A lot of portable ice makers produce opaque “Bullet” ice which tends to melt relatively quickly. There are some pros and cons to this from an engineering standpoint. However, clear ice tends to be harder and colder, which means it lasts longer in the collection bin as well as in the glass.
The Sentern Portable Countertop Clear Ice Maker is specifically designed to produce hard, clear ice cubes. Then they also heavily insulated the collection bin to help keep the ice frozen for longer. A single cycle takes around 15-minutes, which is a little longer than some of the competitors, but the ice lasts longer.
The Sentern Portable Countertop Clear Ice Maker has a large 2.2-liter water reservoir and was designed for quieter operation. The stainless steel exterior and the digital control center also means it looks good on a kitchen counter.
The LITBOOS IML-001 Portable Ice Maker was engineered for easy portability and fast operation. It only weighs 22-pounds and also has a relatively small countertop presence. This makes it a great choice for RV travelers, and tailgaters where space is at a premium, but still, need ice on demand.
It has a 1.7-liter water reservoir, which is significant given its compact size. This portable ice maker can generate 9 cubes of bullet ice in roughly 7 to 9 minutes. It has an internal ice bin that will hold up to 1.5 pounds of ice cubes at a time which is about 75 to 80 bullet ice cubes. It’s rated to produce up to 26-pounds of ice in a single 24-hour span.
It has a sleek stainless steel and black plastic exterior. The plastic components are BPA-free and certified to meet ETL standards. The control panel includes indicator lights and there is even an automatic shutoff feature.
The GE Opal Ice Maker is one of the larger and more sophisticated portable ice makers on the market. This particular unit weighs in at 47-pounds. So, it’s probably not the ideal choice for a tailgate party. Still, it’s compact design means it can live on your kitchen counter or in an RV. It’s especially attractive for a home kitchen with a refrigerator that doesn’t have an ice maker in the door.
It’s can produce up to 3-pounds of ice per cycle, and a single full cycle takes just under 20-minutes. The ice bin can also hold up to 3-pounds of ice at a time, which is usually enough to supply your average family at home or on an RV adventure. It’s also worth noting that the GE Opal is rated to produce up to 24-pounds of ice per day.
This portable ice maker also comes with Bluetooth connectivity and the GE Profile app. It allows you to do other things, while still keeping tabs on it. Which can be handy if you’re entertaining outside, while It works in the kitchen.
How We Picked
Portable ice makers are a somewhat new appliance that makes the most out of modern-day materials and engineering. Right off the bat, they appeal to campers and RV travelers who have access to electricity but don’t want to get tied up making daily ice runs. Though portable ice makers can appeal to so many other niches. This includes homes with outdoor kitchens, pop-up restaurants, food trucks, and people who want ice on demand, but their current refrigerator doesn’t have a water line.
We tried to keep these various interests in mind during the review process. Of course, the best portable ice maker for each niche can be influenced by several factors.
Total Ice Production Per Day
RV travelers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts tend to lean toward portable ice makers that can support their coolers without having to take time out of their day to make a run to the ice store. This also means they prioritize units that can produce more than 20-pounds of ice per day. Not only does this kind of capacity save you time, but it also helps pay for itself, by saving you the cost of daily bags of ice.
Cubes Per Batch
Factoring in the amount of ice you need at any one given time can also be a factor depending on how you want to use the portable ice maker. If you are looking for a unit that can provide ice on demand for you and another person in your man cave cocktail station, then you might want more total cubes per cycle.
Cube Type And Size
Most portable ice makers create “Bullet Ice” which tends to be opaque and has a propensity for melting faster than cube ice. From an engineering standpoint, bullet ice lends toward rapid freezing and melting. It’s arguable “Soft” to the point where you might even be able to chew it. Bullet ice’s somewhat faster melting rate also helps the unit to recycle the ice back into the reservoir for another batch. In that light, it uses water efficiently.
