I started looking for the best portable ice maker shortly after my refrigerators built in ice maker died four friggin times in a two year span! My family uses ice like a posse of mad polar bears. Smoothies, sodas, and water oh my!
So going without a viable means for having ice on hand was not gonna work. I even tried buying bags, but a couple of runs to the supermarket or gas station put an end to that fantasy pretty quickly. No we needed a solution and I found it. Here is a list to help you find the right ice machine for you.
Best Portable Ice Maker 2017
|Whynter Portable Ice Maker||27lbs||Y||LED|
|Gourmia GI500 (Editors Choice)||26lbs||Y||LED/Beep|
|Knox Stainless Steel||27lbs||Y||LED/Beep|
|Igloo ICE103 (Best Value)||26lbs||N||LED|
|Della Portable Ice Maker||26lbs||N||LED|
|Magic Chef MCIM22ST||26lbs||Y||LED|
Gourmia GI500 Portable Ice Maker – Editors Choice
This one looks familiar. If the Gourmia GI500 portable ice maker didn’t roll off of the same production line as the Knox ice machine, then there’s a trick to it. Physically they are identical, performance wise they are not. The good people at Gourmia had a few extras programmed into their machine that Knox neglected. Production wise the Gourmia seems to take longer than most of the other models to make its 9 cube batch, about 15 minutes. There are three sizes, and they are about what you’d expect for a machine in this class.
What’s unique about this ice maker is that you can set a timer for when exactly you want it to make ice. NICE!!! What’s not so nice is the damn instruction manual. I mean c’mon people hire someone to translate this thing. Once the timer is set it does a great job, but for whatever reason it beeps as a warning of low water, full, or who knows because there’s nothing in the manual to really explain it. Still, the alerts are nice to let you know when it’s time to move the ice, which allows you to really power through and make way more than is spec’d by the company.
The machine has a great look that will make you consider upgrading and modernizing the rest of your countertop appliances. The fan is quiet and the only real sound is from the cubes being pushed into the bottom of the tray. What wasn’t mentioned about the Knox but should be noted here, is that these are fairly heavy ice machines. There’s a definite difference in heft between this and say the machines built like the Igloo. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of when lifting and moving something with this kind of awkward bulk.
Tramontina Stainless Steel Ice – Best Looking Portable Ice Maker
I don’t even care how the Tramontina portable ice maker works, all I know is it looks good! Talk about slick, you have your choice of four funky colors with this high gloss finish to them. The only thing to really compare them too is sneakers. This ice machine comes in colorways!
Unfortunately is where the innovation ends. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with this ice maker, but as we run down the list of features and performance you’ll not it’s what you’d expect from a machine in this class.
Rated at 26lbs. a day it falls in line with what we have come to expect from these countertop ice machines. The Tramontina has two sizes available, being small and large. The output for this unit is time dependent on the size of the cubes you select, cycling between 6 to 11 minutes per 9 cube batch, and takes a little over 90 minutes to fill its basket.
The interior is of course insulated, but not cooled. Also nice is the inclusion of an ice scooper, something that you’d think would be included with most of the these machines, but often is not.
The unit really is physically smaller than its competitors, and the shape is ergonomically appealing. It fits on the counter with ease, but at 25lbs. it is not light by any means. This unit would be excellent for travel, with power consumption that would make it ideal on an RV or a generator while camping.
The fan on the unit is no louder than any of the other units revealed. While it’s looks are stellar, its performance is on par with most machines in its class. I you’re looking to spruce up the countertop, and get a few oohs and aahs at your next home shindig, then you may want to consider this little beauty.
This machine gets to pouring out ice almost as soon as you turn it on. Literally 10 minutes after turning it on you have baby ice. After a thirty minute cycle, you can expect a full tray which will need your attention for use or transference to another holding space. You have the option of selecting three different sizes; small, medium, and large. The ice is rendered in oval shapes by the dozen or so large freezing prongs in the top rear of the machine. The true difference in the size of the ice is of course melt time, which is something to consider if you plan to leave the ice in the tub for a long duration.
