While there may be a general perception about ice makers being a luxury addition rather than an essential one for a home, it might be completely opposite for some people. Only true cocktail fanatics or chilled wine zealots might relate to this, but an uninterrupted supply of on-demand sonic ice could make all the difference for when you’re hosting guests or even a composed evening all on your own. Sonic ice is essentially smaller and softer chunks of frozen water as compared to standard ice cubes. This chewable form of ice, also known as ‘nugget ice’ or ‘pellet ice’ makes a huge difference and people have been attesting to it.
Someone could argue here if the texture of the ice really has that much of an influence over a drink to which we’d like to quote a statement from Jes’se Torres; a fountain drinks shop owner from Princeton, NJ. She says “there are a pretty decent amount of people who just come here for the ice because they like the chewy ice.” Again, you’re going to have to experience it to gauge the actual difference. And for that, it’d be best if you got a nugget ice machine for home. These portable nugget ice makers come in a fair variety to suit domestic or commercial requirements. You could use your chewable ice maker to personally serve you and your family in your home bar or to cater the needs of liquor business outlets.
Whatever it is that intrigues you towards getting a sonic style ice maker, we truly think you could use some guidance in narrowing down your options. It could be real job browsing through countless small nugget ice maker models to decide the best one for you. We’ve put together this guide after a thorough research and we assure you, you can rely on it! This guide features the best nugget ice makers & sonic ice machines across a wide selection of brands, top-selling models and budget ranges. So, without further ado, let’s get you some ice to chew on.
|1. GE Profile Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker||Table top||24||Water Tank||3 lbs.||No|
|2. Euhomy IM-F Countertop Pellet Ice Maker||Table top||40||Water Tank||2.2 lbs.||No|
|3. Scotsman CU50GA-1 Undercounter Sonic Ice Maker||Undecounter||65||Plumbing Connection||26 lbs.||Yes|
|4. Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Air Cooled Undercounter Nugget Ice Machine||Undercounter||85||Plumbing Connection||22 lbs.||No|
|5. Euhomy IM-01 Portable Nugget Ice Maker||Table top||26||Water Tank||1.5 lbs.||No|
Best Sonic Nugget Ice Makers in 2020
- Compact footprint; ideal for countertops and islands
- Soft and easily chewable ice
- Convenient operation; can be controlled with a mobile application Via BT connectivity
- Decent daily output of 24 lbs of ice
- Portable; can be moved around without the concern of a nearby water hookup
- Zero water wastage; all water from melted ice is directed back to the reservoir
- Limited 1-year warranty (parts & labor included)
- Output might not suffice for commercial applications
- A bit noisy
Perfect to sit on your kitchen counter or the island, the GE Profile Opal is assured to display its full glory and get your guests to praise you for your taste in kitchen appliances. With a compact 15.5” x 14.24” footprint, the sonic ice maker doesn’t quite each much of your precious counter space. Further, the unit has a water reservoir and requires no water hookup giving you enough liberty to decide its best placement. This provision makes it one of the best portable nugget ice makers out there. The only requisite for this countertop sonic ice maker is a standard 120v electrical outlet in close proximity; and you have more chewable ice than you could use in the busiest parties.
For context, the unit can produce a batch of soft and crunchy ice within 20 minutes! The ice produced is bite-sized, appropriately dense and adds a beautiful texture to drinks. The bin can hold a hefty 3 pounds of ice at a time.
Meaning, a batch of freshly made sonic ice with the machine serves for a good amount of drinks. If things really get in the flow, you may fetch another 3 lbs batch of soft chewable ice before the previous one is exhausted. With a threshold capacity of 24 lbs of ice per day, you’d probably find it very difficult to have the unit function on its peak capacity.
Whereas, unutilized ice in the bin melts away only to be returned back to the water reservoir. So, there’s no water wastage either. The nugget ice maker is very convenient to operate and can be programmed through the GE Profile Opal mobile application via Bluetooth connectivity. All in all, the GE Profile Opal is a very reliable sonic ice maker for home with provisions that could even allow it to be used for small scale commercial applications. In case, something doesn’t work as communicated, GE resolves the malfunctions (parts & labor) under its limited 1-year warranty.
