It certainly isn’t easy to choose a single product when you are presented with a rich variety and that intensifies when we’re talking about ice makers. Indeed, most ice makers on the market are more or less on the same level and that calls for a detailed analysis to help rank them accordingly. Hence, this will be a simple guide to help you choose the best nugget ice maker for home.
In this article, we will build up a general understanding of the various types of ice makers including portable, under-counter and stand-alone models. Then, we will analyze a selected variety based on their specs, ice making ability and best features to help you choose your winner.
So, put your reading glasses on, get comfortable and get your credit card ready because you will have your mind made up before you reach the last line on this buying guide.
Best Sonic Nugget Ice Makers Compared
Before we dive into the details, here’s a summary of our verdict on the best nugget ice makers in all categories:
|Ice maker||Dimensions||Ice Storage Capacity||Ice Making Rate||Weight Empty|
|10.5" wide x 15.5" deep x 17.25" height||3 lbs||24 lbs per day||44 lbs|
|14.875" wide x 22.625" deep x 33.375" height||22 lbs||85 lbs per day||133 lbs|
|14-1/2" (L) x 9-3/4" (W) x 12-3/4" (H)||3 lbs||26 lbs per day||~20 lbs|
|9.5" (L) x 14.0" (W) x 12.9" (H)||1.5 lbs||26 lbs per day||17.5 lbs|
|25 1/4" (H) x 15" (W) x 18 1/2" (D)||6 lbs||12 lbs per day||54 lbs|
|20" (W) x 17.5" (D) x 32" (H)||33 lbs||100 lbs per day||79 lbs|
Best Sonic Nugget Ice Maker Reviews
To stay away from the systematic approach, we decided to review these select ice makers based on a short and sweet rubric that essentially focuses on quality, ice making ability and best features in order to give you a quick idea on what truly makes the machine worthwhile and perhaps what makes it unfit for you.
#1- Opal Nugget Ice Maker
The Opal Nugget Ice Maker by FirstBuild has been an easy pick for many who put quality ahead of a price tag because it is simply impeccable. Indeed, this machine is designed to thrive within any environment as it is featured with a dense stainless steel body finish. Not only that, but this nugget ice maker is also built with passion as it has been the consequence of an ambitious kick starter campaign to create the best nugget ice maker on the market.
It is important to note that while this is an expensive machine, it is easily the cheapest option for those of you who love sonic ice that’s is porous and soft to chew.
In terms of ice creation, ice nuggets are a unique variety because they take relatively longer to form but at 15 minutes for a cycle, the Opal truly defies that concept.
Indeed, the first batch of nugget ice will come in no time and consequent cycles will be even faster, leading to an entire pound of sonic ice in less than an hour. Nonetheless, the machine will come to a halt once the 3 lbs ice basket is full.
The Opal nugget ice maker has got to be the most advanced ice maker out there and that claim is fully supported by the following features:
This Opal is one of the few – if not the only – ice makers out there that can be scheduled and controlled via Bluetooth. Indeed, you can set a specific time to turn the machine on and off, using your phone through the brand’s application. Hence, you do not have to go to the kitchen in order to turn it on every time and that’s a luxury.
The nugget ice is truly an advantage on its own. Indeed, the cheapest nugget ice maker out there is easily above 2000 dollars which puts this little beast on the throne of residential nugget ice makers. Hence, this ice is crunchy, soft and perfect for soft as well as hard drinks because it is 50% air and 50% ice which is the perfect ratio.
Dollar for dollar, This is one of the best portable nugget ice makers out there, all things considered.
#2- Ice-O-Matic GEMU090
This is what you can if you’re willing to shell out some serious dough. The Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 is one of the best pellet/nugget ice makers out there. It’s ideal for break rooms, cafés, and offices.
This unit features stainless steel finish will make your rooms look sleek and modern. It’ll blend perfectly into your interior design scheme as well.
