Reviews

The Best Portable Ice Makers: Fresh Ice on the Go

Find the perfect portable ice maker for your camper or RV with this informative guide.

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON July 7, 2021

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.

Best Overall
GE Profile Opal | Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
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Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • 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
Cons
Cons
  • Ice cubes are the soft, crunchy kind that tends to melt quickly
  • One of the heavier units available
Best Overall
GE Profile Opal | Countertop Nugget Ice Maker
Best Value
hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine for Countertop
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Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • Choose from small or medium-sized ice cubes that will fit in any size opening of your water bottle
  • Weighs less than 20 pounds
Cons
Cons
  • Basket holds only 1.5 pounds of ice, so you need to empty it frequently 
Best Value
hOmeLabs Portable Ice Maker Machine for Countertop
Honorable Mention
NOVETE Portable Ice Maker
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Summary
Summary

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.

Pros
Pros
  • Fun retro-style is compact and lightweight
  • Weighs less than 20 pounds
Cons
Cons
  • Ice basket is one of the smallest, so it needs to be emptied frequently
  • Only comes in one color
Honorable Mention
NOVETE Portable Ice Maker
the best portable ice maker
Amazon

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Benefits of Portable Ice Makers

  • Convenience. A portable ice maker is incredibly convenient: not only can you actually bring your ice maker anywhere, but you can move it around as needed. Use it indoors, outdoors, or anywhere you’ve got access to power. It’s an appliance you can rely on to create ice quickly, efficiently, and nearly anywhere, all without needing a full-size fridge (or any ice cube trays).
  • Versatile. Because of their portable design, these ice makers are able to be moved, carried, and plugged in anywhere. Some are built for outdoor use, while others are RV- or camper-friendly. You’ll be able to create (and use) ice anywhere you go. 
  • Compact. You don’t need a ton of space to use a portable ice maker. Available in an array of different compact sizes, these appliances can be surprisingly petite. Many are designed to fit on a countertop; others are even smaller and are travel-ready. Instead of splurging on a sizable freezer or fridge, save space with one of these machines.
  • Quick and efficient. Need ice in a hurry? A portable ice maker can get you exactly what you need in very little time. Many modern versions can get ice created and ready to use in just six to eight minutes. This is particularly helpful when you’re in need of a lot of ice quickly, or when you need to cool down warm drinks ASAP.
  • Save money. If you frequently purchase huge bags of ice when you’re having a party, hosting guests, throwing a barbecue at your local park, or even while camping in your RV, you know how quickly that expense can add up. Instead of buying bag after bag of ice, use a portable ice maker to save money.
  • Low maintenance. You don’t have to fuss with a complex appliance when you have a portable ice maker. These simple machines take care of all the work and most of the maintenance themselves. With features like built-in drains that can actually use melted ice and the ability to funnel water through the production channels, there’s little cleanup and little maintenance needed to keep them working smoothly.
  • Smart technology. If you’ve never used a standalone portable ice maker before, you’ll love how easy they are to control and operate. Many feature smart technology now, with LED lights, visual or audio cues to tell you when your attention is needed, and automatic settings. 

Types of Portable Ice Makers

Countertop Ice Makers

Countertop ice makers, which are also simply called portable ice makers, are the only variety you can find that you can bring anywhere with you. Designed for light use and convenience, these machines are compact and fit on just about any countertop or table. They’re self-contained units, which means they can operate separately — with nothing but a standard electrical outlet and water — unlike a traditional freezer ice maker.

Portable ice makers don’t require a water line or drain. You do have to manually fill the water tank to keep these appliances running, but that’s it. It’ll quickly create ice, which you can use as it’s produced or store in your freezer or cooler. As long as you’re using the ice and keeping the water tank full, you’ll be able to generate reasonable amounts of ice.

Top Brands

GE

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

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

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.

hOmeLabs

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

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

  • Under $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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Key Features

Compact Size

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.

Production Capacity

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?

Cost

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.

Durability

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.

Other Considerations

  • Weight When Empty. While a heavy portable ice maker isn’t the worst option in the world, it does limit your options and your flexibility. The heavier your ice maker is when it’s empty, the tougher it’ll be to carry and tote. If you’re planning on bringing yours camping or into your RV, you’re going to want to choose a lighter model over those that weigh close to 50 pounds. 
  • Functions and Features. The more your portable ice maker can do on its own, the more convenient it’ll be to use (and get your money’s worth from). Look for an ice maker that has all of the bells and whistles you need, from an easily refillable water tank to a built-in drain to roomy capacity. Intuitive, smart features can also help make your ice maker even easier to use.
  • Color and Style. It might sound silly, but you can actually buy a pretty stylish portable ice maker. Some are modern and feature sleek stainless steel exteriors that’ll match other appliances. Others are brighter and more colorful in shades of red, blue, and others to match your personal taste or style. You can even find retro portable ice makers if you’d like a 1950s or 1960s flair to your appliance.

Best Portable Ice Makers Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
GE Opal Countertop Ice Maker

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.

Most Efficient
hOmelabs Portable Ice Machine

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 2 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.

