LAST UPDATED: November 2, 2020
The Best Portable Ice Maker (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Find the perfect portable ice maker for your needs with this informative Review and Buying Guide
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PUBLISHED ON November 2, 2020
If there’s one sure thing about traveling in the heat, it’s that ice melts. If you’re far from a convenience store, then it’s pretty safe to say that most of the ice you bring simply won’t last. A popular way to keep ice handy while you travel is simply using a portable ice maker. All you need is a generator (and some water) to keep ice on hand. From chilling injuries to cooling drinks, ice offers endless value. Of course, it works best if you have a quality portable ice maker.
You want something that works quickly, makes enough ice, and is built to last. Portable ice makers have come a long way in a short time, technology-wise. Newer models make more ice faster and use less energy than their predecessors. With those advances has also come a surge in popularity as people realize the benefits of not only having a portable ice maker when they travel, but at home for parties and gatherings also. To help make your search of the best portable ice makers easier, we’ve curated a list of the top options available. Let’s check out the leading selections.
This ice maker features a streamlined and elegant design that complements any home décor. It is capable of making up to 24 pounds of ice in 24 hours.
- Convenient window on the front of the unit allows you to easily see how much ice is in the bin
- Produces its first round of ice in just 20 minutes
- The ice cubes are the soft, crunchy kind that tends to melt quickly
- One of the heavier units available
This compact, portable unit is capable of producing up to 26 pounds of ice per day, with a new batch ready every 6-8 minutes.
- Choose from small or medium-sized ice cubes that will fit in any size opening of your water bottle
- Weighs less than 20 pounds
- Basket holds only 1.5 pounds of ice, so you need to empty it frequently
This unit is capable of making 28.7 pounds of ice in 24 hours and uses up to 40 percent less energy than other models to do it.
- Fun retro-style is compact and lightweight
- Weighs less than 20 pounds
- Ice basket is one of the smallest, so it needs to be emptied frequently
- Only comes in one color
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Benefits of Portable Ice Maker
- Cost savings. Over time, a portable ice maker can save you hundreds of dollars over having to continually purchase bags of ice from the store. While it will be more of an initial investment, depending on how often you buy ice, a portable ice maker can easily pay for itself in less than a year.
- Space savings. With a portable ice maker, you don’t have to worry about large bags of ice taking up valuable space in your freezer. This is a great option if you don’t have a large freezer or a stand-alone freezer unit.
- Portability. With many units that weigh less than 20 pounds, portable ice makers are exactly that: portable. You can take them with you in your RV, or to a vacation rental or hotel. You can lend it to friends and family for parties or large gatherings. It’s a very convenient appliance.
- Quick. Many portable ice makers produce ice in as little as six to eight minutes, making them a very efficient and fast-acting appliance to have. Another benefit is that you can store unused ice in your freezer and the unit will continue producing ice until it is full or shut off, so you could have an almost endless supply of ice whenever you need it.
- Low maintenance. Portable ice makers have built-in drains that recycle melted ice and unused water. This enclosed and self-sufficient system only requires occasional cleaning to maintain its production capacity, making it one of the more low maintenance household appliances.
- User-friendly. Portable ice makers are very easy to use, with just a few intuitive buttons that cause it to function. With automatic sensors that alert you to low water in the reservoir, you just add water and wait for the ice to come out.
Types of Portable Ice Makers
Countertop Ice Maker
This is really the only form of a portable ice maker. This model sits on top of a counter and is plugged into a grounded, 120-volt outlet. This type of ice maker unit usually weighs between 19 and 45 pounds so that you can move it around from space to space and even from one home to another, or to an RV, hotel room, etc. It’s usually compact in size so that it doesn’t take up your whole kitchen and can easily be stored away when not in use.
Under-Counter Ice Maker
Under-counter ice makers are usually compact and are built into your cabinetry. However, they are not portable. They require a dedicated water line and a larger ventilation system, and are similar in size to a bar fridge. They’re capable of storing a larger capacity of ice and of keeping it frozen continuously, unlike the countertop ice maker models.
General Electric is the oldest electrical company in North America. Founded by the father of electricity, Thomas Edison, it has been a global leader in electrical innovation for over 150 years. Its line of home appliances is one of the largest selling lines in the world. It’s known for such cutting-edge products as the GE Profile Smart Refrigerator and its line of Smart Washing Machines.
Frigidaire was founded in 1916 in Fort Wayne, Ind., and is now headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. It’s another long-time and trusted corporation that makes a well-designed line of kitchen and home appliances, like the Frigidaire Gallery Induction Ranges and the Frigidaire Gallery French Door Refrigerators.
