How Does an Ice Maker Work?

Did you ever wonder how does an ice maker work so it can make ice cubes in such a short amount of time? In this article we’ll be going over the detailed explanation in the inside ice maker process and how does an ice maker work.

Most of us have an ice maker at the comfort of our home, which is commonly found in our refrigerator. Although unusual for home use, some people also have a separate ice maker that works the same. These ice makers are the luxurious technology that enables us to enjoy cold drinks during hot days or to store foods for a longer period of time.

However, many of us are too comfortable with it, thus we are just too used to it as a part of daily life. For that reason, we can be sure that not everyone must have ever wondered how this magical machine produces clear ice and how does an ice maker work.

Types of Ice Makers

Ice maker machines generally fall into four different types.

  1. Modular Ice Machines
  2. Undercounter Ice Machines
  3. Countertop Ice Machines
  4. Combination Ice Machines

How Ice Maker Work?

We can also make ice cubes by pouring water in an ice tray and leaving it in our freezer. Ice makers do the same, though, since the process of pouring the water to taking out the ice cubes is fully automated, some major components are required. These components are an automatic water valve, a motor, and a heating unit. In order to enable the water to get inside the ice machine, you obviously need to connect the water valve to your house’s plumbing.

Taking the Water in

Previously it is already mentioned that one of the main components of an ice maker is an automatic water valve. This is how the automatic process goes. Solenoid (an electromagnetic agent) is incorporated with the valve; while the valve is connected to the main circuit. The electricity is the one that operates the valve automatically.

Processing the Ice

After water fills the mold inside the machine, the cooling unit of the refrigerator freezes the water. A thermostat is connected to the mold and monitors the temperature of the water. When it hits certain degrees below zero, it will trigger the heating unit below the mold to heat up and detaches the ice from the bottom of the mold.

Taking out the Ice

After the previous process, the main circuit revolves the ejector blade to move the ice out of the mold. In this state, the ice is still intact as one big unit. The ejector blade pushes the ice to the housing in front of the mold where it is cut into cubes by the blade and the notches in the housing. The cubes, then immediately fall to the bin that collects them under the ice maker. This is where we get the ice cubes we use every day.

Automatic Turn-off

After all steps of the process are done and the ice cubes are dropped into the bin, the notch at the bottom of the revolving blade catches the shut-off switch and pulls it up. During the ejection of the ice cubes, this switch falls down again. If there are no ice cubes left in the bin, this switch reaches its lowest state and automatically starts the entire process again.

However, we usually do not take all of the ice altogether, therefore the remaining ice prevents the switch from reaching its lowest state; allowing the ice maker to turn off.

How Does a Portable Ice Maker Work?

A portable ice maker works a little differently compared to commercial ice makers. Instead of filling an ice mold with water and then putting the ice mold into a freezer, a portable ice maker freezes the water directly, so it takes much less time to complete the ice making process. Here’s a detailed explanation of how portable ice maker works.

  • Water is added into the unit’s water reservoir, up to the fill line. Because these units are meant to be portable, they’re not connected to a water line and must be filled manually.
  • The water is pumped via a hole in the bottom of the reservoir through a water filter and up to an ice tray at the top of the unit. Any overflow spills back into the reservoir.
  • When the refrigeration cycle begins, the 1/2-inch prongs on the heat exchanger are lowered into the water of the ice tray. These submerged spikes get cold very quickly, and ice begins to form on them in a matter of minutes.
  • The size of the ice cubes depends on how long the prongs are left in the water. A longer cycle means thicker pieces of ice. Small ice usually takes about 6 minutes, while large ice is about twice that, though freezing times can be affected by the ambient temperature and how long the unit has been running.
  • When the ice has reached the proper size, the ice tray empties any remaining water back into the water reservoir. At the same time, the heat exchanger reverses itself and the spikes start to heat up – just enough so that the ice pieces slide off the prongs and tumble into the ice bin that’s above the water reservoir.
  • A second sensor on storage basket monitors the amount of stored ice, and shuts off the system if it gets too full.

That’s how does an ice maker work. For more information on ice makers and related topics, check out the related articles below.