Buyer's Guide & Information

Best Portable Ice Makers For Fast Production

We have reviewed and rated a variety of portable ice makers. These are the best-branded products for your home, camper or RV if you need quick and reliable production of ice!

by PlumberAndy

Buyer's Guide & Information

Best Portable Ice Makers For Fast Production

We have reviewed and rated a variety of portable ice makers. These are the best-branded products for your home, camper or RV if you need quick and reliable production of ice!

by PlumberAndy

by PlumberAndy

Ice - it's a pretty simple thing, and it pretty much stinks when you need it, and you don't have it.

You can’t have a good party without it, and it’s a pretty safe bet to say that are a lot of other activities where having a fast and ready source of clean ice can come in pretty handy.

Camping, tailgating, boat trips, and long travel in an RV come to mind. With some activities (like camping) it’s not like there would always be a convenience store right around the corner anyway.

So what else can you do?

The answer? Use a portable ice maker.

As with most appliances, there are different makes and models, each with features that may or may not be the best for your purposes. It’s important to do some homework and choose the one that is right for your needs. For example, undercounter ice makers are not portable. 

We have rated and compared the best portable ice makers on the market. Our reviews cover quality options and brands plus much more.

How Portable Ice Makers Work

Nugget Ice Maker

Portable ice makers make ice in a similar way that the ice maker in your freezer typically would (cold + water = ice…, right?).

The only real difference is that there typically is no need for a hard water line to be plumbed to the unit.

Since there is no water line, you will have to add water instead manually.

All you need for installation is a standard wall outlet (or power inverter if you are in an environment where outlets aren't readily available, like camping).

Aside from the convenience of making ice whenever – and wherever – portable units tend to make ice much faster than that of a traditional freezer. And, depending on the model, you may be able to make different kinds of ice as well (that is, cube vs. crushed, etc.).


Benefits of Having a Portable Ice Maker

You'll find that portable units can bring you the right amount of flexibility and convenience. A few (but certainly not all) of the benefits include:

Portability

Without a doubt, the most significant advantage of a portable unit is…well, …it's portable. You can make ice anywhere, at any time. Having a beach party? No problem. Taking a bunch of friends out on the lake for the day in your boat? You got it. All you need is a power source, and you're all set.

Ease of Use

Just as it is simple to fill an ice tray and place it in your kitchen freezer, using a portable ice maker is almost more straightforward than that. Plug it in, pour in some water, and that’s it.

Speed

If you’ve ever made ice old-school-style (that is, filling an ice tray and putting it in the freezer yourself), you'll know that it can take a good amount of time before the ice is ready.

With a  portable unit, you can have ice ready to use a lot faster than you may think. It's not uncommon to find models that will start depositing ice in the holding bin in just a few minutes.


Portable Ice Maker Buying Guide

When shopping for a portable ice maker, you may be surprised at how many models are out there on the market today. As with many other types of appliances, there are different features and functions that all need to be taken into consideration to make the best buying decision for your needs. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

Size

Portable ice makers come in a range of sizes, and it’s typically safe to say that the larger the unit, the more ice it can hold. Factoring in how many people you wish to serve is a massive part of your buying decision.

Picking one that is too small may leave you – yet again – without enough ice when you need it, and one that is too large may be more expensive. We don’t know about you, but we aren't fans of spending too much money if it isn't needed!

Weight

Since portability is the name of the game here, you don’t want to pick a model that is too heavy to lug around. The units we have looked at can range from 20 lbs. To the mid '40s. To put that in perspective, 40 lbs. Is the same as a bag of rock salt.

A unit this large may serve the purpose but may be too cumbersome to transport. That being said, if you don't plan on moving it around much, then it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Production Speed

One of the significant benefits of a portable ice maker is that it makes ice much faster than a traditional freezer. How much quicker? Units we have reviewed are in the under-10 minute range for the most part. It's certainly nice to have a lot when you need it, but you can temper that somewhat as well.

A larger unit may have a longer production time, but it also has a larger storage bin. That may not be an issue at all if it takes a little more time than a unit with a smaller storage capacity.

Convenience (Ease of Use)

For the most part, the operation is the same no matter what model you are using: fill the reservoir with drinkable water, turn the unit on, and wait for your ice. Different models may have additional controls for options such as different shape sizes, but other than that, there isn't all that much to set one unit apart from the other.

Durability & Design

This one can be a tough call. It's hard to know how durable a particular model may be, or how good the operation of the design is. The internet can be a gold mine of information, mainly when you take the time to look at trusted reviews and buying guides (just like the one you’re reading right now!).

Also, it may be best to look at brands that have a reputation for good quality; that will help to narrow down your search.

