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Outdoor Ice Maker: Shopper’s Guide & 8 Best Options for Your Outdoor Kitchen

By James King

October 10, 2022

When the weather gets warm… The best way to enjoy it is with a cold drink!

No cocktail or glass of water is complete without a few ice cubes… And you can’t have iced tea without the ice!

However, it’s a hassle to run to the store to grab bags of ice. They start to melt on your way home, and they’re uncomfortably cold to carry.

But if you want to stay cool outside… An outdoor ice machine is a great way to get the most out of your backyard!

While they’re very simple machines… There are a few considerations before you buy one. 

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outdoor kitchen countertop with filled bucket from ice maker

Shopper’s Guide for an Outdoor Ice Maker Machine

One of the great things about getting an outdoor ice maker is that there are so many different types to choose from!

While the massive selection may seem a bit overwhelming initially… There are actually a few easy choices that will narrow down your options.

The first question to ask yourself is where you want to put your outdoor ice maker. This will determine the type you need!

Types of Ice Makers

When you’re looking for an ice maker… You have quite a few options! First, you’ll want to ask yourself where you plan to put it.

Built-In Ice Maker

An outdoor ice maker built in is perfect for an outdoor kitchen. You’ll be able to incorporate it into your outdoor kitchen plans… And it will be a permanent fixture in your island. These may also be called “under-counter ice makers.”

free standing ice maker for outdoor kitchen
Freestanding Ice Maker

A freestanding outdoor ice maker is a full-sized option for your backyard that is not attached to an outside kitchen.

portable ice maker for outdoor kitchen countertop
Portable Ice Maker

If you like to travel… These small outdoor ice makers may be for you. They’re light enough to carry and place on a countertop. As long as there is a plug nearby… You can have your ice on the go!

Once you decide on the main type of ice maker you want… You can start thinking about the ice it will produce!

Want to bring your idea to life?

Use our free 3D design tool to bring the outdoor kitchen of your dreams to reality in just a few minutes.

Shapes of Ice Cubes

The shape of the ice cubes your ice maker will produce is another important decision!

The consistency and melting speed will vary depending on the shape you choose.

There are four common options that you’ll run into.

Cube Ice Maker

A full cube is the classic shape for ice. It’s perfect for crafting cocktails, making your own bag of ice, and so much more. It will typically have a hard texture.

nugget ice from an outdoor rated ice maker
Nugget Ice Machine

The nugget shape is a fan favorite for people who like to chew on their ice. Because there are air pockets inside, it has a softer consistency… So it can more easily absorb flavors from your drinks. An outdoor nugget ice maker produces ice that will melt faster than most alternatives.

crescent ice cubes from an indoor ice maker
Crescent ice maker

Crescent-shaped ice is very hard and difficult to chew. They’re common in ice-makers found in indoor refrigerators. The slow-melt makes it very refreshing for drinks.

gourmet ice cubes from an ice maker
Gourmet ice machine

Gourmet ice is shaped like a thimble or top hat. It’s very solid and is especially great in nice cocktails and whiskey. It melts slowly… So it has a nice presentation without watering down your drinks.

The next consideration is how your outdoor ice maker will drain.

Types of Outdoor Ice Maker Drains

Your outdoor ice maker will use water… And any leftover water will need to be drained!

Most outdoor ice makers will have two easy options for drainage… A gravity drain, or a drain pump!

gravity drain for outdoor kitchen ice maker
Gravity Drain

This is the default for most ice machines. These ice machines can be installed over existing drains in the ground. Then, gravity will simply flush the water down and out!

Drain Pump

Many outdoor ice makers have the option of a drain pump. This is good if there is not a drain in the ground. An outdoor ice maker with drain pump allows you to connect your drainage with nearby plumbing… And it will push the water out to the drain.

Next, how clear do you want your ice to be?

Do You Need a Water Filter?

water filtration system for outdoor ice maker

The next question to ask yourself is whether or not you want a water filter for your ice.

This will remove impurities from the water. You might see these advertised as “clear ice makers.”

Not only will using a filter make the ice prettier and taste better… But impurities can cause slime and mold to build up over time in your ice maker if they aren’t filtered out.

While it is not a necessity… Getting a clear ice machine will help you avoid needing to clean it quite as often.

Of course, this will all also depend on the quality of your water. 

If you have hard well water, a filter is a must-have to remove excess minerals. (Otherwise, it will clog up your ice maker over time!)

