19 Terms You Should Know Before You Buy An Ice Maker

Feeling overwhelmed in your search for the perfect ice maker? With unfamiliar terms (or terms you thought you knew but are being used differently) abounding, it can be hard to know what exactly you’re looking for. To help you out in your research, we’ve compiled and defined all of the terms to know when shopping for an ice maker:   Click Here to Shop for an Ice Maker

  • ADA Compliant
  • Ambient Temperature
  • Automatic
  • Built-In / Undercounter
  • Commercial
  • Drain Pump
  • Freestanding
  • Gravity Drain
  • Ice Bin
  • Ice Dispenser
  • Modular
  • NSF
  • Outdoor
  • Production Capacity
  • PSIG
  • Self-Contained
  • Storage Capacity
  • UL
  • Water Line

If you find any terms listed on any of our ice makers that you are unsure of or would like clarification on, please leave us a comment below, refer to our FAQs page and/or give us a call at 1.800.297.6076.

ADA Compliant

If an ice maker is deemed ADA compliant, the machine follows the Americans with Disabilities Act’s height and accessibility requirements.

Ambient Temperature

This term refers to the environmental conditions surrounding the ice maker. Extreme ambient temperatures of either the surrounding air or the incoming water supply will affect the efficiency and production capacity of your ice maker. Supplier’s production capacity statements are given assuming an ambient air temperature of 70°F and an ambient water temperature of 50°F.


An automatic ice maker is exactly what it sounds like. Other than powering the unit on, the machine will produce ice automatically. It will make ice until its storage capacity is reached, and once ice is melted or removed, it will resume production.


When you see these terms in relation to an ice maker, it means the machine can be installed flush-with-cabinetry or placed under a counter. Rather than venting from the back or sides, built-in ice makers vent from the front. This allows you to place it in tight spots as long as the front ventilation remains unobstructed.

  • How to Install a Built-In Ice Maker
  • How to Buy an Undercounter Ice Maker


A commercial ice machine is made to withstand the rigorous use typical of commercial settings, such as restaurants or other foodservice applications. Many commercial ice machines have high outputs and easy to service designs.

  • How to Buy a Commercial Ice Maker

Drain Pump

Using a drain pump is one of two draining options for ice makers. If your machine isn’t located near a drain, you’ll want to connect your drain hose to a pump. This pump will use force to route your machine’s excess water where it needs to go.


The term freestanding relates to your ice maker placement options. If your unit is freestanding, it cannot be installed under counters or built-in to any tight spaces. Freestanding ice makers vent from their back or sides, so leaving ample space on all sides is strongly suggested.

Gravity Drain

Gravity draining is one of two draining options for ice makers. If your machine is located near a drain, simply route your machine’s excess water towards that drain using gravity and an included drain hose.

Ice Bin

An ice bin is designed to store all of the ice made by a modular ice machine. Many ice bins are designed to fit directly below a modular unit, catching and storing the ice immediately after it’s been made.

Ice Dispenser

Ice dispensersModular

A modular ice machine has ice production capabilities but no storage. Modular ice machines require a connection to an ice bin or an ice dispenser. Although no storage capacity, modular ice machines have very high production capacities.


If an ice maker is NSF approved, it was tested and certified by an organization specialized in independently testing foodservice products.


Some ice makers are approved for outdoor applications. If you see that a unit is an outdoor ice maker, it’s been fully wrapped in durable stainless steel and can function in extreme temperatures. Although outdoor ice makers are designed to withstand the elements, many of them will experience a decreased efficiency in temperatures above 100°F or below 50°F.

Production Capacity

This term is used to describe the amount of ice a machine can make within a 24 hour time period. This number is estimated assuming ideal ambient conditions (70°F surrounding air temperature & 50°F water temperature).


This acronym stands for ‘Pounds per Square Inch Gauge’. When used in relation to ice machines, this term is referring to water pressure. Many commercial ice machines are designed to function within a specific range of water pressures. Unusually low and unusually high water pressure will affect the efficiency of your ice machine.


A self-contained ice machine has both production and storage capacities in one unit. There is no need to purchase an ice bin or ice dispenser when using a self-contained machine. Self-contained ice machine out
puts are smaller than that of modular units.

Storage Capacity

This term denotes the amount of ice a machine can store at any given time. Once an ice maker’s storage capacity is reached, it will suspend ice production. Once some of the ice is either melted or removed, production will commence.


This is an independent safety testing agency. A UL listing and certification denotes that the ice machine has been both tested and certified by an independent third party.

Water Line

When used in relation to ice machines, a water line refers to the connection of the machine to your water supply. If an ice maker requires a water line hookup, you’ll want to use a licensed plumber for installation. Most units arrive with all of the necessary parts to facilitate this hookup.

Now that you’ve got the lingo down, you’ll be more equipped in your search for the ice maker of your dreams. Happy shopping!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *