Right then and there is a deliciously refreshing, ice cold, glass of your favorite drink.
Made to chill by ice from your favorite portable ice maker. Boom, Artificial Ice! What a human invention, it doesn’t get much better than that. And not only does it make ice on the fly, but it sits alone on the counter, there and ready for ice disposal at your convenience. No more forgetting to fill up the ice cube container in the freezer, or waiting hours for things to cool in the fridge, it’s just ice! And it’s ready to cool.
Here we are constantly assessing and reassessing the best portable ice makers on the market. Today we will explore how this great machine came to be, what the benefits of a portable ice maker are, what to look for in the best portable ice maker, and then finally deliver you a concise list of what we believe are the best of the best in the portable ice making technology. But first, to know where we are going, let’s explore where we’ve been.
Surely These Ice Cubes Don’t Just Grow On Trees?
No, they don’t, but it’s easy to think that they do when a man-made ice can now be found in almost every American home. Ice making machines have a long and proud history in America. It was a Floridian by the name of John Gorrie, M.D. who patented the concept of mechanical refrigeration in 1851 and for over a century, ice was delivered to the home after the boom of the Ice Revolution. The revolution was responsible for changing the entire way agricultural produce was stored and shipped across the country and the world.
Gorrie is the man you can thank for that ice cold drink in your hand as he was considered the father of refrigeration and air conditioning, although, throughout his lifetime (like many great inventors) he was ridiculed for his work. At the turn of the century, ice factories were popping up across America, delivering large cool blocks of the frozen water (to many people’s amazement at the time) to homes and businesses. Americans instantly realized the benefits of ice in the home and investors raced to iterate the technology. Speed forward to today and watch this retro video covering the basics on latest in cutting edge ice making technology, the portable ice maker:
Benefits of Going Portable
What are the major benefits of buying a portable ice maker over other types of ice making methods:
Portable ice makers are now as trendy to have in your kitchen as a coffee machine, microwave, fridge or even ice cream making machine.
If you’ve ever had a party, BBQ, or general entertainment event at your place or any place for that matter, you will know the hassle of finding, transporting and storing copious amounts of ice for the event. With a portable ice maker, there’s no need, the maker is there and ready to roll.
Not Getting Caught Short
On the other of the scale, when having just a friend or two over to your house and they need some extra ice, with a portable ice maker you are not limited to the size of the ice block tray in your freezer.
Probably one of the best benefits of a portable ice maker is that you can move the machine to its optimal location. If the party is in the pool room or the bar room, or even at the holiday home, then no need to leave in search of ice when you can easily take the ice maker with you.
Attributes of the Best Portable Ice Maker
Great, so we know a brief history and the benefits of the portable ice maker, but before we look at the portable ice maker reviews, let’s quickly understand what distinguishes them from the rest:
Quantity of Ice Produced
This is the first big decision and will dictate the type of portable ice machine you need; either a tube ice making machine or an ice cube making machine. Generally, though, for the home ice maker, you will only be looking at the ice cube making machine.
Since these machines are dealing with drinking water, it’s important they are certified and reputable to prevent bacteria build up as well as being built with stainless steel.
How much ice can the machine store at any one time? If the party is getting out of control, it’s always handy to have extra ice ready to go! Generally, the smaller machines mean you will need to be constantly changing the ice try and water storage units to keep the ice flowing.
“Sir/Madam, would you like that in small, medium or large?” is burnt into the mind of every McDonald’s cashier. Well, same goes for your portable ice maker (except the choices are actually soldered onto their motherboard, haha). After all, what type of ice is the best ice?
Warranty & Maintenance
Some of us tend to ignore this last one as warranties are mostly standard these days. However, if you take a closer look you’ll notice the stand out performers have much better warranties and are easier to maintain as they believe in the quality of their product.
