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Ice Machines for Hospitals

Ice machines are an essential component to just about any hospital. Ice is used daily in hospitals by doctors and nurses, staff, patients, visitors, and more. Whether you’re a first-time hospital ice machine buyer or you’re looking for a new machine, make sure to explore the ins-and-outs to hospital ice machines so you can make the best decision for your hospital.

Why Do Hospitals Need Ice Machines?

There are several reasons why healthcare facilities such as hospitals require an on-site ice machine. Think about how many hours the hospital staff and patients spend in the hospital day-in and day-out. A hospital can be like a second home for many people, so it only makes sense to provide cold ice for staff, patients, and visitors. Some reasons why hospitals need an ice machine include:

  • Providing beverages to staff and visitors
  • Hydrating patients
  • Treating injuries (such as swelling) 
  • Physical therapy needs

Best Locations for Hospital Ice Machines

When planning for your hospital ice machine, it’s a good idea to think about where you might need to locate it. For ice machines needed for patient care, you will want to provide easy access to the ice machine for doctors, nurses, and other staff members. You may also want to consider adding an ice machine for patients and visitors to use. Consider these common areas to locate an ice machine in your hospital:

  • Central location in each wing or floor
  • Cafeteria
  • Waiting rooms
  • Nurses station

Having an ice machine dispenser in waiting rooms, cafeterias, and other common spaces can boost patient satisfaction and comfort.  You will also want to help staff members easily access the machine, so locating it near a nurse’s station or in an easily accessible space on every floor is ideal.

Types of Machines

There are many different types of ice machines on the market today. You are probably wondering which type of machine will be best for your hospital environment. When it comes to choosing an ice machine for your hospital, you will want to first think about how the machine will be used. For instance, is it for a cafeteria or waiting room? Are you using it for injuries or physical therapy needs? Consider these types of machines for the following needs.

  • Countertop or Commercial Ice Dispenser: Ice dispensers are best for visitor use rather than hospital staff use. They produce their own ice and allow users to easily dispense ice into a cup without using a scoop. You can get a smaller countertop model or commercial model (which will be bigger and dispense more ice).
  • Modular or Stackable Machine: Modular ice machines are known to produce the most amount of ice daily. If your hospital is big or busy and needs to produce a high volume of ice daily, you may consider a modular machine. Keep in mind that stacking modular units can double or triple your ice output.

Type of Ice

In addition to finding the right type of machine for your hospital, you will also want to think about the type of ice you want the machine to make. There are several different types of ice cubes, and each serves a different purpose. For hospitals, here are the most common types of ice:

  • Flake ice: Also known as hospital ice chips, flake ice is soft and chewable. This is a good choice for a hospital for a few reasons. First, it’s the best choice for patients who may have a hard time swallowing. Second, it’s the best for injuries because it’s soft and won’t slice plastic bags open.
  • Nugget ice: Nugget ice is a bit bigger than flake ice but is also soft and chewable. Nugget ice is easier on the teeth than ice cubes and also works for injuries.

Size of Machine

When choosing the size of your hospital ice machine, you will want to figure out roughly how much ice you need to produce per day. This will depend on how many patients and visitors you have as well as the size of your staff. Normally ice output is measured in pounds per day.

For instance, the average hospital patient in America requires 10 lbs of ice per day. How many patients do you normally have per day? Also keep in mind that this requirement is in addition to ice needs for staff and visitors, such as your cafeteria, and physical therapy needs. To determine roughly how many pounds of ice you will need per day, take a look at Easy Ice’s ice volume calculator

Maintenance and Cleaning

When buying a hospital ice machine, keep in mind that you will need to clean, sanitize, and perform routine maintenance on it. Especially in a hospital setting, you will need to clean the ice machine on a regular basis. Take a look at what you will need to maintain on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis:

  • Daily: Make sure the ice machine never surpasses 90 degrees Fahrenheit or goes below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the machine has enough airflow around it, meaning do not place anything side-by-side the machine. Everyday, check the ice maker and drain pipes to make sure there is no debris.
  • Weekly: Sanitize the ice machine’s exterior (ie. stainless steel) to avoid mold.
  • Monthly: Clean the ice machine’s air filters by running hot water through them by hand. Do not use a dishwasher! 

You should also have your ice machine supplier perform routine maintenance at your location. When buying, make sure to ask the supplier how often you should have them perform maintenance, cleaning, and repairs on the machine. We recommend scheduling these appointments in advance to make sure you take care of it promptly.


The cost of a hospital ice machine depends on several factors. They can run anywhere from about $4,000-$10,000, depending on:

  • Size
  • Type
  • Condition (new, used, or refurbished)

Learn more about the estimated cost of your hospital ice machine by reading our Commercial Ice Machine Cost Guide.

New to buying an ice machine? Take a look at our Ice Machine Buyer’s Guide, designed to help you make the best decision on a commercial ice machine.

If you are looking for the best hospital ice machine for your needs, make sure to look into the best commercial ice machines in 2020 as well as these 7 questions to ask before buying an ice machine.

Ready to compare prices? 360Connect’s free service can help you find the best ice machine for your hospital or healthcare center’s needs. Just answer a few questions here, then we’ll match you with the top ice machine suppliers and save you up to 30%!

Get free quotes from up to 5 ice machines suppliers!
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