Most Stylish
NewAir Portable Countertop Ice Maker

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.

Best for Variety
Frigidaire Portable Countertop Icemaker 

If you want a portable ice maker that can do more than make basic ice, the Frigidaire Portable Countertop Icemaker is exactly what you need. This adaptable machine does more than many of its competitors — it can make two different sizes of ice with the quick change of simple settings.


This ice maker will deliver superior ice making in a convenient, portable package. It can make up to 26 pounds of ice and is able to store as much as 1.5 pounds of ice while it works, giving you more flexibility and more options than other appliances that require you to use ice as quickly as possible. Built with a large, clear window so you can see what’s happening, plus a 2.3-quart water tank, you’ll be able to get a whole lot of ice easily.


This portable ice maker also operates pretty quietly. It runs at less than 38 decibels, making a quiet hum in the background rather than loud, distracting noises. And it’s easy to use too, thanks to a straightforward LED display and simple electronic controls.

Best Eco-Friendly
Novete Portable Countertop Ice Machine

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 2 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.

Honorable Mention
Igloo Automatic Self-Cleaning Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine With Handle

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.

Honorable Mention
Magic Chef Portable Countertop Ice Maker

The Magic Chef Portable Countertop Ice Maker can really deliver, especially if you’re hoping to have a steady ice supply created on demand. This powerful machine can create up to 27 pounds of ice in a 24-hour day, and it’ll provide you with approximately nine ice cubes every cycle it runs.


This portable ice maker is super simple to use too. All you have to do is add water and pick your ice cube size. It’ll get to work in just seven minutes and allow you to start filling your cups with cool ice. You have the option to pick small or large cubes, and an easy-to-read control pad puts you in charge of the appliance’s operation. If you need to make adjustments or refills, the visible indicator lights will tell you. 


This portable ice maker is ETL-approved, and you can check in on its work via the see-through window that’s built right in. A removable ice basket makes transporting finished ice easy, and any ice that goes unused is put right back into the water reservoir so nothing goes to waste.

Honorable Mention
Costway Ice Maker for Countertop

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.

Honorable Mention
Goplus Portable Compact Electric Ice Maker Machine

Here’s a portable ice maker that looks as good as it works: the Goplus Portable Compact Electric Ice Maker Machine. This sleek appliance is colorful and classic, and it fits into any setting easily, with a little style to make it stand out. 


Though this machine is small — it has a 0.58-gallon water tank and measures 9.5 x 14 x 12.9 inches in size — it’s an efficient little worker. It’ll make up to 26 pounds of ice per day, turning water into mini ice cubes quickly. It delivers its first batch of ice within eight minutes of being powered up, and it’ll keep working as long as you keep an eye on the tank. With a 1.5-pound ice basket capacity, it can hold a bit of ice while it works to make more. 


While the ice maker is running it operates quietly with its compressor cooling system. Light indicators alert you when it’s time to add more water, and you’ll also get an alert when the basket is in need of emptying. No matter how or where you use this sleek appliance, it’ll keep delivering fresh ice every 6-13 minutes.

Honorable Mention
NewAir Portable Ice Maker

It’s hard to beat the simplicity of options available on the NewAir Portable Ice Maker. This portable machine features just two buttons, so it’s incredibly easy to start up and turn off when it’s finished. 


Available in three colors, this portable ice maker measures 14.1 x 9.6 x 11.7 inches in overall size. It has enough capacity to produce 33 pounds of ice over the course of a single day, and there are two bullet-style ice sizes to choose from. It also works fast — it uses a fast freezing process that’ll give you a new batch of ice every eight minutes. Once you get this machine up and running, you’ll be impressed by how efficient it is at its sole job. And it’s consistent too, delivering exactly what you need and expect every time it runs through a cycle.


There’s just one downside: this ice maker takes time to warm up and cool down. While it technically generates its first batch of ice within six minutes, it really takes a full hour to provide you with usable, frozen ice.

Honorable Mention
TrusTech Ice Maker Portable Ice Machine

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.

Tips

  • 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. Any 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.

FAQs

Q: What is the best portable ice maker to buy?

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?

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.

Q: What is the best ice maker for home use?

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.

Q: What kind of water do you use in a portable ice maker?

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 fewer hard water deposits through the system, necessitating fewer deep system cleans. 

Q: Do any portable ice makers keep ice frozen?

Because of their compact and convenient size, portable ice makers typically cannot keep ice frozen. As soon as the ice is produced, it needs to be used, moved to a cooler, or put in a traditional freezer to stay frozen. The machine itself doesn’t have the room or capacity to continue cooling the ice.

Q: Do portable ice makers use a lot of electricity?

 Portable ice makers don’t use a ton of electricity—they generally use around 350 kilowatts per hour, and you don’t leave the machine running when you don’t need ice. These ice makers are appropriate in terms of energy consumption for your RV or campsite power sources so that they can operate pretty efficiently. 

Final Thoughts

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 hOmelabs Portable Ice Machine, or something in between, you can be sure to find one that fits your needs and your budget.