The Ins and Outs of a Portable Ice Maker

We’ve always craved ice-cold beverages, but it hasn’t always been easy to get them. In the nineteenth century, people had to harvest the ice straight from frigid lakes; the twentieth century brought us home freezers, which made it possible to make your own ice at home. But we didn’t stop there. Now, it’s possible to make ice just about anywhere thanks to the handy appliances we call the portable ice maker.

Wondering how a portable ice maker works? We’ll takes you through the ins and outs of a portable ice maker.

portable ice

How Does a Portable Ice-Maker Work?

The inner workings of a portable ice-maker are not all that different from a typical home freezer. It does not require much input to use. All you need to do is refill the water tank, empty the bucket, and run the occasional cleaning cycle.

Here’s how a portable ice maker works. Water gets pumped from a reservoir to a container, where freezing-cold metal prongs turn the water to solid ice. The prongs are full of refrigerant, which is the same substance refrigerators and air conditioners use to cool the air. Once the water is frozen solid, a component called a heat exchanger reverses the prongs from cool to warm so the ice cubes can drop into the ice bucket.

With the Danby 2lb Portable Ice Maker, an alarm will sound to indicate that the bucket is full and the ice is ready to use!

Where Can You Use a Portable Ice Maker?

As long as there’s a place to plug in and a roof over your head, you can use a portable ice maker just about anywhere. You will most often see them on kitchen countertops and basement bar-tops for easy access to ice during parties and summer BBQs. Many people also buy them for use in camping trailers or RVs with limited fridge space, since most of the beverages will be kept outside in a cooler.

Portable ice makers are also great for food trucks, boats, and event spaces like rec centres. Just about the only place you shouldn’t use one is the great outdoors, since portable ice makers do need to be plugged in.

Does a Portable Ice Maker Need a Water Line Hook-Up?

portable ice maker does not need to be hooked up to a water line (that’s what makes it portable!) You can fill water reservoir from any potable water source.

How Much Ice Can a Portable Ice Maker Make?

Though somewhat of a tongue-twister, that is a good question. The answer will vary model-to-model. As for Danby’s 2lb Portable Ice Maker, the answer is in the name: it can produce up to 2lbs (12kg) of ice at once, and up to 25lbs (12kg) per day. That’s just over a pound of ice per hour.

How Long Does a Portable Ice Maker Keep Ice Cold?

Portable ice makers are not designed to keep ice cold for a long time (that’s a job for a compact freezer). However, any ice that melts will flow back into the water reservoir, meaning you won’t have to worry about spills.

How Do You Clean a Portable Ice Maker?

We recommend checking the product manual that came with your portable ice maker to make sure these instructions are applicable.

  • Cleaning inside a portable ice maker: Danby’s portable ice maker is self-cleaning. To run a cleaning cycle, fill the reservoir with equal parts water and white vinegar, then hold the ON/OFF button for five seconds. When the cycle is over and the unit goes back into Standby Mode, drain the reservoir and run another cleaning cycle with fresh water to rise it.
  • Cleaning the ice bucket and water tank: Unplug the appliance, remove the drainage cap, and drain the tank. Wipe the inside with a cloth and clean, warm water. Flush with clean water until the water runs clear.
  • Cleaning the outer case: Wipe the case with a soapy cloth. Be sure to dry thoroughly.
  • Cleaning the control panel and door: Wipe the surfaces with a damp cloth. Do not use soap.

Why Is My Portable Ice Maker Not Getting Cold?

If your portable ice maker is not getting cold, one of these issues is the likely cause:

  1. The heat output is clogged with dust or something is blocking it. Clean the air inlet and outlet, and make sure there is at least 20cm of unobstructed space between the air inlet/outlet and any walls or objects.
  2. The temperature in the water reservoir is too high. Only fill the reservoir with water that is room-temperature or colder.
  3. The room the portable ice maker is in is too hot. Move the appliance to another location where the temperature is cooler (but at least 5°C/41°F). Avoid placing it in direct sunlight.
  4. There is a refrigerant leak in the appliance. Unfortunately, this is not something you can fix yourself. Have the ice maker looked at by a professional.

Is a Portable Ice Maker Worth It?

Not everyone has room in their kitchen for another single-use appliance, but if you relate to one of the following, a portable ice maker could definitely serve you well:

  • Whenever you go camping, bags of ice are always on your shopping list.
  • There’s no room in your freezer for ice cube trays (or you’re always forgetting to fill them).
  • You love to have the gang over for an incredible summer BBQ.
  • Your go-to beverage is best served on the rocks.
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