Do you crave chewable ice cubes? If you do and you are not really proud of it, do not worry, you have gotten company.
There are a lot of people who do it. But the refrigerator ice is quite hard for chewing, isn’t it?
Well, it is, but have you tried ice from an ice maker, that too a portable one? If not, then you must try because after that, you might never have to look elsewhere for soft, chewable ice cubes.
That being said, the utility of portable ice makers goes much beyond. These devices have made lives simpler because ice making had never been such an instant process.
Wait, what is a portable ice maker in anyways? Do you know? Let me help you know.
It is basically a machine that comes equipped with an independent ice generator built in it. As soon as you pour water into this device, it turns into frozen ice cubes in a matter of a few minutes.
However, the initial batch takes longer, since the generator takes time for reaching a certain temperature.
Ice makers, as traditionally used, were built in refrigerators to produce ice. But the ones identified as part of this article will be ones that are standalone devices for producing ice cubes instantly. The best ice maker is small enough to fit a countertop in your kitchen, and you may choose to carry it around for a fresh supply of instant ice, as you like.
The focus of this article is to review the five best portable ice makers available on the market. You will also find a useful buying guide that talks about types of ice, how to use a portable ice maker, features to look out for when buying one, and how to clean and maintain an ice maker. If you are thinking about buying the best ice maker, give this article a quick read, because this will come in quite handy.
Best Ice Maker Reviews 2020
Here are comprehensive reviews of the best portable ice makers that are available on the market. These reviews will help you decide what to buy and why based on each ice maker’s various key features, pros, and cons. Let’s get started.
1. Opal Nugget Ice Maker – Best For Home Use
Opal Nugget ice maker is one of the best on the market when it comes to portable ice machines. It is highly cherished by customers owing to various features offers. For starters, if you are looking to buy the best ice maker at a reasonable price, there is no beating Opal Nugget ice maker. Here is a detailed review of this countertop ice maker.
It is a countertop ice maker, hence making for a portable machine that you may carry anywhere and everywhere to make ice instantly. As the name suggests, this one is lauded for its chewable ice nuggets that are prepared using the compression system built in it. So, if you secretly crave ice cubes for chewing, here is your ideal partner. It features a smartphone application. It means that you can operate this portable ice machine through an app on your phone.
How convenient is that! You are glued to your smartphone 24/7, so why not make a few chewable ice nuggets while you are at it and enjoy your favorite chilled beverage too. This application is ready to use by both Android and iOS users, and the device can easily connect with your smartphone using its Bluetooth function.
As for the design, Opal Nugget ice maker comes in a stylish, yet portable one that requires no water hook-up for functioning. In the ice machine, you will find two 14-inch rubber drain tubes that drain excess water. Both these tubes form a closed loop water circulation system. A toggle switch is also given which helps to switch between ice making and cleaning modes. A quick start user guide and user manual are also provided in the package. You can use these learning tools to use this best portable ice maker and take care of it too. Care is essential when it comes to portable electronic devices such as these.
It features a limited one-year warranty which takes care of repairs and defects during the first year of use. Post installation, your very first ice nugget will be made in 15 minutes, which says a lot about its efficiency. Although noisy, this Opal Nugget ice maker is optimal for use both indoors and outdoors for making chewable ice nuggets that have a crunchy consistency.
So, overall the review sounds decent based on performance and design. You can make about a pound of ice nuggets in an hour’s time period. The portable design allows this compact countertop ice maker to accompany you on picnics, camping trips, and almost everywhere you go with friends and family. Opal Nugget ice maker looks like a mini refrigerator if you place it on the counter-shelf of your kitchen, so it counts for the aesthetics.
However, a few customers complain about its noise, which is sort of annoying. If you have toddlers in the house, it is likely to disturb the quiet atmosphere in your house for sure. Moreover, this best portable ice maker must be cleaned and maintained on a weekly basis to insure maximum efficiency and performance. So, you need to read the user manual carefully, because cleaning is quite a mandatory process.
2. HomeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine for Countertop – Best For Office Use
Here is another small ice maker that is designed by HomeLabs. It is lauded by customers for its exceptionally portable design. It weighs as light as 19.4 pounds only and measures 12.9 x 9.5 x 14 inches.
So, you may use it at home, take it along on trips and picnics, and even gift it. It makes for an ideal present for your friends who are to tie a knot soon. HomeLabs portable ice maker will come in handy when they plan to head out on their honeymoon. They will thank you later.
As a countertop ice maker, HomeLabs Portable ice maker is designed using ABS plastic material to insure a durable built. Since it is only plastic, it feels light in hands too. In addition to this, the plastic material acts as an insulator to keep the ice from melting while it waits in the ice basket. Plastic sounds cheap, but this small ice machine is far from a cheap product. The top features a transparent window, which gives you a peek inside the machine to check just how much ice is under the hood, and whether it is enough or not. The design is portable, smart, and has a good aesthetic appeal to it.
HomeLabs best portable ice maker makes one pound of ice per hour. In order to operate this ice machine, you must fill the tank just below the water level indicator. Then, select the ice cube size ranging from small to large and press start. You will find two push buttons and five indicator lines on the display panel of your countertop ice maker. These different lights represent water, full, power, small and large modes. The ice cubes are dispensed in batches as soon as they are ready. The smaller ones are the perfect size to fit in a glass, but the larger ones are made for ice buckets that store champagne bottles or ice coolers used to carry beverages to a picnic.
This Portable ice maker comes equipped with a cooling compressor, which is not exactly silent, but it makes less noise, relative to other similar ice machines available on the market. With less than 20 pounds in weight, this ice maker is compact enough to fit in small places including your kitchen cabinets.
Since it features a rectangular shape, storage is not exactly an issue with HomeLabs portable ice machine. It might be required to be strapped well in the car because it is prone to bouncing and similar movements in a moving vehicle. It is the best portable ice maker to buy and carry with you on short vacations, picnics, and camping trips, especially during the scorching summers.
This is the best portable ice maker that offers a two-year warranty and a lifetime of technical support. It comes for an affordable price too, so a great value for money. However, its 1.5 pounds ice basket seems quite scanty for making too much ice, if need be. In case you have more guests, you will have to turn the cycle on for two to three times to make enough ice for all drinks.
In addition to this, the plastic exterior of Portable ice maker might seem a little cheap material to some customers on first look, but the performance is far better than one expects from an inexpensive quality ice machine. It is also limited in color options because there are not any other than plain gray. That sounds kind of boring.
3. Think Gizmos Ice Machine – Best For Heavy Dut
If you are looking to buy a portable countertop ice machine to carry along on vacations, family picnics, and camping trips, then ThinkGizmos ice maker is a real deal. It comes in a portable design and does fulfill all your ice making needs. It guarantees a super-fast production as well, so you can get a decent amount of ice cubes in a matter of six minutes only. That sounds amazing, now doesn’t it? Here are a few other features that you would like to know in order to finalize your purchase decision.
ThinkGizmos ice maker features a stainless steel body and parts, making for quite a durable built. So, you can expect this ice machine to last for longer than other cheap quality ice makers. It features an ABS finish that gives it an expensive appearance – one that is definitely worth spending a few extra dollars. ThinkGizmos ice maker can produce up to 26 pounds of ice cubes in a matter of 24 hours. Each batch takes up six minutes of your pre-party precious time.
As soon as the guests arrive, there is plenty of ice cubes to serve chilled beverages to each one. You can also free up space in your freezer for all that party food that you have prepared and do not want going bad anytime soon. The best thing is that your guests can help use this countertop device to make ice as and when needed because operating this portable ice machine is no rocket science. All it requires is a simple plug-in operation, adding water, and you are good to go.
ThinkGizmos ice maker is easy to operate. However, if you are a beginner who has never laid hands on a device such as this, then you need a couple of tutorials online, teaching you how to use this countertop ice maker to make chewy and soft-textured ice. However, you are also given a user manual to learn how to operate this, without asking an expert for assistance and advice. Once, you learn how to use it, you have a choice to make three different ice cube shapes, ranging from small to large cubes for ice coolers and ice buckets. ThinkGizmos ice maker has a large ice bucker within the machine that is capable of holding 2.2 pounds of ice at any particular time, so storage is hefty. The package comes equipped with a free scoop that you can use to scoop out ice, instead of using your hands. Plus, it features a one-year warranty so your repairs within a year of purchase are well taken care of.
