What Makes Ice Makers Expensive (Top Alternatives)

Any ice lover will tell you that not all ice is the same. One of the most popular kinds of ice is nugget ice, also known as “Sonic ice.” If you’re like me and love a good cup of ice to chew on, you also love nugget ice. 

When I was pregnant, I would always go to Sonic to get myself a cup of nugget ice to keep cool. My husband started joking that we would have to invest in our own ice machine to keep up with my demand. 

Once we looked into what a nugget ice maker costs, we were shocked to see how expensive they can be. I started looking into why nugget ice makers are so expensive, keep reading to see what I found out!  

Nugget ice is unlike any other ice available, and it takes a lot to produce. Unlike traditional ice makers, nugget ice is made with a compression system to quickly produce small ice pellets. 

The materials used inside of nugget ice makers are also very expensive. They’re made up of stainless steel, special insulation, and unique freezing cylinders that set them apart from other ice makers. 

Since nugget ice has almost a cult-like following, there isn’t as much of a need for mass-produced ice makers. Therefore, the price will be higher while they’re produced for a smaller, niche audience. 

Why Is It So Expensive?

Although nugget ice makers meant for home use are considerably smaller than their restaurant counterparts, they’re still rather expensive.

This is because they use the same technology used to produce the larger machines but at a much smaller scale. 

The engineering that goes into creating a smaller nugget ice maker takes a lot of time, and money. It also costs more to produce smaller parts for a niche market. 

At the moment, most consumers don’t even know what nugget ice is, therefore the targeted market is much smaller.

Producing these machines on a smaller scale is also what keeps the prices on the high side. 

Perhaps over time, there will be a much bigger need for largely produced, lower-priced nugget ice makers. For the moment, they’re considered a more boutique luxury item.

Prices Of Nugget Ice Makers

Not all ice is the same, and not all nugget ice makers are the same. While these nugget ice makers have a high price tag, you are guaranteed a quality product. 

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular nugget ice makers on the market!

GE Profile Opal 2.0

The GE Profile Opal 2.0 is the top-of-the-line nugget ice maker available for home use.

It has Wi-Fi capabilities, which allow you to control the device from anywhere. It has a sleek, modern design that can make up to 24 pounds of ice per day!

This ice machine is made primarily of either black or silver stainless steel with a plastic bin. It also features a side tank that continuously fills the special auger system with water.

KBice Self Dispensing Countertop Ice Maker

The KBice maker sets itself apart by including a built-in dispenser so you can easily get your ice into your cup!

It is also self-cleaning, which makes maintenance much easier. It produces up to 30 pounds of ice per day. 

This ice maker is made of a mix of stainless steel and plastic, and it is the only ice maker with a self-dispensing option.

The downside is that the water storage is rather small, and it needs to be filled frequently. 

Northair Countertop Nugget Ice Maker

The Northair ice maker produces ice quickly and efficiently, you’ll get your first batch 10 minutes after you get it set up!

It produces 44 pounds of ice per day, although you do have to manually fill it with water. Some reviews do state that it is rather noisy for a countertop ice maker.

This ice maker is made primarily of plastic, with a few stainless steel features. It also has an easy-to-control LCD digital display and the ability to remind you to remove excess ice so it can make more. 

Frigidaire Countertop Ice Maker

Like the Northair, this Frigidaire ice maker also produces 44 pounds of ice per day. It quickly produces ice in around 15 minutes, although it is very loud if you choose to keep it on your countertop.

This compact ice maker is made almost completely out of stainless steel, which keeps the machine perfectly insulated. It’s sure to look sleek in any kitchen! 

GE Profile Opal 2.0$629.99
KBice Self Dispensing Ice Maker$494.99
Northair Countertop Ice Maker$369.99
Frigidaire Countertop Ice Maker$349.99

Why The Cost May Vary?

After reading through all of the popular nugget ice makers available, you may be wondering why the cost can vary so much. The answer is simple: quality of parts and name recognition. 

A customer looking for a great nugget ice maker will tend to lean more towards a name they recognize, like GE or Frigidaire. In fact, they probably have other appliances by these brands in their home already. 

While the technology to create nugget ice is the same across the board, the quality of parts can vary between brands.

A manufacturer like GE will have better access to high-quality equipment to produce their ice machines. But smaller, less recognizable brands won’t have the same access. 

Another point that adds to the varying prices is what features each machine holds. If you’re able to control your machine via Bluetooth or an app on your phone, it will add to the high cost.

If you don’t need all of these bells and whistles to bring nugget ice into your home, then you can feel comfortable going for a lower-priced machine. 

Why Choose A Nugget Ice Maker?

The best part about buying your own nugget ice maker is that the technology is relatively new and innovative.

There was a need to bring nugget ice to the home of the average ice lover, and with that, there have been some great advances. 

