Large thick ice pellets
Three sizes of ice
No self-cleaning cycle
Ice storage isn’t refrigerated
Takes up counter space
The worst thing about running out of ice is waiting for a new tray to freeze. Even people who own a refrigerator with a built-in ice maker aren’t immune to the problem. After all, built-in ice makers can only produce 3 to 6 pounds of ice per day. If you’ve got heavy-duty ice lovers in your household or office, or like to throw parties, you need a machine that can deliver lots of ice all day long. That’s the niche appliances like the Frigidaire EFIC103 26 lb. Freestanding Ice Maker aim to fill. This portable countertop ice maker can freeze a batch of ice in just eight minutes, and if you let it run all day, it’ll produce a healthy 26 pounds. Frigidaire has a long history of producing refrigerators and freezers, so the company is no stranger to the world of condensers and coolants. We gave its compact countertop ice maker a try to see if it lives up to the brand’s storied reputation.
Performance: Big ice in no time
Right out of the gate, the Frigidaire EFIC103 26 lb. Freestanding Ice Maker impressed us by producing thick ice pellets in just eight minutes. The first batch is a little smaller than subsequent batches, as the machine heats up, but the difference wasn’t as obvious as with other brands we’ve tested. In fact, even on the smallest setting the ice was a tiny bit longer and thicker than the ice that came from another ice maker we tried that cost twice as much. These are robust pieces that linger in the glass instead of melting away far before we’re done with our drinks. The pieces are so chunky, we found it only took two batches of ice to fill a pint glass—even though the machine only makes nine pieces of ice per batch instead of 12. With other brands we tried, it took three batches of ice to have enough to fill a glass.
The machine was quiet while in use. In fact, until it dropped the ice cubes and pushed them into the basket, we often forgot it was on, as the sound of the fan easily blended into any background noise.
The pieces are so chunky, we found it only took two batches of ice to fill a pint glass. With other brands we tried, it took three batches of ice to have enough to fill a glass.
It’s not the smallest ice maker on the market, so finding a spot for it required clearing off some counter space. Still, it was simple to use and requires 115 volts, or a standard three-prong outlet. We filled the reservoir, which took about 15 cups of water, plugged it in, and selected the size of ice we wanted (small). It automatically started, and the ice was ready (and quite chunky) in eight minutes. That’s a minute or two longer than two other ice makers we tried, but worth it. Ice made on the largest setting took 13 minutes, which was the same as a more expensive brand we tried. This, of course, was chunkier still—almost unnecessarily so. But since it makes hollow, bullet-shaped ice, like most countertop ice makers, the ice will melt faster than solid cubes. So on hot summer days, this extra-thick ice is the way to go.
Like most other ice makers, the bucket that holds the ice sits above the water in the reservoir, which allows water to drip off back into the reservoir as the ice melts. But it also means the ice isn’t kept below freezing after it’s made. Eventually all the ice will melt away if not used or transferred to a bag or container in the freezer. We noticed the machine was relatively well insulated and mostly kept the ice from melting too fast, but it wasn’t quite as well insulated as the more expensive ice maker we tried. After storing the ice in the freezer, it stuck together a bit since it was wet on the outside, but it was easy to break up the pieces.
Like all ice makers, it works best when the ambient air isn’t too hot, so don’t put it outside in the sun, and don’t place it next to a heat source.
Design: Functional, not fancy
This ice maker looks similar to most other countertop models on the market. And actually, several other brands carry ice makers that are nearly identical except for the logo (like the Igloo ICE103). This is because they’re created by the same manufacturer. In other words, it’s a big stainless steel box with a black top. A window in the lid allowed us to check the level of ice in the basket, but it wasn’t big enough to allow us to spy on the entire ice-making process.
The control panel is pretty basic and does the job, but the appliance would look a lot cleaner if it was located on the top.
The stainless steel surface helped the ice maker blend in with the rest of our kitchen appliances. But instead of a sleek touch pad like so many other countertop ice makers, this one has a basic push-button control panel placed front and center. There’s an on/off button, a “select” button for the ice size, and indicators that light up to tell you which ice size you’ve selected and whether the ice basket is full or the reservoir needs more water. It’s pretty basic and does the job, but the appliance would look a lot cleaner if the control panel was located on the top.