This under counter ice maker pearl ice maker measures 14.875″ wide x 22.625″ deep x 33.375″ height. It can produce up to 85 lbs of chewable pearl (nugget) per day and stores up to 22 lbs, which is outstanding to say the least.
The Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 pearl ice maker features a front ventilation, which mean that you can place it under the counter or build it in flush-with-cabinetry. Furthermore, its fully finished cabinet allows for freestanding applications as well.
This unit is designed to be really quite, giving you the ability to place it anywhere without being disturbed. It’s also approved for outdoor use, so you can place it in your outdoor kitchen, bar, or patio.
The Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 is clearly one of the best undercounter sonic ice makers that can produce a ton of quality ice that is porous and soft to chew in a short period of time.
The only dowside to this pellet ice maker that we can reasonably think of besides its hefty price tag is its weight of 133 lbs. You’ll certainly need a second hand to move this beast from one place to another.
Bear in min that unlike portable ice makers, freestanding and undercounter nugget machines such as this one require more installation work.
#3- Della Premium Portable Ice Maker
Out of the nugget ice realm, Della is one of the best small ice makers that stands out within a crowd of portable ice makers that look exactly alike. Indeed, the creativity aspect in the ice maker universe isn’t at its peak but quality is certainly the pride of this little machine.
In that respect, the Della is a premium portable ice maker with an ABS plastic finish, which is makes it far more resistant to scratches and dents which tags every counter-top environment out there. Also, the smallest details on this ice maker give away just how much dedication and hard work were invested in the creation process and that is always an advantage.
To be tough and durable is one thing but making ice is what gets most people to click that purchase button. In that concern, Della has designed this small portable ice maker to produce up to 26 pounds of ice a day.
Indeed, this machine is consequently programmed to create an entire batch of ice cubes within 6 minutes on consequent cycles, making it great for instant demand. Hence, as long as its 1.8 liter reservoir is full and the basket is empty, the Della will keep pumping ice at an impressive rate.
The Della at hand might not be the best nugget ice maker but it can create actual chewable ice to a certain extent. Obviously, we are by no means comparing it to the Opal or a Sonic ice maker that cost thousands of dollars but this machine is for those of you who like the feeling of chewable ice without breaking the bank.
A huge advantage for the Della Premium portable ice maker is its ability to fit pretty much anywhere, making it a viable option for RV homes as well as standard housing. In fact, as long as it has enough space around it, it will function nicely.
#4- Costway Counter Top Ice Maker
Costway is another well-renowned brand in the industry. It offers a wide variety of great ice makers of different types.
The unit at hand is one of the best portable ice makers that Costway have to offer. It’s also one of the top-rated budget-friendly portable ice makers that you can buy. It’s built to be highly efficient, reliable and robust.
Indeed, the ice maker at hand might not look that rigid because it isn’t featured with stainless steel finish but it is made of ABS plastic which gets the job done costing too much.
Truly, with a resilient plastic crust, this ice maker stands a better chance against scratches and dents.
Also, it is important to understand that the internal department on the Costway is just as remarkable due to the meticulous building process that entails a serious process of inspections and tests.
An ice maker isn’t solely determined by its resilience but also by its ability to make ice. In fact, these machines are primarily sold on their ability to create ice in the shortest time possible and that’s what makes this perhaps the best nugget ice maker for home.
Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that this Costway produces an entire batch of relatively chewable ice cubes within 8 minutes, which comes up to up to 26 pounds of crystal clear ice cubes in 24 hours.
Now, if that’s not impressive enough then you should consider the fact that some larger ice makers aren’t capable of producing half that quantity.
Speaking of which, being a small ice maker, the Costway showcases a mediocre 1.5 pounds capacity ice basket which will push the machine to a halt once full. Also, the Costway at hand comes with a half-gallon water reservoir that will require continuous refilling upon continuous ice making.