However, on the downside, the fans of ThinkGizmos ice maker require more space so that it functions as intended. Additionally, the drain plug needs to be reviewed every now and then to avoid any stagnant water in there. Cleaning is mandatory because it insures quality ice cubes and the ice machine to last for as long as intended. Moreover, a few customers have complained about the loud noise from this portable ice maker that seems kind of annoying, unless you have a party at home. Also, melting issues have surfaced as well, whereby the ice cubes do not last for long after they are prepared. The interior of ThinkGizmos ice maker ought to be strong enough to help the ice cubes to retain shape.
4. Avalon Bay AB-ICE26S Portable Ice Maker – Best Ice Machine for 2020
Here is a review of another best portable ice maker on the market. Avalon Bay ice maker allows you to choose from a range of three beautiful colors that you can match with your kitchen interior. You have the option to pick silver, red, or black, from various color choices.
Customers have liked this small ice maker owing to its various features such as fast production, classy design, automatic overflow protection, and indicators. These have been discussed in detail in the paragraphs that follow.
Avalon Bay ice machine comes bearing a stainless steel body, which is robust and sleek. It weighs only about 21.2 pounds for the sturdy built and is portable enough to be carried to picnics, camping trips, and other similar outdoor vacations. It measures 11 x 14.8 x 14.7 inches, so you may fit it anywhere in the kitchen easily, even inside a cabinet. Using this countertop ice maker is pretty simple. It runs on 115V, with 230 watts of power. It is certified by ELT so it manages to comply with all North American safety requirements. Since it is a free-standing unit, it requires no installation. All you need do is place it wherever you like in your kitchen or close to the dining area, plug in, fill water, and operate it using the display panel. It features an intuitive control panel and LED display, so choose the settings of your choice and you are all set to start making ice cubes.
Avalon Bay best portable ice maker has a water capacity of up to one gallon. It makes up to 26 pounds of ice cubes in a matter of 24 hours. Each batch of ice cubes is ready in less than 10 minutes, approximately six minutes as claimed by the manufacturer. The first batch might take 10 to 15 minutes, but this should be discarded and the batches following it can be consumed. So, this small ice maker does guarantee a fast production time and chewy, hollow ice cubes that are cloudy in texture. You can choose from two options to get an ice cube as per your size preference, either for the glasses or to keep within an ice bucket or cooler, whichever you need.
Avalon Bay ice maker features a light indicator that reminds you to add water to the reservoir for the ice making process to initiate. It also comes equipped with an automatic overflow protection mechanism. It has a drain system attached to the bottom which makes for easy and quick draining process. If you forget to remove the water from inside your countertop ice maker, it could damage the interior, so cleaning is mandatory. Moreover, the Avalon Bay ice maker is one of the best ice makers on the market owing to its noise-free operation.
However, the first cycle tends to be noisy, so testing it for its silent operation during the first batch of ice is a bad idea. Wait for a second or third batch to process and then check for its silent feature. In addition to this, it comes for a slightly higher price than its counterparts do, so you might have to expand your budget to bring this portable Avalon Bay ice maker home.
5. Della Portable Ice Maker – Latest Ice Maker Machine
If you are looking for an effective yet affordable ice maker, then the best portable ice maker comes from the famous brand Della. It comes with an amazing production speed that churns as many as 26 pounds of ice cubes in a day’s time.
On top of this, it features a spacious ice bucket that can hold up to 1.5 pounds of ice. If you do not know what to buy for making instant ice cubes at home, then refer to the following review of Della portable ice maker. You will finalize your decision by the end of this read.
Della portable ice maker features a clean and simple design, with a clear peek-through lid that allows you to see how much ice there is to fill all those glasses at a party. It comes equipped with display settings, whereby you can select from three cube sizes to either fill into a glass or an ice bucket. It features LED indications for various modes, for instance, there is one that alerts you when maximum ice capacity is reached, and another one indicates low water level, while a third displays power on and off.