Most nugget ice makers that you can buy for your home are compact and fast. They can fit easily on your counter or even in your cabinets! 

The performance of most nugget ice makers will make the higher cost worth it. This is because they can produce a lot of ice quickly, and guarantee that you will always get the perfect ice every time. 

Some nugget ice makers can be controlled through an app on your phone, so you’re guaranteed to never run out of ice. Although, these features will add to the overall cost of the product. 

Unique Technology

We’ve talked a lot about the “unique technology” that goes into creating nugget ice, but let’s talk more about it on an individual scale. 

Each ice maker is equipped with a specially designed auger system that continuously rotates to scrape ice into tiny molds. The same parts can be found in industrial-sized machines, just on a larger scale. 

There are a lot more moving parts in each nugget ice maker than your traditional ice machine. The complexity in the design itself comes at a much higher cost. 

Another reason nugget ice makers are more expensive is because of the unique insulation each machine has.

Nugget ice is known for melting quickly because it’s so thin, so each machine requires multi-levels of insulation to ensure it doesn’t melt. 

At-home nugget ice makers are relatively new to the market, and the market for them is still small.

You may be hesitant to spend the money on one, trust that the technology used to create each one is built to last.

How Nugget Ice is Made?

Nugget, or “pellet,” ice is known as small, crispy frozen ice. The process to create the pellets is more complex than one might think. 

Nugget ice is made by mashing together dozens of thin layers of ice into one small cylinder.

This causes small air pockets to form between the layers, thus creating the lighter texture that makes it so popular. 

Inside of each nugget ice maker is a miniature auger that continuously scrapes flakes of ice into the cooling chamber.

Once in the chamber, the machine pushes the flakes into the mould to create the finished nugget of ice. 

This process involves a lot of moving parts, along with the engineering of the entire machine. All of this goes into the higher price of nugget ice makers. 

Nugget ice has almost a cult-like following and anyone who loves chewing on ice will tell you it’s the best.

While it melts rather fast in most drinks, it doesn’t water down your beverage, which adds to its popularity. 

A lot of people like to chew on ice either while they’re drinking, or when they’re done with their beverage.

The best part about nugget ice is that it is softer and chewier, so it’s actually safer to chew on than regular ice cubes. 

There’s similar ice out there, but nugget ice sets itself apart by being thinner and crunchier. Plus you can get a lot of ice into a single cup! 

How Long Do Nugget Ice Makers Last?

With any investment, it’s always best to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Most ice makers come built-in with your refrigerator and will only last as long as your fridge. So will a nugget ice maker last for very long?

These ice makers are built to last up to 10 years as long as you clean it regularly and replace any parts as needed.

It’s a safe bet that the average life will be around five years, but it all depends on how much you use it. 

Top 3 Nugget Ice Maker Alternatives

While many agree that nugget ice is simply the best, the high-priced ones may not fit into everyone’s budget.

There are many ice makers on the market that can produce similar ice, for only a fraction of the price! 

Below, you will find some alternatives to the Frigidaire Ice Maker. All of these ice makers create a longer, thicker ice cube known as “bullet ice.”

All of these ice makers produce the same quantity of ice per day and they are portable. 

The biggest difference is that none of these alternatives have the technology to produce nugget ice, which is obviously the biggest appeal of the Frigidaire. While their price points are lower, they aren’t able to create that perfect nugget ice. 

Unlike nugget ice makers, the alternatives listed below all use a traditional ice cube tray system that pushes the finished cube into a dispenser. You won’t find any advanced technology or auger systems here!

1.Igloo Portable Ice Maker

While the Igloo Portable Ice maker is the most expensive alternative, it still has a lot to offer.

Its internal water tank can store up to 3 quarts of water at a time and produces around 25 pounds of ice per day. It can make ice in as little as seven minutes! 

2.Insignia Portable Ice Maker

The Insignia Portable Ice Maker is small in size, but it can still produce 26 pounds of ice per day!

You can only store 1.5 pounds of ice at a time, and it includes a scoop. Plus it comes in many appealing colors!

3.Boscare Ice Maker 

The Boscare Ice Maker is small enough to keep on your counter, but it can produce up to 26 pounds of ice per day. It also has a quick and convenient self-cleaning feature! 

Igloo Portable Ice Maker$129.99
Insignia Portable Ice Maker$99.99
Boscare Ice Maker$82.96

Are Nugget Ice Makers Worth It? 

After reading all about various nugget ice makers, you may still be wondering if they’re worth it.

It truly depends on each individual’s needs to justify whether they’re worth the price tag.  

Some people may not be able to justify spending hundreds of dollars on an ice maker just to have their favorite ice in their home.

But if you feel comfortable spending the money on this luxury item, then it’s completely worth it. 

You will have to consider the pros and cons yourself to figure out if this unique ice maker is right for you!  You maybe interested in Why Are Ice Ball Presses So Expensive

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