Igloo got its start in 1947 as a metalworking shop that made metal water coolers for blue-collar workers. Its headquarters are in Katy, Texas, and it is now one of the most trusted names in coolers in North America, with products like the IMX 70 Qt Cooler and the BMX 52 Qt 5-Day Cooler.
hOmeLabs is a newer player in the small appliance industry. It specializes in offering affordable and reliable appliances backed by strong customer service. While it is most widely known for its line of portable countertop ice makers, it also produces a portable induction cooktop and a line of compact room dehumidifiers.
NewAir began in founder Luke Peters’ garage in California over 15 years ago. Its goal is to be the most trusted name in compact appliances in America. Its line of compact wine and beer fridges is popular, as is its line of energy-efficient space heaters.
Check out our favorite 12-volt coolers here.
Portable Ice Maker Pricing
- Below $120: This price range is the base starting range for most portable ice maker units. It will get you a compact unit that produces ice quickly, but is generally made by lesser-known manufacturers who are trying to make a name for themselves in the industry.
- $120 to $150: This price range will include some larger, more durably-constructed portable ice makers from manufacturers whose names you recognize, and some you don’t. Ice makers in this range start to vary more in size and capacity, giving you more options.
- $150 to $250: This is the upper echelon of portable ice makers. Brought to you by trusted names in the appliance industry, this price range includes some of the most technologically advanced and efficient ice makers available.
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This is a key feature for anyone who doesn’t want to assign a ton of valuable counter space to another countertop appliance. Some portable ice makers are definitely smaller than others, so measure the space you plan to use ahead of time and don’t get something that will be too big to fit there. With that being said, you also don’t want to purchase a unit whose basket is too small to hold the amount of ice you will need, so be sure to measure that against the overall size of the ice maker.
Usually measured in pounds per day, this is how much ice your particular model is capable of making in a 24-hour period. If your requirements aren’t that high, you can likely get away with a smaller, less expensive model, but if you’re buying an ice maker to supplement a larger need for your family, or if you like to host frequent social gatherings, you’re going to need an ice maker that can keep up with that. What good is an ice maker if you have to have a backup bag of ice in your freezer anyway?
This is a key factor for a lot of people. Many people consider purchasing a portable ice maker in order to save money on buying multiple bags of ice. That doesn’t mean you want the upfront cost of the ice maker to be prohibitive. Deciding ahead of time if your budget is $120 or $250 will greatly help to narrow down your search and make your decision a lot easier when it comes to picking the ice maker that is ideal for you.
A good ice maker will have few maintenance requirements for continued and reliable use. Keeping it full of water and cleaning the system on occasion should be all you need to do in order to maintain the working parts of your portable ice maker. A good ice maker will also be backed by a solid manufacturer’s warranty that will easily and quickly take care of any defects or malfunctions.
- Weight. If you’re planning to use your portable ice maker on frequent trips like camping, road trips, etc., then the weight of it will be very important. A 20-pound ice maker is much easier to move and carry than a 50-pound ice maker, which is still considered “portable”.
- Look. This can and should be a major consideration for many people who care about matching their kitchen’s look and design with their appliance choices. Do you want a retro-looking, fun ice maker, or a sleeker, more modern design?
- Ease of Use. While most portable ice makers are pretty straightforward when it comes to using them, some are definitely simpler and more intuitive than others. Do you want one that you just have to fill with water and turn on, or do you want one that you can control remotely and choose which size of ice cubes you want?
Best Portable Ice Makers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
If you want a reliable and energy-efficient ice machine, consider the GE Major Appliances Opal Countertop Ice Maker. It features a streamlined design that sits firmly atop your counter. Powered by any 120-volt electrical outlet, this unit doesn’t need a flowing water supply. This means that, provided you have a generator, you can take this with you on trips. You simply fill the receptacle with water and the machine generates ice nuggets within less than half an hour. During the course of a full day, this ice maker is capable of making up to 24 pounds of ice. It’s made out of stainless steel and sturdy plastic, making it highly durable and structurally sound.
This is definitely not the smallest or the most lightweight option on the market, which takes it down a notch in the portability factor. However, it’s still a fairly compact design and user-friendly setup, making it a quality portable ice machine overall.
Offering style and ease of use, the hOmelabs Portable Ice Machine makes staying cool simple. The machine can create as much as a pound and a half of ice per reservoir. Simply fill the unit with just over two liters of water and the ice is ready in less than 10 minutes. It creates small- or medium-sized ice that’s ideal for placing in drinks. A little over a foot tall, it’s quite compact and easy to travel with. The ice machine is very efficient, thanks to the modern compressor that makes ice using less power. It incorporates smart features like a reservoir to reuse the water from melted ice. This machine is quick to use and easy to clean.