The Best Portable Ice Maker Reviews
Finally! Without further ado, here is my top 5 list of the best portable ice makers on the market:
The Ivation Portable High Capacity Ice Maker is a noteworthy piece of machinery. It produces ice at a relatively fast rate, normally between 10-14 minutes from flicking the switch and produces all three sizes of ice cubes, small, medium and large (large being about 1” in diameter). We found operating the machine was a cinch. The LCD allows you to set the auto-timer to when and how much ice to produce, this is perfect for parties when you’re preoccupied entertaining and just need ongoing ice made.
The ice maker produces 26.5 pounds of ice per day and the water reservoir holds just under 13 cups of water. While producing the ice we could hear the machine running, but onwards of 10 feet away you can barely notice the sound. We like this machine for its size to output ratio, it’s a really pocket rocket and I could see this at a house party (large or small) as it’s super easy to move and produces ice at a great rate.
At this price, this bad boy is a steal! I’ve had my eye on one of these for a long time and then my friend picked one up recently, so it was the perfect time to give it a test run. It produces ice at above industry average speed while being at a good compact size to fit on the kitchen counter and not look intimidatingly oversized. When my friend fired her up, she was actually surprisingly quite. I had read some reviews that some ICE models were a little louder, but this one was just as quiet as some of the top models we tested.
Two interesting quirks with this one, though. We found it needs a thorough cleaning before use so that your ice doesn’t taste like plastic. Also, it takes some warm up runs before making the quality ice. The maker judges the ice quality on a timer, not temperature, so after a couple of batches, the chillers will be producing better ice. At its current price, it’s definitely a bargain.
We include this model at three as it edges out its closest rival the Emerson Portable Ice maker, although they are basically the same machine that’s made in the same Chinese factory. A big selling point that we love on this ice maker is the lack of a bottom drain plug (which you may find on some Igloo and Polar Cube Arctic machines). Machines with these can be very problematic and best to avoid.
Generally speaking, this is the workhorse of ice makers, producing ~20+ pounds of ice over the span of a day. But you will need to ensure you empty the ice bin regularly and constantly fill the water reservoir which I personally found super simple to do. It produced ice quietly and efficiently, and one of our favorite parts of the machine is the half dome style ice cubes it produces. This gives the ice more surface area and as such, cools your drink much faster… BONUS! If you decide on this one, you won’t be sorry.
2. Avalon Bay AB-ICE26S Portable Ice Maker (B00IY7BNUW)
Ok, I admit it, I own this one, so my review here will be a little biased. I pulled the trigger on getting Avalon Bay as I had a house party two weeks prior and what a great decision it was! Like the previous machines we looked at, this one makes ice fast, efficiently, and quietly. The party had more than enough ice for the night and I think two of my friends bought one too.
Something to keep in mind, make sure you clean the unit on arrival, as well as let the ice maker sit upright in its correct position for a day to ensure the coolant is settled and ready. There are only two sizes to the ice (small and large), but the ice is much thicker than I’ve found on other similar machines. The Clear winner in my books and at a great price.
1. Ivation Portable Ice Maker (B00O80WKHO)
Meet the crème de la crème of portable ice makers. This outstanding achiever is number one on our list because it meets everything the aforementioned models do, PLUS:
- It’s compact and more lightweight
- Works straight out of the box
- Has hollow cubes (as mentioned earlier, more surface area = faster drink cooling)
- Is the perfect size for the average couple and produces just as much ice as some of its larger (and more expensive) counterparts.
When we tested the machine, it was producing around 9 ice cubes about every 8-9 minutes and we found ourselves regularly changing over the tray and water supply. On the larger version, obviously the changeover intervals a less. The warranty and maintenance on these machines make them a safe and reliable purchase. Across the web, this model seems to be the standout performer too, constantly highly rated and on every wishlist. If you’re a winner, this one is for you.
There you have it, folks. I hope you enjoyed our roundup of portable ice maker reviews and it’s shed a little more light on which are the standout performers on the market. Please let us know in the comments below your questions or feedback on the best portable ice makers on the market.