Scotsman Ice Machine: Nugget vs Cube Ice Makers Reviewed

Scotsman Ice Machine: Nugget vs Cube Ice Makers Reviewed

Ask any person about their favorite kind of ice, and they are certain to have a strong opinion. For whatever reason, the kind (and amount) of ice we prefer is a subject that elicits strong responses in just about everyone. Some of us like to chew our ice, some of us prefer large pieces that stay frozen longer, and some of us prefer little to no ice at all. However, one thing that most of us can agree on is that most standard refrigerator-made ice is certainly not the highest quality that we’re looking for. It can often be clumpy, cloudy, and tainted by the scent of whatever other items reside in the freezer at the time.

Top 5 Reasons to Invest in a Scotsman Ice Machine

While many manufacturers and appliance companies have tried to make successful ice machines for home use, the only organization to truly master the residential icemaker has been Scotsman. Their machines are designed to last over ten years (double the life span of other brands), while their ice machines are relatively quiet in this inherently loud category of appliances. Why go with a Scotsman ice maker?

  1. Perfect Quality Ice

Scotsman machines are equally adept at making clear or nugget-style ice of flawless quality, every time. That alone is worth the investment.

  1. Consistent Quality Over Time
    As we mentioned above, with proper maintenance and cleaning a Scotsman ice maker can continue producing high-end ice for up to a decade.

  2. Quiet Operation
    Scotsman leads its category in producing quiet, unobtrusive ice makers that won’t keep your family up at night.

  3. Ease of Cleaning
    Scotsman ice machines are designed to be easy to clean, ensuring that you can help your machine last as long as possible without the need for repair or replacement.

  4. Efficient Water Use
    Scotsman ice machines have been rated at using as little as 1/5 the amount of water used by competitors. That’s an efficient, energy-savvy approach to ice making that’s sure to delight homeowners.

A Tale of Two Ices: Nugget vs. Clear

Scotsman machines are designed to produce one of two types of ice—nugget ice or clear (gourmet) ice. But what exactly distinguishes these two ice types, and what are their advantages and drawbacks?

Nugget Ice (A.k.a. Sonic Ice)

Nugget Ice

Nugget ice describes the small, soft and chewable pellet-style ice pieces popular in some fast food establishments. As a matter of fact, Scotsman pioneered nugget ice in 1981 after conducting research for the healthcare industry. Since then, nugget ice has gone on to become hugely popular in homes and food chains around the world. Quick side note, Scotsman manufactured the nugget ice machines for Sonic Hamburger Chain in the 80’s. This type of ice became so popular that “Sonic Ice” term was coined.

Benefits of Nugget Ice

  • Can easily fit any cup, glass or container, regardless of shape
  • Soaks up and absorbs flavor of any liquid
  • Easily and comfortably chewable; not hard on teeth
  • From an economic standpoint, nugget ice displaces the maximum amount of liquid allowing food establishments to spend less on soda and drinks
  • Larger area of contact with liquid means faster drink cooldown

Nugget Ice Process

Machines that produce nugget ice are capable of producing up to 80 pounds of fresh ice in less than 24 hours. They’re able to do this by a process that releases cold water into a cylinder shaped evaporator, where auger blades shave off ice flakes that accumulate and then push them up into nugget-shaped openings. Chewable nugget ice then accumulates in the lower bin. It’s an efficient, continuous process that allows for high volume of ice production.

Clear Ice (or Gourmet Ice)

Clear Gourmet Ice

The alternative to nugget ice is the more traditional clear ice. These larger, more geometric ice pieces have been popular in mixed drinks and alcoholic beverages for decades, and they bring their own distinct set of benefits and advantages.

Benefits of Clear Ice

  • Larger ice pieces mean slower melting, allowing for a longer period of time before melting ice dilutes the taste of drinks
  • Transparent appearance gives the impression of cleanliness, sophistication and attractive visual appeal
  • Clear ice is completely odorless and does not soak up the flavor of drinks or dilute them

Clear Ice Process

Clear ice is produced in Scotsman machines by a direct process that sprays water up into 24 copper cups, where the water is frozen immediately into clear ice and then dropped into the collection bin to be stored. This straightforward and efficient process ensures high-quality, clear and uniform ice production even after hours of continuous use.