If you’re not sold on the ice making properties of the Costway Counter Top ice maker then perhaps you would appreciate the fact that it features a set of warning lights to keep you aware of when the ice basket is full, when the water runs out and simply when the machine is on/off.
Further, to automate ice production, the ice maker at hand will come to a full stop once the basket is full, making the older ice cubes melt to be recycled. Hence, you do not have to worry about leaving it on when you’re not home because it will behave.
#5- EdgeStar IB120SS Built in Ice Maker
EdgeStar is a different kind of ice makers. Indeed, this is one of the few machines out there that is designed for factual residential use yet a lot of people still complain about how slow it is.
Undeniably, the Edgestar is not trying to break any records but that’s exactly what it’s designed for. This is an ice maker that will make nice sonic ice and store it within a temperature controlled environment that will keep it frozen, eliminating the need for a draining system.
EdgeStar’s steel exterior and miniature fridge design give it the necessary resilience to endure most environments, making it a viable option for RV homes as well.
When you think about regular use, EdgeStar doesn’t seem lacking to say the least. In fact, this “slow” ice maker is capable of pushing out 12 pounds of crystal clear ice a day which is already much more than a giant fridge can provide.
Also, The machine is capable of storing up to 6 pounds of ice before the machine pauses the ice making process, eliminating excess. In that concern, the machine will not operate until you turn a manual switch located on the inside.
If that sounds standard then this next part is actually foreign to most portable ice makers out there. The EdgeStar at hand takes a direct water line input which can be connected any way you want as it will continuously feed the ice maker until the ice basket is full.
Obviously, if you’ve made it this far then you would want to know about the nifty features of this EdgeStar.
Hence, let’s start with the fact that this ice maker comes with a front facing venting installation, erasing the limit on positioning. Indeed, because it is one of the best sonic ice machines, the EdgeStar would function properly no matter where you put it due to it front vent.
Also, the machine at hand is perfectly square and that gives it the advantage of fitting in various areas of your kitchen without standing out. Actually, you can even push it a step further by replacing the front panel with a wooden cover to match your kitchen closet or even the counter’s theme.
Last but definitely not least, this ice maker will not require constant water refills as it will function autonomously until the 6 pounds basket is full which will take up to 12 hours. Hence, make sure to relax and turn it on the night before to fully enjoy its effect.
#6- Costway 100LB/24H Commercial Ice Maker
To be frank, the Costway Commercial Ice Maker is an overkill for this list. However, it is still one of the most defining assets for anyone in need of large quantities of ice daily.
Stressing the “daily” part is essential here because this is a commercial ice maker after all and it belongs in an active environment where it can exhibit why it is one of the best sonic ice makers out there.
That being said, the Costway at hand is designed to endure the troubles of commercial environments and that explains the overall stainless steel that will keep any liquids from getting through the shell.
Also, this shell is less likely to dent but even if it does, it is still way better than ABS plastic shells that would simply shatter.
On the other hand, in order to make the best pellet ice maker, the brand had to invest an equal effort into the build process as it will be accessed frequently every day and that includes the buttons, the water pump, the cooling system and even the front access point.
When it comes to ice making, this Costway is a beast. In fact, this is one of the few if not the only product at this price range that is capable of pumping out around 100 pounds of ice cubes daily.
YES, this machine can push out 100 pounds of clear hard cube shaped ice a day and that is admirable. Note that the Costway at hand is still significantly efficient when it comes to electricity, which is a challenge in itself. Nonetheless, while the Costway Commercial ice maker has a swift cycle ranging between 12 and 18 minutes, it only features a 33 pounds ice reservoir which shouldn’t be a problem if you own an active business.
Since this is a brilliant machine, the Costway requires equally impressive features to make your interaction with it more enjoyable. Hence, at the top of the features chart, this product exhibits display panel with indication lights to keep you up to date with the process. Hence, you will be able to tell if the ice reservoir is full, when you need to add water and much more just by looking at the display.