Clear ice tends to be much harder and it takes longer to start melting. The tradeoff here is that it usually takes longer for clear ice to fully freeze. So, you’re going to have more time in a cycle. It’s particularly nice if you want your portable ice maker to support your RV or campsite cooler. With these units, we also tried to look for portable ice makers that had superior insulation in the sidewalls of the ice collection chamber. That way you can make a big batch and trust that you’re not going to lose much if any to melting.
Cube size is also a factor in freezing and melting rates. Some portable ice makers have features that let you select the size of the cubes. The smaller the cube the fast it tends to freeze, but it can also mean the ice will melt faster. Especially with bullet ice.
Size And Weight
As the name implies a “Portable Ice Machine” needs to be portable, at least to some degree. While you don’t need to install direct water or drain lines, you also probably don’t want to lug a monster ice machine with you. Especially if you want it for tailgating or camping.
Throughout the reviewing process, we tried to keep an eye out for a wide spectrum of sizes and weights. Ideally, if you’re going to be on the move a lot with a portable ice machine, you want it to weigh less than 25 pounds empty. When you also add in the water and ice it could be a real back-breaking experience.
Of course, some portable ice makers aren’t going to be moved around a lot. A few just live on a kitchen counter to make up for a refrigerator without an ice maker in the door, or an RV kitchen. These can be a little larger or smaller depending on what your needs are. Ideally, it’s still a situation where you should measure twice before buying.
GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
- 3-pounds of ice per cycle
- 24-pounds per day
- Produces ice in under 20-minutes
- Bluetooth connectivity
- GE Profile Opal app
- 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
- 15. 5 x 14.25 x 17. 2-inches
- Unit weighs 47-pounds
The GE Opal Ice Maker is one of the largest and arguably one of the most sophisticated units in this market niche. Weighing in at 47-pounds, it’s not the sort of thing you are going to take with you on a tent camping trip or to a tailgate party. Yet it is still compact enough to have a deserving place on your counter, in your RV, or as part of a protected outdoor kitchen space.
It’s rated to produce 3-pounds of ice per cycle, which is typically enough to keep drinks cold and refreshing for around six to seven people. One full cycle takes just under 20-minutes, which is a little bit longer, but the trade-off is the high capacity per cycle.
The GE Opal is rated to produce up to 24-pounds of ice per day, and the collection bin holds up to 3-pounds at a time. It also comes with a side tank, ice bin, ice scoop, and a drip tray.
One other area where the opal stands apart is the Bluetooth connectivity and the GE Profile app. This lets you be away from the portable ice maker, while still knowing is status and what it’s doing. It’s especially handy if you happen to be entertaining outside, while It’s working away in the RV or home kitchen.
What We Liked
If you need a portable ice maker for entertaining indoors and out, but you don’t want to be tied to it at the hip, then you are sure to love the Bluetooth connectivity and the GE Profile app. The ability to produce three pounds of ice per batch and 24-pounds in a single day also means it has the performance to support your RV’s cooler without having to take a trip to the store.
This is one of the more sophisticated ice makers on the market, with the special features and overall capacity performance to be the best portable ice maker for a home, outdoor kitchen, or an RV. If you love glamping, but you don’t want to push the freezing performance of an absorption freezer, then this portable ice machine deserves to be near the top of your list.
Crownful CF-IM01 Ice Maker Machine for Countertop
- 9 ice cubes in under 10 minutes
- Ice bucket holds up to 80 ice cubes
- 14.6 x 14.2 x 10.7-inches
- Weighs 17.6-pounds
- 18-month warranty
The Crownful CF-IM01 Portable Ice Maker was designed to be highly portable, yet it can also be right at home on your kitchen counter. It has a 9-cube capacity per cycle and freezes water in 8 to 10 minutes. However, the ice bin can hold up to 80-cubes.
This makes it a nice compact option to supply ice for two or three people. Trying to use it to fully support a campsite cooler might be a little bit of a stretch in hot conditions.
If you do want to fill the bin for easy on-demand ice, in the great outdoors, you might want to place it in a cool or shady spot.
The fact that the Crownful CF-IM01 Ice Maker only weighs a little over 17-pounds when empty, which makes it easy to take with you just about anywhere with electricity.