This countertop ice machine weighs about 28 pounds only, measuring 15 x 18 x 19 inches, so it is pretty portable for all types of indoor and outdoor events. It has been specifically designed for bringing along to boat trips, RVs, and other such travel extravaganzas. You can get your hands on Della portable ice maker from a range of color options including silver, stainless steel, and pure white. It might even let you match your kitchen interior with it. It features an integrated storage bin in the form of an ice bucket, where you can store your ice cubes post production without having to fear them melting back to the water. You will also receive a free scoop with the package to carry out ice cubes.
If you like chewing ice cubes, then Della portable ice maker will get you soft-textured, chewable ice cubes to overcome this craving in a matter of six minutes to be exact. Its easy touch buttons enable simplified use, whereby if you have guests at a party and you are busy serving food, ask one of your guests to take care of the ice cubes supply.
Della portable ice maker is nothing too difficult to operate. Simply plug in, add water, and press power on, you are good to go. It comes bearing a user manual that explains in detail how to operate this small ice maker and what needs to be done to take care of it. Leaving excess water in the machine could lead to damage to the device’s interior.
There are a few drawbacks that you must not overlook. You cannot leave the ice cubes in the tray for too long, because it will develop a stale plastic-y taste. A taste such as this indicates that you ice maker needs cleaning as soon as possible. So, whenever your ice cubes taste funny immediately after the batch is ready, you must unplug the machine and wash it using fresh water and vinegar. It indicates that instant cleaning is mandatory, no matter what.
Features to Look Out for
Since many essential features have already been covered in the preceding section, this one deals with the features under two categories, most important and least important. So, look through each heading and try to cover each feature while analyzing your purchase decision about portable ice maker.
Under this category, the features that hold the most importance have been identified and explained briefly.
Speed: Obviously, the whole point of an ice maker is to make ice instantly. If your ice maker is slow in producing ice, it is better to use a refrigerator to make ice, isn’t it? Why waste all that money to buy a device that does not produce ice instantly, as it should. So, look for a small ice machine that makes ice quickly, in about six to seven minutes maximum.
Colder Ice: Another important feature is how long the ice remains frozen as soon as it is produced. If the ice melts a little while after production, then the temperature within your ice maker is insufficient. The ice cubes must be cold enough to retain shape for a little longer after production.
Drain Plug: if you do not drain you ice maker timely, it will develop mold. So, look for an ice maker that features an underside drain plug as it allows draining easily and quickly from the bottom of the device. Mesh Filter: Lastly, the mesh filter helps to keep the ice free from dirt, residue, and air. You can also filter your water before pouring into the ice maker, but a mesh filter is truly a life savior.
Here is a list of features that are optional, but if your choice of the best ice maker has these, then it is truly worth a purchase.
Cube Size: Mostly, the best ice makers come bearing option for ice cube sizes ranging from small to large. If your ice maker does not, it is nothing to worry about. But, if it allows small ice cubes only, these tend to melt faster. So, be careful about the size option.
Timer: Next, a timer could come in handy so that you know when a specific batch is ready for use. However, not many people use this feature. It is more like a redundant one.
Self-Cleaning Cycle: Then, there is the self-cleaning cycle. If this is not included in your portable ice maker, then the following section is for you.
How to Use a Portable Ice Maker
It is imperative to discuss how to use a portable ice maker. Obviously, you are provided with a user manual along with the ice maker to learn this, but what good is this buying guide if it fails to cover usage.
Anyhow, the procedure is simple and straightforward. Since portable ice makers are countertop ice machines, you do not have to worry about a lengthy and technical installation process. You just need to find the ideal space to place this device and begin making ice.
If you have successfully placed it, the next step requires plugging it in. Now, the place that you must select should be one where a power socket is given. If a power outlet is not available nearby, you will have to keep moving the ice maker from its position to somewhere closer to a power outlet. Hence, choose a space that is close to a power outlet to avoid moving it every now and then.
