Ice Machine Battle Royale: 3 Best-Selling Undercounters Go Head-to-Head

Undercounter comparison blog image

Shopping for an ice machine can be a difficult task, especially when you can’t just walk into any old brick-and-mortar store and compare each one up close and in person. We took three of the most popular undercounter ice machines and did the comparing for you, so you can make the best possible buying decision from the comfort of your living room.

Neo undercounter ice maker

Manitowoc NEO UY-0140A

Prima's Opinion: A great choice for ease-of-use, performance, and flexibility.

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Manitowoc’s NEO line is a relatively new contender on the ice machine scene. Despite the success of their Q series, Manitowoc set out to produce a machine that performed even better--an "overachieving undercounter." Improvements in performance, ergonomics, and intelligence are just a few hallmarks of the NEO’s design. They’ve also increased energy efficiency and cleanability for a low-cost, hassle-free ice machine experience.

There’s a lot to love about the 140 lbs. per day UY-0140A, but a few standout innovations quickly won our affections. The NEO’s front controls are insanely handy, featuring pictorial icons and buttons for power, production delay, and cleaning mode. There are also indicators to let you know when the bin is full or the machine needs maintenance. No reaching, straining, or craning your neck to reach the controls on this guy.

We also found maintenance on the NEO to be incredibly simple. Key components that need to be routinely cleaned or replaced, like the water trough and air filter, are easily accessed without any tools at all. This includes the refrigeration components as well. Need some work done on your machine? The entire bin slides forward for quick, safe access to the machine’s inner workings. That means lower service costs and lower chance of damage to your machine. There’s no shortage of "easy" with the NEO UY-0140A.

“No reaching, straining, or craning your neck to reach the controls on this guy.”

Other notable features include a high capacity bin, an ergonomic scoop which prevents skin contact with ice, and internal components infused with AlphaSan antimicrobial agents to inhibit bacterial growth.

If we could change one thing about the NEO, it would be the decreased harvest rate in hotter environments. The UY-0140A slows up to 30% when the heat is really turned up. Fortunately, the large 90 lbs. storage bin helps to offset that loss in productivity.

Ice-O-Matic undercounter ice machine

Ice-O-Matic ICEU150HA

Prima's Opinion: With a high production rate, this is an attractive option for owners/operators who need more ice in grueling environments.

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Ice-O-Matic’s ICEU150HA has become a favorite undercounter ice machine in recent years. At 185 lbs. of ice per day, this tough little machine has the highest production capacity of our three comparison models. Even in extreme temperature conditions, its 130 lbs. harvest rate is very good for a machine this size. If you’re running a fast-paced business and need a lot of ice, this may be the undercounter for you.

Ice-O-Matic offers a unique warranty option on the ICEU150HA. If you buy an Ice-O-Matic water filter for your ice machine and change it every six months, the manufacturer backs the machine’s evaporator with a 7 year parts and labor warranty. We highly recommend keeping your water line filtered regardless of which machine you buy, so the warranty extension is a huge benefit, in our opinion.

“If you’re running a fast-paced business and need a lot of ice, this may be the undercounter for you.”

A number of other design features solidify the ICEU150HA as a good buying choice. An antimicrobial agent called AgION prevents slime and bacteria. Its ice harvest assist overcomes scaling and ensures that all of the produced ice falls into the bin. Also, the machine’s oversized condenser eliminates the need for an air filter. Lastly, sea salt corrosion protection makes this a great choice for coastal regions. These attentions to detail reduce the need for your attention to the machine.

Our one complaint about this undercounter is its low bin capacity. While it has the highest harvest rate of the three models, the ICEU150HA has the lowest bin capacity at 70 lbs. Still, this is a high-performing, reliable machine that will do well in almost any environment.

Hoshizaki undercounter ice maker

Hoshizaki KM-151BAH

Prima's Opinion: A solid option for owners who value energy efficiency and long-term reliability

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Hoshizaki is a trusted player in the ice game. Their machines have a reputation for long lasting and high-performing quality, and the KM-151BAH is no different. Producing up to 146 lbs. of Hoshizaki’s signature crescent shaped ice cubes per day, this machine is a solid undercounter for any bar, cafe, or restaurant.

One of the most notable benefits of the KM-151BAH is Hoshizaki’s CycleSaver Design. Rather than producing smaller amounts of ice in more rapid cycles, the KM series takes about 30 minutes per cycle and produces more ice each time. That means it produces the same amount of ice in one cycle as a traditional design would produce in 3 or 4 cycles. This reduces the amount of wear on the evaporator and condenser and prolongs the life of the machine.

The KM-151BAH also wins by a landslide in lowest water usage. At a mere 17.8 gallons per 100 pounds of ice, the KM beats our two other comparison models by approximately 30%. While all three units are Energy Star rated, the Hoshizaki earns the title of "Most Energy Efficient Ice Machine" on our list. When you’re shopping for equipment for your business, the energy bill is a factor you can’t ignore. In that arena, we give the KM-151BAH two thumbs up.

“While all three units are Energy Star rated, the Hoshizaki earns the title of 'Most Energy Efficient Ice Machine' on our list.”

Part of Hoshizaki’s enduring success is due to the quality of their machines’ components. They use stainless steel for the chassis and the evaporator, which reduces wear and tear and the chance of traditional nickel plating flaking off. Their EverCheck alert system gives visual and auditory warnings in case the machine does need maintenance.

Our only major gripe with the KM-151BAH is with its accessibility and ergonomics. With a completely vertical sliding door, it’s a little more difficult to get to the ice than the other two models we compared. While this certainly isn’t a deal-breaker, you might be getting a little more exercise scooping ice out of the Hoshizaki.

The Final Meltdown

So, who’s the victor in this battle royale? We think they’re all great ice machines, so we’ll leave that decision up to you. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll have to decide which one best fits your needs. No matter which one you choose, you can pour yourself a drink and toast your victory in buying one of the best-selling ice machines on the market.

Spec Comparison
Manufacturer Manitowoc Ice-O-Matic Hoshizaki
Model UY-0140A ICEU150HA KM-151BAH
Production per day 140 lbs 185 lbs 146 lbs
Storage 90 lbs 70 lbs 78 lbs
Width 26" 24 1/2" 23 3/4"
Height 38 1/2" 39" 39"
Depth 28" 26 1/4" 28"

Photo credit: claustral via Compfight cc

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