What We Liked
The fast rate of freezing is impressive. If you only have two or three people needing fresh ice for their beverages, the Crownful CF-IM01 will be able to put out ice faster than you need it. As long as the surroundings aren’t hot, you’ll have plenty of room in the 80-cube ice bin.
Considering the very friendly price point and the fact that it’s covered by a robust 18-month warranty, this lightweight portable ice machine is one of the best budget units on the market. Just be mindful of the temperature on hot days.
COSTWAY Ice Maker for Countertop
- 9 cubes in 7 to 15 minutes
- Up to 33-pounds of ice in 24-hours
- Variable cube sizes
- Reservoir indicator light
- 10 X 16 X 17-inches
- Made from ABS food-grade plastic
- Stainless steel
- Self-cleaning feature
The Costway portable ice maker was designed to be just as comfortable on your kitchen countertop as it is at a tailgating party or on an RV adventure. It weighs in at 24-pounds and has a very small footprint. Costway was also thoughtful with material selection using only food-grade ABS plastics and sleek stainless steel.
Thoughtful engineering was also put into the overall functionality and ease of use. This portable ice maker has a reservoir indicator light that lets you know at a glance if the reservoir needs to be refilled or if the ice bin is full.
There’s also a self-cleaning mode that helps descale the internal plumbing. Though you do need to use a special cleaning solution, mixed with water.
This Costway portable ice maker can make large of small cubes with the press of a button and can produce up to 9 cubes in 7 to 15 minutes. The smaller cubes tend to have a shorter freezing time than the large ones. It has been tested to produce up to 33-pounds of ice in 24 hours. Which means it’s more than capable of supporting a large cooler on a summer camping trip, without having to break camp for an “Ice Run” to the store.
What We Liked
The indicator light, and cube selection, as well as the self-cleaning feature all, make this portable ice maker very easy to use. The fact that it can produce up to 33-pounds of ice in a given day is also impressive, and not a lot of the competition can say the same.
The Costway portable ice maker is a nice machine with the functionality and ease of use that you want, with a price tag that won’t hurt your budget. It’s small enough and light enough that you can take it with you when you want ice service on demand, yet it can still live comfortably on even a small kitchen counter.
COSTWAY Ice Maker for Countertop
- Controls with two ice sizes and an indicator light
- Makes up to 33-pounds of ice per day
- Self-cleaning feature to descale internal components
Vremi VRM010636N Countertop Ice Maker
- Makes ice in under 10 minutes
- 9 cubes per cycle
- 8-gram ice cubes
- 26-pounder per day
- Large 2.2-liter water reservoir
- 9. 5 x 12 x 13. 5-inches
Vremi is an international company that has been growing throughout the consumer appliance market. Their VRM010636N portable ice maker was designed to quickly produce small batches of ice in less than 10-minutes.
Yet it still does have a 2.2-liter water reservoir, and only makes nine, 8-gram ice cubes in a single cycle. This essentially means that you can fill the reservoir at the start of the day and let it run without having to constantly reload it with more freshwater.
Just keep in mind that the ice storage bin can only hold around 1.8 pounds of ice at a time. So, if you are going to use the Vremi VRM010636N Countertop Ice Maker to support a cooler, you won’t want to stray too far.
Portability is also a strength for the Vremi VRM010636N Countertop Ice Maker. It only weighs in at 20-pounds, which makes it easy to take with you camping or on an RV adventure. It’s 9. 5 x 12 x 13. 5-inch footprint also saves counter space, which makes it easy to use year-round at home or in your man cave bar.
What We Liked
The 2.2-liter water reservoir lets you load it up once and not have to worry about reloading it for hours. The fact that it can also produce up to 9-cubes in less than 10-minutes, with its small footprint also makes it a great option for on-demand ice in a home bar.
