Whether you’re hosting a party, chilling your frappe, or just want to cool down, you need ice that fits your needs in little to no time. An ice tray can take at least an hour to chill 12 ice cubes, given you have freezer space for it. If you’re like me and often have guests but can’t run to the store to get ice, you’ll understand how the best portable ice maker can be the gift that keeps on giving.
Portable ice makers are also known as countertop ice makers are simply appliances that you can use at your home, in your backyard, or on a campsite. As long as you have a power outlet nearby, you can make ice for you and your guests in less than 10 minutes. My family and I love having iced drinks throughout the year. After many trials and hours of research, we found my top pick to be the best portable ice maker investment for us. Read on to learn why.
Best Portable Ice Maker Top Pick: Della Premium
Making ice shouldn’t be overly complicated and Della delivers exactly on what consumers want. The simplicity of this ice maker is one of the main reasons I found it be the best portable ice maker options around.
The Della produces 26 lbs of bullet-shaped ice per day and stores 1.5 lbs of ice at once. You can choose between two ice sizes: small and large. If you want small ice cubes, it’ll take 6 minutes for it to drop 9 pieces. However, if you want large ice cubes, then it’ll take around 10 minutes for the Della to create the same amount.
Both sizes are soft and chewable. If you love chewing ice, you don’t have to worry about the ice being too hard for you to enjoy before it starts melting. It also does a great job of keeping your drink cool by making the ice at the right temperature. While this may sound a bit to write about, I’ve had ice machines that make ice that melts quickly.
It comes with a convenient ice scooper so you don’t have to touch the ice with your hands.
The Della is a 20-pound portable ice maker. Twenty pounds is not too bad if you want to move it around or even bring it while traveling. Depending on your style, you can get it in black, stainless steel, silver, or red. It’s dimensional size is 14.5 x 9.75 x 12.75 inches.
Since it comes with a fan and a compressor, it does make noise. However, the only noise you’ll actually here is when the ice drops because of the fan and compressor are virtually quiet.
The water reservoir holds 2.3 quarts of water at a time. When it’s time to drain any excess or old water, there’s a side drain that is super convenient.
The control panel consists of a full ice and water shortage indicator, small and large ice sizes, and the power button. The Della is designed to give you ice without any hassle.
When there’s no more room for any ice, the full sensor will activate and the full ice LED indicator will light up. Also, the machine will stop producing ice. If you forget to turn it off because you’re having a great time, you don’t have to worry about your countertop being flooded with ice cubes.
The Della is a high-quality, durable unit that is certified by ETL, CSA, UL. It connects to a 115V power outlet and uses 230 Watts.
The Della has a one-year limited warranty for the original purchaser against defects in material and workmanship. They’ll even repair and replace for no additional cost. A good warranty is a nice reassurance that the company cares about its product. Therefore, this also contributed to my choice of it being the best portable ice maker.
Flaws but not dealbreakers on the best portable ice maker
- Taller than most models. The Della’s height makes it quite larger than other portable ice makers. You’ll have to see how much space you have between your countertop and your cabinets to make sure that it’ll fit. While you can’t change the height of the unit, you can change the location you place it in. If you don’t have enough space to fit the Della, they can also place it on your island, bar, or a mini table.As long as you place it near a power outlet, it doesn’t matter where you place it in your kitchen.
- Ice can “stack up” and cause the full tray sensor to trip. After a couple of cycles, the ice might start to stack up on top each other. This will cause the full tray sensor to activate and stop more ice from being produced. However, there’s normally a lot of room inside the ice tray. To get the Della to start producing more ice, you’ll have to manually push the ice to the bottom of the tray.
Best Portable Ice Maker Runner-Up: NewAir AI-100BK
NewAir is known for keeping drinks cool, whether it’s a can of soda or a bottle of wine via a wine cooler. Therefore, after much research, it wasn’t a surprise that it also does an incredible job at keeping your drinks cool once again.
However, this time its because of it’s unique bullet-shaped ice. Between its high production capacity and it’s unique colors, read below to see why I chose it as one of the best portable ice maker options.
Unlike the Della, the NewAir produces 28 lbs of bullet-shaped ice per day and stores 2 lbs at once. You can choose between three ice sizes: small, medium, and large. If you want small ice cubes, they’ll drop 9 pieces every 6 minutes, the medium will drop approximately every 10 to 13 minutes, and large will drop every 15 minutes. All three sizes are soft and chewable and it comes with an ice scooper.
The NewAir is a 24-pound unit that is slightly bigger than the Della, but not too noticeable. One of the best things about this unit is that it comes it an array of colors. You can get one in black, red, silver, stainless steel & black, orange, and cyan blue. If you wanted it to stand out to guest when they come, the choice is yours. Its dimensional size is 14.5 x 11.75 x 15 inches.
Similar to the Della, the only noise you’ll hear is when the ice drops inside the ice tray. The water reservoir holds 5.5 quarts of water at a time and the drain is on the side.
The control panel consists of a power button, size button (small, medium, large), full button, and add water LED indicator lights. When the full light will illuminate, the unit will automatically shut off.
The NewAir is a durable unit that has high-quality plastic and metal parts depending on the model.
Similar to the Della, the NewAir has a one-year limited warranty. You’ll only be responsible for any removal and transportation costs though. However, a few things the warranty won’t cover are any misuse, elemental, or improper power supply.
One thing to note is that they also won’t cover repairs on a unit that has been partially or completely dismantled. Don’t try to repair it yourself unless you know exactly how to fix any problems that your unit might be having. You’ll void your warranty if you do.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Takes a while to make ice. Unlike the Della that produces 9 cubes of large ice every 10 minutes, the NewAir produces 9 cubes of large ice every 15 minutes. Depending on how much ice you need, you might have to let it start producing at least an hour and a half before you’ll need it.
