Freezer units tend to be space hoggers because they’re generally bulky and need their own floor space. That’s why they won’t fit in tiny kitchens. Which is going to be a problem if you like having ice cubes like most American households.
Good thing there are small ice makers. These are portable units that make ice in a compact and lightweight form. They’re generally designed for countertop spaces which makes them popular among RV campers, condos or dorm units which have no space for a large refrigerator (you might even have a mini fridge instead).
Most of them are lightweight enough to carry around but some have large capacities that make it heavy to move by a single person. These are great for making large amounts of ice when you need it quickly.
Small ice maker models tend to produce 24-26 lbs of ice per day, which is more than enough for a small household. If you need a compact unit for a small bar or eatery, there are units that can produce 20-30 lbs of ice per day. Some high end ones can even make about 40 lbs.
The ice maker manufacturing industry is basically dominated by a single company that builds these units and markets them under different brand names. That’s why some features are standard to these models.
Features like a 26-pounds-per-day capacity, recycling melted ice and auto shut off settings are basic to these units, making them all functionally similar. But if you take time to look, you can find significant differences in quality , efficiency and design.
In this list, I’ve rounded up the best small ice makers in the market. These products have been rated by users to be efficient enough in producing ice for their needs but also have noteworthy features that make them stand out from other similar products. Here are my top 5 small ice makers.
Best Small Ice Makers
- HomeLabs Chill Pill Countertop Ice Maker
- Igloo Automatic Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine
- Frigidaire Black Portable Compact Maker
- Vremi Very Nice Ice Maker for Countertop
- Crownful Ice Maker Countertop Machine
1. HomeLabs Chill Pill Countertop Ice Maker
This is a sleekly designed countertop ice maker that’s compact and portable at 9.5 x 12.9 x 14 inches. It produces chewable pill-shaped ice using cylinder-based cubes so that you can quickly get perfect ice in just 8-10 minutes. It comes in 2 ice size settings: small and medium.
This unit runs on an energy efficient compressor and can produce 26 pounds of ice per day. It is equipped with a 2.2 liter water reservoir which also functions as an ice bin that can hold up to 1.5 lbs of ice at a time.
It’s easy to operate; it comes with smart settings that includes an auto shut-off function and a recycling setting that reuses the water from the melted ice for ice production. When the ice basket is full or when the water reservoir needs to be refilled, a LED indicator will light up in order to warn you.
It’s frost free, quiet and comes with a Watersense certification. The product includes an ice scoop and a 2-year limited warranty.
- Can be powered by a solar unit or a generator
- Relatively quiet
- This isn’t designed for storing ice cubes
- When purchased through Amazon, the manufacturer doesn’t guarantee a warranty
2. Igloo Automatic Portable Electric Countertop Ice Maker Machine
This is a retro designed countertop ice maker machine that can easily fit in small spaces with its 9.61 x 14.69 x 12.4 inch-size. It produces 9 cylinder shaped ice cubes every 7 minutes with an option for small and large sizes. A full basket takes about 40 minutes.
The unit can produce 26 pounds of ice per day. The water tank can hold about 3 quarts of water while its removable ice basket can store up to 2 pounds of ice at a time.
It is equipped with a user-friendly control panel with LED indicator lights. They function as warning lights to indicate if the ice bin is full or the water reservoir needs refilling. It also has a transparent lid for easy viewing of its ice capacity. A drain plug easily removes water from melted ice when it’s not in use.
This unit includes an ice scoop. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
- The bullet ice is chewable, comparable to Sonic ice texture
- Fast ice production
- May require some attention; some users report that the automatic shut off function works sporadically
- Inconsistent quality of stock; some reported receiving units that didn’t last a year
3. Frigidaire EFIC108-B-Black Portable Compact Maker
This portable countertop ice maker measures 15 x 11 x 14 inches but will still fit compact spaces like RV and boat kitchens. There’s no need for installation; just plug it in, fill its reservoir with water and wait for it to produce ice.
It uses a compressor cooling system and no chemical refrigerants. It’s able to produce 9 cubes of clear ice every 7-15 minutes, or about 26 pounds of ice per day. The reservoir can hold 2.3 quarts of water.
Its user-friendly LED control panel will allow you to choose from 2 ice sizes. It also has a large see-through window to complement its LED indicators and a drain plug to easily clean and drain the unit.
An ice shovel is also included with this unit. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
- RV friendly; can be powered by a generator or power inverter
- Produces clear, not opaque, ice.
- 1 complete cycle which produces 4 cups (1 quart) of ice takes over 90 minutes
- California Prop 65 label
4. Vremi Very Nice Ice Maker for Countertop
Measuring 9.5 x 12 x 13.5 inches, this compact countertop ice maker makes standard bullet-shaped opaque ice cubes in just 8 to 10 minutes.
