Portable ice makers are a niche so you should do some research about some of the top brands on the market. It’s generally best to go with such companies since they’ve been around a while. The produces and service of such companies tend to be better than other manufacturers’.
On the other hand, startup companies and generic/off-brands are a big gamble. You might have a good experience with their ice makers, but it’s much less likely than if you pick an established brand. You could even have problems returning a defective product, so there’s that.
Unfortunately, you won’t find a cornucopia of different items bundled with ice makers. Some common ones include an ice scoop and power cord. That’s OK because the unit isn’t a multi-purpose kitchen appliance. It’s more important to make sure the machine’s components are durable and function.
This isn’t a major issue since form should follow function when picking a kitchen appliance. That said, you should consider some issues like the machine’s general design and color. If it’s an eyesore, it will be an issue you see it in your kitchen. As a general rule look for basic/modern designs and neutral hues.
You probably won’t get a lifetime comprehensive warranty for your portable ice maker. However, you can often find a limited warranty that covers things like defects due to materials/craftsmanship. Make sure to check how long the warranty is valid if it isn’t a “lifetime” warranty.
Sometimes you can also get a satisfaction guarantee. This is usually valid for 30 days and lets you get a refund or replacement within that timeframe. Even after doing your homework you might be an unhappy customer after buying a particular unit.
You should consider how much ice an ice maker can crank out in a 24-hour period. A high-productive unit will make about 20-25 lbs. of ice in one day. This can be a big issue if you want to keep the party going. One way to do that is to keep your guests’ beverages cold and refreshing.
Some aspects of ice makers like ice dumping are almost always going to be loud. However, if you pick a unit with an effective compressor, you can enjoy the benefits of a unit that’s both powerful and quiet.
This feature is an X-factor of sorts. It’s not directly related to the size, speed, or quality of ice produced but can be an issue when you have party guests. Make sure to research about the overall noise level produced by different units.
Light indicators can be helpful when operating the ice machine. For example, it can indicate the ice cube size you’ve selected, when you need to add water, and if the ice bucket is full. This is a relatively common feature but one you should definitely look for when picking a portable ice maker.
These are both related issues. If you’re using the ice maker in your kitchen, you’ll likely want to use it in different places like counter-tops and tables. Smaller units are easier to operate since you can easily use and store them.
The unit’s size is also related to portability. If you want to use the ice machine outside your home, then it’s a plus when the unit is compact and lightweight. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing too much durability or capacity at the same time.
Make sure to read ones like Amazon’s Verified Purchase reviews. These are more likely to be objective than standard customer reviews that are often fake/paid. You should also consider reading multiple reviews from multiple sources to make sure you’re not just reading the rants of a hard-to-please disgruntled customer.
Some units only produce one size while others produce 3. It might seem like a big issue, but it can be based on the types of drinks you’re cooling. Small ice is good for shakes or smoothies, while large ice is better for big punch bowls. Mid-size ice could be used for one-serving drinks like sodas, juices, iced tea, and so on.
More specifically, how much ice does the unit store? This can be critical for various reasons. It affects how often you’ll have to dump the bucket, which is something you’ll want to minimize when you’re entertaining guests.
It’s also an important issue related to how much ice you can store in the ice machine. If you’re trying to free up freezer space, for example, it’s a plus when you can store more cubes in the ice machine.
The old saying “You get what you pay for” certainly applies when selecting a portable ice maker. As a general rule, you should expect to spend $100-$200 for a decent unit. You can find cheaper units, but you’ll end up sacrificing durability, functionality, productivity, etc.
If you buy through services like Amazon Prime, you can also get benefits like sales/discounts and free shipping. This will help to reduce the overall cost of your next ice maker.