“Getting ice on a boat, what are the options?”
Many people ask themselves this question, and for a long time, the only option was to buy prepackaged bags of ice & hope for the best once you brought it aboard.
These days, however, boat owners are presented with another way to get ice on a boat and that is thanks to the portable ice maker.
Today we’ll be taking a look at why ice makers are a fantastic addition to your boat, what to keep in mind when buying one and which portable ice makers are the best of the best.
The Benefits of Having a Portable Ice Maker Aboard
There are many benefits that come from having a portable ice maker aboard your boat, especially when you’re out on the water and not tied up at the dock.
While the unique benefits of portable ice makers differ slightly from person to person, here are the top reasons why the appliances find a home on many a boat:
- It’s a comfort of home. Many boaters consider their vessel to be their home away from home, so why shouldn’t the comforts of home be aboard?
- Chances are that if you’ve taken your boat out on the water, it’s a beautiful day of clear skies and sunshine. With sunshine comes the heat and the perfect way to cool down after a hot day is to enjoy an ice-filled beverage.
- In addition to cooling you down, ice cubes also help keep your bottled or glass beverages cold. The days of drinking warm beer are thankfully over.
- Injuries, bumps, and bruises often occur while you’re enjoying your boat & having ready-made ice on hand is especially handy to treat some of these conditions.
- Portable ice makers are compact and won’t take up too much space on your boat which is especially important when you have limited space available. In addition, their small sizes and level of portability make these appliances easy to transport.
- If you often host parties or get-togethers on your boat, you’ll appreciate this benefit. The list of beverages you can provide your guests with increases when an ice maker is involved: think frozen margaritas, martinis, and pina-coladas.
What to Consider When Buying an Ice Maker for Your Boat
After reading all the benefits of having a portable ice maker aboard you probably can’t wait to get one for your own boat. But just like anything you add to your boat’s inventory list, an ice maker needs to meet certain requirements, such as the following.
Nobody wants to spend more than a couple of minutes waiting for ice and nor should they. At a bare minimum, a portable ice maker should be able to produce one batch of ice in under 10 minutes.
Think about how many ice cubes you typically use in one go and make sure that the portable ice maker you pick can churn out ice fast enough to adequately support your daily ice needs.
It’s important to remember that an ice maker has one purpose: to make ice. Because it doesn’t act as a freezer you need to consider the temperature of where you’ll normally be using the device. Make sure you don’t end up with more ice than what you know what to do with.
If you normally take your boat out on extremely hot days, you’ll want to select a portable ice maker that makes just enough to cover your needs. Alternatively, make sure that you have available freezer or boat cooler space to keep your ice frozen.
We know that the size of the ice cube doesn’t sound important. But when you’re sucking on a cube of ice trying to melt it enough to fit into your water bottle, you’re going to wish you considered this aspect sooner.
Consider how you normally use ice and select an ice maker that can produce ice cubes that are perfectly sized to meet your needs. Many portable ice makers are able to produce different sizes of ice, so keep your eyes peeled for those on our list that includes this feature.
Dimensions and Capacity
The beauty of portable ice makers is that they tend to be small and compact. But be sure to align the dimensions of the portable ice maker you pick with the available space on your boat.
Its capacity is also something you’ll need to consider. Is it just you who likes to add ice to your drink? Then a small capacity ice maker will serve you well. Do you frequently invite guests aboard or host parties out on the water? Then you’ll need an ice maker with a large capacity to keep up with the demand.
There are very few battery-operated or solar-powered portable ice makers available, so almost all portable ice makers require power to run. Thankfully they don’t need much power to operate; usually between 100 and 350 watts, depending on the make & model of the machine.
This next factor is incredibly important: the level of noise that the ice maker produces while its making ice. Nobody wants to listen to the sound of mechanical banging and clanking when they should be listening to the blissful sound of the ocean.
Not only is this important for your own marine enjoyment, but for your neighbors’ too when you are anchored close to one another. Make sure the portable ice maker you pick has a quiet operating system that won’t pollute its environment with excessive noise.
If you’re worried about how to drain a portable ice maker your worries are misplaced. Portable ice makers are specifically designed to reuse the water produced by melted ice to make fresh ice and so there is no need to drain it.
If you do want to drain your unit for cleaning or storage, do so by means of the drain plug that is normally found at or near the bottom of the water reservoir.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know what to look for in a portable ice maker, it’s time to start your search for the right model for you and your boat. To make sure you pick the perfect portable ice maker for your boat, in our reviews you’ll find important information such as:
- Its dimensions
- How long it takes to make a batch
- Its features
- What materials its constructed with
- Its energy efficiency and power consumption
- It's capacity
- Accessories included
- Warranty information
Without further ado—here are our picks of five of the best portable ice makers that the market has to offer.
1. Vremi Countertop Ice Maker
This sleek machine is Vremi’s Countertop Ice Maker. If you want nine cubes of chewable ice in as many minutes, look no further than this nifty countertop appliance. Constructed with ABS and stainless steel & measuring in at 9.5” x 12” x 13.5”, you won’t need to worry about the durable ice maker taking up too much precious space in your boat.
The features found in this ice maker include an auto-off feature that kicks in when the machine is full or in need of an ice top-up, warning lights, and an ultra-quiet operating noise. It’s also extremely energy efficient as it requires only 120 watts to operate and its 2.2l water reservoir reuses the water produced by melted ice to make new ice cubes. The Vremi has a 26lb capacity.
Part of what helps the Vremi Countertop Ice Maker to achieve such a low operating noise is the fact that it produces cylinder-shaped ice cubes in lieu of traditional square-shaped ice cubes. Low level of noise aside, this is a great feature because it means that you can slip ice cubes into smaller water bottles.
