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What Is an Icemaker?

Angela Colley
Angela Colley

An icemaker is a machine that turns water into perfectly shaped ice. Every icemaker uses the same mechanics, from those used in homes to the large commercial ice machines found in restaurants and hotels. These mechanics simplify the process and eliminate the need for manually freezing ice in an ice tray, which benefits both commercial and residential settings.

To form the ice, the icemaker uses an electrical current, a thermostat and a timer. First, a water valve releases just enough water to fill the individual ice trays on the mold inside the icemaker. The refrigerator's cooling unit begins to freeze the water. The thermostat monitors the temperature of the water inside the mold until the water freezes.

Ice cubes.
Ice cubes.

After the water has frozen into ice, a heating coil located beneath the mold begins to heat the ice. The combination of freezing temperatures and heat loosens the ice, allowing the cubes to slip from the mold. The motor on the icemaker switches on and turns the ice out of the mold toward a set a blades, which slice or break the ice cubes apart. The individual ice cubes fall into the ice bucket. Most icemakers have a sensor that prevents the ice from overfilling the ice bucket.

Ice buckets are used to gather ice from an icemaker.
Ice buckets are used to gather ice from an icemaker.

The most common type of icemaker inside the home is the built-in refrigerator icemaker. These icemakers sit inside the freezer. On standard models, the homeowner will need to open the door and take ice manually from the ice bucket. Advanced models have an automatic dispenser on the freezer door. The homeowner needs only to press a button or to press a glass against the dispenser's button or other triggering device to get the ice to drop into the glass.

Commercial settings, such as restaurants and hotels, use large ice machines. An ice machine uses the same mechanics as an icemaker, but on a much larger scale. An ice machine typically has a large ice reservoir. Guests or employees can open the door to the reservoir and scoop out the ice they need.

Other less popular models of icemakers include under-cabinet mounted icemakers and portable ice machines. An under-cabinet icemaker works as a standalone device and is permanently mounted under a kitchen cabinet. A portable icemaker can move around from place to place and will work outdoors. To use a portable icemaker, the owner will need access to an electrical outlet.

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    • Ice cubes.
      By: karandaev
      Ice cubes.
    • Ice buckets are used to gather ice from an icemaker.
      By: freshidea
      Ice buckets are used to gather ice from an icemaker.