- The first couple of batches tasted like plastic. If you use the unit soon after it arrives without cleaning the inside, the ice will taste like plastic. It’s always recommended that we clean our appliances before we use them and it definitely applies to an ice maker. While you might be tempted to use first and clean it later, no one wants to taste plastic. Use water and lemon juice or follow with any instructions provided. Let that cycle a few times to remove the plastic taste. Discard that ice then let just water cycle through a few times before using it.
Best Portable Ice Maker Honorable Mention: Avalon Bay AB-ICE26S
Avalon Bay strives to make home appliances stylish, reliable, and affordable for their customers. And they don’t disappoint. Between their convenient features and stylish design, read below why it’s one of the best portable ice makers.
The Avalon produces 26 pounds of bullet-shaped ice in 24 hours and stores 1.5 lbs in its ice tray at a time. The unit has two ice sizes: small and large. It takes 6 minutes for it to make 9 cubes of small ice and 13 minutes for it to make the same amount of large ice cubes. It comes with an ice scooper for your added convenience.
The Avalon is a 19-pound unit that’s extremely portable. It comes in silver, black, and red to match different decor styles. It’s dimensional size is 11 x 14.8 x 14.7 inches.
However, unlike both of our previous picks, the Avalon has a bottom drain and holds 1 quart of water. You don’t have to tilt it to the entire time you’re trying to drain it so you can catch that stubborn corner. I find this to be a feature that I wish the previous two machines had. It is much more convenient and less heavy to clean.
Its controls are exactly similar to the Della’s which has a power and select size button and a full, add water, small, and large indicator LED lights. It also automatically shuts off when the ice tray is full.
The Avalon has high-quality plastic for its exterior design and interior parts and high-quality, chewable ice. It needs a 120-volt power outlet to run and uses 230 watts when operating.
The Avalon has a one-year limited warranty with conditions similar to the NewAir. So, to make sure that you aren’t voiding your warranty, try not to tamper with any of the parts.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Takes more than 10 minutes to make a batch. Like the NewAir, the Avalon takes 15 minutes to make 9 large cubes of ice. While it doesn’t compare to the Della, it definitely beats using an ice tray that you’ll have to place in the freezer. Also, after the first two batches, it should produce ice faster.
- The ice might trip the “full” sensor. Similar to the Della, if the ice doesn’t fall directly into the tray, but rather stacks on top each other, then it’ll trip the “full” sensor. When this happens, you can manually push them to the bottom.
We all have different needs and desires, but we can all agree that having ice when we want it is one of the great joys of life. Nothing’s worse than running out of ice in the middle of a party, forgetting to refill the ice trays because you’re having a blast, or being too far away from a store.
So, if you’re on the market for a durable, portable ice maker that won’t break the bank, then you need the Della Premium.
However, if you’re looking for something to stand out in a crowd, then the NewAir AI 100 models are perfect for you.
And if you’re looking for something with extra convenient features, you should consider the Avalon Bay AB-ICE26S.
Q: Do I need a dedicated water line and drain for it?
No, that’s the beauty of it. You don’t need a plumber to come to your home and install it for you. The portable ice maker only needs a power source to run. All you’ll need to do is plug it up, pour water inside it, then turn it on and it’ll start producing ice.
It’ll continue to use the water inside the reservoir to make more ice. However, if you want to drain it, you can use the drain plug. Depending on the model you have, it’ll either be on the side or at the bottom.
Q: How to maintain my best portable ice maker?
Similar to any appliance you own, in order for it to work properly, you’ll need to clean it often. Since it reuses the water inside the reservoir until all of it has been used, you’ll need to empty it every couple of days to a week. When you don’t empty it often, the ice will start to taste stale and the inside of the unit will begin to mold.
While it’s tempting to let the water sit in there and only worry about your ice maker when you need to use it, it’s better for your health when you make it part of your weekly cleaning routine.
You’ll also need to wipe down the inside and the water tray with warm water, vinegar, and lemon. Doing this will help remove any minerals left behind by the water that can cause your ice to taste funny. If you can’t reach an area, use a toothbrush or q-tip. Once you’re sure that all of the water minerals have been removed, place the tray back in the ice maker. Then, with a fresh batch of water, vinegar, and lemon, let it make a batch of ice.
Doing this will help get all the minerals from the parts of the ice maker you couldn’t reach. When you’re finished with that batch, throw them out and run it two more times with just water.
It might sound time-consuming, but the whole process should take you around 30 minutes. So, even if you forget and need to use it in an hour, you’ll have enough time to get it done.
Q: What’s the difference between storage and production capacity?
There’s a lot of confusion revolving around how much an ice maker holds at one time (storage) and how much it produces in a day (production). Many models display their production capacity, which normally is either 26 or 28 lbs. That just means that in a 24-hour cycle, if you were to remove all of the ice every time the tray was full, you’ll get 26 to 28 lbs of ice.
That doesn’t mean that the tray can hold that much at once. In fact, the storage capacity for most models ranges between 1.5 lbs to 2 lbs.
Q: Why is my ice melting fast? Is the product defective?
The best portable ice maker will be designed to make ice and keep them frozen for very short periods of time. They’re not like a freezer that makes ice and will keep them frozen for as long as you need. The best portable ice maker will make ice. Once the ice starts melting, it’ll repurpose it to new ice.
If you want your ice to stay frozen longer, then once they’re done, take them out of the ice tray. Then place them in a ziplock bag and put them in the freezer. However, the ice does come out wet so when you do this, they’ll start to stick together.