;) You don't have to plug it in if you don't need it, but, for instance, you could bag up (not in garbage bags because they're not food safe) and freeze ice from your ice machine for an outdoor party, store big batches like I do, and other kinds of overflow.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:49PM
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We were going to put an ice maker in the bar, but that has gotten delayed and relocated to a different spot than originally planned. I still would like to get one. I have a GE ice maker at work that does a great job and may not be as expensive as some of the other brands.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 2:27PM
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