If you need on-demand ice in your man cave, downstairs bar, or small kitchen, yet you still want a unit that you can take with you on a special outing, the Vremi VRM010636N Countertop Ice Maker needs to be near the top of your list
Northair Portable Automatic Stainless Steel Ice Maker
- Up to 12 cubes in under 12 minutes
- 3 cube sizes
- 48-pounds of ice in 24 hours
- 2.65-pound ice storage bin
- Engineered for quiet operation
- LED display with intuitive controls
- 15 x 17.1 x1 7.0-inches
- Weighs 38-pounds when empty
- 1-year warranty
One look at the technical specs and it’s easy to see that this portable ice maker by Northair was made to support people with high ice needs. The fact that it can produce up to 48-pounds of ice in 24-hours gives it the ability to support one large cooler or two small ones. Yet the unit itself weighs in at 38-pounds, which makes it better suited for RV’s, campers, and cabins where you want to keep ice around the firepit area. Though it certainly has a place at an outdoor kitchen or even a food truck.
The LED control panel allows you to select three different ice cube sizes. The smaller the cube, the faster it freezes. Meaning on the smallest setting you could have a dozen cubes in around 8-minutes. On the largest cube setting, you could have 12 cubes in under 12-minutes.
The storage bin can hold up to 2.65-pounds of ice. If you like the reservoir can also be connected to a 5-gallon water cooler, which makes it very convenient.
This Northair portable ice cube maker was specifically designed to be quieter than most of it’s nearest competitors. They also support it with a 1-year warranty program.
What We Liked
The high capacity of ice in a single day speaks to the Northair portable ice maker’s ability to support you on a camping trip, or simply let you have ice on demand. The quiet operation and the LED display allowing you to choose three different cube sizes also means you can set up ice to your specific needs. Whether it’s filling a cooler, or simply ice for a refreshing smoothie.
Families and food services that need a serious bulk of ice on demand should have the Northair portable ice maker near the top of the list. It can produce a high volume of ice in a short amount of time. This makes it a great option for supporting a campsite cooler, a popup restaurant, food truck, or a lavish outdoor kitchen.
Sentern Portable Countertop Clear Ice Maker Stainless Steel Ice Making Machine
- Produces a batch of ice in under 15 minutes
- 11.2 x 14.4 x 13.8-inches
- 2.2-liter water tank
- Easy-to-use digital control panel
- Superior insulation
- Attractive clear ice cubes
- 1-year warranty
One of the common complaints you get with the ice produced by some portable ice makers is that they tend to make cloudy ice, which melts quickly. With some units, this is by design as they recycle any unused ice back into the reservoir as it melts.
This Sentern Portable Countertop Ice Maker was designed to create much harder clear ice cubes. The ice bin is then heavily insulated to help keep that ice frozen. A single cycle takes only 15-minutes, to provide you with cubes that will arguably last longer in your glass or your cooler than the bullet ice produced by their competitors. The 2.2-liter water reservoir also lets it keep producing ice without you having to hover nearby to refill it.
It’s also worth noting that the Sentern Portable Countertop Ice Maker was designed with an impressive stainless steel exterior that will look impressive in just about any kitchen. It also has a very easy to use digital control center.
What We Liked
Right off the bat, you have to like the fact that this portable ice maker produces clear, hard ice. This type of ice cube is intended to last longer and arguably looks nicer in a glass than cloudy bullet ice. The gleaming stainless steel exterior also makes it visually attractive on your counter. You also have to like that Sentern backs this portable ice maker with a one-year warranty.
If you need clear, hard ice to support a day-pack or picnic cooler, or you want an attractive ice maker for your kitchen counter, then this portable ice maker by Sentern needs to be high on your list.
LITBOOS IML-001 Portable Ice Maker
- Makes 9 ice cubes in under 9 minutes
- Ice bin holds 1.5 pounds of ice at a time
- Weighs 22-pounds
- 1.7-liter reservoir
- 9.5 x 13 x 14.1-inches
- Certified with ETL; The BPA-free
The LITBOOS IML-001 Portable Ice Maker was designed to be quick, convenient, and easily portable. To that end, it only weighs 22-pounds and has a very small footprint on a countertop. This moves it right up the list for RV travelers and tailgaters where space is at a premium, but still, need ice on demand.