If you have city water, it will already be filtered… But the ice maker can help filter out the added disinfectants like chlorine which will affect the taste of your ice.

Finally, you should ask yourself how much ice you want your ice machine to produce.

How Much Ice Do You Want?

bowl of ice sitting at outdoor kitchen ready to use

Two of the most important features of an outdoor ice maker are how quick its ice production is… And how much ice storage capacity it has!

You don’t want your ice machine to run out of ice mid-party, after all… So it’s important to consider how quickly it produces ice.

You should also keep in mind that you can purchase a high-producing ice maker in addition to a pull-out ice drawer or ice bin. 

If you are looking into an outdoor kitchen… These can be installed right next to an outdoor ice maker. 

Regardless of whether it’s freestanding or in an outdoor kitchen… Having an ice bin can help you prepare enough ice for your parties in advance. 

You’ll just want to transfer ice from your ice maker to your bin the day before… And then your ice maker can continue to produce fresh ice throughout the day!

Typically, you’ll need about 8 ounces of ice per drink… So 10 pounds of ice in your ice storage bin will give you about 20 drinks.

Now that you know what type of ice maker you’re looking for… What if you find a good indoor ice maker with these features? Can it still go outside?

Can You Put an Indoor Ice Machine Outside?

When you look for an outdoor ice maker… You may notice that they are pricier than the indoor ice maker alternatives.

So can you just use an indoor ice maker outdoors and save some money?

The short answer is “no”… But let’s explore why.

Outdoor Ice Makers are Made of Sturdier Materials

prefab outdoor kitchen frames rusting

First of all… An indoor ice maker just isn’t built for outdoor use!

Even if your indoor ice maker uses some durable materials, like a stainless steel exterior… Some of an indoor ice maker’s components, such as the hinges, might still rust or corrode.

An outdoor ice maker is built to handle humidity and rain… While an indoor one simply is not.

Outdoor Ice Makers Work in More Extreme Temperatures

modern concrete rta outdoor kitchen in the sun on a hot day

An indoor ice maker is made for temperatures you normally see in your house… Around 70ºF.

Meanwhile, an outdoor ice maker is built to work in extremely hot weather, up to about 100ºF… And as low as about 40ºF.

Trying to use an indoor ice maker in extreme temperatures like these can break the compressor… Or cause it to run without making ice!

How To Tell If Your Ice Maker is Suitable for the Outdoors

ul certified venting on an outdoor rated ice maker

One of the best ways to make sure your outdoor ice maker can work outdoors is to check whether or not it has been UL certified.

The UL certification tests products for safety and quality standards… Such as weather resistance, the strength of the materials used, venting, the protection of internal electronics, and whether or not your ice maker can function properly in major temperature swings.

This is definitely not something to miss out on!

These certifications are also often accompanied by longer warranties… Which is a huge plus for any outdoor appliance.

After purchasing your outdoor ice maker… You’ll want to set it up! But what will you need?

Outdoor Ice Maker Utilities

Before you buy your outdoor ice maker… You’re going to want to set up your utilities!

There are two requirements to think about: electrical and water.

rta employee showing the proper placement of electrical outlet for outdoor fridge
Electrical Requirements

Before you set up your new outdoor ice machine… You’ll want to make sure you have your electricity ready!

Most run on a 120-volt electrical circuit. Some ice makers may need their own circuit… While others are okay to use on circuits that also power your other outdoor appliances.

Just look at your user’s manual to verify its electrical needs!

utility line in ground to supply outdoor kitchen
Water Requirements

Most outdoor ice makers need a water line. To get one… You might need to hire a plumber.

They can help you decide on the best way to get water to your outdoor ice maker… And help you with drainage.

If this is not something you want to do… You can opt for an outdoor portable ice maker instead.

All you have to do is fill your portable ice maker with water… Rather than attaching a permanent water line.

So which should you buy? There are all kinds of brands out there!

Stay cool with an outdoor kitchen

Use our free 3D design tool to create the perfect hangout spot! Add a refrigerator and an outdoor ice maker to create a space all your friends will want to hang out.

What is the Best Outdoor Ice Maker?

You can purchase an outdoor ice maker through most big box stores that sell outdoor appliances, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Or, you can search for a specific brand online! Many online outdoor appliance distributors will also sell outdoor ice makers.