Physically it is what you’d expect from a machine in this class. It will fit very nicely next to all of your other space age countertop gadgets. It has a stainless-steel countenance, and unfortunately this is the only color the Thinkgadget portable ice machine comes in. Wherever you place it, make sure that the unit has plenty of space on the side to vent the large fan that ensures proper cooling and a long life for you ice maker. The buttons on the front are simple, with and on/off switch and three size selectors. If you turn the machine off before the end of a cycle, the ice maker will simply empty water in its reservoir, and discard any ice that remains.
It would be nice, and I’m sure an inexpensive venture for these manufactures to offer an alert option. A simple chime that would let you know that you are either too low on water, or full. At least there is a warning light on this unit that alerts you to the machine being full. All in all excellent little unit for travel, or keeping the ice flowing all day long.
Another good-looking machine that I’m sure comes off the same line as Della and Ivation’s models. What’s amazing however is the difference in internal performance. It’s amazing the difference in quality control between what I bet are identical models if you cracked them open and examined them component for component. This machine makes the standard nine cube batch, and has two sizes available to you.
When it works, it makes ice very quickly filling its basket up in around 80-85 minutes. This unit had some issues right out of the box. With a full lower reservoir, it would not fill the ice making portion of the unit. A hard reset (i.e. unplugged) seem to fix the issue, but that’s a huge red flag.
The unit is available in three colors which is nice, so if you have a fancy red coffee maker you can grab a corvette red ice maker to match. It’s identical in size to the Ivation and Della. It’s rated to output 27lbs of ice over 24hrs., which is more than its identical twin Della.
These ratings are so subjective, based on factors we’ve spoken of in each review. Your diligence in removing ice when the machine is filled will be the main factor in how much ice is made throughout the day, yielding more or less than the stated amount.
One interesting note is that the manufacturer specifically suggests the use of distilled water for ice production. I can’t see how it should make much of a difference on such simple machines, and it becomes an added expense and burden just to make ice.
The machine has the insulated interior keeping your ice cool, but not cold. The machine would be ok minus that first operative use, and I’ve read others having similar issues needing repairs or replacements. Something to consider when two other manufactures make identical units with fewer reported problems.
If there’s nothing else to take away from the Knox portable ice maker, is that it looks good. Cool points for its digital control panel. Bright and back-lit, this portable ice maker offer three sizes which as you can tell from the reviews of the other machines this is the standard. The wording for this product is very awkward in terms of how specs meet marketing.
It states 27lbs. of ice per cycle. Well what is a cycle? It certainly isn’t representative of the tray size which holds about 2 lbs of ice. Even with the Igloo I purchased, this really doesn’t mean anything until you start serving drinks. You’re not going to continuously server a large group of party goers, but you can at a minimum keep 4-6 people with chilled drinks. I was remiss in actually timing the production of the ice, but it seemed like every 10 minutes it produced a descent quantity.
2lbs. is not a lot of ice, so 27lbs. will take you a 24 hour cycle. BUT this machine will let you know when it’s time to dump your ice, as well as when it is low on water. The gods of countertop ice machines heard my pleas, and equipped this machine with the loudest, most obnoxious alert beep. If you forget to turn it off at night, it will certainly remind you.
All in all the machine is “cool”, the aesthetics are better than the actual function. The first cycle of cubes are small and thin, and it takes a moment for it to actually start pumping out the ice. On the plus side, it isn’t especially loud, and it will fit in well with your other stainless decor.
Igloo ICE103 Counter Top Ice Maker – Best Value
26 lbs of the cold stuff every day with this little sucker. I should know since this is the one I kept. Like the others in this price range, you get a machine that puts out a ton of ice but doesn’t keep it cold. The interior is insulated much like an Igloo travel cooler. If your ice melts the water simply returns to the reservoir for re-iceification. Like the ThinkGizmos, the ice is oval shaped, and is available to you in three sizes small-medium-large. I’ve noticed that no matter which size you pick, it seems to use water at the same fast rate.