This portable ice maker has a 1.7-liter water reservoir, which is substantial for its size. It can produce 9 cubes of bullet ice in 7 to 9 minutes, which is pretty fast. The internal ice bin will also hold 1.5 pounds of ice cubes at a time. This translates into around 75 to 80 bullet ice cubes. The LITBOOS IML-001 Portable Ice Maker is rated to produce up to 26-pounds of ice in a single 24-hour span.
The exterior is made from stainless steel and black plastic. The control panel includes indicator lights and there is even an automatic shutoff feature. The plastic components are BPA-free and certified to meet ETL standards.
What We Liked
The 1.7-liter water reservoir and the 1.5-pound ice bin are impressively large for a small, lightweight portable ice maker. You also have to like the fact that it can make 9 cubes of bullet ice in under 9 minutes, and up to 26-pounds of ice in a single day.
If you need a lightweight portable ice maker that won’t take a big bite out of your checking account, then the LITBOOS IML-001 Portable Ice Maker deserves a good hard look. It was specifically designed to be portable and take up a minimal amount of countertop space. Yet you can still get an impressive 26-pounds of bullet ice from it per day.
Portable ice makers were invented to provide ice on demand. While they tend to be more popular for RV travelers, tailgaters, campers, and outdoorsmen. Though they certainly have found a niche for themselves with people who want an ice supply close at hand without having to run back into the house when they are sitting around the backyard fire pit or grilling at their outdoor kitchen.
They work very much like a traditional freezer ice maker. A small water pump taps into a reservoir or water, which delivers it to the freezing system. A built-in compressor and a fan then work to rapidly freeze the water in the ice cube tray, which is then released when it’s ready for use. If you don’t use it a reasonable amount of time, the system will gradually melt the ice and return it to the reservoir to keep it at the ready.
A lot of portable ice makers generate what’s called “Bullet Ice” which is cylindrical. Though there are a few models that generate impurity-free clear cubed ice as you might find in a restaurant.
The thing that drives the increasing popularity of portable ice makers is that they can often produce a modest amount of ice in a mere matter of minutes. When you contrast this to the traditional ice tray that might be sitting in your kitchen freezer which could potentially take hours to provide you with a dozen or so cubes.
Finding the best portable ice maker for you calls for evaluating a few key factors. You can then filter them into the ways you are most likely to use the ice cube maker.
Size and Overall Portability
Most portable ice makers are compact enough to fit comfortably on a countertop while also being large enough to hold a reasonable volume of ice. They are typically around 15-inches high and around 12 to 14-inches wide. Though some manufacturers make larger and smaller units. Particularly those that might be tailored for RVs and outdoor kitchens.
If you need to manually transport your portable ice maker, then you might also want to factor in weight. Ultimately, you want to be able to take it with you camping or tailgating without feeling like lugging the portable ice maker around is a chore.
The faster a particular model can produce ice, the more people it can support. This might also be a factor if you are camping away from convenience services and you want to keep producing ice for your campsite’s cooler.
There can be a little variance in ice production speed, but on average most portable ice makers can make a reasonable batch of bullet ice in around 7 to 15 minutes. As you can imagine, the smaller units tend to be able to produce a batch of ice in a shorter period of time.
So, if you just need to be able to offer ice for drinks around the backyard firepit a small model with a fast production time might be a better choice. If you need to fill up a day-pack cooler at the campground without having to make a daily ice run to town, then you might want to target a larger unit that might take 15-minutes per batch.
Smaller units also tend to make colder ice and are insulated a little more, which reduces the chances of the ice melting and being recycled.
With some portable ice makers, you might see their performance stated in “Pounds of Ice Per Day.” This is only a minor factor if you are going to be using it for tailgating. However, if you want to use it for supporting your coolers at a remote campsite then a pounds-per-day capacity rating might be an important barometer.
Location Of The Drain Plug
Even though you don’t need a dedicated drain line to run your portable ice maker, you will still need to drain excess water in the system from time to time. Anytime you turn it off or get ready to put it away, you want to drain all the water out of the system. Any water that’s left in the lines or the reservoir could eventually start to get moldy. A drain plug at the bottom is usually much easier to use.
