You know what’s really annoying? Being halfway through a party and running out of ice. Hopefully, there’s someone around that’s sober enough to go on an ice run or else it’s warm drinks for the rest of the night. What if we told you there was a way to prevent this from ever happening to you again?
Portable ice makers are small enough to stow in a cupboard or on a counter when not in use. Further, they usually just take a few minutes to turn regular tap water into cubes of various sizes. We’ve scoured the market and found some of the best ice makers around, which you can see in the table below.
The 14 Best Ice Makers For 2021
|Best Budget Ice Maker||Igloo ICE105||1.5lbs|
|RCA Compact Ice Maker||1.5lbs|
|Della Portable Electric Ice Maker||1.5lbs|
|Best Mid-Range Ice Maker||Think Gizmos Ice Machine||2.2lbs|
|Best Premium Ice Maker||Whynter IMC-490SS||2.7lbs|
|NutriChef Digital Ice Maker||1.3lbs|
|Smallest Ice Maker||Pyle Portable Ice Maker||1.3lbs|
|Knox Compact Ice Maker||2.2lbs|
|Editor’s Picks||Luma Comfort IM200SS||4.62lbs|
|Della Household Ice Maker||2lbs|
Before we start talking about the individual products, let’s take a moment to explain how ice makers work and the specifications that really matter. This not only helps you understand what you’re buying but makes sure you can set it up easily enough too.
Ice Makers Are Not Freezers
Basically, ice makers work by using a fan and compressor to cool water down to freezing temperatures. However, they aren’t designed to keep things frozen. Over time, your ice will melt and the whole process will start over again. Really, you should be using the ice as it’s made every time.
So why bother with these products over, say, your freezer’s ice tray? Well, ice makers only take a few minutes whereas a freezer can take hours. Also, these products give you the ability to change the size of the cubes and some of the more advanced ones can even crush the ice for you.
Ice Maker Capacity
It’s important you know the difference between the two types of ice maker capacity. The first is usually given in liters and refers to the water reservoir capacity. This is the water you put in. The second type refers to the amount of ice that can be held in the tray. This is usually listed in grams or pounds.
Now, as we’re reviewing portable ice makers, this second capacity will be lower than with a traditionally sized ice maker. However, it’s easy to underestimate how much ice each tray can hold.
Here’s a quick rule of thumb: one pound of ice is good for about three people. Other guides recommend far more, but they’re usually talking about bags of ice. With these products you can generate several pounds every few minutes, so try not to worry about it too much.
Best Budget Ice Maker
Our first category is devoted to the portable ice makers with prices as small as their physical dimensions. That said, don’t write these off as cheap: they’re made to the highest possible standards and are sure to be a welcome addition to your home or office.
First up, let’s take a look at the Igloo ICE105. This model retails for just under 100 USD and is ultra-compact at 15” tall and wide. It’s also fairly quiet for an ice maker, with an operating volume of just 38dB. That’s roughly the same amount of noise you’d hear in an average library. So far, so good, right?
Well, there’s more. The reservoir can hold up to 2.3 quarts of water (about 2.6L) and the ice tray holds up to 1.5lbs. Also included are an ice shovel and basket, so you won’t have to spend any money on extra accessories. Plus, with a stainless steel design, this model is extremely easy to clean. So what else is good?
There’s a digital display on the top that will let you know when your current batch is ready. Missed it? No worries, it’ll also alert you when the tray is full or the water level is too low. Basically, you can go enjoy the party and it’ll take care of itself.
Even if something goes wrong, it comes with a year’s warranty so you can have it fixed at no extra cost. If you’re in the market for a portable ice maker that just works, the Igloo ICE105 would be an excellent choice.
Next up, we have the RCA Compact Ice Maker. This one costs a dollar less than the previous product and comes in four different colors, allowing you to choose whichever best suits your kitchen. It has the same ice and water capacities too, so what are the main differences here?
First and foremost, it allows you to choose between two different sizes of ice. Small cubes, big cubes, it doesn’t matter. Both take the same amount of time. Also, with a daily production of 26lbs of ice, you can plan ahead for any big event – just make sure you have enough room in the freezer.
Now, you should be aware that these cubes are fairly soft when they come out. They’re still enough to cool drinks on short notice but you’ll likely want to harden them up in a freezer if you’re having lots of guests. We were pleased to see that this model shut itself off when the ice tray filled, so at least you won’t waste time refreezing melted ice.
We think that this product would be best suited to students or people who work in offices, as it takes up very little space and can generate a whole load of ice in around six minutes. Given all the features it offers for such a low price, the RCA Compact is a bargain you won’t want to miss.
Last but not least, let’s examine the Della Portable Ice Maker. This model looks very similar to the last one we saw but offers a few additional features. The most obvious of these is the automatic overflow protection, but we’ll cover the others in more detail below.
This ice maker creates fingers of ice as opposed to the traditional cubes. Again, you can choose one of two sizes, but what’s excellent about the Della model is that the ice basket is insulated to delay melting for as long as possible. We get it – sometimes you get distracted. Well, that won’t be a problem anymore.