If you’re looking for a good ice maker… Here are a few of the most popular 15-inch outdoor-rated ice maker choices out there!

We’ve included some that can be freestanding or built into an outdoor kitchen… And a great portable option as well!

Perlick Signature Series Ice Maker

This outdoor-rated ice maker from Perlick produces up to 55 pounds of clear gourmet-shaped ice a day.

It has a storage capacity of up to 22 pounds of ice… And can be built right into an outdoor kitchen. You also have the option to keep it freestanding.

It even comes with an ice scoop!

A drain pump is optional… And this stainless steel ice machine is UL certified.

It has a one-year warranty on all parts.

perlick signature series ice maker

DCS Ice Maker

This outdoor undercounter ice maker from DCS can make up to 39 pounds of clear, cubed ice a day.

This freestanding or built-in ice maker has a storage capacity of 18 pounds… And includes an ice scoop!

It has a stainless steel exterior… And is UL-certified.

This DCS ice maker has an automatic defrost option… Which is helpful for simple maintenance.

You also have the option of a drain pump.

All DCS refrigeration products, including their ice makers, are backed by a two-year limited warranty on parts and labor… And an additional five years on the sealed refrigeration system.

ULine Outdoor Ice Maker

U-Line offers a stainless steel, clear ice maker that can produce up to 55 pounds of clear ice a day… And store up to 25 pounds.

It has a digital touch-pad control (with a blue LED control pad)… So you can choose how full your ice storage gets.

This built-in or freestanding outdoor ice maker has an automatic defrost option… And an alarm on the door if you forget to shut it.

The door hinge is reversible… So you can have a right hinge door or a left hinge door.

You also have the choice of either a drain pump or a gravity drain!

It comes with a five-year warranty on the compressor, condenser, evaporator, dryer, and connecting tubing.

The other parts are all covered under a one-year warranty… But you can extend it by an extra year by registering the ice maker within two months of purchase.

Hestan Outdoor Ice Maker

hestan outdoor rated ice machine

This ice maker from Hestan  has a beautiful stainless steel exterior and a unique door handle.

It can be built into your outdoor kitchen island… Or left freestanding. It produces up to 55 pounds of ice a day.

This UL-rated outdoor ice maker stores 22 pounds of its gourmet-shaped ice at a time.

You’ll have the choice between a left or right hinge for the door… And it comes with an ice scoop.

It has a gravity drain, and no option for a drain pump.

The Hestan outdoor ice maker is covered by a 2-year warranty that covers any defects in materials or workmanship.

Summit Outdoor Ice Maker

The Summit outdoor ice maker has a 304 stainless steel exterior… Which protects it from rust and corrosion.

This is a fantastic grade of stainless steel… And is the best out of the options we’ve discussed.

This ice maker produces up to 10 pounds of crescent-shaped ice in a day… And stores up to 12 pounds at a time.

It has a plastic ice scoop and a manual defrost system.

This UL-certified ice maker does not require a drain… And it can be built-in as long as there is adequate room for venting. Otherwise, you’ll want to keep it freestanding.

The compressor is covered under warranty for five years… And the other parts are under a one-year warranty.

summit outdoor rated ice maker

Hoshizaki Outdoor Ice Maker

hoshizaki cubelet ice machine

The Hoshizaki outdoor ice maker is an under-counter or built-in UL-certified option that creates about 80 pounds of nugget ice a day. 

This stainless steel outdoor ice maker can store 22 pounds of ice at a time.

It does not come with a drain pump… But you can buy one separately.

The warranty covers the entire ice maker for two years.

Blaze Outdoor Ice Maker

The Blaze outdoor ice maker can either be built-in to an outdoor kitchen… Or stay freestanding.

It produces 50 pounds of clear ice cubes a day… And can store up to 25 pounds.

This UL-certified outdoor ice maker uses a gravity drain and has a stainless steel exterior.

It includes an ice scoop, a drain line, and a water line.

It is covered by a one-year warranty.

blaze outdoor rated ice maker with gravity drain

Frigidaire Portable Ice Maker

frigidaire portable ice maker

If you’d prefer something that doesn’t need a drain… And that can go anywhere with you… You might be in the market for a portable ice maker!

This portable ice maker from Frigidaire can produce up to 26 pounds of clear ice cubes per day… And store up to 2.2 pounds of ice!

You’ll have the choice between two sizes of ice cubes… So you can choose the size depending on the day.