Ice Cube Size Options

Depending on your needs, you may find that you would like to be able to make different sizes of ice.

Many models today can create different sizes at the flick of a switch (or press of a button).

For example, a large cube tends to work better for mixed drinks than smaller cubes, because they take longer to melt. Smaller cubes may melt too fast and will water down the glass.

Countertop Ice Maker

Overflow Protection

This has to do with limiting the amount of ice that a unit can make at a time, and it's a convenient feature to have if you want to fill your unit with water and then move on to bigger and better things.

Once the ice builds up to a certain level, the unit will automatically stop producing any more until the ice is used and the level goes down. At that point, the unit will start making ice again.


9 Best Portable Ice Makers Reviewed

1. hOmelabs

Best Portable Ice Maker (top pick)

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

1.5

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

26

Cube Size Options

Two (bullet)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

6-8

Weight (lbs.)

19.4

Warranty

Two-year limited

Our first unit is our pick for the best overall portable ice maker – the hOmelabs Portable Countertop.

The hOmelabs Portable is a great match of all the features we have found to make up a good unit. It can make up to 26 lbs. of ice in 24 hours – more than enough to keep your party going and not having to worry about running out.

It is effortless and intuitive to use, thanks to the simple touchpad control panel. A single button turns the unit on or off, and the other lets you select the size of the bullet (cylindrical) pieces of ice – both small and large. Indicators on the panel also let you know when the unit is full of ice and when you will need to add more water.

The visual appearance is modern and attractive with a distinctive silver color for the case and a clear window on the lid so you can see the ice level. Coming in at a package size of 12.9” x 9.5” x 14” and weighing only 19.4 lbs., it’s not too big to sit on your countertop, and it’s super easy to move anywhere you need it to be.

A two-year manufacturer’s warranty and a great price top it all off for us. The hOmelab Portable Countertop deserves all of the kudos we can give it.

"In just 6 minutes you'll have ice." - Out of Goshen

Pros
  • Small and lightweight
  • Fast cycle time
  • Two ice size options
  • Indicators for ice level and water level
  • Two-year manufacturer’s warranty
Cons
  • Maybe noisy
  • Ice may melt too fast

2. EdgeStar IP210BL 

Best Small Ice Maker (runner up)

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

2.5

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

28

Cube Size Options

Three (bullet)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

10

Weight (lbs.)

24

Warranty

One-year limited

It was a hard fight with our top pick, but our runner up for the best portable ice maker is the EdgeStar IP210BL. Not too big but small enough to be mobile (it weighs only 24 lbs.), it may just be the model that you are looking for.

The IP210BL can hold 2.5 lbs. of ice in its storage bin, and with a cycle time of only 10 minutes on average, it won’t take long for it to refill. It will produce a hefty 28 lbs. in 24 hours as well.

The IP210BL gives you three choices of ice size (small, medium and large) – it's important to note that the 10-minute average time can go up or down depending on the size you choose (larger pieces take longer to produce).

The package design (with four different color options) will fit right in with any countertop décor, and it's small enough not to take up too much counter space.

Other convenient features include a low water level indicator, an ice level indicator (overflow), a window in the cover to see the ice level as it is being made, an included ice scoop, and a one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.

The EdgeStar IP210BL may be your perfect party guest!

"I got so very tired of having to go buy ice, bring it home, and by the time I got home with it, some would have melted so I'd have to refreeze it, then break it up again before I could even begin to have ice in whatever I was drinking. Everyone thought I was crazy when I said this is machine is what I wanted for my birthday, but I got one anyway. I have loved making my own bags of ice, as few, or as many, as I want. " - Happy Walmart customer KlondykeMoms

Pros
  • Three ice sizes (small, medium, and large)
  • Bullet shape ice for faster production
  • Water level and ice level indicators
  • Four color options
  • Ideal package size for countertop use
Cons
  • Storage bin could use more insulation
  • Issues with durability over time

3. FirstBuild Opal01 Nugget

Best Portable Nugget Ice Maker

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

3

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

24

Cube Size Options

One (nugget)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

20

Weight (lbs.)

44

Warranty

One-year limited

Many portable ice makers on the market make bullet (cylindrical) style ice. The FirstBuild Opal uses a nugget shape instead, and it has enough features to make it our choice for the best portable nugget ice maker.

The FirstBuild has a little bit of a larger storage capacity (3 lbs.) than the other units we have reviewed thus far. The ice that it makes is 'chewable' instead of rock-hard, similar to that found in many restaurants. The cycle time is longer than other models, but the excess storage capacity helps to offset that.