Now, this is sorted. Plug the device in the socket and press the power button for the ice maker to turn on. You will see an LED light indicating that the device is ready to use. It is time to set your preferred setting on the display panel, for ice size and other such settings. Add water and then you are good to go. It is that simple. But, a few things ought to be kept in mind when operating a portable ice maker. These things are listed below.
- You must always use filtered water to make ice. Otherwise, your ice cubes will not be as clear as you like. Also, the mineral water could clog the insides of the ice machine.
- Next, try not to add flavor to this water as most nugget-styled ice makers are designed to work with plain water only. You could end up damaging the machine by going against the direction given in the user manual regarding flavored water.
- Lastly, when using an ice maker, try to avoid using the very first batch of ice that you make immediately post-purchase. It is a good idea to give it a thorough cleaning before consuming the first batch.
Portable Ice Maker – Care & Maintenance
Now you have understood how a portable ice maker operates and features to consider when buying one, how about its cleaning and maintenance? If you did not think this through, this section will help you do just that.
You will be required to clean your ice maker on a regular basis, for sure. According to advice by manufacturers, you must clean your ice maker as soon as you bring it home by diluting it with water. Also, after each session of making ice, you must fill the tank and use a dishwashing soap or vinegar if you like and drain the mixture out. The batch that you make after this should also be discarded because it will taste like either vinegar or dishwashing liquid. Make sure to flush out any residue from dishwashing liquid.
In addition to this, you need to check your machine for any leaks and molds that it might develop over time. Make sure to check all the seals too. Use a cotton swab to clean the cracks of the seals and clear all the dirt in there from time to time.
In order to clean the exterior, use a damp cloth and wipe the entire body, including the top lid. If you frequently use the ice maker on outdoor picnics and trips, it must be thoroughly cleaned after every trip. Otherwise, its life will shorten. Lastly, whenever you get down to cleaning your ice maker, make sure to unplug the device before pouring water on the outer body.
Portable Ice Makers – The Ultimate Buying Guide
In order to help you with making an informed purchase with regard to best ice makers, a comprehensive buying guide has been prepared. It covers almost all of the essential details that you ought to equip yourself with, prior to selecting the best ice maker from as many as five different options, featuring best sellers. This section is followed by reviews of the top five picks from the best portable ice makers’ category.
Types of Ice
Various icemakers are configured according to the type of ice. For commercial ice makers, you will come across three types of ice – cubed, flaked, and nugget-styled. Portable ice makers are designed with different functionalities and features to produce the different types of ice mentioned herein. Each ice type has been described briefly as follows.
1. Cubed Ice
Cubed ice is made using running water over a freezing evaporator plate. The water freezes and takes the form of ice, that too in perfect small cubes. So, once the water detangles from the evaporator tray, you have cubed ice in the size you need. Cube sizes differ based on how capable the ice maker is in terms of ice sizing.
2. Flaked Ice
Another type of ice is called the flaked ice. This one is quite different than the cubed ice. Flaked ice is made with the help of evaporator cylinders, whereby a thin layer of ice begins to form on it as soon as water touches its inner surface. The rotating auger blades are used to loosen out this thin layer, and ice falls in the form of snow.
3. Nugget-Styled Ice
Lastly, there is the nugget-styled ice. Portable ice makers that will be introduced and reviewed as part of this article are capable of producing this ice type. Other names used for this type of ice comprise cubelet ice, chewable ice, and pearl ice. This type of ice is round and small and is like a marble.
You will find a lot of best ice makers that can get you cloudy, soft-textured, and chewable ice nuggets in the reviews section. Portable ice makers are best at producing cube and nugget-styled ice, which are definitely the most common types of ice. Flaked ice is hardly ever used in beverages and smoothies, so that will not be talked about much in sections that follow.
Essential Questions to Ask Prior to Purchase
When you set your mind at purchasing the best ice maker, you ought to ask yourself the following questions. Each one will help you decide what type of ice maker to look out for and the features to consider.
