I like ice. I want ice. There is no waterline to my fridge spot.
May 13, 2024 9:43 AM   Subscribe

My fridge broke (again). I like ice dispensing freezers a lot. I am confident I would use the ice function frequently (would also use the water function if I had it, but...). My fridge is located on the side of the kitchen with no water hookup. Can I just fill some tank with water every day and have an ice dispenser? Is this a thing? Can I do it with any fridge or do I need a special fridge?

I might also consider an option involving making ice cubs in ice cube trays and then dumping them into a the ice-box for the dispenser, but that seems like more work which is already the reason I don't actually use much ice even though I really like it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
It is, indeed, a thing. If you like ice, I mean if you really like ice, and you want the "good ice," and you don't care what it costs, the search term you want is "nugget ice maker".
posted by The Bellman at 9:51 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


I can't answer your refrigerator question.

But if you decide to go with a separate ice unit, I can personally vouch for the countertop Frigidaire bullet ice makers like this one. Easily available for under 100 USD, one of these guys stood up to constant, daily use for 2+ years for an office of 30 people. Truthfully it doesn't make enough ice for 30 people, but my point is it ran constantly without a break and never gave up.
posted by phunniemee at 9:53 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I suspect that an ambient-pressure water tank wouldn't work, it's likely that standard dispensers/ice makers depend on things being pressurized.

The good news is, attaching and running a line to an ice maker is super easy, and the line can travel pretty far. Any hardware store will sell you an 'ice maker kit' that includes a tap to connect to a water line and a long flexible tube to make the trip to your fridge.

If you own and have access to the kitchen floor from below (via an unfinished basement) then you want something 100% ordinary that any plumber or diy plumber can do.

If you rent or don't have access under the floor but don't mind ugly, you can still attach a line and leave it visible, e.g. up a wall and across the ceiling. In this case, though, I would not use the standard tap that comes with an ice maker kit (because that punches a hole in a pipe), but instead buy a Tee adapter so that you can put everything back the way you found it.
posted by eraserbones at 9:53 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Just a warning in those counterpoint ice makers: you HAVE to stay up on the cleaning schedule or they get real gross, real fast.
posted by atomicstone at 9:56 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I own but do not have access to the downstairs unit and running a pipe would require either creating a trip hazard, tearing up the floor, or tearing up the ceiling. Also, I wanted to clarify, I was asking if can buy one of these fridges and use it it not hooked up to running water. Not really looking to buy a separate appliance. It sounds like eraserbooms answer is no, they need water hookup..
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:02 AM on May 13


I might also consider an option involving making ice cubs in ice cube trays and then dumping them into a the ice-box for the dispenser, but that seems like more work

There's also the option of just skipping the dispenser step and using those silicone (?) trays where you can push up on individual cubes to just pop them out one at a time. The only drawback (in my opinion) is the freezer space it takes up, but I guess that's an issue regardless.
posted by trig at 10:10 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Yes fridge water and ice dispensers rely on line pressure. There are pumps that create the same line pressure from a reservoir-- something like this.
posted by supercres at 10:13 AM on May 13


Response by poster: OK, I just called my fridge guy (yes, I have a fridge guy because my fridge has broken enough times that this ain't my first broken fridge circus) anyway, he said he can totally do it. We're going to talk. He said it won't be ugly. I feel like it can be either cheap or not ugly and I'm skeptical of his promises is that he can do it not ugly for $200, but we're going to talk. The ice dispensing fridges are weirdly cheaper than the others, so I might "break even".
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:17 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


he said he can totally do it.
Ooooo, really? I've been waiting for 11 years for my apparently immortal fridge to die already so I can get a "freezer on the bottom" model, and I've been wondering the same thing about the icemaker question. Nearly all new refrigerators seem to come with ice-makers. It would be a great kindness if you would update after fridge guy visits.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:27 AM on May 13


To your question: I don't think you can do that, because city water lines are pressurized, and it requires pressure to push (not pull) the water into the freezing coils on the freezer to make the ice. But the lines can be very long, and the connections are very basic, so you can run it along the bottoms of your cabinets (or inside) from a water source at your sink - it shouldn't be that difficult or expensive.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:27 AM on May 13


It turns out you can get little water pumps designed to adapt 5 gallon water jugs (like water cooler jugs) to refrigerator ice makers. So if the fridge guy says he can do it for $200 and it won't be ugly, believe him. It's not that he's claiming to be a magician, he's just claiming he can buy a little thing and some pipe and hook it up and it'll work.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:35 AM on May 13


Response by poster: Ooooo, really? I've been waiting for 11 years for my apparently immortal fridge to die already so I can get a "freezer on the bottom" model,

I currently have a freezer on the bottom and I don't advise this. I'm getting a side-by-side (whether with ice maker or not). Even with the little pull out baskets etc. it's just a giant pit of food impossible to tell what you have, to find anything, or to pull something out without complete disarray. And of course without the little pull out baskets, you'd have to be crawling on the flood like you keep your stuff under the bed or something.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:54 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: It turns out you can get little water pumps designed to adapt 5 gallon water jugs (like water cooler jugs) to refrigerator ice makers. So if the fridge guy says he can do it for $200 and it won't be ugly, believe him. It's not that he's claiming to be a magician, he's just claiming he can buy a little thing and some pipe and hook it up and it'll work.