Although the Frigidaire is larger than some other 26-pound ice makers on the market, it’s a bit smaller than higher capacity versions that produce 50 pounds of ice in a day. At 25 pounds, it’s also lighter, which makes it a lot more portable. However if you are going to take it places, the manufacturer recommends letting it sit for 2 hours after moving it to allow the coolant to settle before plugging it in.
The ice basket is fairly generously sized and fills up every hour and a half. It’s not quite as big as the basket in the 50-pound ice maker we tried, but it’s bigger than the one in the smaller ice maker we tested, which had to be decanted every hour.
Draining: A bit cumbersome
It’s recommended to replace the water in the reservoir at least every 24 hours, and to drain and dry it completely if it won’t be used, in order to prevent mold or mildew from forming. To drain the machine, we had to unscrew a cap on the bottom left side of the machine, then remove a little plug. Since we hadn’t placed the ice maker next to our sink, this required pivoting the machine so the plug was near the front edge of the counter, and pulling it forward so that a bowl could be positioned below. This was similar to the pricier ice maker we tried, but the difference was the cap wasn’t attached to the ice maker at all. We were nervous about dropping it and the plug, and losing them. Having to hold onto them tight while also holding a bowl filling with water was a bit unnerving.
Features: One step up from basic
Even though the smallest ice that comes out of this ice maker is plenty big on its own, we liked having the option of choosing between small, medium, and large ice. The settings don’t produce ice that’s longer, however, just thicker.
For around $149, this model makes three sizes of ice as big, thick, and chunky as premium machines that cost twice as much.
There’s no self-cleaning function or timer on this machine, which are features that are found on more expensive models that cost upwards of $250. A timer would allow you to delay the start of the ice maker for when you get up in the morning or come home from work, or it can be set to turn the ice maker off. If this seems like an important feature for your lifestyle, you might want to consider a different model. But a self-cleaning function simply allows you to send vinegar-spiked water through the machine on a cycle that doesn’t freeze. In the end, it’s really not that much different from running it through a regular ice-making cycle.
Price: A good deal
For around $149, this model makes three sizes of ice as big, thick, and chunky as premium machines that cost twice as much. In our view, that’s a steal. The water reservoir holds a generous 15 cups, so it won’t need to be filled too frequently, and the ice basket is well-sized, requiring it to be emptied every hour and a half instead of every hour. It lacks some of the features that the more expensive ice makers have, but they’re nice-to-haves, not essentials.
Competition: The best option for big ice without a big spend
NewAir 28-lb. Portable Ice Maker: At first glance, these two ice makers are exactly alike, right down to the push button control panel on the front. They have all the same features, but the NewAir 28-lb. Portable Ice Maker purports to make 2 pounds more ice per day. It’s also a little smaller in each dimension, but it costs about $40 more.
:Della Portable Top Load Electric Ice Maker The Frigidaire is a bit larger and heavier than the Della, which is much more suited to the tiny kitchens of RVs and apartments. And although they have the same output per day, the Frigidaire has a larger capacity reservoir—15 cups versus 8 cups—so it doesn’t need to be filled as often, and the ice basket is bigger, so it doesn’t fill up and shut the machine off every hour like the Della. It also offers ice in three sizes instead of just small and large. And even on the smallest setting, the ice is far thicker and chunkier than the ice produced by the Della.
Excellent ice at an excellent price
When you consume lots of ice, you need an ice maker that can keep up. The Frigidaire EFIC103 26 lb. Freestanding Ice Maker pumps out 26 pounds of ice every 24 hours. And it can freeze a batch in as little as eight minutes on its smallest setting. Best of all, even its smallest ice is thicker than the largest ice from some other ice makers. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as more expensive models, but it costs about $100 less, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a quality ice maker that’s budget-friendly.
- Product Name EFIC103 26 lb. Freestanding Ice Maker
- Product Brand Frigidaire
- SKU 689721298790
- Price $149
- Weight 25 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 14 x 12 x 14 in.
- Color Stainless steel
- Ice Output 26 lbs. per 24 hours
- Required Voltage 115 volts
- Warranty Limited 1 year