How to Choose the Best Ice Machine for Your Home

Ice machines are a lifesaver for anyone who frequently hosts guests or loves to have an ever-flowing supply of frosty cocktails on hand. But with so many choices available, choosing the right one for your home is a tough choice. To help, we rounded up the best countertop and freestanding machines that offer the most bang for your buck, and compared them in terms of speed, size, and features.

When we tested our top picks, they all produced around nine cubes in under 10 minutes, which is plenty for a single party. Then, there’s the matter of size: You can choose a machine that produces standard square ice cubes, which are great for general use and quickly cool drinks; or bullet-shaped ice, which looks more like a chunk of popcorn and is popular in bars. You can also select a machine that makes flaked ice (which looks more like shaved snow) and a nugget-shaped variety, which is great for smoothies.

Another important factor is how easy a particular ice maker is to maintain: Some are designed for simple cleaning, and others require you to empty the bin regularly and wipe down the interior with a little bit of mild detergent. You should also consider whether you’d prefer a touch-free option, which is useful for patient self-service locations or in hospital cafeterias and helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Lastly, you’ll want to decide where you plan to store the machine; freestanding units need a drain line and water hookup and can take up a lot of space. A countertop model has a small tank that holds water and plugs into the wall, so it can fit on your counter or in a cabinet or pantry. ice machine

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