Further, what ranks this machine amongst the best commercial ice makers in the market is the fact that it placed the venting department on the front panel to allow you to push this little giant in a tight spaces without a worry. Indeed, as long as the front panel is free, the ice maker will be able to breathe normally and consequently make ice easily.
How to Choose the Best Sonic Nugget Ice Machine for You
Ice makers are undeniably an asset to any home / work place. However, that doesn’t mean you should go and buy randomly because people say it’s good. Actually, before you make the purchase it is crucial to understand your exact need, your living situation and the type of ice maker that would make the perfect match.
Therefore, here is a detailed description of each type and who are they made for.
Types of Ice Makers
Portable ice makers have taken over the market due to their valuable contribution to events, parties and lonely nights when you need a cold drink. Hence, these compact ice makers can be practical in hobby clubs, places of worship and the comfort of your home.
The good thing about these little machines is that they can fit pretty much anywhere and produce enormous amounts of ice cubes within a short period of time. Well, to be fair, they don’t only special in ice cubes as different brands feature different shapes of ice, all of which will keep your beverages frosty.
Another nifty aspect of the portable ice maker is the fact that it is very low maintenance. Indeed, you do not have to clean these machines regularly as they are self-cleaning and surprisingly smart. Hence, the machine will let you know through an LCD screen when the ice basket is full, and when more water is required. Some models are designed to push the envelope and allow you to chose the size of ice to be produced.
The built-in ice maker isn’t so different from the portable ones except for the portability part. Indeed, built-in machines are also very compact and can fit in tiny spaces, making them a great option for home bars and RV homes where space tends to be a rare commodity.
The advantage of built in ice makers is that they require less care because they can produce ice only till full. Hence, you do not have to worry about turning it off & on every time because it will stop automatically once the ice basket is full.
Also, these ice makers will often come with a draining system to allow you to change the water easily without the need to move the entire machine.
The built-in ice maker can go right under your counter, or on top of it, depending on your preference and it will function perfectly fine as long as it has enough space around it to breathe properly.
Perhaps you’re not much of a home person and would like a more outdoorsy option. Well, you’re in luck because the ice making industry developed a product just for you. Outdoor ice makers are created for people who are social, outgoing and love to celebrate things.
Accordingly, these machines are designed with the preset of a rough environment that differs from the safety of a kitchen. Hence, you’ll find that this type of ice makers is more rigid, better insulated and considerably light. Hence, if you’re a barbeque/party lover then you will definitely appreciate an outdoor ice maker.
Further, since they are designed for the outdoors, you’ll notice that most of these machines have a closed shell in order to prevent anything from getting into the system and that includes rain, dust, and anything else of the same size.
The size of the best sonic ice maker is understandably important since you are the one who must find a spot on that crowded counter. Hence, to be pro-active, make sure you calculate the exact space you can afford and where what you consider the best sonic ice machine would fit best before you make the purchase.
Speaking of which, ice makers will come in an endless variety of sizes. However, it is factual that commercial ice makers are much bigger. Hence, residential ice makers of all types remain rather compact as they average the following dimensions: 16 x 12 x 15 inches.
As far as commercial ice makers go, the ratio can go from small to giant easily and that requires further inspection on your behalf. However, to help you understand the spatial value, consider the following:
- A small commercial ice maker like the EdgeStar can measure up to 18 x 15 x 25
- A large commercial ice maker like the Maxxle MIM100 can measure up to 21 x 22 x 33
Speed & Production Capacity
Now that you figured out the appropriate space capacity you can afford, it is time to move up the ladder. The following feature is highly influential since it can make a huge difference. Thus, ice production is a valuable commodity and the ratio is at essence here.
Accordingly, the speed gap can be so big between different types of ice makers. However, most of them are highly reliable. Indeed, you can expect 26 pounds of ice a day from a small counter-top ice maker, which is already a lot. However, if that’s not enough then you probably should consider a commercial grade machine.
On the other hand, 26 pounds of ice a day might be too much for some and that brings slower more affordable ice makers to the spot light.
