In order to explain ice maker operation, let’s run through some basic science principals.
- There a three basic states of matter – solid, liquid and gas.
- Water has a unique chemistry. It is the only substance found on earth to naturally exist in all three states at atmospheric pressure. Steam, water and ice.
- To change the state of a substance from a solid to a gas you need to add heat. (EG: ice to water to steam)
- To change the state of a substance from a gas to a solid you need to remove heat. (EG: steam to water to ice)
Ice machines are a heat transfer system, removing heat from water to produce ice. This absorbed heat is transferred to the surrounding air by the ice maker’s refrigerant. By reversing the cooling process they can melt the ice enough to drop it into a container ready for use.
Reduced ice production
When the water temperature entering the ice machine increases, more heat needs to be removed before ice can be produced. As removing heat takes time, this reduces the amount of ice that can be made in any given period. When the air temperature increases, the absorbed heat in the refrigerant cannot be rejected to the air as efficiently. As a result, this also reduces the amount of ice that can be made in any given period.
Ice production rates for ice machines are usually specified under ideal conditions per 24 hours for the surrounding air and the water supply temperatures. As described, if the temperature of the water or air increases, the efficiency (speed) of the ice machine decreases and the ice machine makes less ice.
How you can improve ice machine production
- Keep ice machine entering water temperature as low as possible. Use only a cold water supply line (preferably filtered). Ensure the water line does not run near any heat sources. Avoid running water lines through hot ceiling spaces or exterior building walls that could add heat from the sun. If practical, run the cold water supply line through a cool room to reduce the incoming water supply line temperature.
- Keep ice machine entering air temperature as low as possible. Install the ice machine under cover and in a well ventilated area. Reducing water and air temperatures will ensure maximum ice maker efficiency, ice production and profits.
- Have your ice machine regularly serviced by a trained professional. Keep the condenser clean (recommended clean monthly) and sanitize the ice machine internal components twice yearly. Regular maintenance of your ice maker will pay dividends through increased productivity and reduced breakdowns.