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Shopping for a Countertop Portable Ice Maker?
You’ve come to the right place.
Do You Need a Countertop Ice Maker?
Not everyone should consider buying a countertop ice maker.
For example, if your current fridge makes enough ice of the right type for your needs, there’s no reason to consider buying another one.
That said, there are many reasons you might want to.
Your Refrigerator Doesn’t Make Enough Ice – Or the Wrong Kind
If your refrigerator ice maker doesn’t make enough ice or makes the wrong type of ice for your favorite drinks, then a specialized countertop ice maker is a sensible purchase – it is also compact and does not take up much of your valuable counter space.
You Host Parties
Nobody likes to rush to a store to buy ice in the middle of a party.
With the right capacity countertop ice maker, you will never run out of ice.
Countertop portable ice makers are available in a wide range of capacities, so it is easy to find one that will meet your needs.
You can also move one outside, if needed.
So whether you are hosting a large dinner party or a casual gathering, a portable ice maker can really come in handy.
You Need Ice On a Trip
No matter how much ice you bring with you on a trip, it melts over time.
But with the right portable ice maker, you can make ice wherever you go. All you need is clean water and an electrical outlet.
Some portable ice makers can work off an inverter, too. So they are a perfect solution for an RV or campsite with a good 12V power supply handy.
What’s In This Buying Guide
Countertop ice makers come in wide range of sizes, capacities, ice types and prices.
This buying guide will help you find the right model for your unique situation, budget and needs.
First, we list our top picks for a variety of common situations & needs. Then we compare our top picks in a table, followed by a brief review of each.
Following the reviews we walk you through the key features and issues you should consider when selecting a countertop ice maker.
Then we answer a few of the most commonly asked questions about countertop ice machines.
I hope this guide helps you find just the right ice maker for your home or business. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below.
Best Countertop Ice Makers
- Best Overall: GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
- Runner Up: NewAir Portable Ice Maker 28 lb Capacity
- Best High Output Countertop Ice Maker: NewAir Portable Ice Maker 50 lb Capacity
- Best Budget Countertop Ice Maker: Igloo Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine
- Best Value: Magic Chef 27-Lb. Portable Countertop Ice Maker
- Best for Large Parties: IKICH Portable Ice Maker Machine for Countertop
Disclaimer: All links below go to Amazon.com
|Countertop Ice Makers||Best For||Ice Making Capacity||Ice Storing Capacity||Ice Cube Shape||Ice Cube Size||Self-cleaning||Drip Tray||Ice Scoop|
|GE Profile Opal ||Best overall||24 pounds per day||3 pounds||Nugget Ice||Small|
|NewAir 28lb||Runner Up||28 pounds||Not specified||Bullet Shaped Ice Cubes||Small|
|NewAir 50lb||Best High Output||50 pounds||Not Specified||Bullet Shaped Ice Cubes||Small|
|Igloo Portable Electric||Best Budget||26 pounds||125 pounds||Bullet Shaped Ice Cubes||Small|
|Magic Chef 27-Lb.||Best Value||27 pounds||1.5 pounds||Bullet Shaped Ice Cubes||Small|
|IKICH||Best for Parties||26 pounds ||Not Specified||Bullet Shaped Ice Cubes||Small|
1. Best Overall: GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
This is our top pick for the best countertop portable ice maker. It is a top-rated machine with lots of convenient features.
It has a solid ice-making capacity of 24 pounds per day, which means it can deliver about a pound of ice every hour.
It features a side tank to hold water. Both the ice bin and water tank are transparent, so you can see when they are running low.
This ice machine can produce fresh nugget ice in three different sizes. Nugget ice cubes are soft and chewable and work well for both boozy and frozen/blended drinks.
This GE Opal sonic ice machine comes with an ice scoop for easy handling and holds three pounds of ice in its storage bin, which is insulated to keep ice frozen. Although the stored ice won’t melt quickly, the unit will drain the cold water and recycle it to make more ice when it does.
The Opal ice machine has a built-in sensor that tells you when the ice level is low and it’s time to make more.
The GE Opal is equipped with Bluetooth technology, so you can control & monitor it using your smartphone. Just download the app to create an ice-making schedule. Then, use your smartphone to monitor its performance and adjust when needed.
The only downside is that the GE Profile Opal is not cheap and not exactly small; but its features, excellent ice quality and durable build more than justify its price.
