How Do Ice Makers Work?

by | Jul 30, 2021 | Ice maker | 0 comments

Ice machines use built-in thermostats to monitor and maintain the temperature in the molds. When you open the water valve, the water begins to fill the ice molds for the next 7 seconds and closes by itself. Ice cubes gradually freeze, and when the ice builds up and the temperature drops to a certain level, the thermostat will close a switch in the electrical circuit and begin to heat up the heating coil and the bottom of the mold. When the mold is hot enough, the ice cubes begin to slide off the surface.

Below we will talk more about how ice machines work and explain the difference between the ice making process of a commercial ice machine, a regular refrigerator machine and a portable ice machine.

How do commercial ice machines work?

Ice machines use four essential components: a compressor, a condenser, an inlet valve and an evaporator. To start the ice making process, the machine must be connected to the plumbing line that supplies it with fresh water and to the electrical circuit that drives it. This automates the ice making process, as the ice tray (connected to a set of helical heat exchanger tubes) is refilled instantly when a batch of ice cubes is extracted.

When you turn on the switch, the machine starts pumping water from a collection container and directs it towards the ice tray. The compressor then fires up and compresses low-pressure steam to high-pressure steam, which is then supplied to the condenser. Then the condenser will take the high pressure steam and lead it into its spiral tubes which are near the unit or on the outside. This will dissipate the heat when the high pressure steam is converted to high water pressure.

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At this point, an inlet valve will release the pressure from the high pressure coolant and create steam again. After this, the refrigerant moves to the evaporator, where the heat exchange takes place. An evaporator is usually a metal rod that is cooled by the low-pressure coolant, which then cools the interior of the machine and the ice tray.

During this process, the water gradually freezes and turns into clear ice. Several minutes later, a solenoid valve (connected to the heat exchanger tubes) is activated, causing the refrigerant to change direction and cycle back to the evaporator. The ice tray and heat exchanger tubes quickly start to heat up, which loosens the ice cubes and causes them to slide down. Some ice machines come with cylinder pistons that push the dice out of the tray when the tray begins to heat up.

How do refrigerator machines work?

Ordinary freezers and refrigerators come with ejector blades and guard arms that push the dice up and out and push them against the collection container located just below the tray. When there are no more ice cubes left in the molds and the shut-off arm reaches the lowest position, the water valve is activated immediately to start a new cycle. If ice cubes are stuck in the road, the machine fills only part of the tray with water.

The difference between commercial and refrigerator machines

The difference between a commercial ice maker and a refrigerator machine is that the latter freezes entire pockets of water. Commercial ice machines freeze ice cubes layer by layer from the inside out, ensuring that the cubes remain clear and crack-free.

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How do portable ice machines work?

How do portable ice machines workA portable ice machine is not connected to a water pipe and it is therefore a manual task to fill the water reservoir. A water filter pumps the water through a hole in the bottom of the reservoir up to the ice tray located on top of the machine. When the cycle starts, lower the ½-inch plugs on the heat exchanger into the water.

These bones cool down quickly, which encourages the formation of ice cubes within minutes (average 6). When the dice are ready, the spikes start to heat up, making it convenient for the dice to slide off and roll down into the ice container, just above the water reservoir. Portable ice machines do not store stored ice frozen, as commercial ice machines do. If you do not use all the ice cubes from the collection container, the water from the melted cubes will go back into the water reservoir and turn to ice again.


Ice making is a story as old as time. However, ice making techniques have become more sophisticated over the centuries and we could not be happier! Now you know everything about how ice machines work – whether it is a commercial or portable machine, while your freezer / refrigerator works on a similar, but not quite the same principle.

The post How do ice machines work? first appeared on Ice Making 101.

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