- Quieter than most pellet ice makers in this price range
- Higher output of 40 lbs of ice per day
- Quick ice production; 15 minutes average cycle
- Programmable with up to 8 hours of delay
- Ice bucket full indicator
- Removable ice basket
- Digital interface makes for convenient operation
- Users have complained about the manual being complex to understand
Overtly known for being a quiet nugget ice maker, the Euhomy IM-F is also liked for its higher output. To be precise, the countertop ice maker produces 24 ice cubes per cycle which is about 15 minutes long. This is a remarkably better output as compared to other portable nugget ice makers.
Further, the ice maker machine can produce up to 40 pounds of ice cubes in 24 hours which is again commendable if you’ve got the corresponding requirements. The unit, according to us, would be ideal for a home bar that demands more than 2-3 drinks at a time or a small-scale commercial liquor outlet could use it just as well.
The Euhomy IM-F also stands out for a couple more features. For starters, it is one of the very few pellet ice makers on the market where the user can adjust the thickness of the ice cubes. Now that’s some control that anyone would like to experiment with. The unit features a convenient interface including an easy-to-read digital display and push buttons. The user interface has settings for instant ice production and that for up to 8-hour delayed programming.
Additionally, despite a larger footprint of 14” x 11”, the ice maker is fairly portable and does not rely on a steady water hookup. The design of the nugget ice maker includes a water reservoir that feeds the water to the ice bin. The machine is quick, quiet and consistent; all that you’d want in your valued investment. Reinforcing the ‘smart’ notion, the ice maker is equipped with sensors that alert you when the ice bucket is full.
Also, the machine lets you know if the reservoir is running short on water. Overall, the Euhomy IM-F is a feature-packed pellet ice maker for home that arguably has the potential to be used in busy parties or even small commercial applications.
- Superior output of 65 lbs of ice per day
- Augmented 26 lb ice storage bin
- Produces gourmet sized ice cubes that dissolve slowly and preserve the flavor of drink for longer
- Versatile in terms of placement options
- Comes with a power cord
- Built-in water quality sensor for crystal clear ice
- Does not come with a built-in drain pump
If you’re in the early stages of designing your kitchen and plan on being serious with an uninterrupted supply of crystal-clear ice on demand, an undercounter pellet ice maker is what you should be looking for. The Scotsman CU50GA-1 is a prime example of what exactly you achieve with a potentially built-in undercounter nugget ice maker. The unit displays an extravagant stainless-steel finish on the outside and comes with a plethora of features that are nowhere to be seen in cheaper portable nugget ice machines. Further, it is approved for outdoor use and doesn’t necessarily belong under the counter.
The CU50GA-1 essentially produces gourmet sized ice nuggets which are peculiar in their own way. Gourmet sized ice cubes are larger than typical sonic style ice nuggets and are denser in terms of composition. Additionally, the texture of gourmet cube ice is smoother. These properties make gourmet ice cubes dissolve slowly thereby diluting the drinks at a slower rate. Although subtle, wine and cocktail enthusiasts might find a noticeable difference in the flavour of their drinks depending on how fast the ice cubes dissolve and dilute the drink.
The undercounter pellet ice maker besides being a versatile option in terms of installation, is also superior with regards to ice production. For context, the CU50GA-1 is equipped to produce a hefty 65 pounds of ice per day (translating to 2.7 pounds per hour) with the ability of storing 26 pounds of ice in its bin at a time. Such standards make it a competent option for restaurants, cafes, drink stores, office suites or even full-fledged outdoor bars.
Justifying its price point, the undercounter ice maker machine comes with a built-in water quality sensor that can be programmed to only accept a previously set threshold level of water hardness. This quality standard maintenance is what sets it apart from cheaper variants that straight up convert the fed water into ice. It is this feature that ensures crystal clear ice cubes every cycle in addition to preventing scaling of components from the mineral-laden hard water.
- Produces 85 pounds of nugget style ice per day
- 22 lb built-in ice bucket capacity
- Air cooled mechanism with self-contained condenser
- Stainless steel exterior cabinet
- Compact design; can be installed as an undercounter or a freestanding unit
- Ice scoop included
- Overflow protection; sensor stops making ice when bin is full
- Quiet operation
- Requires an additional drain pump in most cases
Closely rivalling the installation versatility of the Scotsman CU50GA-1, this undercounter nugget ice maker from Ice-O-Matic could arguably be a neat upgrade if you have the corresponding requirements. With an impressive peak output of 85 pounds of nugget style ice per day, the Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 far outperforms other options on this list. Besides, the ice maker boasts a sizeable internal ice bin that can accommodate up to 22 lbs of ice nuggets at a time.