2. Runner Up: NewAir Portable Ice Maker 28 lb Capacity
If you want lot of fresh ice fast, this unit has your back. It can produce a batch of fresh ice in six minutes. Each batch consists of nine to ten pieces of bullet-shaped ice cubes ready to cool your drink. You can choose between three sizes of ice cubes depending upon your drink.
The device not only makes ice but also stores it until you are ready to use it. It features an insulated ice storage bin that stores the ice for longer.
While it is not refrigerated, the insulation around the bin does not let the ice melt quickly.
However, melting is inevitable, so when it does happen, the cold water drains back towards the water reservoir, where it is reused to make more ice.
It is a compact device that comes in a beautiful black and silver finish. It goes well with any kitchen decor and does not take up too much valuable counter space.
Moreover, it is easy to use, portable, and consistent in its performance. Yet, it does not have a self-cleaning mode, so you’ll need to empty and clean it traditionally.
3. Best High Output Countertop Ice Maker: NewAir Portable Ice Maker 50 lb Capacity
Looking for an ice maker with a high output? Say hello to this NewAir Portable Ice Maker that can make up to 50 pounds of ice every day.
It features a sleek and stylish design that is actually quite compact. Measuring 14.25 x 16.88 x 16.75 inches, it sits nicely on any countertop without looking out of place.
In addition to having a high ice output, this device is fast in its functioning. It can produce a new batch of ice within seven to fifteen minutes. Each batch consists of 12 bullet-shaped pieces.
It also offers a choice between small, medium, and large-sized bullets. This way, you can select the size that is better for your drink.
The device is pretty easy to use. It features two indicator lights for bucket full and empty water reservoir, taking all the guesswork out of the picture.
The self-cleaning feature makes it easy to clean, while the included ice scoop makes it easy to lift the ice. It is further installed with a safety automatic shutoff feature.
A sensor detects when the water tank is empty and turns it off automatically. It also has an overflow protection feature that allows it to collect excess water and drain it back to the tank.
Its ice bin is insulated to preserve ice, but you can also remove it for easier emptying. The water that drips when the ice melts is also recycled back to the tank to make more ice.
4. Best Budget Countertop Ice Maker: Igloo Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine
Being on a tight budget does not mean that you have to compromise on features or quality. Say hello to Igloo Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine, a high-quality and feature-rich ice-making machine that won’t be a burden on your budget.
This unit can make a fresh batch of ice in just seven minutes. It produces bullet-shaped ice cubes in small and large sizes so you can decide whichever you want.
Plus, it has a decent ice-making capacity of 26 pounds and can hold up to 1.25 pounds of ice in the storage at any given time.
The most distinguishing feature of this ice maker is its carry handle that adds to its portability. This stylishly compact device ensures that all your drinks remain cold regardless of wherever you are.
You can easily take it with you on camping trips, picnics, outdoors, or even on an RV.
An anesthetic feature is its viewing window located on the top of the machine. Through this window, you can see the machine make ice.
It also has an automatic self-cleaning function based on five cycles that makes clean-up easy and ensures that you get clean ice every time.
5. Best Value: Magic Chef 27-Lb. Portable Countertop Ice Maker
Countertop space is the number one consideration for most people planning to buy a new appliance. For such buyers, the Magic Chef 27-Lb. Portable Countertop Ice Maker is the perfect choice because of its compact size.
This Magic Chef unit measures 14.1 inches deep, 12.9 inches high, and 9.5 inches wide, so it won’t take up much space on a kitchen counter.
This is one of the fastest ice making machines on our list – it can make a new batch in as little as seven minutes.
Now, most ice makers in this price range produce only one size of ice, but the Magic Chef makes bullet-shaped ice cubes in small and large sizes.
With nine pieces in every batch, it can produce up to 27 pounds of ice per day. The ice storage bin boasts a large capacity of 1.5 pounds.
While it is sufficiently insulated to keep ice frozen, any water that drips down is not wasted. Instead, the machine uses it to make more ice.
This model comes with a side drain to run excess moisture into your sink, if desired.
6. Best for Parties: IKICH Portable Ice Maker Machine
Refrigerators with automatic ice makers are expensive. While they may meet ice demands in normal circumstances, they cannot keep up when you are throwing a party.
