Coolers Incorporated

How much ice is enough ice?

When shopping for an ice maker, you may start to notice that most manufacturers will specify the daily ice production capacity in the equipment details. By estimating your daily ice production demands, you’ll be able to more easily match your needs with the appropriate size ice maker and bin.

To determine how much ice you will need, we’ve put together a quick reference guide below.

Important Note: It is a standard recommendation to add about 20% onto your base calculation to account for future growth or unexpectedly high demand days/hours.

Full Service Restaurant Ice Machine

Full-Service Restaurants

For a full-service restaurant the industry rule of thumb is about 1.5 lbs of ice per customer per day. Of course, this will vary to certain degrees depending on the type of restaurant or business you are operating.

Use this Formula: [ (# of patrons x 1.5) x 1.20 ] = Daily Ice Demand

Cocktail Bar Ice Machine

Cocktail Bars

For bars that serve more than just beer or wine with offerings of mixed drinks, cocktails, or frozen drinks that are popular, the estimate is 3 lbs of ice per patron.

Use this Formula: [ (# of patrons x 3) x 1.20 ] = Daily Ice Demand

Soda Ice

Self-Service Restaurants

If you offer a beverage system where customers can self-serve or refill on their own, the estimate jumps from the standard 1.5 lbs to 3 lbs of ice per customer as they are more inclined to get refills in this setting.

Use this Formula: [ (# of Patrons x 3) x 1.20 ] = Daily Ice Demand

Drive Through Ice Machine

Drive-Through or Convenience Store

Because there will be far fewer refills in a drive-through or convenience store, you should calculate the estimate based on the sizes of drinks sold, rather than just the number of customers. For 7-10 oz cups, estimate 5 oz of ice; 12-16 oz cups, estimate 8 oz of ice, and 18-24 oz cups, estimate about 12 oz of ice per drink sold.

Use this Formula: [ (# of 7-10 ounce drinks sold per day x 0.3) + (# of 12-16 ounce drinks sold per day x 0.5) + (# of 18-24 ounce drinks sold per day x 0.75) x 1.20 ] = Daily Ice Demand

Hospital Ice Machine

Healthcare Facilities / Hospitals

Since there are more purposes for ice in a hospital setting than just for drinks or food, the best way to calculate the amount of ice you will need daily, is about 10 lbs of ice per patient bed. This accounts for drinks at 3 meals along with ice used for medical purposes.

Use this Formula: (# of Patient Beds x 10) = Daily Ice Demand

*Note: This estimate is for patient ice needs only and does not account for staff breakrooms or cafeterias.

Stadium Ice Machine

Event Venues / Stadiums

For event venues it is recommended to increase the storage capacity of the bin vs only the production capacity of the ice maker.  A bin with storage capacity greater than the daily output enables ice production for the event to begin earlier. This way ice can be stored leading up to the event and will be readily available during the high demand hours of the event. For this calculation, estimate 2 lbs of ice per attendee.

Use this Formula: [ (# of Event Attendees x 2) x 1.20] = Daily Ice Production*

*Note: If you regularly hold back-to-back events, you will need to account for the replenishment time between events within a 24 hour time frame (so consider the bin size AND daily ice capacity).

Hotel Ice Machine

Hotels & Motels

If your hotel offers ice buckets in each room, typically you will need to install an ice maker on each floor or every other floor. In this situation you should allow for 5 lbs of ice per day per room.

Use this Formula: (# of rooms per floor x 5) = Daily Ice Demand Per Floor

Although this guide is a good place to start, it is also important to remember that one, single ice machine may not accomodate all of the needs of your restaurant even if it has the proper daily output. Relying on one ice maker to produce the ice for an entire restaurant and/or bar can lead to service inefficiencies and vulnerability should the ice machine ever breakdown. Depending on your business you may want to consider various models and production capacities for the different areas of your restaurant.

If you would like a consultation on how to best outfit your space with the appropriate model and size ice machines contact us today!