Despite such remarkable output, the ice maker sports a fairly compact built and can easily be installed beneath a standard home kitchen counter. The machine measures under 15 inches in width and just over 33 inches in height. For context, a standard built-in undercounter dishwasher measures 24 inches in width. In addition to the height of the appliance, the unit comes with four 1” adjustable legs to keep the ice maker off the floor. With such friendly measurements, the machine can also be opted to be used a freestanding unit or fit in to custom cabinetry if you’re in the initial stages of planning a kitchen or a remodel for that matter.
The only concerns that you’ve to address while installing the nugget style ice maker is that the chosen location must have provisions for plumbing and electrical power. The unit requires a 6mm water connection and an optional drain pump (sold separately) if the selected location doesn’t have an accessible floor drain.
- Compact design; ideal for small countertops and RVs
- Produces chewable ice in mere 8 minutes
- Nugget size selector
- Quiet compressor makes for a noiseless performance
- Water from melted ice cubes is recycled back to the water tank
- Alerts when water tank is running low on water or ice bucket is full
- Nuggets tend to stick together in the bucket for long
Reckon a compact countertop nugget ice maker would suffice your requirements, the Euhomy IM-01, in our honest opinion, is a steal for the money it is available for. With a tight footprint of 15.6” x 9.6”, the countertop nugget ice maker would be a perfect addition for small kitchens unwilling to spare much storage space for countertop appliances. The friendly size of this table top ice maker also enables it to be an apt addition for motorhomes and RVs.
However, do not be deceived with its short stature. The ice maker is an absolute workhorse when it comes to deliver consistent results. The unit features a 2.2 litre water tank and is doesn’t require an active plumbing connection in addition to a standard electrical power source. The portable ice maker can produce 26 lbs of small bullet-shaped ice nuggets per day with a cycle lasting mere 8 minutes. With two size selections, you can opt between smaller or bigger ice nuggets depending on your preference. Further, the unit alerts you when the tank runs low on water or when the ice bin is full.
In case, the ice nuggets are left in the ice bin for a while, the melted water is recycled back to the water tank ensuring minimal wastage. The user interface is fairly simple and intuitive comprising of light indicators and push buttons. Further, despite quick cycle durations, the ice maker is fairly quiet unlike most other ice makers in this price range. The ice bucket is removable and comes with an additional ice scoop for added convenience. Above all, the unit comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty to cover potential malfunctions.
Sonic Ice Makers – A Comprehensive Buying Guide
What is Sonic Ice?
‘Sonic ice’, first popularized by the company ‘Sonic’; is a unique type of nugget ice that has a lower density, rugged texture and is easily chewable. Due to their peculiar state, sonic ice soon became a phenomenon and is often used interchangeably with the terms ‘nugget ice’ or ‘pellet ice’. Sonic ice is softer than regular ice cubes and melts at a faster rate in drinks. This is usually not the case with nugget style ice from most nugget ice makers. However, there are some models that make nugget ice that’s very close to actual sonic ice in terms of density, softness and texture.
Out of our recommendations, the GE Opal Counter Nugget Ice maker is a sonic style ice maker in true sense. If you value the state of your nugget ice and prefer softer and easily chewable ice in your drinks, you know which one is your best bet.
Further, table top ice makers that make bullet-style nugget ice also produce ice that’s softer than standard cubes. Additionally, the fact that you can select nugget size and opt for smaller ice nuggets further brings the resemblance closer to sonic ice.
Regular Ice Cubes Vs. Chewable Sonic Ice
Sonic ice, pellet ice, nugget ice or chewable ice are all quite different from regular ice cubes in multiple ways. For starters, ice cubes are simply frozen water and hence are dense, hard and difficult to chew on. On the contrary, sonic style ice is a mixture of frozen water and air. Chewable ice nuggets are less dense, have a rugged texture and are softer that tend to dissolve on a faster rate and are easier to chew on. Chewable sonic ice goes extremely well with a wide variety of drinks and has replaced regular ice cubes in parties, corporate events and slush places.
Types of Nugget Ice Makers
1. Countertop / Table top Nugget Ice Makers
Evident from the name, countertop nugget ice makers are meant to be installed over the counter or the island near an active electrical power source. Countertop nugget ice machines are more versatile in terms of installation and hence are often referred to as portable nugget ice machines. These have a smaller footprint and in turn a smaller output capacity. However, an average countertop unit suffices the requirements of a home bar.