Party hosts looking for a traditional bullet ice cube maker should definitely consider the IKICH Portable Ice Maker Machine. It boasts high-output in a very compact design measuring 8.7 x 12.3 x 12.6 inches with a sleek silver finish.
This unit features a simple control panel located on the top of the unit. It’s super-easy to operate. All you do is put water in its reservoir and press the button. The machine will automatically fill the ice cube trays with water and freeze them to make ice.
Once the ice cubes are ready, it stores them inside an insulated storage bin.
The IKICH can produce up to 26 pounds of ice per day. You can also choose between small and large sizes of bullet-shaped ice cubes.
This ice maker is very quiet, too. With a noise level of just 45dB, it can produce nine pieces of ice every six minutes.
This ice maker also comes with an ice scoop and a removable ice cube basket for added convenience.
The noiseless operation means it won’t ruin the atmosphere with its mechanical sounds. Meanwhile, the high-density polyurethane foam layer insulates it to preserve the ice cubes for a longer period of time.
The machine is really simple to use and easy to maintain, too.
Although this IKICH countertop ice maker does not have a self-cleaning mode, cleaning it is a breeze thanks to the convenient drain plug. Simply empty it by removing the plug and dry it with a soft towel.
A great-looking, simple ice maker for anyone who loves to host a party.
Countertop Ice Maker Buying Guide
Portable ice makers are a great way to get clean, refreshing ice whenever you want. They are very simple devices that work with the touch of a button and produce solid ice within minutes.
Countertop ice makers have steadily become more popular over the years as prices have come down and reliability has improved (markedly).
Today, the market is brimming with a diverse range of units, each boasting unique features.
That’s why choosing the best one for yourself can be a difficult task. You have to understand what you need in order to find it.
That’s why we have compiled the following comprehensive buying guide to help you understand the most important features and issues to consider when making a choice.
Ice Producing Capacity
Countertop/portable ice makers have different ice-producing capacities, typically ranging from 20 pounds to 56 pounds per day.
Knowing your maximum ice making requirement is critical to making the right choice.
In general, a pound of ice will serve 2 to 6 people depending on the type of drink involved. Frozen/blended drinks require a lot more ice, so fewer servings. Tall cocktails require less than that. Short highballs and straight liquor even less.
Just like their capacity, the type of ice that countertop ice makers produce also varies.
The different shapes they can make include cube, nugget, half-cube, bullet, crescent, and gourmet.
A unit that can make ice in different shapes is a better choice because it gives you a variety to choose from. But these are uncommon in a portable/countertop format and typically cost twice as much.
Some countertop ice makers are capable of producing ice in different sizes. Usually you can choose between small, medium, and large-sized ice pieces.
While this is not a standard feature of all ice makers, most modern units manufactured these days offer it.
With this feature, you can get ice in any size you want.
Larger ice is best for cocktails, while smaller ice is better for tall soft drinks, lemonade and iced tea.
Like all other kitchen appliances, ice makers come in a variety of styles and finishes. This choice becomes more complicated as each manufacturer has its own range.
You will come across modern finishes such as black, metal, while stainless steel, and sometimes bold statement colors like red or purple.
It’s best to consider your kitchen decor before finalizing your purchase.
Your may also want your portable ice maker to match the finish of other appliances in your kitchen or bar.
Although many countertop ice makers use insulated storage bins, the insulation is not as good as a traditional freezer or even an ice chest. Most bins cannot maintain freezing temperature, and once the ice transfers to the storage compartment it starts to soften and become water as time passes.
However, some units have better insulation than others, so they can preserve ice for longer periods of time.
This is why we think ice-making capacity (pounds per hour) is a better way to buy an ice maker than how large the bin is.
Many ice makers today are equipped with an automatic timer function.
Using it you can set the ice production to start and end at a specific time.
Some units also boast a self-cleaning feature; they can clean the water themselves to produce crystal clear and crunchy ice.
Energy Star certification
Because they rely on electric motors that run for long periods of time, ice makers can add to your energy bill.
To avoid am undue burden, look for a model that is Energy Star Certified.
Energy Star rated ice makers consume less energy and lower your energy bill.
What is a countertop ice maker and how does it work?
A countertop ice maker is a small electric appliance that produces a steady supply of ice throughout the day.
