I’m crazy about ice. I know, it’s weird but I love an ice-cold beverage with ice filled right up to the rim of the glass. When the liquid is gone, I am the guy who sits there and crunches on the remaining ice left in the cup. Personally, I feel the best kind of ice is the kind you get at restaurants. It’s wet, it’s soft and it is as clear as crystal, and believe it or not, it is available at home with a built-in icemaker.
The built-in, under the counter icemaker is actually one of our favorite products here at Thompson Price. We recommend one for every kitchen or bar project. I know what you’re thinking, “But TJ, I already have a built-in ice maker in my refrigerator or freezer.” Honestly, those icemaker units are fine for some, but once you have experienced the magic of this luxury appliance, you will never want to go back to your refrigerator ice.
There are two problems with refrigerator ice.
The first problem is that there never seems to be enough of it. The second issue is, it’s not that great. Icemakers that can be found inside of refrigerators or freezers are formed by filling a static ice mold with water. After 30 minutes to an hour of sitting there in the mold, the water freezes and becomes ice cubes.
Around that same time, the ice is dumped into a bin or sits in a compartment ready for dispensing, if it’s inside of the refrigerator. From there, all it does is continue to freeze and more often than not, usually ends up as one big clump of ice if it is not used in a timely fashion. The Kitchenaid Built-In Ice Maker is the answer to resolving these problems with refrigerator ice.
The first thing you need to understand about this fantastic built-in ice maker is that it’s completely different from the ice makers you find in your refrigerators. From an operational perspective, these built-in icemakers work exactly like the commercial style icemakers you can find in restaurants and other food establishments.
“So, how does it work?” Well, I am glad you asked.
Built-in icemakers are works of sheer genius. At first glance, many people dismiss them due to their relatively high price tags but once they understand how they work, that price tag is extremely justified. What’s more impressive is the core design the unit is based on has been around since the 1980s with improvements in operation and upgrades to certain parts along the way due to improvements in technology. Regardless of which unit you go with, they work the same way and have three main systems:
- The Water System.
Obviously, the most important part of the icemaker is the water system. The water system is comprised of multiple solenoids and pumps that work in tandem to bring fresh water into the icemaker recirculate it over the freeze plate and expel the excess water from the unit.
- The Cooling System.
The next most important part of the icemaker is the cooling system. The cooling system is needed to make ice, but this product also uses cooling in a much different way. Unlike refrigerators or freezers where the whole interior is held at a certain temperature, these built-in icemakers are not completely cooled. In fact, the cooling unit is only used to cool a metal plate near the top of the icemaker. This is the key to that perfect, wet, clear ice.
Have you ever seen an icicle? Did you notice how it’s perfectly clear and it shines in in the sun?
That’s because of the way it was formed. Water drips or runs down an object that is held at a low temperature and the water slowly freezes more and more forming an icicle over time. Icicles are perfectly clear because the minerals in rain and water do not freeze but run off and fall to the Earth.
These icemakers work off of that same concept. Water that enters the unit is held in a reservoir and is pumped or recirculated over this freezing metal plate over and over until a 12”x12” solid ½” to 1” thick square block of ice is formed and guess what—it’s perfectly clear! The minerals don’t freeze with the ice block but end up in the water reservoir ready to be expelled from the unit after the freeze cycle is complete. This freeze process usually takes place in about 20 minutes.
- The Heating System.
You are probably asking yourself, “Why would anyone in his or her right mind put a heating system inside an ice maker?” Well, because it is actually necessary. When the ice block is formed, there is a sensor that lets the machine know the ice block is ready.
At this point, the cooling system shuts down and the heating element activates to heat the cooling plate beneath the ice block. After a matter of minutes, the ice block releases from the cooling plate and gently slides down onto a series of heated wires arranged in a grid and divided into 1”x1” squares.
That large ice block slowly melts and is cut by these wires into perfect jewel like 1”x1” ice cubes that fall into the unrefrigerated ice bin below. Since the ice bin is not cooled, the ice is slowly but continuously melting. This is the KEY to that wet, perfect, soft ice.
These three systems combine allow you to enjoy restaurant quality ice at home.
Depending on the size unit you choose, it will produce between 30-50 pounds of ice on a daily basis. When you are planning a gathering or having company over, all you will need to do is scoop the ice in the bin into a small cooler a few hours before the guests arrive. By the time they get there, your icemaker will have almost replenished itself saving you another trip to the gas station or the grocery store.
So, there you have it. You now know the benefits and how these great products work.
These built-in under-the-counter icemakers are every bit a luxury appliance and the benefits will more than justify the price tag. Here at Thompson Price, we fully believe these built-in icemakers are worth it; but, if you need more convincing, come by the showroom and try the ice for yourself. We’re sure you’ll agree after that!
— TJ Price