1. How Much Does It Produce?
To begin with, you need to look out for the production capacity of a portable ice machine. Production capacity translates into the amount of ice that it can produce in a certain amount of time, say 24 hours. So, here is what you need to identify. How much is your average requirement of ice? If you are hosting a party, how much ice would you need for all your guests? A question such as this will help you identify your requirement of ice and then match this with the production capacity of the machine.
Higher needs mean you will need an ice maker that can produce more ice for instance 24 to 26 lbs. in the 24-hour period.
2. What Capacity Does It Hold?
Next, you must ask yourself about the storage capacity of the ice maker. This refers to how much ice an ice maker can hold in its ice bucket as soon as the ice is ready. This is somewhat the same as the previous point but here it refers to the amount of ice per cycle.
The smaller ice machines have buckets that can hold 15 lbs. of ice, while the large ones are capable of handling 20 lbs. or more conveniently before it overflows. Overflows such as these can damage the ice maker interior as well as exterior. Good quality ice makers have an additional feature indicating when the ice bucket becomes full and ready to overflow.
3. Is It Portable?
Here is another quite essential feature that you must consider since you are apparently looking for a portable ice maker. What does portable ice maker have that other ice makers do not? Well, it is portability, to say the least.
Portable ice makers are lightweight. They can easily be carried to picnics, camping trips, and other similar family trips. A heavier one is good for use at home, but you will not find much space in your car trunk to fit a large under-counter ice maker. You might have to buy ice cubes from the store and fill in an ice cooler to keep your beverage chilled by the time you reach your intended destination.
A portable ice maker weighs about 20 pounds or so, making it easy for you to carry around and use on the go.
4. Is It Easy to Use?
If an ice maker is not easy to use, it is not worth spending money. After all, ice makers are used for turning water into ice. How difficult could it be?
Portable ice makers do not require any complicated installation process, nor do you have to call in a technician for installation. You just need to put it at a specified place, plug it in, fill it with water, and start making ice. It is that easy.
All portable and other ice makes come equipped with a detailed user manual that can help you with the operation process. So, understand the various functionalities and use the device. The issue could be with the maintenance and care of the device, but even those details are clearly mentioned in your manual, read it carefully and thoroughly.
5. Does It Fulfill All Needs?
In order to answer this particular question, you must consider the following points because a detailed need identification process entails the following essential questions.
- Do you hold regular parties or events where you need an ice maker?
- How many people do you generally invite when you host such as event?
- Is it for use at home, office, or during outdoor trips and picnics?
- Do you intend to carry it around often, or will it sit in your kitchen counter for the entirety of its useful life?
- Do you have ample space to fit a portable ice maker in your kitchen or not?
Once you find answers to all these questions, you can decide whether the ice maker fulfills all your needs or not.
6. Does It Fall into Your Budget?
Lastly, you ought to ask yourself this. Having a certain budget in your head will help you skim through various options that you will come across in the reviews section. The budget question actually makes or breaks the deal.
Once you decide the size, capacity, and production features, it is time to shortlist the various options based on your budget. The best ice makers are either reasonably priced or slightly overpriced. Do not compromise on quality or longevity, just to have a device fit into the budget. Explore other options too, you can come across a premium quality ice maker.
The size you choose for your ice maker also determines its price. So if you are going to buy a bigger ice machine, then allocate a slightly higher budget to justify the size.These are a few necessary questions that one must ask prior to making a purchase decision about portable ice maker. However, this is not all. The following section will cover other important features that you cannot overlook when buying a portable ice maker, at any cost.
Based on these reviews, you can successfully decide which particular portable ice maker is your ideal one, based on various features identified in each review. It can be rightly said that Della comes out a clear-cut winner out of the five best ice makers reviewed herein. It performs better than its counterparts, and for this kind of performance, it is also priced reasonably.
Hopefully, you have made up your mind about the ideal ice maker that you ought to bring home for use based on your specific needs and personal preferences. However, when you do bring one home, make sure to clean it regularly and after each ice-making session as well. Because otherwise, you will be risking mold and bacteria formation within the ice maker, which will ultimately impact on the health of all those who consume those ice cubes – your very own friends and family. So, beware.