A basket and ice scoop are included with every purchase. If the FDA and ETL certifications aren’t enough to put your mind at ease, the 2-year warranty will surely do so.
2. COSTWAY Ice Maker 26LBS/24H
If you’re all about variety the COSTWAY will meet your needs well. With dimensions of 9.5” x 14” x 13”, this ice maker is easy to transport and will be a clever use of your boat’s available space. The COSTWAY Ice Maker is made with ETL certified ABS material that is easy to clean and maintain. Nine pieces of ice will be ready for your consumption in nine minutes.
When using the COSTWAY Ice Maker you can select whether you’d like small or large bullet-shaped ice cubes. An LED light indicator notifies the user when the basket is full or if the water needs refilling. The ice maker uses a minimal 100 watts and features a compressor cooling system. It features an energy-efficient design and the machine has a capacity of 26.5lb.
The simple yet intuitive user-friendly control panel can be used by people of all ages. The COSTWAY Ice Maker is available in five different colors: black, red, silver, white and a lovely shade of aqua that will complement the water surrounding your boat.
With your purchase of the COSTWAY Ice Maker, you’ll receive an ice scoop and a comprehensive user guide. This ETL certified ice maker is covered by a 6-month warranty.
3. hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine
This next portable ice maker is brought to you by hOmeLabs. If you need a small but powerful portable ice maker, with dimensions of 9.5” x 12.9” x 14”, this hOmeLabs product may be just what you’ve been looking for. The hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine is made from sturdy ABS plastic that boasts a steel-like finish. The machine makes a batch of ice in a mere eight minutes.
Automatic shut off and warning lights alert you about anything you need to know & easy button operation makes using this machine a dream. The hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine makes both small and medium-sized ice cubes & requires 120 watts to operate. The machine has a 26lb capacity.
The hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine is often praised for its low level of operating noise and how little space it consumes, making this a practical option for smaller boats.
Included with your purchase of the hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine is a removable ice basket and plastic ice scoop. The hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine is covered by a 2-year warranty.
4. Euhomy Ice Maker Machine
Euhomy has added its own portable ice maker into the mix. This model measures at 12.6” x 9.6” x 12.6” and is constructed with sturdy stainless-steel. The Euhomy Ice Maker Machine produces a batch of nine small ice cubes in every six-minute cycle or nine large ice cubes in 13 minutes.
A user-friendly selection of buttons allows you to easily navigate the ice maker’s features. Helpful light indicators will alert you when your ice is done or when you need to refill the machine. The Euhomy Ice Maker Machine requires between 180 to 240 watts to operate and it has a 26lb capacity.
The Euhomy Ice Maker Machine uses advanced refrigeration technology to have your ice ready in six minutes. If you want bigger ice cubes you must be prepared to wait almost double the time. A quiet compressor is featured in the Euhomy Ice Maker Machine’s design and many users report the only noise produced is when the ice drops into the basket.
This ice maker comes with a removable basket and an ice scoop. Enjoy the peace of mind that the 1-year warranty provides.
5. Luma Comfort Portable Clear Ice Maker 28 lb Daily
Best Large Ice Maker for Boats
The last portable ice maker to find its way onto our list is the Luma Comfort Portable Clear Ice Maker. This stainless-steel portable ice maker is a beast—it produces a whopping 24 ice cubes per cycle. It has dimensions of 11.3” x 14.8” x 14.1”, so it’s perfect for people who have a large space and an equally large need for ice.
The Luma Comfort Portable Clear Ice Maker uses technology inspired by nature to create crystal clear restaurant-quality ice. This model can make up to 28lbs of ice. For an appliance with such a large capacity, you may be surprised to hear that it only requires 130 watts to operate.
Luma Comfort’s ice has been proven to melt 5x slower than ice made by other machines, which its users appreciate. Pick between the color options of a stunning silver model or a stark white to best suit your boat’s aesthetics.
The Luma Comfort Portable Clear Ice Maker comes with an ice scoop and removable basket. It is covered by a 1-year warranty.
Important Info to Know When Buying a Portable Ice Maker
Before we wrap up this article, here’s some important information to know before taking the plunge and buying a portable ice maker.
Cleaning your portable ice maker is an important part of the maintenance process and is something that needs to be done every three months. Regular care ensures that the device functions properly produces high-quality ice that tastes great and prevents mold from forming.
While the exact cleaning process can vary from machine to machine, below you’ll find an overview of how to clean a portable ice maker:
- Make sure that your portable ice maker is unplugged from its power source
- If any ice is in the basket, dispose of it and open the drain to drain any leftover liquid
- Remove any interior parts that can be detached such as the basket or water filter
- Use a soft cloth and soapy warm water to clean the portable ice maker’s interior, exterior & all removable parts
- Rinse the portable ice maker and its parts with cold clean water until all soap has been visibly removed
- Use a dry soft cloth to dry the appliance and its parts before reassembling it
Make sure that you’re prepared to commit to the cleaning process before buying a portable ice maker for yourself.
All of the portable ice makers featured on this list have built-in timers that alert you when a batch of ice has been created. But they don’t visibly display the timer or feature any kind of countdown control. If you want a portable ice maker that includes a timer, you’ll have to increase your budget.
One of the best parts about portable ice makers is that they don’t need a water line to operate so you don’t need to worry about messing with your boat’s plumbing. All you’ll need to do is pour fresh water into the reservoir every 24 hours.
And there you have it: everything you need to know about buying and caring for a portable ice maker & which options are the best of the best on the market right now.
We’ve presented you with five fantastic options to choose from; all that’s left for you to do is take your pick. So, which portable ice maker will you be bringing aboard, Captain? Let us know in the comments section below.