The condenser is a necessary part of any refrigeration system. It assists in removing heat from the refrigerant for continuous cooling. When it comes to commercial ice machines, there are three different condenser types: air-cooled, water-cooled and remote-cooled condensers. The condenser you need depends on where your establishment is located and the ice-production capacity of your machine.
Air-Cooled Ice Machines
With air-cooled ice machines, air is circulated over the condenser to draw heat off of the refrigeration lines. The air is moved via fans and air vents.
- Air-cooled machines are easy to install.
- These units are typically less expensive than water-cooled and remote-cooled condensers.
- They utilize much less water in comparison to water-cooled units, saving money on utility costs.
- Most commercial kitchens will be able to use air-cooled ice machines.
- Clearance for airflow is required on the top, sides and back of all air-cooled ice machines. Depending on the manufacturer and where the air vents are located, as little as a few inches or as much as several feet may be required.
- The air filters and air vents need to be cleaned or replaced regularly so the machine can breathe properly.
- The cooling fan can become noisy during operation, and the exhaust air can add extra heat to a hot kitchen.
Water-Cooled Ice Machines
Water-cooled ice machines have two separate water lines; one feeds the ice-making compartment, the other runs along the condenser to remove heat from the refrigerant.
- Water-cooled machines are not affected by ambient air temperature.
- This type of condenser uses less electricity than air-cooled condensers.
- With no condenser fan, water-cooled machines operate fairly quietly.
- Water-cooled ice machines are ideal for hot, humid climates where temperatures may otherwise adversely affect the ice machine’s cooling properties.
- Water-cooled ice machines are more practical for operations located in areas with low water utility costs, since they utilize a great deal of water to operate.
- A separate water line is required for installation.
- The cooling water is sent directly down the drain, so hundreds of gallons of water are drained every day; this can take a toll on utility costs.
- Municipalities that have water-usage restrictions do not allow businesses to install water-cooled ice machines.