It has a self-cleaning program, includes an ice scoop, and a one-year warranty.

At the end of the day… You’ll want to find the ice maker that works best for your needs! 

But if you want the full experience… Consider getting a complete outdoor kitchen with an ice maker!

The Best Spot for an Outdoor Ice Maker: An Outdoor Kitchen

ward schraeders custom rta outdoor kitchen under awning roof structure

When you’re trying to make your backyard space into a good spot to spend time… An outdoor ice maker is an obvious choice.

It’s a necessity for any outdoor party… And it helps you make the most of your backyard! 

But why stop there?

A standalone outdoor ice maker can look lonely all by itself… And your outdoor living needs don’t stop at ice.

An outdoor kitchen solves both of these problems!

First of all… Incorporating your outdoor ice maker into an outdoor grill station gives it a more cohesive look. It will look like it truly belongs in your backyard space.

Secondly, if you want an outdoor ice machine for drinks… Why not build your outdoor ice machine into an outdoor kitchen bar (future blog)? You can have the perfect outdoor ice maker and outdoor refrigerator combo to create all your favorite cocktails.

You can make beautiful dinners right outside… And have everything you need for great drinks all in one area.

If you want to create your own custom outdoor kitchen… That will hold your very own outdoor kitchen ice maker… Visit our Learning Hub!

There, you can learn all about outdoor kitchens… And so much more!

We look forward to working with you.

Need Help With Your Plans?

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Q&A

Putting an ordinary ice maker outside can strain the compressor. They may break down, and you might void your warranty. However, you can find ice makers that are specifically made to be used outside. These will have a UL certification that verifies their usability and safety in extreme temperature fluctuations.

Your portable ice maker can be used outside! It just needs access to electricity. Of course, working outside in more extreme temperatures and humidity levels will affect how quickly your portable ice maker will be able to produce ice.

Most outdoor ice makers need a drain. If your space has a floor drain, then you can use an outdoor ice maker with a gravity drain. Otherwise, you can find an outdoor ice maker with a drain pump. This will push the water out and through your drain line.

The biggest difference between an indoor and an outdoor ice maker is the capacity to withstand the elements and temperature changes. An outdoor ice maker is far more suitable for use outside without rusting or compressor failure. When the temperature is around 70°F, an indoor ice maker will produce more ice than an outdoor ice maker, but if the temperature changes or it is left outside in the rain or snow, it will probably break.

While you can usually just wash your outdoor ice maker with mild soap and water… Occasionally, you’ll want to do a deeper clean. First, unplug your ice machine. Then, empty the ice storage bin and clean it with soap and water. Turn the water supply off. Remove the drain cap and let the water pan drain into an empty container. Replace the drain cap. Fill the water pan with an ice machine cleaner and clean water. Replace the ice bin, plug the ice machine in, and run it through a cleaning cycle. Discard the ice, and reattach the system to your water line.

An outdoor ice maker works by using water from a water line… Freezing it into the shape of your choice… And then disposing of any extra water through a drain pump or gravity drain. It is different than an indoor ice maker in that it will produce less ice, but will be able to withstand warmer and cooler external temperatures.

A freestanding outdoor ice maker can be placed anywhere it can reach a power source. So long as it has power, an ice-maker that has been built into your outdoor kitchen will do best next to other outdoor kitchen appliances that use a drain. This will save you from having to work to create multiple drainage systems.

When looking for an eco-friendly ice maker… You can look for the Energy Star award! The EPA awards this to energy-efficient ice machine models that have 15% more energy efficiency and 10% more water efficiency than standard ice machine models. You can find this award in both indoor and outdoor ice maker models.

The advantage of an outdoor ice maker is that it can withstand more extreme temperatures. While an indoor ice maker can produce more ice in temperature-controlled conditions, your indoor ice maker will not fare well when placed outdoors. Meanwhile, an outdoor ice maker can handle high humidity, rain, and temperatures as low as about 40ºF and as high as 100ºF.

An outdoor ice maker may be purchased through most big box stores that sell outdoor appliances, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. There are also several brands, such as Blaze, U-Line, and Hestan, that sell products online through their own online stores.

An outdoor ice maker is a great purchase! They make and store large amounts of ice daily. It’s extremely inconvenient when you run out of ice at a party, and no one wants to run to the store just to pick up a bag. An outdoor ice maker will keep everyone at your parties cool and hydrated.

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