I use this machine in two ways: 1. I’ll either let it run all day, or 2. I’ll let it run and empty the output into the freezer ice tray (since my damn ice machine has broken on three separate occasions!). The only problem with option 2 is that you need to be prepared to break the ice up approximately a half hour after dumping it, as the ice will be cold but wet. This will of course leave you with large lumps in your tray, but hey it’s cheaper than fixing the defective ice maker that came with my fridge.
I used to think that these portable ice makers were all the same, but I couldn’t be more wrong. I obviously didn’t pay attention to the noise this on makes. The fan sound is loud in my adjacent family room, and dining room. It became more unbearable once the machine runs out of water, as it periodically tries to suck in more water. Remember that audible alert I wished for earlier? Yeah that’s why, as I’m sure that amount of forced air through the ice maker’s internal mechanics can’t be good for it. Not really looking to test the warranty on this thing.\
Everything you could want in a portable ice maker is in this tiny Della machine. As with most of these units, it begins pumping out ice at a snails pace. But by the third batch you’ll need to keep an eye on it because it will become full and you’ll barely be able to keep pace with it’s output. Expect the first batch to be those little cute cubes that are utterly useless. If you have a cat put a couple on the ground for a little bit of pet entertainment. My usual suggestion for all ice makers is to start with a couple of cups of ice in the water as you begin making ice, which speeds up production.
The size of this machine is perfect making it an ideal countertop ice machine, fitting comfortably next to your Keurig or Nuwave oven. It’s daily output is rated at 22lbs of ice which is more than adequate for most families. The only caveat is that you will have to either move it to the freezer as it gets full, or use it as it’s made. This machine has no interior cooling method, so as the ice sits you will have a little bit of melt. While annoying, you can’t beat having ice ready to go for your late night two finger pour of Blantons.
The ice maker is quiet, with the fan making about as much noise as a desktop computer. The real noise is when your jarred awake by the sound of new ice being pushed into the tray. Do yourself a favor, and save your heart by turning it off at bed time. Nice capable ice machine to fill the void on trips. For more on the great portable appliances made by Della, be sure to check out our best air fryer review, where we explore the capabilities of the DELLA 048-GM-48211 1500W Electric Air Fryer Digital.
Yay another 27lb ice machine! My first thought as we filled it up with water. BUT, right off the bat the Magic Chef portable ice machine began to make good on its promises. Filling it up with near room temperature water, it began to crank out ice at right about 7 minutes. Up until this point, I’d set the machines to the larger settings (this on only has two sizes), but forgot for this one. The default was small, so we rolled with it. The ice came out fast and furious, but took a while to fill up the tray. The first batch I forgot about because it was taking so damn long, and most of the ice just melted away.
Run number two was set to large, which produced a more serviceable size which less melt off. I would suggest always setting these machines to the large settings since you will not always remember they are on, or know they are full or empty. This machine has LED indicators for full, and the need for water. Of course, you won’t realize either until you want ice or walk past the crimson beacon emanating from the machine.
The smaller size cubes are perfect for smoothies, you can get your green on quickly. In fact they kind of remind me of the gas station ice machines in consistency, just not output. The noise is not significantly different from any of the other machines we looked at. The interior is the typical insulated cooler style, which keeps your ice more wet than it does cold. Capable machine, and my advice is to cycle and store. Just when you think you have enough, you realize three protein drinks later that you need to fill and freeze again.
Digging the Ivation portable ice maker, and probably for the wrong reason. It’s the first countertop ice machine that comes in different colors. You get to pick from four of them, red, silver, white, and black. However, gaining colors seem to lose us one of the size choices for ice making. And what I noticed with the Magic Chef is that the two size machines seem to make a “smaller” large cube.
That aside your first batch of thin anemic ice cubes come out of this unit in about 10 minutes. Like a song from Chicago, it gets better as the cycle progresses reaching hard serviceable ice by the second run. The ice is the typical space shuttle nose shape associated with these machines.
