Ice Maker Condenser 101

Ice maker condensers are a vital part to your ice maker’s ice creating abilities.

However, it’s not as easy as that.

Ice maker condensers can be categorized into three types:

1.    Air cooling

This type of condenser uses air as its heat-conducting form. This is done by spewing air through condenser surfaces, carrying heat away from the high-temperature, high-pressure vapor.

2.    Water cooling

This type of condenser uses water as its heat-conducting form in order to cool refrigerant vapor into liquid.

3.    Evaporative cooling

Evaporative condensers cool down the vapor by exchanging heat between the pipes and water which is spewed on top of the pipes. This condenser can work in warm environments.

These different ice maker condensers have their individual pros and cons.

The most popular forms are air and water condensers. With that in mind, this blog will outline everything you need to know about these specific condensers and how to choose the system that’s best for you.

Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling Ice Maker Condensers

Once you figure out the type of ice you want for your home or foodservice, along with the equipment configuration, you’ll also need to choose the type of condenser to use with your equipment.

As mentioned above, water-cooled and air-cooled systems are the most popular forms of condensers that we will outline in detail.

Air-Cooled Condensers

Air-cooled condensers are typically used in commercial kitchen, shops and delis, convenience store as well as healthcare facilities.

This internal condenser uses vents and fans within the ice machine in order to bring in the surrounding air.

The air is then circulated through the condenser coils which have gone through a heating process due to the refrigerant compression.

This heat then travels to the circulating air and hotter air is taken out from the ice machine. This usually adds to the hot environment of public food facilities or areas.

air cooled ice maker

Image via Gator Chef

These air-cooled condensers require cooler and better regulated air temperature in its surrounding area. The quality of the air circulation is also important when using an ice machine that includes an internalized air-cooled condenser.

This is because if the air environment is warmer in temperature, the fan system will bring in this warm air within the unit and then attempt to cool the condenser with warmer air.

This will clearly take a longer time cooling the condenser. It will also be a strain on the entire unit.

The air that expels from the vents will be even hotter and will be recycled through the machine again, creating a greater strain on the system.

So, if you’re considering an air-cooled (usually internal) condenser system, you must keep in mind that air circulation and overall temperature is adamant for your appliance’s productivity and longevity.

On that note, keeping your AC temperature low may add to your monthly bills, which is another point to keep in mind when making your choice.

Water- Cooled Condensers

Water-cooled condensers are typically found in commercial kitchen and foodservice areas that have low water utility costs.

These systems use water coils in order to bring the heat – so to speak.

A water-cooled condenser is equipped with a waterline, aside from the water used to make the ice. This waterline transfers water to the ice cabinet. The water goes through the entire system, extracting the heat. Once this happens, the hot water can be drained.

In an environment where the air temperature is between 80-100 degrees F (like a commercial kitchen) this specific type of system may work best.

This is because an air-cooled system would be straining on the unit, attempting to cool already warm surrounding air.

In a lot of water-cooled condenser systems, the water that is used to cool down the condenser is sent down the drain once it’s used once.

This therefore uses a lot of water and can be quite expensive in areas with high costs in water usage. Not only this, but this amount of water use is hard on the environment. This system has actually been banned due to this impact and water shortages in the area.

Liquid Cooling vs Air Cooling Ice Maker Condensers: Conclusion

As you can see, there are some pretty heavy pros and cons with both liquid cooling and air cooling ice maker condensers.

While air-cooled systems require less water and create less environmental impact, the air conditioning increase in costs may be less favorable. That being said, these AC costs are usually less than the water-cooled system water costs.

Water-cooled condensers use less energy since they are fan-free, however water costs will usually offset the electrical costs.

Environmental agencies refuse to seal any water-cooled machine, despite its energy saving abilities. Water-cooled systems are predicted to become banned in more areas due to the increase in pro-environmental movements.

May as well get on board!

Feature image via Ebay

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