The package design is beautiful, with a stainless steel case (with black accents) and a large window in the front to keep an eye on the ice level - not that you need to. The Opal machine has an overflow sensor, so it automatically knows when to start and stop making ice.

One unique feature of the Opal is its Bluetooth connectivity. You can control when to turn the unit with a simple click on the FirstBuild phone app. You can get your ice going while you’re still picking up party supplies at the store!

The FirstBuild Opal has a few optional items (not included) that can increase the level of flexibility quite a bit. A side water tank will give you three times more ice, and you can also get an Opal water filter to keep your ice tasting as good as your drinks do.

The FirstBuild Opal may cost more than some other models on our list, but it may be hard to argue that it's not worth it.

"Ready to serve all your teeth-cracking, goose-bump-inducing, ice-chewing needs." - Forbes 

Pros
  • Perfect for that soft, 'chewable' nugget ice
  • Larger storage bin
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Optional accessories to increase capacity and quality
  • Attractive visual design
Cons
  • Unit is heavier than most
  • Maybe noisy

4. RCA Compact Red

Best Compact Portable Ice Maker

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

1.5

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

26

Cube Size Options

Two

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

6

Weight (lbs.)

21.3

Warranty

One-year limited

Sometimes 'portable' really is 'portable,' and you don't need to make a ton of ice. By that, we mean a smaller, more compact unit may be just the ticket for your portable ice needs.

With the RCA Compact Ice Maker, you have a smaller unit that packs a lot of punch – certainly enough to be recognized on our list as the best compact portable ice maker.

The storage capacity on the RCA Compact is only 1.5 lbs. Yes, that’s smaller than other models we have reviewed, but why get a bigger unit if you don’t need it? This little guy is just enough to keep a small party or family gathering going.

Depending on how big you want your ice to be (you can choose from two sizes), you can get cubes from water to storage tray ice in as little as six minutes.

The control panel is simple enough where you won’t have to read the manual. There is a power on/off touch button and one to select the size – that's it, and that's all you need here. There are separate indicators for low water level and an overflow for the ice as well.

It's small enough not to be worried about carrying it around, either. It weighs only 21.3 lbs. and it has a relatively modest 15" x 11" x 14.5" package size.

The RCA also comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty as well. Add it all up, and you can see why we have picked the RCA Compact Ice Maker as our choice for the biggest little ice-making powerhouse on the market today!

Pros
  • Fast ice production
  • Two ice size options
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Simple touchpad controls
  • Water and ice level indicators
Cons
  • Not suitable for larger groups
  • Storage bin allows for fast melting

5. Frigidaire EFIC103 Heavy Duty

Best Large Portable Ice Machine

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

2.2

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

48

Cube Size Options

Three (cube)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

6

Weight (lbs.)

28

Warranty

One-year limited

From small to large…you name it, we’ve looked at it! Our selection for the best large portable ice machine on the market is the Frigidaire EFIC103. It's a more substantial, heavier duty unit from a long-trusted brand of appliances, boasting an impressive ice volume per day of 48 lbs. – more than double that of most other models on the market.

The EFIC103 holds 2.2 lbs. of ice in its storage bin, and it can replenish that at a rate as fast as only six minutes. That's for the smallest of the three cube sizes, so keep that in mind when you are making more substantial pieces of ice.

It’s durable and attractive thanks to the stainless steel case design. It looks great in just about any kitchen, and it will add a touch of class to that big party you are planning to have.

Operation is a piece of cake, with a simple front-mounted control panel with only two buttons – an on/off switch and a selector for the three sizes of clear cubes the EFIC103 can produce. Low water level and 'full ice' indicators top things off.

Large, attractive, and simple to use – these are only a few of the reasons why the Frigidaire EFIC103 has stolen our top spot for the best large portable ice machine currently available today.

A shopper on eBay writes,  "Awesome product!!!! I’ve suggested this to everyone I know."

Pros
  • Extra-large volume capacity
  • Attractive stainless steel package
  • Three cube size settings
  • Fast cycle time
Cons
  • Durability over time is lacking
  • May have a noisy operation

6. YONGTONG IM-12AS 26 lb.

Best Budget Portable Ice Maker

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

1.5

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

26

Cube Size Options

Two (bullet)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

8

Weight (lbs.)

17.9

Warranty

-

When it's all said and done, one of the most essential factors in your purchasing decision for the best ice maker will be the price. With the YONGTONG IM-12AS, you’ll find many (if not all) of the same features that are available in models that cost much more. It certainly has earned our respect as the best budget portable ice maker on our list.