For context, a table top nugget ice maker is rated to produce anywhere between 20 to 40 pounds of sonic ice per day. Additionally, these work on built-in feed water tanks and do not usually require a steady plumbing connection.
The ice bin is usually connected to the water tank and water from the melted ice nuggets is often recycled back to the tank for subsequent cycles thereby preventing wastage. Countertop nugget ice makers are ideal for home use and can handle the load from small to moderate sized parties. However, these would not prove to be a worthy investment for commercial outlets.
2. Undercounter Nugget Ice Machines
Measuring 33-34 inches in height, these larger pellet ice makers are suited for undercounter installation as that of standard dishwashers. However, these aren’t as wide and due to their lesser lateral dimension, most kitchens wouldn’t have to compromise on any other fitting to get in one of these. Naturally, an undercounter nugget ice maker has a higher output and can produce 60 – 90 pounds of sonic ice per day. Also, with a higher capacity ice bin, each batch serves more drinks in contrast to small nugget ice makers.
Undercounter nugget ice makers require a plumbing connection in addition to a standard power line and a drain line (or a drain pump, often sold separately).
Due to the higher output, these are also associated with a higher wastage per pound of ice. These can be used as freestanding units in cafes, restaurants and office suites and are ideal for small to moderate scale commercial applications besides domestic home bars.
3. Ice Machine cum Water Dispensers
These ice dispensers lie on the higher end of the price scale, being apt for large scale commercial or healthcare applications. These nugget ice makers are in a league of their own when it comes to the output rate. Based on the model and budget, these can produce anywhere between 250 to 320 lbs of ice per day.
Such standards would be an overkill for most small cafes or slush places and hence are only recommended for businesses that have the corresponding requirements.
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Sonic Nugget Ice Maker
As naturally as it comes, it is equally important to consider the space you’re willing to compromise to accommodate your new nugget ice maker. Depending on your needs and requirements, you could either opt for compact and portable countertop nugget ice makers or rather big built-in undercounter sonic ice makers. Needless to mention, the size of your pellet ice maker directly dictates its daily output. As a rule of thumb, if your requirements are limited to your home bar, a table top nugget ice maker with an output of around 30 lbs of ice per day should suffice. On the other hand, if you throw some serious parties and have your place flooded with people quite often, you could as well use an undercounter ice maker that’s rated to produce at least 80 lbs of nugget ice per day.
2. Type of Ice
It must be very clear at this point that ice is just not ice. The density, size, texture of the ice nuggets affects the flavor and feel of a drink beyond obvious comprehension. You must experience it to fully understand. However, if we’re on the same page, you need to give a closer look to the type of ice that your favorite nugget ice maker makes. If you’re personally a fan of sonic style ice, always look for a mention of soft and chewable ice in the description of the product that you’re set on. Also, sonic ice makers with adjustable nugget size are better to experiment with different drinks.
3. Feed Type
Countertop portable nugget ice makers often come with a water reservoir that is to be filled manually. Although this provision requires more effort, it aids in the portability of the unit as a whole. The water in the tank is taken up and converted into chewable ice nuggets which if melts in bucket, is directed back to the water reservoir. This ensures minimal wastage of water.
On the other hand, undercounter nugget ice makers are to be connected with an active plumbing line with adequate water pressure (20 – 80 psi). Here, the waste water or water from melting ice nuggets is discarded via a drainage mechanism. Hence, there’s a marginally larger wastage associated with undercounter nugget ice makers as compared to their portable counterparts. You must decide what feed type would be comfortable with corresponding to your requirements and anticipated installation.
4. Water Quality Sensors
Not all nugget ice makers have this feature but regardless it is something that truly sets a unit apart from inferior passable models. If you truly care about getting crystal clear ice nuggets for you and your guests, it is imperative for you to ensure that the intake water complies with a certain degree of purity. With water quality sensors, you’d be able to set a threshold for hardness that if isn’t met, the batch is discarded with an instant notification to you. This feature ensures that proper hygiene is maintained besides ensuring longer efficient functioning of the machine. The reason being, soft water is less likely to scale metallic components of the unit.
This guide discusses the necessity and competitiveness of nugget ice makers across a wide range of models and budget range. Subsequently, we’ve also discussed about the types of ice, their suitability for various drinks and what machine make them best. While all our picks qualify to be called the best sonic nugget ice maker in some capacity, the GE Opal Countertop Nugget Ice Maker stands out for domestic applications whereas, the Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 is an unmatched option for busy home bars or commercial installations.