Since it provides you with ice in a very short amount of time, it’s great for busy schedules, but you need to watch the level of ice in the basket and transfer it often to the freezer. Since the basket is on the smaller side, it fills up quickly and needs to be emptied more frequently than a larger one.
If you want a machine that looks good wherever you take it, the NewAir Portable Countertop Ice Maker is ideal. Fitting securely on any countertop, this compact ice machine is well-suited to travel. Made with high-quality materials, it’s very sturdy and durable. You can get this ice maker in different colors, ranging from sleek black to bold blue and red. In terms of performance, the ice maker is very efficient. It produces ice cubes in as little as 15 minutes. Simply fill the reservoir and use the easy-to-access panel at the front to start the machine. It operates quietly and makes enough ice for one or two people. It opens from the top to expose the ice reservoir.
Incredibly lightweight and easy to maintain, this ice machine is a stylish addition to any situation. The display, however, leaves a little to be desired in the size and ability to read. The lettering and buttons are quite tiny and would be much easier to see if they were slightly larger.
When you need a heavy-duty ice maker, the Undercounter Stainless Steel Ice Maker by Sunpentown is a good solution. While it is somewhat heavier than other options, it creates an entire 12 pounds of ice every day. The machine sits on the floor below any countertop. With a reversible door, you can always access the inside of the unit. The exhaust vents quietly at the machine’s front. As a whole, the machine weighs less than 60 pounds, so you can easily set it up in an RV. Hooking directly to your water and electrical supply, this unit ensures a steady supply of ice.
Though it’s not really portable in the traditional sense, it is fast to install and easy to move. Especially for group endeavors, this machine creates enough ice to go around.
A top-quality machine, the Novete Portable Countertop Ice Machine creates ice in a flash. The petite ice maker comes in a bold, turquoise blue. It features a clear window at the top so you can see the status of your ice formation. You open the machine through this clear door for easy access to the frozen cubes. Cooled with a condenser unit, the machine uses a minimal amount of power for ideal energy efficiency. It keeps your ice cold for as long as eight hours. The machine itself takes just under two liters of water. It informs you when you need to fill the water and when your ice is ready. During operation, the machine makes very little noise thanks to its thick, polymer exterior. In terms of performance and power use, this is a really efficient selection.
Again, the basket on this unit is on the small side, so you need to monitor it if the machine is going to produce its full capacity of ice in a day. It would also be nice if it came in a couple of other colors, that would make it more versatile when it comes to matching different home decors.
If your main concern in a portable ice maker is portability, the Igloo Automatic Self-Cleaning Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine With Handle is a great choice. It features a 2-quart water tank that can produce 26 pounds of ice in a day, producing nine small or large ice cubes every seven minutes. It also has a handy self-cleaning function and LED lighted display to alert you when to add water and when the basket is full.
Since this is a more compact model, the ice basket is on the smaller side, so be mindful of emptying it frequently. Be sure not to just rely on the handle when carrying the unit. It’s a good idea to also support the unit from the bottom so as not to overstrain and wear out the handle.
If you like to entertain, or have a larger family, the Frigidaire Extra Large Clear Ice Maker is the ideal choice for you. This unit features a large 2.3-liter reservoir and is capable of producing an impressive 40 pounds of clear, square ice cubes per day. It yields 24 cubes every 15 minutes and has the capacity to hold 2.4 pounds of ice in its basket.
Although it’s on the larger side and less portable than many other units on the market, it runs very quietly, so that its function will barely be noticed when you’re trying to carry on a conversation, even if you’re standing right beside it.
The Costway Ice Maker for Countertop deserves an honorable mention for being a well-designed, good looking portable ice maker. As an added bonus, it comes in six different color options, allowing you to choose the one that best matches your kitchen. Weighing only 17 pounds, this is one of the lightest and most portable units on the market, making it a great choice for camping, tailgating, road trips, reunions, and more. It produces nine cubes of ice every 6-13 minutes and is capable of producing 26.5 pounds of ice per day. Its easy-to-read display lets you know when to add water, when the ice basket is full, and select between small and large cube sizes.
Again, with this model, be sure to monitor the ice basket and empty it frequently in order to maximize your ice production. Ice left in the basket and unused tends to melt a little more quickly with this model than some others.