There’s a digital display on the top that lets you monitor your water level and ice production, plus you can always just have a look through the window at the top if you’re in a hurry. Really, for less than 100 USD, this is probably the most advanced model you’ll find. There is one minor issue, however.
This ice maker is ever so slightly larger than the others. It stands 17” tall and 16” long. That said, this isn’t a huge deal since it’s likely going to be on a countertop anyway. We’d have liked to see a little extra capacity as a compromise here, but the Della Portable is an excellent choice regardless.
Best Mid-Range Ice Maker
So we’ve seen the least expensive ice makers around but what can you get if you’re willing to increase your budget slightly? The following products might cost a little more but they make up for it by including new functionality, larger storage trays, and of course, quick ice production.
The first of our mid-budget picks is the Think Gizmos Ice Machine. This one costs around 150 USD and boasts a 2.2lb ice capacity – that’s an increase of almost 50% over the others we’ve covered. It has a minimalistic design but don’t let that fool you – this is a product that earns its place in your home.
The biggest change is that this model offers three sizes of ice instead of just two. It can create up to 26lbs of ice every day and has a simple control scheme so that anyone can use it with ease. How could it be any better? Well, what if it included a year’s warranty and a free ice scoop?
Now, if you forget to take the ice out, it melts and is refrozen during the next cycle. This can be a bit of a nuisance, however, with a freezing time of just six minutes, it’s not too big a deal. There’s a red LED that lights up when the ice tray is full anyway so you’ll be able to tell at a glance when you need to empty it.
Let’s say you’re looking for something a little more stylish. In that case, you’re going to want to check out the NewAir AI-100S. It comes in six colors including a striking shade of blue so you can find one that complements your room’s décor beautifully.
This ice maker has a slightly larger daily production at around 28lbs. However, it takes a little longer (almost 15 minutes) to make the ice. This is a fairly small problem due to the increased yield, but it is worth knowing before you buy it. There is, however, a side-mounted drain for easier emptying, which is nice.
Like the last model, this one offers three different ice sizes and has an extremely simple control scheme. After all, nobody wants to struggle with new tech at the last minute. You’ll be pleased to know that as well as having exceptional ease of use, it’s also nice and compact at just 14.5” tall and 15” deep.
Essentially, this product is intended for those with slightly higher than average ice consumption. For instance, if you live in a hot place, the AI-100S will be an absolute blessing. As long as you don’t mind a tiny increase in production time, it’ll be a perfect match and money well spent.
Lastly, in this category, we have the EdgeStar IP210BL, a sleek, attractive little ice maker that costs around 140 USD. It’s worth noting that this product is a bit larger than the others we’ve seen, so it might not be ideal for small kitchens. That said, it does have a number of other advantages.
First is the enlarged ice tray. It can hold up to 2.5lbs at once. You’ll be alerted with an LED when it’s full too, however, if you forget about it, the ice will melt and refreeze. Ice production takes about ten minutes and you can choose one of three sizes.
Now, this model makes pretty large fingers of ice and they’re hard. This won’t be an issue for adults but might present a slight hazard if you plan on giving it to young children. Rather, this model is designed for catering to large numbers of people at a party. Just be careful and you’ll be fine.
This ice maker is affordable, versatile, and simple to use. As a result, it’d make an excellent addition to your kitchen counter. Plus, it comes in four colors so you can choose whichever you like best.
Best Premium Ice Maker
Let’s say for a second that you need a lot of ice, and often. Maybe you’re lucky enough to live somewhere really hot. Well, in this case, you’d be better suited to a more expensive model that can handle the increased use. Who knows, maybe you’ll find that the products below offer better functionality, too.
We’ll open this category with the Whynter IMC-490SS. At around 200 USD, this ice maker isn’t quite economical. It is, however, sturdy, well-crafted, and about as versatile as they come. It has a daily ice yield of almost double the others we’ve seen (49lbs) and takes just ten minutes to make almost three pounds.
So how much water can a product like this hold? If you said less than five liters, you’ve underestimated the IMC-490SS. It’s not just bigger, though: it’s also better for the environment since it’s Energy Star certified. This large frame makes it a little heavier than most at around 38 pounds.
You’ll be glad to know that this ice maker has one of the simplest control systems around. There are just a handful of buttons as well as a small selection of ease of use features like a timer and cleaning mode. Let Whynter take the stress out of maintenance – after all, it’s supposed to make your life easier.
This product is designed for those of us that have higher than average ice requirements. As such, if you’re looking for an ice maker to use infrequently, this might not be the one for you.
The EdgeStar IP250SS is another premium ice maker, but this one has a focus on sophistication and elegance. After all, if you’re going to have this model in your home, don’t you want it to look as good as possible? Just because something is useful doesn’t mean it has to be unattractive.
Okay, let’s talk about functionality. This model can hold up to 2.6lbs of ice at once, and each cycle takes roughly ten minutes. There’s a daily production limit of about 48lbs – more than enough for all but the largest gatherings. So what else helps justify this product’s higher price?
How about the timer function? The fact that it’s capable of cleaning itself, its insulated ice storage bin, or its drainless design? When you weigh these handy little features, it becomes totally clear why the EdgeStar IP250SS is so popular among consumers.