Types of Scotsman Clear Ice Makers

There are three Scotsman series of clear ice machines—the Legacy DCE, Brilliance with 30-pound storage capacity and Brilliance with 50-pound storage capacity. Like the nugget ice machines, they are available in both gravity and pump-style units, and it’s important to note that the 30-pound models do not feature light indicators while the 50-pound models do.

Gravity vs. Pump Style Nugget Ice Makers

Gravity style models like the SCN60GA1SS with stainless door or SCN60GA1SU where you can use custom cabinet door panel are designed to drain using gravity, requiring either outdoor use or a separate gravity drain directly underneath the product. Pumped models like SCN60PA1SS with stainless door or SCN60PA1SU where you can use custom cabinet door panel are more versatile as you can directly connect the ice maker to an elevated sink drain. In addition, pumped models force out excess water from the ice machine including remnants in small pipes along the way. This prevents unnecessary build up’s of water. As a result, pump models are the most popular Scotsman models as it allows easy indoor use without the need for a gravity drain or the need for water to travel any distance when drained from the machine.

Both gravity drain and pump models are capable of producing 80 pounds of ice per day with 60 pounds of storage capacity. They all come standard with an interior light, ice scoop and hanging hood. Scotsman ice machine control panels feature warning indicators for water connection issues and a cleaning light to help you stay up-to-date on periodic cleaning.

Scotsman Ice Machine FAQ

Over years of partnership with Scotsman, we’ve answered every question regarding Scotsman machines in the book. Here are a few common questions we receive often.

Why do I need to clean the ice maker?

Cleaning your ice maker ensures that there is no residue buildup, and is also critical in ensuring that ice does not remain behind and continually refreeze and expand, which can damage components over years of use.

How often do I need to clean it?

Scotsman recommends that you clean the ice maker every 6 months. In areas where there is hard water you may need to perform the clean task every 3-4 months. Good news is that most Scotsman ice makers have an indicator which will remind you when the machines needs to be cleaned. Cleaning the ice maker extends the life of your product and ensures that you maintain the best quality ice production.

Can I reverse the door?

Yes, Scotsman ice makers have field reversible doors. As a default, machines come out of the factory with right hinge configuration.

I accidentally bought a panel-ready unit by mistake, what do I do?

Not to worry. If you purchased a Brilliance series clear ice maker or even a nugget ice machine you can quickly install KDFS door panel to easily convert to a stainless panel. For legacy DCE version products KSS is the correct door panel model.

I bought a gravity drain and now I need a pump. What should I do?

Pumps can be purchased from Designer Appliances and found in many of the same locations where Scotsman ice makers are sold.

Do I need a special plug or electricity requirements for my ice maker?

No, Scotsman uses standard 120V outlets in the USA.

Do I need a water line?

Yes, you do need an incoming water line to feed your ice machine. Please make sure you have an emergency shut off valve near the product.

Do I need a drain line?

For gravity machines you will need a conventional drain right under the ice maker. For pumped models you can drain the water at your nearest sink drain.

Crescent ice vs. Clear ice?

Crescent ice is shaped with one flat side and one curved side, sort of like an oval that’s been cut in half. While crescent ice is often good for bagging and sale in convenience stores, clear ice is generally considered to be a higher-quality ice alternative.

Refrigerator ice vs. Ice maker ice?

Refrigerator ice is generally of a much lower quality than ice maker ice due to the imperfect conditions under which it’s made. It is often cloudy, flavored by the other contents of the freezer, and not uniform in shape or consistency.

Is a Scotsman machine a freezer?

Scotsman ice makers are not freezers—they’re designed exclusively to create high-quality ice, not to keep food materials frozen.

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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on November 12, 2020. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.

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