If you want ice in a hurry, you’re going to love the Ikich Portable Ice Maker Machine. This unit can produce nine cubes of bullet-shaped ice every six minutes, making it one of the fastest ice makers on the market. It features a two-liter reservoir and is capable of making up to 26 pounds of ice in a 24-hour period. The machine also operates quietly, at a dB level of less than 45, so you’ll barely know it’s on. It’s got a simple and intuitive control panel that allows for easy and stress-free operation. Choose from large or small sizes of ice for added convenience.
Weighing in at only 15.65 pounds, this is one of the most lightweight units we have seen. That being said, the outer housing and components of the ice maker could stand to be a little more durable. Take care not to be too rough when transporting the unit from place to place.
For those of you who are more budget-conscious, but don’t want to sacrifice quality for price, the Vremi Countertop Ice Maker is an easy pick. With the capacity to produce 26 pounds of ice per day, and a turnaround time of nine cubes every 8-10 minutes, this ice maker performs just as well as some more expensive models on the market. At 20 pounds, it’s easy to take it from place to place, making a versatile option. It’s super easy to use — just add water, and turn it on. The ice maker will take care of the rest.
This ice maker features an automatic shut-off when the reservoir is empty or the ice basket is full. While that is a great safety feature, it would be better to have an alert or alarm so that you can monitor ice making and not forget to keep it producing ice throughout the day. The ice begins to melt quickly once in the basket, so switching it out often is important.
The TrusTech Ice Maker Portable Ice Machine is a great option if you’re looking for a straightforward, reliable portable ice maker that makes ice fast and doesn’t take up a ton of counter space. Get nine cubes every six minutes with this efficient and high-functioning ice maker. Like several others on the market, it has the capacity to produce 26 pounds of ice in 24 hours and weighs 20 pounds, making it an excellent option to take camping or to picnics, tailgating parties, barbecues, and more. This machine is one of the simplest to use on the market. Fill the reservoir, turn it on, select your desired ice cube size, and let it do its job. Lights on the display alert you when the ice basket is full or the water reservoir needs to be replenished.
This is an excellent mid-price option that a lot of budget-conscious consumers will like. It should be noted that it does operate a little louder than some other models available, but at 60 dB, it’s still very quiet and unobtrusive.
- Be sure to keep an eye on your ice maker so that forgotten ice isn’t just sitting in the basket melting and being wasted. This will keep your ice maker functioning at its optimal capacity and making as much ice as possible throughout the day.
- Keep your water clean and fresh in order to produce the best quality ice cubes possible. No one wants cloudy or odd-tasting ice. If you have hard water deposits, consider using bottled water so that you can clean the unit less often.
- Choose the location for your portable ice maker carefully. Set it in a place that is close to an outlet, but away from a wet or watery area, like beside the sink. Water around the electrical cord is bad for obvious reasons. Also pick a spot where it’s less likely to have things dropped on it or spilled into it, so not directly below the most-used cabinet in your kitchen.
- Store already-made ice frequently. This will give you some reserves for those times when company comes and you have more people visiting. While portable ice makers are a great alternative to buying ice, they are still limited in their production capacity, so planning ahead by storing extra in your freezer ensures you will run out less often.
- Try your unit out as soon as you get it to ensure it’s free from manufacturer’s defects and that it produces ice the way you want. With many models, there is a limited return time from the time you receive the unit, so be mindful of that.
- Be sure to read online user reviews prior to purchase so that you can make an informed decision and not set yourself up for any unpleasant surprises when the ice maker arrives and you try to use it for the first time.
What is the best portable ice maker to buy?
A: The best portable ice maker is one that will easily fit in your designated space and that will readily produce the correct amount of ice to meet your specific needs. It will also come backed by a solid warranty to protect your investment.
Q: Can I leave my portable ice maker on all the time?
A: Many portable ice makers feature automatic shut-off when the reservoir is dry or the ice basket is full, so while you could leave it on all the time, it’s not recommended. As unused ice melts and is recycled back into the reservoir, it will continue to use that water to make ice over and over, adding unnecessary stress to the motor and fan components, shortening the lifespan of the unit, and wasting energy that you’re paying for.
What is the best ice maker for home use?
A: A portable, countertop model of ice maker is the best for home use. They come in a wide variety of sizes, capacities, colors, that are suitable for any home, large or small.
What kind of water do you use in a portable ice maker?
A: While you can use regular tap water, it’s best to use filtered drinking water or even bottled water that has a higher purity content. This will not only produce a better quality ice cube, but it will run less hard water deposits through the system, necessitating fewer deep system cleans.
With the ever-increasing popularity of portable ice makers, they are constantly becoming faster, more compact, and more affordable. Now is a great time to buy a portable ice maker for your home, whether you choose the GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker, the NOVETE Portable Ice Maker, or something in between, you can be sure to find one that fits your needs and your budget.