10 Best Portable Ice Makers | April 2017

We spent 30 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Nothing brings a good party to a grinding halt like running out of ice. Suddenly, you can't make any more frozen margaritas, piña coladas, or daiquiris. With one of these portable icemakers, however, your party will run like a well-oiled machine long into the night. Skip to the best portable ice maker on Amazon.
10 Best Portable Ice Makers | April 2017
Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 3
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 5
Best Inexpensive
The Dometic HZB-12A is the perfect size to take boating, to carry in a travel trailer, or even to take along during a camping trip when you still might want a touch of civilization close at hand. It's also made in the United States.
  • choose between two sizes of cubes
  • runs continuously with no problems
  • comes in black or stainless steel
Brand Dometic
Model HZB-12A
Weight 21.4 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0
The iGloo ICE102 is fast, capacious, and offers adjustable cube sizes as it creates up to 26 pounds of ice per day. It can have the first cubes ready in well under 10 minutes, so don't worry if you're already getting thirsty.
  • great price given its quality
  • comes in five color combinations
  • slows down without regular cleaning
Brand RCA-Igloo
Model ICE102-Red
Weight 19.4 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
The Edgestar Titanium puts ice in your drink in about 10 minutes, and can pump out 28 pounds per day in three different cube sizes. It features a soft touch control panel that is easy for anyone to understand and operate without prior knowledge.
  • fits nicely on a countertop
  • recycles unused water
  • needs to thaw after a lot of use
Brand EdgeStar
Model IP210TI
Weight 24.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
The Ivation IVA-ICEM25WH combines speed, ease of use, a huge 2.8-liter reservoir, and fast production into one unobtrusive package. Its bullet-shaped ice cubes come in three sizes, and the unit has a removable tray for easy transfer.
  • lcd screen with easy-push buttons
  • automatic timer
  • noisy operation
Brand Ivation
Weight 23.2 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
For budget-minded shoppers, the Avalon Bay AB-ICE26S is a high-quality product that's still priced to sell. It can make ice in as little as six minutes, but to ensure proper function, make sure to position the unit so that its exhaust fan is not blocked.
  • spits out 9 cubes at a time
  • removable basket
  • small-sized output
Brand Avalon Bay
Model AB-ICE26S
Weight 21.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
Barely a handful at 19 pounds, the Whynter IMC-270MS may be the only model that outproduces its own weight in the weight of ice it creates each day. You'll need to remove cubes frequently for that to happen, as it stores only 1.5 pounds.
  • produces up to 27 lbs daily
  • two different production sizes
  • won't keep ice frozen very long
Brand Whynter
Model IMC-270MS
Weight 20.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
The beautifully designed NewAir AI-100BK will be a welcome addition to your kitchen counter, your poolside cabana, or anywhere else. It holds 2 lbs. of ice at a time and produces 28 lbs. per day, and it's regulated by overflow protection.
  • easy cleanup with side-mount drain
  • scoop comes included
  • cubes are disappointingly hollow
Brand NewAir
Model AI-100BK
Weight 28.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
The ultra-fast, sleek, and attractive stainless-steel Magic Chef IM30 cranks out an impressive 30 pounds of ice in 24 hours, with the first frosty cubes arriving in just seven minutes. Its see-through top lets you watch the progress.
  • outperforms more expensive models
  • loyal customers praise reliability
  • large internal storage basket
Brand Magic Chef
Weight 38.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
Both portable and commercial-grade, Edgestar's IP250 can create a small mountain of ice in a day. It is a great choice for use at a bar station at a wedding or other high-end catered event, as its design is less kitschy and more elegant than other models.
  • unmatched 48 lb output
  • thick insulated exterior
  • programmable lcd controls
Brand EdgeStar
Model IP250SS
Weight pending
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
The Whynter IMC-490SS offers the best combination of features you could want, namely a handsome design, a high output, efficiency, durability, and programmable flexibility. Then, add a unique automatic defroster, and the rest of your options seem to melt away.
  • top-of-the-line construction
  • 40 lbs daily ice production
  • huge 5-liter water reservoir
Brand Whynter
Model IMC-490SS
Weight 42 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Simplicity On Your Counter Top

A portable ice maker is a machine that contains an independent ice generator that will form and freeze ice cubes.

While large, commercial ice makers often require a connection to a water line, a portable ice maker simply needs to have water deposited into its reservoir. The portable ice maker only needs to be plugged in and will even keep the ice frozen for a certain period of time before it is transferred to a drink, cooler, or freezer.