It uses an energy-efficient 120W cooling compressor that runs quietly. It has a 2.2 liter water reservoir that recycles melted ice and an ice bucket that can hold about 1.5 lbs. It can make 26 lbs of ice per day.
It’s loaded with smart features. It has an Auto-Shut Off function when the ice bin is full and the usual LED lights to alert you when the water reservoir needs a refill.
According to its product notes, this unit is ETL Mark listed. It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.
- Can be powered by solar
- Recycles melted ice
- Poorly insulated reservoir so the ice cubes melt easily
- Can’t be hooked to a water supply
5. Crownful Ice Maker Countertop Machine
This is a compact ice maker that measures 14.6 x 14.2 x 10.7 inches and produces 9 pieces of bullet shaped hollow ice in just 8-10 minutes. Like most brands, it is capable of producing 26 lbs of ice per day. This machine produces large-sized ice cubes – 1.2 in x 0.9 in.
Its compressor cooling system uses R600a refrigerant which is environment-friendly because it has zero ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential) and very low GWP (Global Warming Potential). Its ice bucket is removable for easy cleaning and can hold up to 80 pieces of ice cubes.
It has a one-button control panel that makes it easy to use. Its LED indicators will alert you if the water reservoir needs a refill or if the ice bin needs emptying. It will also indicate if the unit needs cleaning. It also comes with a transparent lid for convenient monitoring of ice production.
This product comes with a 12-month warranty and lifetime technical support.
- Self cleaning function
- Eco-friendly refrigerant
- Only one size setting for ice
- No return policy
Buyers Guide To Choosing A Small Ice Maker
Small units tend to work faster to produce ice. Ideally, a good portable model would be able to make 9-12 ice cubes every 6-7 minutes. That’s enough for 2-3 small drinks.
But when it comes to units that make ice in 2 sizes, the production rate may vary. Small pieces of ice are easier and quicker to produce than thick and big ones. Pick the one that best answers your needs.
Different models produce different types of ice. The most common are those that produce opaque and hollow bullet ice. This kind of ice is used for iced/blended drinks or margaritas. Because of its shape, the ice melts quickly so it’s not suitable for drinks that are usually sipped like whiskey or cocktails.
Look, instead, for a model that produces solid, clear ice cubes. This kind of ice is closer to gourmet ice which is used in cocktail bars. It won’t melt quickly and it would also look good floating on your drink.
If you’re looking for chewable ice, you might want to pick an ice maker that makes nugget ice. These are a bit more expensive than a regular bullet ice maker but they consume less energy than most models, so you’ll get to save on energy costs in the long run.
Look for units that are certified to be energy efficient. Most manufacturers will style their products as energy-savers but one way of making sure that their claim is genuine is to look for certification labels.
Among commercial ice makers, an Energy Star and CEE High Efficiency label are industry-standard certifications that a high quality unit must have. But in the portable ice maker segment, it’s rare to have a unit that carries any one of these.
Instead, look for an ETL Mark. It’s proof that the product complies with North American safety standards.
Look for design features that make the unit more easy and quick to use. Some examples:
- Multiple Ice Size Settings – Some brands will offer options for 2 or 3 ice sizes.
- Underside Drain Plug – This makes it easy to quickly drain and clean the unit without tipping it over which may affect the machinery. Find one that has a plug that’s placed on the bottom of the reservoir.
- Mesh Filter – This helps filter out water contaminants that might affect the look and taste of your ice cubes. It also helps keep the machine clean and last longer without requiring regular maintenance
- Timer – For people who love everything timed to their specific schedules.
- Self Cleaning Mode – This is often found in high-end models. Sure, the machine may be more expensive but at least you don’t have to do all the work in cleaning it.
- Smart/Bluetooth Technology – Some units can be linked up via Bluetooth so that you can control them using an app on your phone.
- Removable Ice Bin – For easy cleaning.
- Storage Capability – Not all small ice makers will be able to store ice in the bin for an extended period. But for some, having this capability is a convenient feature. The best ones are those that can store roughly around 2 pounds.
If noise irritates you, then pick an ice maker that makes the least amount of noise. In general, most small ice makers generate noise levels similar to a microwave running. The loud part is usually when the ice cubes fall into the ice bin. Some high end versions come with insulated housings that help keep the noise level down.
The standard warranty period is for a year. If you’re buying an expensive unit and would like to have more coverage, some brands will provide an option for an extended warranty.
Don’t forget to check the brand if it has a reliable customer after-sales service. If they’re responsive enough, it’ll help you avoid the common mistakes that consumers do when using the unit, such as not using the unit for a few hours to allow the refrigerant oil to settle down properly.
And even if there is something wrong with the unit, asking for a replacement would be less of a hassle if the brand has competent customer service.