The interior compartment is the cooler design, which will maintain a decent temperature for the larger cubes. Expect the ice to sweat the longer it sits. This one also takes a while to begin production after removing ice below the sensor fill line. A couple of times I thought the machine was defective but it’s just the way it works.
The noise in this unit is nothing to complain about, I had this one sitting on my mini fridge while it ran, which is right next to the family room. I had the TV at a reasonable level, and even sat down to do some work at the kitchen table. I never noticed the machine running.
Either there is a good fan in this unit, or I’m going deaf. The size of the unit will allow you to place it on any countertop area easily with room to spare. There is no alert other than the LED’s on the unit, so you’ll empty it as you remember. As annoying as the other machine was, it was handy to have an alert to keep the household production of ice flowing. Still as evidenced in our best portable washer review, Ivation definitely makes some quality products.
DELLA 048-GM-48222 Deluxe Ice Maker – Best Cheap Ice Maker
It took finding the smallest, least attractive, and cheapest portable ice maker, to find the feature set you want in some of it’s bigger brethren. The Della 048-GM-48222 is by far the oldest production model of the bunch, but was ahead of its time with features. The literature claims that you can make 26lbs. a day. Yeah, if you plan to baby sit this thing all day you can. The basket on this unit is super small and while it puts out ice at a good clip, you can expect to fill maybe 2-3 decent size glasses after EVERY basket fill.
For a small unit, this portable ice maker has most of the features I’ve whined about, the main ones being alerts for when the unit needs attention. The cheapest, oldest, and smallest, has the sanest usage controls out of all the machines in the list. The size drawback is big. You’ll have to begin making ice hours before needed, for this to be an effective ice machine if you need any real volume. It has the same size ice cubes as the other machines, but you lose almost half the volume.
The unit comes in both white and silver, and offers you small and large options. I’d recommend small until you have enough ice to switch to large. The buttons on the front are the standard layout of most machines reviewed. The physical footprint of this unit can only be described as cute. It looks like a bread maker or small toaster oven. This machine would be an awesome personal machine on a lazy night with a good book and a good bourbon.
Portable Ice Machine Buyers Guide
You’ll need to consider the weight and outer dimensions of the portable ice maker you choose. I like to think that any of these can be used as traveling ice companions. But you’ll need to consider the size of your car, other items packed so on and so forth. I like the DELLA 048-GM-48222 for its size, but it’s output is a little on the small size.
Our editor’s choice the Gourmia GI500 Portable Ice Maker is an awesome home countertop machine, but because it has a little bigger footprint than average, it may not be a great travel machine. I’d choose the Igloo ICE103 Counter Top Ice Maker for both Its output and portability. Not to mention it has a great reputation, and retails at a great price as well.
Ease of Use
These things shouldn’t be rocket science. Turn them on, fill to the maximum height and push on. I’m happy to say that with few exceptions this is the case, which is a good thing, because most of the manuals suck. Even the highly touted Gourmia GI500 and it’s sibling the Knox Stainless Steel Ice Maker were easy to get up and running, and figuring their timing functions was no big deal. Those extra functions alone put them high on the ease of use list, as they allow you to get the most out of both machines.
24 Hour Capacity
This is the caveat to all of these devices. Provided they can fill their trays to capacity in about 2 hours’ time, they are pretty much all dead even at 26-28lbs per 24-hour cycle. The question is can you keep up with the output. Will you be diligent to empty and fill the machine as needed? Does the machine have a mechanism to alert you to adding water, or emptying the tray? These are the true factors as to what the capacity of the machine is. Once these babies get to cranking out ice, and their core temperatures have time to chill out so to speak, you may find that 28lbs. is a gross under estimation of even the lowliest ice machine.
What a wonderful time to be in the market for a portable ice maker. You’ll find that this list is full of quality machines at very reasonable price across a wide range of affordability. Take the plunge, and remember if you take care of your portable appliances, they will likewise take care of you!
Until next time!