Whirlpool® Ice Maker in kitchen

Ice maker buying guide

If your family goes through more ice than your ice tray can produce, you may have considered whether an ice maker is worth it. Whirlpool brand offers a selection of ice makers that will help keep your kitchen stocked with enough ice for your family’s needs. This buying guide will help you choose the right machine for your home based on the factors that are most important to you.

Stainless steel freestanding ice maker Stainless steel freestanding ice maker

Are ice makers worth it?

Ice makers are a smart decision for families who go through a great deal of ice on a regular basis, as well as homes that have a separate entertainment space from their kitchen. If your fridge or freezer didn’t come with a built-in machine, you have likely been relying on individual ice trays. These trays make 6–18 ice cubes at a time, while a typical independent machine can make 1-2 lbs of ice per hour. Even if your fridge or freezer has an ice maker built in, most stand alone machines produce and store more ice and would likely benefit you if you frequently entertain in your home.

Regular freezer ice vs. ice machine ice: what’s the difference?

The main difference between ice made in your freezer either manually or with a built-in ice maker kit versus ice from an ice machine is the way that the water is frozen. Regular freezer ice is made by filling a mold with water either by hand or with a built-in water pump and freezing until the ice is solid and can be cloudy in appearance. Ice machines may produce clearer ice than their traditional counterparts due to their freezing method. They work by running a steady stream of water over a chilled surface to freeze the ice from the inside out. Whirlpool offers ice maker options with Clear Ice Technology that removes the air bubbles and impurities that create cloudy ice so your beverages taste fresh.

What are the different types of ice makers? 

Different types of ice makers include undercounter, freestanding, countertop and portable and freezer ice maker kits. Read on to discover which type of ice maker will be the right fit for your home.

Stainless steel undercounter ice maker Stainless steel undercounter ice maker

1. Undercounter ice makers

Undercounter ice makers are built into your kitchen’s cabinets and produce large quantities of ice in 24 hours. Many undercounter ice makers are counter-depth and remain flush with their surroundings. Many models offer an insulated storage bin to hold 20 to 50 pounds worth of ice.

Pros of undercounter ice makers

  • Can produce around 20 to 50 pounds of ice in a day
  • Designed to be flush with surrounding cabinetry
  • Most offer insulated storage bin

Cons of undercounter ice makers 

  • Requires a water line for installation, placement options may be limited

  • May reduce cabinet space in smaller kitchens

Black freestanding ice maker Black freestanding ice maker

2. Freestanding ice makers

Freestanding ice makers come in a similar size and shape to undercounter models and can produce the same amount of ice. Instead of only fitting under a kitchen counter, freestanding ice makers can be installed anywhere in your home.

Pros of freestanding ice makers

  • Designed to fit virtually anywhere in your home

  • Most offer insulated storage bin

  • Can produce 20 to 50 pounds of ice a day

Cons of freestanding ice makers

  • Requires a water line for installation, placement options may be limited

  • Freestanding design may not work in kitchens with less floor space for detached appliances

Shop Whirlpool® Undercounter and Freestanding Ice Makers

3. Countertop and portable ice makers

Countertop and portable ice makers are smaller in size and easy to clean and store, making them an excellent option if you live in an apartment or have a small kitchen. Due to their smaller size, countertop ice makers only produce around 10 to 30 pounds of ice a day.

Pros of portable ice makers

  • Compact design fits in any size kitchen

  • Can be stored when not in use

  • Does not require a water line for installation as water is added manually

Cons of portable ice maker

  • Smaller size produces less ice than larger options
  • May not fit in kitchens with limited counter space
Freezer ice maker kit inside a freezer Freezer ice maker kit inside a freezer

4. Freezer ice maker kits

Ice maker kits are add-ons for freezers that did not originally come with an ice maker. These kits are a great option for homes that have limited cabinet and counter space for external ice machines.

Pros of ice maker kits

  • Designed to fit in your freezer

  • Generally more affordable than other ice maker options

Cons of ice maker kits

  • May reduce storage space inside freezer
  • Only produces 3 to 5 pounds of ice a day
  • Only available for select refrigerator and freezer models

Shop Whirlpool® Ice Maker Kits

Open undercounter ice maker Open undercounter ice maker

Which type of ice machine is best?

Determining which type of ice maker is best depends on the needs of your kitchen. If you are regularly the host of large cocktail parties, undercounter and freestanding ice machines are the better options because they produce more ice in a single day than other options. Homes with smaller kitchens and less space for large appliances would likely benefit from a countertop or portable model.

What should I look for when buying an ice maker?

There are several factors to consider when shopping for an ice maker to ensure you’re getting the right option for your home.

 Ice cubes

Ice production - Families that go through large amounts of ice every day should consider machines with a higher production rate.


Storage capacity - If you need your ice maker to fill coolers, look for a machine with a larger storage capacity.


Installation - Consider if your kitchen has the cabinet space to install an undercounter ice maker or if you need to shop for freestanding or countertop options.


Drainage options - Undercounter and freestanding machines require drainage lines for melted ice, while countertop models do not. 

Water filter

Water filters - Filters remove sediment from the water before freezing to improve taste and smell.  Some models come with built-in filters, while others sell filters separately. Combined with regular cleaning, filters help your ice stay crisp and clear.


Style and design - Most ice makers come in similar finishes to other major appliances so you can select an option that matches your kitchen’s color scheme.

Another key factor to think about is which type of ice will best fit your needs, as different shapes are best suited for certain uses. If you primarily use ice for sodas and other carbonated beverages, you should look for ice makers that produce cube, small cube and crescent shaped ice. Whirlpool® Ice Makers offer features like Clear Ice Technology and Fast Ice Option to produce great tasting ice whenever you need it.

Shop Whirlpool® Ice Machines

Find just the right combination of size, features and ice production for your family when you explore ice makers from Whirlpool.

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