The portable ice maker is a variation of the standard ice maker that can be found inside some home freezers or industrial-sized machines. When some refers to an "ice machine," however, they generally mean a stand alone appliance intended specifically for making ice.

Your average portable ice maker has to be small enough to fit on a counter top. They are the smallest ice makers that you can purchase on the market, and they produce ice faster than the average ice maker built into a home refrigerator. They produce their first batch of ice within an average of ten minutes.

All you have to do is fill the designated reservoir with water, plug in the machine, and turn it on. The water pumps into a tub that has metal pegs equipped with a heating and cooling system. The cooling system causes the water to freeze around the rings, and the heating system warms up just enough to cause the ice to drop off from the rings once the ice is fully formed in a bullet shape.

Unfortunately, they don't keep your ice frozen indefinitely, so you have to transfer the ice into your freezer, drink, or cooler once the bin is full. Otherwise, the ice will melt and then be recycled back into the reservoir to make more ice.

The Portable Ice Maker Advantage

There are not a lot of individual factors to consider when choosing the best portable ice maker to suit your needs. Once you have taken into account your plans for its use, what size you need, and what style you like best, you are well on your way to portable ice maker heaven.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not you need a portable ice maker at all, take a moment to consider all of the advantages that come with owning one of these machines.

The first and most obvious advantage is its portability. (It's right in the name!) You can easily transport your chosen machine to whatever place is most convenient for you. If you enjoy boating, camping, or throwing outdoor parties, your portable ice maker can go wherever you go.

Secondly, portable ice makers work fast. Even if you forgot to put ice in the freezer for your drink with tonight's dinner, all you have to do is fill the reservoir, turn it on, and you will have your ice in ten minutes or less. You don't have to fill ice trays and wait for your freezer to do its job.

The third advantage to owning a portable ice maker is that they require very little maintenance. They are simple to clean and often recycle the water from unused ice that was melted. To keep it clean, you only need to wipe it out and occasionally send some lemon juice or vinegar through the drain.

Last, but not least, a portable ice maker is convenient. They are small and save space on your counter top and are very easy to use. You barely need to read the instructions (although we still recommend that you do) because the operating system for each portable ice maker is so straightforward.

No matter what you plan to use it for, you can't go wrong with a purchase of a high quality portable ice maker to save you time and money and keep you cool year-round.

History of the Portable Ice Maker

Up until the mid-19th century, ice was precious summer commodity, especially in the southern parts of the United States. People often had to import ice from northern states, and obviously not everyone could afford to do that.

Even during the 1800s, the idea of having ice to cool down hot days was hard to sell. Case in point, Frederic Tudor of Boston. Tudor, along with his brother, came up with the genius idea to harvest ice from their estate's pond, and sell it in the stifling West Indies. After spending dollar after dollar, including five thousand alone to ship the ice via boat, when Tudor arrived in the Caribbean, no one wanted to buy the ice.

It took Tudor 10 years to see any profit. Even that didn't last long thanks to a mix of war, bad weather, and family monetary issues. By 1813, Tudor found himself in debtor's prisoner three times, and tried his best to allude the sheriff for years to follow. Sounds like a lot of bad luck, however as luck would find, Tudor died an old man with a net worth of 12 million in today's dollars.

On July 14, 1850, Dr. John Gorrie threw a party in Florida and served his guests trays of ice - the first to ever be produced by a machine. His medical practice had led him to pursue cooling solutions to keep his patients with tropical diseases more comfortable.

He gave up his practice in 1845 and made refrigeration experiments a full time pursuit. He improved on the inventions of men that had attempted the same things before him. His original machine now resides in the Gorrie Museum in Apalachicola, Florida. Not only was he a pioneer in modern ice making, but he helped pave the way for modern air conditioning systems as well.

He perfected the process of "vapor compression refrigeration" that resulted in mechanically produced ice. Modern ice makers use a refrigerant (such as Freon) to aid in the cooling and compression system. Because portable ice makers require a much simpler form of this process, they are the fastest way to produce ice and can keep you cool all year round.

Though it took nearly two hundred years for ice to come this far, especially the portable ice maker, technology is advancing faster than it ever has before. We won't be surprised if ten years down the road, these ice makers will simultaneously be able to churn out ice, while mopping the floor, and cooking dinner. Or maybe we're just anxious for a domestic robot to take over all our house chores. For now, a portable ice maker will do just fine.

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Last updated on April 22 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.