American Services refrigeration services near University City knows that one of the more frequently asked questions from commercial food industry owners is, “What’s the difference between air-cooled & water-cooled ice machines?”… While it may seem as though the answer is self explanatory most owners do not understand the difference or the pros & cons of each.
Air-cooled commercial ice machines are designed with an electric fan that assists in the dissipation of heat generated by the mechanical refrigeration components. However, water-cooled commercial ice machines use water as the cooling agent for mechanical refrigeration by routing the cool water around the components. Water-cooled machines therefore use significantly more water than air-cooled machines, about 100 gallons per 100-lbs of ice produced, extremely inefficient, and single-pass (use and dump) systems have been banned (deemed environmentally unstable) in many cities across the US.
Air-cooled ice machines are popular throughout the industry primarily because they are considered “green.” These green systems are more energy efficient than the water-cooled counterparts and have a lower cost of operation. The majority of the air-cooled commercial ice machines on the market today are emblazoned with the “Energy Star label”, for those not familiar with the Energy Star label it is the trusted, government-backed (EPA) symbol awarded for energy efficiency helping the country save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.
Researchers are looking into the fact that self contained air-cooled ice machine may produce large amounts of warm air that is emitted into the environment, this typically isn’t regarded as a problem and in most restaurant applications you will never notice the warm air coming from the ice machine condensing unit .
While not as popular or energy efficient, water-cooled ice machines do have a practical use anywhere the surrounding air is above 75degrees-in that case a water-cooled machine may be the better choice. If the ambient air is above 75°F the air-cooled machine will have a hard time cooling the refrigeration components thereby putting a strain on the system-which in turn decreases the machine’s production and increases wear and tear.