How Much Ice Do I Need?

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A couple of weeks ago we talked about the best type of ice for your business. Hopefully from that blog you were able to determine which type of ice best suited your situation. This week we shift our focus onto determining how much ice you will need and whether you should purchase an undercounter or a modular ice machine. For reference, we'll be following this flow chart.

Ice Consumption Map

Ice Consumption

Believe it or not, the amount of ice required varies depending on the type of business you’re operating. Here are some general estimates per day:

  • Restaurants — 1.7 lbs per guest
  • Fast Food — 0.9 lbs per guest
  • Cocktail Lounge — 3 lbs per guest
  • Health Care — 7 lbs per room + 2 lbs per employee
  • Hotels — 3 lbs per room, more if guests are allowed to fill their own buckets

Taking this information, you can get a basic idea of how much ice you’ll need per day. Of course, there will be times when you need more or need less, so take this into consideration as well. Also, think about the increased demands if you’re business continues to grow. You don’t want to be prepared just for the demands of today; you also want to be prepared for the demands of tomorrow. Check out this calculator to determine exactly how much ice you're going to need.


Undercounter vs. Modular

Ice machines come in two different styles: undercounter and modular. Undercounter ice machines produce and store the ice all in one unit. They are are generally smaller and don’t occupy that much space in a restaurant. However, since they are smaller, undercounter ice machines don’t have a large output or storage capacity. Compared to undercounter units, modular units are capable of producing great amounts of ice. Furthermore, they can be paired with many different size bins to allow a great degree of customization.

Undercounter Map

The Right One for You

Now that you know approximately how much ice you use per day and the difference between undercounter and modular units, you can determine the best type of ice machine to suit your needs. If you use less than 300 lbs of ice per day, you can go with either an undercounter or a modular ice machine. An undercounter unit would work best for restaurants using a consistent amount of ice in a standard business day. On the other hand, a modular unit would work best for restaurants with sporadic traffic in which more ice is consumed. If you consume more than 300 lbs of ice per day, then you need a modular unit to meet demands.

Ice Cubes

Information About Modular Units

There’s one thing you need to take into consideration when you buy a modular unit. That is, modular units come in a wide range of output capacity. Some units produce 300 or 400 lbs, while other units can produce up to 1000 lbs and beyond. It’s important to make sure that you buy a unit that will adequately produce enough ice for your business. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a shortage that will not only aggravate you but also aggravate your customers. Similarly, it’s important to have a unit that doesn’t produce too much, because then your ice machine will shut off and stop producing fresh ice.

Ugly Cat

Storage Bin

If you’ve determined that you need a modular unit, then you also need to determine the size of the storage bin. For restaurants with a sporadic amount of traffic, a large bin with a slow ice maker would keep ice readily available. For restaurants that are consistently busy, a smaller bin with a fast ice maker will suffice. Of course, there are places in between, so you have do the math and determine which combination of ice maker and bin would work best for your restaurant. Just make sure that you find a combination that produces and holds enough ice, because having a lack of ice is more harmful than having too much.

An ice machine is an important investment for a restaurant, so a lot has to be taken in consideration. Hopefully after this article you have a better idea of the amount of ice you need and whether or not you should go with a self-contained or modular ice machine. Next week, we’ll look at the different types of cooling system and discuss the best type for your place of business. Check out our commercial ice machine page for some recommended ice machines.

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