Anytime you are using a portable ice maker outside there’s a risk of things like pollen, dust and the occasional stray hair can sometimes sneak into your reservoir. Some type of mesh filter will help catch these contaminants to prevent them from getting into your ice.
Some portable ice makers give you different options for cube size. This isn’t a make-it or break-it feature, but it might be something to consider if you want to use your portable ice maker for craft beverages and cocktails.
There are even a few portable ice makers that come with a timer. It might be handy if you are making ice while preparing a meal or refreshing everyone’s drink, and you use it as a reminder. It could also be a handy feature if you are planning to serve a multi-course meal at a pop-up restaurant and you need the ice on demand at a specific time. Again, just like cube-size, it’s not a critical feature, but a timer might come in handy depending on how you plan to use it.
A Self-Cleaning Feature
Just like any other type of foodservice appliance the best portable ice makers need some basic care and cleaning. The term “Self-Cleaning” is a little bit of a misnomer, as you still need to add a specially formulated cleaning solution and set things up. Still, having a button feature to help handle the internal process is handy for descaling, but not a major feature.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does A Portable Ice Maker Need Its Own Water Line?
A: Technically portable ice makers don’t need a dedicated water line running to them. Instead, you fill a small reservoir and the internal components handle the rest. So while you don’t need a dedicated line, it helps to have water on hand near the portable ice maker, so you are keeping it supplied as needed.
The portable ice maker also doesn’t need any sort of drain line. The ice cubes it produces tend to melt relatively quickly, and the system automatically returns it to the reservoir. In a certain light, this helps with water use efficiency.
Q: Does A Portable Ice Maker Use AC Or DC Electricity?
A: Most portable ice makers run on the same standard 120 Volt AC electricity available in a standard electric socket. Even if you are boondoggling in an RV or otherwise of the traditional electric grid, all you need is a portable generator with an AC socket.
Q: Is A Portable Ice Maker Hard To Maintain?
A: For the most part, portable ice makers are relatively easy to maintain. Though they do have a slightly higher risk of developing a mold problem when they aren’t properly cleaned. To answer this issue many manufacturers offer some type of ice machine cleaner solution. You simply mix it with a little water, then pour it into the reservoir and run a standard ice making cycle until all of the mixtures have been turned into cubes. Discard the cleaner cubes and wash your ice scoop. Check these Impresa Products Ice Machine Cleaner, Essential Values Ice Machine Cleaner, Affresh W11179302 Ice Machine Cleaner.
Q: Will A Hot Day Affect How A Portable Ice Maker’s Performance?
A: Just like how a hot summer day will impact a basic cooler, the surrounding air temperature and things like direct sunlight can have a modest impact on how fast a portable ice maker can produce ice. To hedge your bets when using it outside, try to keep it in the shade on a hot, sunny day.
As you can see, there are a lot of interesting portable ice maker options. Taking the time to think about how you are most likely to use it, will help you to quickly dial in the best unit for you.
If you want a portable ice maker that will support your campsite cooler, and you’re willing to let it run overnight or when you’re out for the day, you might want to lean toward a unit that produces clear ice cubes. These harder cubes tend to be very cold and hard, which means they melt slower.
On the other end of the spectrum, let’s say that you wanted a portable ice maker for your kitchen to compensate for a refrigerator that doesn’t have a water line in the door. Then you might want to look for a unit that produces bullet ice, which will melt and absorb heat energy from the surrounding water to cool it.
While you’re at it, also think about weight and size. If you want a compact unit for the kitchen or RV, you might want to play around with a measuring tape before pulling the trigger on a specific portable ice maker. If you want to use it for tent camping, tailgating, or an occasional night around the backyard fire pit, then you might also want to prioritize one that weighs less than 25-pounds.
Whatever your specific interests might be chances are the best portable ice maker for you is somewhere on this list.
Product Boxes: Last updated on 2020-11-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API