All in all, you must be aware of the ice quantity you will be needing on a daily basis in order to avoid the lack of which as well as excess.
Ice quality & Types of Ice Cubes
- Cubed ice aka regular ice cues with 100% ice to water ratio. It is perfect for maximum cooling, slow melt and quick production. It is very common amongst commercial ice makers and only commercial ones since they are designed to bring you the habitual shape of ice that you can find in any restaurant / fast food joint.
- Crescent ice is the less popular foggy, shapeless ice you can find in any home fridge. While this type of ice isn’t attractive, it can still get the job done fine but it is for those of us who don’t care about the looks of an ice cube. Crescent ice is common in bars, beverage dispensers and non-blended drinks.
- Gourmet ice is definitely more attractive because it is crystal clear. In order to achieve this clarity, this type of ice is frozen from the inside out. However, they are often in a marshmallow shape rather than a cube.
- Nugget ice is also referred to as pellet, pearl, or chewable ice. It is soft, easy to chew and melts quickly giving you delicious munchy frost pieces at the end of your cup. It is most often used by fast food restaurants or hospitals and health care facilities. This type of ice is made with 50% air to achieve the chewable form and that makes it appealing for a lot of people. This soft and chewable type of ice is commonly used for blended drinks.
- Last but not least is the flake ice which is another popular type of ice with multiple purposes. Flake ice consists of shaved or flaked pieces of ice that can be used to make snow cones. It is most commonly used for blended beverages, food displays (seafood displays, salad bars, produce displays), and pretty much anything that must be submerged in ice. It’s also used in health care clinics.
Right! So, why should you care about versatility on an ice maker? Well, to put it simply, your need of ice might differ and for that you will need a machine that can adapt to every environment you put it in. However, are all ice makers versatile?
Sadly, not every ice maker out there is built that way and the best example for that are commercial ice makers.
While these machines are capable of creating impressive quantities of ice cubes in one day, they are also limited to a single location where they are installed and that can be limiting in various situations.
On the other hand, smaller machines are slightly more reliable as they can be both built-in and stand alone.
Hence, it is important to determine whether you’re looking for a stationary ice maker or one that can bend and twist to cater for your needs inside and outside your home / work space.
Ease of Installation and setup
Fortunately, ice makers are perhaps the simplest things to install and will only require a little know-how to get it ready for business. However, due to the wide variety of ice makers out there, the installation process can differ from one to another for a variety of reasons.
First, not every ice maker has a draining plug and that is why you will find that certain products will require further accessories to install the draining system separately while others simply won’t.
Also, while smaller ice makers require manual water-refills, the bigger / commercial ones will require a direct water connection that will spare you the constant refilling process.
Lastly, if you are reluctant to dive into any kind of installation you can always opt for a stand alone ice maker that only requires plugging it in. While this might sound like a downgrade, these smaller machines can produce up to 26 pounds of ice a day.
Ice makers apply to the general logic that the bigger the price tag, the higher the quality. However, there are certain exceptions and twists to that general rule that you need to be aware of.
Initially, determining your desired ice maker will almost certainly limit you to a price range. However, it is still important to be aware that standard residential ice makers like a Della will remain within a reasonable boundary between $100-$200 price tag.
On the other hand, commercial, and more powerful ice makers will vary largely in price because they can make from up to 100 pounds of ice a day.
Hence, you’d expect them to cost significantly more. Nonetheless, commercial ice makers will often cost between 500 and 2000$, depending on quality and ice production.
Nevertheless, size and ice production ration are not the only factors that determine the price. Indeed, something like the Firstbuild Opal is a great example as it costs roughly around $500 while being a small residential nugget ice maker.The reason behind this immense leap of price is the quality of ice.
While the Opal produces an average quantity of ice a day, it is considered one of the best nugget ice makers which is a luxury in sorts and that’s how the type of ice can play a role in determining the price.