The IM-12AS can generate up to 26 lbs. of clear ice a day, and it can have a cycle time (for the small bullet size) as low as 8 minutes. The ice storage capacity is 1.5 lbs., so while we wouldn’t recommend it for larger events, it may be just right for a small family picnic or day out on the boat.

Don’t let the budget-minded price fool you, though. Just like more expensive models, the IM-12AS has low water and high ice level indicators, a large 2.2-liter water reservoir, and a stylish silver design that we wouldn't hesitate to have in our kitchen.

Why pay more for the same functionality when you don’t have to? We recommend taking a good look at the YONGTONG IN-12AS – you may find that it’s just what the doctor ordered, especially for your ailing wallet…

Pros
  • Fast production time
  • Two ice sizes
  • Water and ice level indicators
  • Stylish silver package design
  • 26 lb. daily volume capacity
Cons
  • Ice may melt rapidly in the storage bin
  • Louder than comparable units

7. NewAir AI-100CB

Best Portable Ice Makers for RV’s

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

2.1

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

28

Cube Size Options

Three (bullet)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

6

Weight (lbs.)

24.3

Warranty

One-year limited

Portable ice makers are a great appliance to have when you’re hitting the open road for a nice RV trip. Thanks to its compact size and extensive feature set, we've chosen the NewAir AI-100CB as our choice for the best portable ice maker for RV's.

Its compact design (14.5” x 11.8” x 15”) coupled with a lightweight 24.3 lbs. make it the perfect option to take in your RV as it won’t take up a lot of space. That’s even more impressive when you consider that it can make up to 28 lbs. of ice a day with a cycle time as low as six minutes.

The AI-100CB lets you select one of three bullet-ice sizes, and it also comes standard with an ice overflow system and a low water level sensor so you can always keep that ice a-comin’.

Style-wise the AI-100CB has more options than many other models on the market, with an impressive seven different case colors to choose from. With that many, you’re pretty much assured to find one that will match up perfectly with the color scheme of your RV.

Road trips in an RV can be excellent ways for a family or group of friends to make some long-lasting memories, and one of them should not be running out of ice! With the AI-100CB from NewAir, you won’t ever have that problem.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Compact package size
  • Three selectable ice sizes
  • Seven different case color options
Cons
  • Reliability is not robust
  • Noisy operation

8. Magic Chef MCIM22ST 27 lb.

Best Small Commercial Portable Ice Maker

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

1.5

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

27

Cube Size Options

Two

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

7

Weight (lbs.)

17.8

Warranty

One-year limited

Most of the models on our list wouldn't last in any commercial application. Based on our research, we believe that the Magic Chef MCIM22ST earns the right to be called the best small commercial ice maker out of all of the models we have reviewed.

The MCIM22ST can produce up to 27 lbs. of ice if left to run in a continuous mode for 27 hours, and every cycle can be completed in just seven minutes (for the small ice size setting; it may be a bit more for the large size).

The storage bin holds 1.5 lbs. of ice at a time before the automatic overflow sensor kicks in and stops any more ice from being produced.

Weighing in at only 17.8 lbs., the MCIM22ST is a great option for having continuous, excellent tasting ice for any party or function. The compact 14.1" x 9.5" x 12.9" size also makes it easy to carry around.

The visual package design adds a touch of elegance as well, with your choice of three different finishes: silver, stainless steel, or black stainless steel.

Add in a one-year limited warranty, and there should be no question in your mind why the Magic Chef MCIM22ST is included on our list of the best portable ice makers around.

Our full guide on commercial ice makers can be found here.

Pros
  • 27 lb. daily capacity
  • Two ice sizes
  • Automatic overflow protection
  • Three stylish case options
  • One-year manufacturer’s warranty
Cons
  • Ice melts if left in storage bin
  • Durability could be better

9. Della w/ Easy-Touch

Best Portable Ice Maker for Camping

Storage Bin Capacity (lbs.)

1.5

Ice Volume Per Cycle (lbs./day)

26

Cube Size Options

Two (bullet)

Production Speed/Cycle Time (min.)

6

Weight (lbs.)

21

Warranty

-

Camping rocks. It just does. Whether you go all rustic and camp in a tent, or if you choose to use a camper instead, the same problem can arise – what happens when you run out of ice? The Della Portable Ice Maker is the answer no matter how you choose to camp. It's our top pick for the best portable ice maker for camping.

The Della takes only six minutes per cycle, and it can make up to 26 lbs. of ice in a single day. Not too shabby for a unit that’s small enough to lug around and use wherever you want (it’s 14.5” x 9.75” x 12.75” and weighs in at just 21 lbs., in case you were wondering).