All things considered, this model is likely best suited to people who’ve decorated their homes exactly as they want it. The stainless steel aesthetic is very common and blends seamlessly with any kind of décor. You don’t have to compromise functionality for an attractive design and the IPS250SS proves this.
All of the products we’ve covered thus far have had one thing in common: you had to physically remove the ice yourself. Instead, the NutriChef Digital Ice Maker comes with a dispenser you can use to direct freshly made ice straight into your drink. At just under 200 USD, it’s a steal.
There is a slight compromise, though. This model can only produce 33lbs of ice each day. It can store up to 1.3lbs at a time and even offers the option to connect it directly to a faucet so you don’t have to keep refilling it. There are two ice sizes to choose from, as well.
Credit to NutriChef, though, this is one of the quietest ice makers on the market. This makes it perfect for use in offices or areas where too much noise could be a distraction. To keep things quiet, it does take slightly longer to finish freezing water, though, at around nine minutes.
If you’re in the market for a sleek, quiet ice maker that comes with the least amount of fuss, this may well be the one you need. The dispenser alone is fantastic but when coupled with its other features, this becomes a must-have product.
Smallest Ice Maker
If you’re looking for the smallest possible ice maker for your party or camping trip, you’re in the right place. Sure, the following products might not have the fancy features or huge ice capacity of some of the others we’ve seen but when push comes to shove, these are the ones you’ll want in your truck.
Take the Pyle portable Ice Maker, for example. It retails for just under 160 USD and manages to find a compromise between portability and functionality that brings the best of both worlds. It’s ultra-quiet too, so you won’t even have to worry about it being a distraction as you hang out. Now, let’s talk about tech specs.
To be fair, it has a daily ice production of just 22lbs. However, if you need ice quickly, this is the one you want. It produces 1.3lbs of ice every ten minutes and has LED lights that alert you whenever the ice tray is full or the water needs topping up.
There’s nothing less attractive than a dirty ice maker. After all, you’re putting that stuff in your drink. Thankfully, this model has a sleek, easily cleaned stainless steel body. Plus, at just 14” tall, it’s compact enough to take with you wherever you go. Camping, to the poolside, it doesn’t matter.
Let’s say you liked the last model but were a little put off by its low capacity. No problem – check out the Knox Compact instead. This ice maker costs about the same price, comes in three colors, and can hold up to 2.2lbs of ice every single run. With three sizes to choose from, you can customize it exactly to your liking.
All the usual indicators are present here: water full, ice full, all that jazz. Also, because the interface has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible, there won’t be any awkward moments where you struggle to get it working at a crucial moment. That’s not bad, right? Well, it gets even better.
You know for certain that this product is designed to last for a long time. It comes with a six-month warranty period so even if it breaks after purchase you won’t be left out of pocket. Further, because it’s so simple, there’s less chance of any of the components breaking.
We’re going to close this category with a bang. The Whynter IMC-270MS costs less than 120 USD and offers a strong compromise between high ice production and size that you just won’t find anywhere else. At less than 13” tall, it’s among the smallest ice makers on the market and doesn’t slack on capacity either.
With this product, you can store up to 1.5lbs of ice every ten minutes. It has a 2.2L water reservoir, so as long as you keep it topped up, there’s nothing to stop you churning out an endless supply of ice – up to 27lb per day.
This ice maker has a side vent for air intake, but there’s no draining required. Any unused ice is simply melted down and refrozen. It’s easy to clean, portable, and powerful – simply, the IMC-270MS is one of the best low-cost, high production ice makers available today.
This section is dedicated to the ice makers that we think offer the best value for money. We’ve settled on two products, either of which would make an excellent addition to your home, office, or RV.
The first is the Luma Comfort IM200SS. What really sets this model apart from the rest is its high ice tray capacity. You can create up to 4.6lbs of ice every 15 minutes, plus for around 150 USD, it’s cheaper than some models with lower capacity. Pretty good, right?
Admittedly, it has a lower daily yield than most, at 28lbs. That said, with just a few buttons, there’s minimal effort required to get clear, restaurant-quality ice on demand. It’s also pretty compact at just 14” tall. If you have higher than average requirements, this product could be just what you need.
Let’s not overlook the quality of the ice itself. Most similar ice makers produce cloudy ice. This doesn’t taste any different but it’s nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing. With the IM200SS, you may as well be making glass – it’s so clean, so clear, and looks incredible.
Finally, let’s finish up with the Della household ice maker. This model, shockingly, costs less than 100 USD and makes up to 2lbs of ice at a time (up to 26lb a day). Sure, with such a low price, it doesn’t look as good as some of its rivals, but performance-wise, it’s up there with the best of them.
This ice maker boasts an incredibly simplified user interface with just a few buttons. Ultimately, it’s designed for those of us that can’t be bothered with fancy, complicated systems. When it’s really hot all you want is a cold drink and this product lets you get one in just six minutes.
So the Della has it all. A low price, simple operation, minimal maintenance needed a decent capacity and the usual alerts. Ultimately, if you want more functionality, choose another product. If you’re looking for a stress-free ice maker though, this is the best choice.