It works just like a built-in ice maker installed in a modern refrigerator, but is portable.
Because a countertop portable ice maker does not need a permanent water line, you can use it anywhere as long as you have access to an electric outlet. You can use it in a kitchen, garage, in a camp, or on a picnic.
Portable ice makers come with built-in ice cube trays and a water reservoir. All you need to do is fill the water reservoir with clean, preferably filtered water.
With a press of a button, the device will fill the trays with water and cool them to make ice.
Once the ice is frozen, the ice maker will empty the trays into the storage bin where you can take the ice out.
The entire process of freezing to dropping ice typically take 5 to 20 minutes. Once the trays are empty, the machine fills them again, and the cycle continues.
Every countertop portable ice maker has a specific ice production capacity denoted in the pounds of ice it can produce within a 24-hour time frame.
The average capacity of countertop ice makers is about 35 pounds, with smaller units producing about 20 pounds of ice and higher capacity ones making up to 56 pounds of ice per day.
Why buy a countertop ice maker?
More ice is always better.
OK, so you already knew that. But consider the other advantages of a countertop portable ice maker for your home, bar or business:
They are compact and portable
Most portable/countertop ice makers manufactured these days are very compact.
In addition, the lack of a permanent water line makes them very portable.
This combination means you can easily take one anywhere with you: on a camping trip, a road trip, an RV vacation, an outdoor dinner, picnics, tailgating events, or even on a boat (with an inverter).
They are really easy to use
Unlike ice trays that you have to fill and empty regularly, ice makers are super convenient and easy to use.
Forget about filling trays; all you have to do is fill its water reservoir, and the machine will do the rest.
With the press of a button, it will fill the tray with water, freeze it, and empty it for you. It will also store the ice for you when you are ready to use it.
They don’t create a mess
A countertop ice maker is a fully automatic machine that produces clear and crunchy ice within minutes. You don’t have to fill the ice cube trays; simply fill its water reservoir, and the machine will do the rest itself.
They produce ice in unique shapes and multiple sizes
Many portable ice makers are capable of making ice in various shapes and sizes.
While the main purpose remains the same, different-shaped ice cubes make drinking a better experience, even if you are drinking plain water.
Different sizes ice sizes is important when you’re serving both cocktails with mixed drink makers and drinks that should not be watered down – and for smoothies and margaritas.
What to look for in a countertop ice maker
Countertop ice makers are ideal for every household, big or small. They produce a steady amount of ice during the day, so you can enjoy a cool drink whenever you want.
However, the range of models is vast, so you have to be very careful about what you choose. Below we have listed some factors to look out for.
Just like everything else, ice makers are also available in varying price ranges. This makes it easy for everyone to purchase them, even those who operate on strict budgets.
At lower prices, you will get some basic models that simply get the job done. But as the price increases, so do the features.
However, even the most feature-rich unit is not the right choice for you if it is out of your budget. It’s best to look for the best machine that falls within your budget.
Freezing water to make ice is a difficult task. Any machine that isn’t thoughtfully designed for this job is likely to develop problems within a short period of usage.
Furthermore, even with the best ice makers, there’s no surety that once you have bought one, you will be able to use it for a decade or more. They don’t have such a long lifespan.
But with proper use and maintenance, you can enjoy a few years of service. It’s best to look for a durable model that will deliver years, if not decades, of ice-making service.
While ice makers are not as insulated as a freezer, they can preserve ice for some time. But if you don’t take the ice out of the machine’s storage bin, it will ultimately melt and convert into water.
What happens to this water is an important consideration in any ice maker. Some models recycle it back into their water reservoir and use it for making ice again, while others don’t.
Be mindful of this fact and choose a unit that can recycle this water to the reservoir to make ice again. Without this feature, the cold water left after the ice has melted will be wasted.
Ease of usage
Ice makers, on the whole, are pretty easy to use. They don’t require setup or assembly, come with easy instructions, and start working with the press of a button.
However, some models have slightly easier to use controls than others. They boast features such as self-cleaning, timer function, a machine-full sign, and an ice scoop to take out the ice.
Some even offer a choice between different shapes and sizes of ice cubes. Be on the lookout for these features and try to get as many as possible.
Pros and cons of using a countertop ice maker
As the name suggests, countertop ice makers are meant to be used on top of a counter. While you may think of them as a smaller version of a regular freezer, they most certainly are not. They are small, portable devices that can make ice in a variety of indoor and outdoor conditions.
Yes, they have lots of advantages, but they also have their shortcomings. Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of a countertop ice maker:
While the name may suggest that it is suitable for countertops only, a countertop ice maker is quite portable.
You can use it in various situations, from regular household usage to picnics and parties, and carry it with you to a festival or a park. All it needs is a steady power supply.
Connect it with an available outlet or use an adapter to hook up with your car’s battery, and it will promptly start producing ice.
In contrast with under-counter ice makers, countertop ice makers are very compact in size. They usually have a small footprint and don’t take up too much space.
This means you can easily store yours anywhere in the apartment, home, or business for regular or occasional use.
They are great for use in unconventional living spaces like an RV or a boat. Having one of these eliminates last-minute dashes to the stores and the space-occupying stocks of ice inside your freezer.
The best thing about countertop ice makers is that they don’t require a permanent water line or drain to function.
You don’t need to hire a plumber to set it up. Simply plug it in an electrical outlet, pour some clean water in its water reservoir, and turn it on to start ice production.
Unlike a full-sized freezer, portable ice makers don’t have a high output. The average ice production capacity of different ice makers is about 35 pounds per day.
This may be enough for regular household usage and even for a small gathering of people, but when the gathering is big, the device won’t be able or provide enough ice.
When you use one of these machines for a gathering, you have to be careful to keep its water reservoir full, or you won’t get any ice.
Since they operate without a water line, they need water after every freezing cycle to make more ice, so you have to constantly refill them for more ice.
Cleaning and Maintenance of a countertop ice maker
Just like all the different appliances around your home, ice makers also need regular care and maintenance to keep them in good condition.
Since they are simple machines, their cleaning and maintenance are not difficult as well.
In fact, some units are equipped with an automated cleaning system to help make the cleaning process a breeze. Here’s how you can clean your countertop ice maker:
- Gather your supplies for cleaning the machine. Get a good nickel-free ice machine cleaner and a soft rag for wiping.
- Turn off the device and unplug it from the power source.
- Empty both the ice storage compartment and leftover water in the reservoir.
- Check the instructions to know about the removable parts.
- Remove all the removable parts, scrub them with the cleaner, and rinse to clean.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe the entire machine and all the parts.
- Replace all the components and let the machine air-dry.
- Plug it in, fill it with water, and turn it on.
- When the first batch is ready, throw it away as a precaution.
- If your unit has an automated cleaning system, you will need to turn it on. Check your user manual for directions about your specific model.
You should clean the device once every three to six months, or if you notice that the ice has a strong taste, melts faster, and is smaller in size.
If you use it with a filter, be sure to change the filter every three to six months or with every cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you leave a countertop ice maker running all the time?
Yes, you can leave a countertop ice maker running all the time. It functions much like a fridge or a refrigerator and will cycle on and off as it needs to keep the ice frozen or to make new ice.
When it gets full, the sensor stops making ice. But if you don’t take it out soon, the ice will gradually melt and be recycled into the water reservoir.
Is it possible to fill an ice maker manually?
Ice makers generally use a pressurized source to fill their ice cube trays. The entire system is fitted inside the machine, so it is difficult to access the trays as is. But if you do manage somehow, we think it won’t work out very well.
How can I close an ice maker water line?
If your ice maker is having leakage or frozen line problems, you should consider closing off its water line for maintenance purposes.
To do so, you need to shut off the water supply valve usually provided on the back of the appliance. Gently pull it out of its home and follow the water line to the valve behind the machine. Turn it off to cut the water supply to the ice maker.
How often is it necessary to empty the ice maker?
According to the FDA regulations, ice is handled and stored like any other food item. So it is stressed that you empty, clean, and sanitize your ice maker two to four times a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. If that’s too much, you should at least empty it once every six months.
Final Verdict: What is the best countertop ice maker and why?
Out of the units reviewed here, the GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker is our top pick for its simple usage, excellent quality ice and easy cleaning. It’s also got a great warranty and is built exceptionally well.
The NewAir Portable Ice Maker is a close second, mainly for its outstanding 50lb per day output. It’s the best choice for a large family that loves to entertain.
Meanwhile, the Igloo Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine is a great choice for its portability. Perfect for your RV or boat.