It’ll give you two sizes of bullet-shaped ice, and it’ll keep doing it until the bin gets full. When that happens, an indicator light will go off to let you know, and the unit will automatically stop making any more. Once the ice level drops (as you use the ice or it melts off), the Della will pick back up where it left off and start cranking it out again.

Camping is fun. Why not make it more fun by having one less thing to worry about? With the Della Portable Ice Maker, not having any ice – when you need it – is a thing of the past.

Pros
  • Six minute cycle time
  • Overflow detection system
  • Two sizes of ice
  • Compact size and weight
Cons
  • Can be loud when in use
  • Durability could be better

Types of Ice Produced

Not all portable ice makers produce the same kinds of ice. Yes, they all produce frozen water (that’s kind of the whole point, right?), but the sizes and shapes you can get will differ from model to model.

By Shape

Best Ice Maker

A prevalent type of ice that is produced by portable ice makers is called 'bullet' ice. It looks like small, round tubes, and they are great for putting into water bottles.

Some models also produce cubes, if that is your preference – just the right thing for mixed drinks. Models that make crushed ice are a little bit harder to find; crushed ice is best for mixed 'frozen' drinks (such as a margarita or a daiquiri).

By size

Some models let you select the size of the shape as well. It’s not uncommon to find units that will allow you select up to three different shape sizes (for example, small/medium/large cubes, or small to large bullet ice). It is uncommon to find a unit that will produce different shapes, though.


Setting Up a Portable Ice Maker

Using your new portable ice maker for the first time will be easier than you think.

The first step is to place it in the right location. Yes, it's 'portable,' but you should have it close to a reliable power source. Make sure it is sitting in an upright position for at least 24 hours before starting it up. From there you plug it in and turn the unit on.

Next, you should fill the water reservoir and make several ice cycles, throwing each one away. That will help to clean out any residue within the maker that is left over from when it was manufactured, and it will make sure that your ice is clean and does not have any strange taste.

Once you have 'broken it in' like this, you should be able to plug it in, fill it up, and start making ice whenever you need.


How to Clean Portable Ice Makers

Cleaning a portable ice maker is a pretty simple process, and we recommend to do it often to keep your unit working in tip-top condition.

The outside surfaces are best cleaned with warm water and a mild detergent, making sure to wipe it dry. If possible, remove the holding bin and clean in the same way, but make sure to rinse it thoroughly so your ice won't taste funny.

Internally the best thing to do is to occasionally run the unit using a weak mixture of some acidic liquid (such as white vinegar) and water. This will help to clean out contaminants and buildup in the tubes and valves.

You'll be throwing that ice away, and you should cycle some clean water through it afterward. No one likes ice that tastes like pickles!


Frequently Asked Questions

How does the water for ice making get into the machine?

Since there is no water line, you have to add water to the unit's reservoir manually. From there, the water is metered into the freezing mechanism to produce ice.

Does the tray automatically drop the ice into the storage unit once done?

Yes. In this regard it works in the same way that the ice maker in a traditional kitchen freezer works – when the ice is done, it is deposited in the holding bin.

How long can you expect the ice to stay frozen for in the machine?

Portable ice makers are not intended for storing ice long-term. Therefore, the amount of insulation in the holding bin won't keep it from melting as it would in a typical freezer.

That being said, it depends largely on the temperature of the environment in which the unit is being used – if it's sweltering outside, you may find your unit may have trouble keeping up.

What do I do if the water is not draining from the back of the machine?

The most likely cause is that the drain tube is clogged. You could attempt to use something small and flexible to try and unclog it, but you may have to resort to getting your unit serviced if you are unsuccessful.

Should I put distilled or tap water into the reservoir?

Typically, it shouldn’t matter. All that's required is that the water you use is clean and suitable for drinking. Some types of water (such as well water) may have minerals or impurities in it that, while drinkable, may contaminate the internal components of the ice maker. In these cases, you may need to clean it more often.

How can I prevent molds from growing in my ice maker?

The short answer is always to clean the unit properly after you have used it. Most importantly, make sure that all of the water is removed – mold LOVES moisture!

Where should I store these devices when I am not using them?

You can store these units anywhere they will fit! For the most part, they are relatively small and do not take up a lot of space. However, we would recommend not storing them in a damp environment to help combat any mold growth.


Conclusion

Running out of ice during any event – whether it be a party or just a nice camping trip with your friends and family – can be a pain. We’ve all experienced times where an emergency run to the local convenience store is necessary, and it’s just plain inconvenient.

Portable ice makers are the perfect answer, and with models like the hOmelabs Portable Ice Maker (our top pick), you’ll never have to worry about running out of ice again. And for even more ice maker options, make sure to read our article on best overall ice makers in each category. 

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