Oh no, he's claiming he can run the pipe/kit around and it won't be ugly. The fridge pump I guess I would believe won't be ugly because it would be in my fridge, right? Can't see it in there.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:55 AM on May 13


Off topic, but second the review of the bottom freezer. I wanted one for years, and now have regrets. Everything is in one of three piles, things keep falling into the ice, and there is never enough room.

Good luck with the ice maker!
posted by mersen at 1:13 PM on May 13


A handy person can run a small copper pipe or plastic tube to the freezer, no big deal. It runs underneath or through the bottom of the cupboards.
posted by theora55 at 1:34 PM on May 13


Everything is in one of three piles, things keep falling into the ice, and there is never enough room.
Well, A. this would definitely be me. But also B. it's me right now with the refrigerator, which is infinitely worse because I don't tend to freeze much. I waste So. Much. Food. because of everything being below eye-level so that I have to grovel around on my knees on the floor to find anything. Unless it's on the top shelf, in the door, or at the very front of the lower two shelves, it's food for worms, basically. So I figured with fridge on top I'd throw out a lot less, what with being able to see to the back--plus these new fridges have these great, deep door pockets you can cram full of stuff. (Also, if stuff gets forgotten about in the freezer, it's not going to turn into wormfood immediately like with the fridge, much of which is basically a chilly compost pile.)

OTOH, C. it has just occurred to me that trying to freeze crumb-coated layer cakes might be pretty fraught in a bin-style freezer. This would ruin my life.

Do side-by-side ones have freezer room for, for instance, a big turkey?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:46 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Continuing the derail, Mrs. Intermod and I love bottom freezers, and just bought a brand new one. That puts the entire fridge compartment higher up and it's then easier to get to everything. Sure, it makes the freezer hard to deal with, both due to being low down and half the stuff buried or under a sliding shelf, but that's a trade we like.

Back to main topic, I hope to hear an update from the OPP on the manually-refilled tank method, presumably high up so that gravity feeds the water down into the fridge. As long as the fridge doesn't send pressure back up the tube, I'd think it would work ...

Make sure the solution has a cutoff valve.
posted by intermod at 2:56 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Our refrigerator ice maker broke and, thanks to leaking water, ruined our floor (which extends throughout the house and had to be entirely replaced) as well as damaging the basement. After the extensive repairs were done, a friend complained that the exact same thing just happened to him (requiring all new flooring). I get the impression that this is a very common -- not to mention disruptive -- occurrence. After that, I left the water hook-up undone and nowadays just buy a giant bag of ice at the grocery store, which I dump into the refrigerator's ice dispenser. It seems to be better ice anyway.
posted by jabah at 4:31 PM on May 13


I personally vote for a separate countertop icemaker. One less item to break IN your fridge, and it's not that expensive or that big on your counter top. Maybe a bit larger than a toaster oven turned sideways, IIRC. You can totally rig a 5-gal tank in the counter below and fill it as needed with the pump mentioned.
posted by kschang at 5:53 PM on May 13


Team freezer-on-the-bottom, all day every day.

And because I have big slidey-out freezer-on-the-bottom drawers, I just buy bags of ice and throw the whole thing in. Perfect.
posted by Salamander at 5:00 AM on May 14


I have this and I love it: EUHOMY Nugget Ice Maker... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C32SGKMJ?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
posted by manageyourexpectations at 9:16 AM on May 14


Response by poster: Ok, so my ice dreams are over. Apparently nobody makes side-by-side fridges or fridges with ice dispensers in 30 inches anymore. And it's going to be another bottom freezer, unfortunately.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:43 AM on May 14


I just pulled out my notes from last year, specifically the Consumer Reports Buying Guide that we paid for full access to.

Side-by-side fridges at 30" widths are indeed not a thing, probably due to the necessary insulated partition in the middle.

But there were several of these models:
- 30-inch, top freezer, ice dispenser (no water): 14 models
- 30-inch, bottom freezer, ice dispenser (no water): 7 models
- 30-inch, french door*, ice dispenser (no water): 6 models
(* french door = side-by-side fridge, bottom freezer, very popular)

Don't give up! In our case, we discovered that the old fridge was a SHORT unicorn and a new replacement did not exist, and we ended up modifying the cabinetry! Not renters, of course.

All that said, with our earlier fridge, we did buy bags of ice, and in fact we got the nicer kind, from the local independent liquor store I believe.
posted by intermod at 3:34 PM on May 14


The other (slightly hilarious) downside of a bottom freezer is that your children can help themselves to icecream much easier because it's at their height (like the fridge is at your height)

Top fridge definitely is a bonus, though.
posted by freethefeet at 3:48 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


For me, top fridge is not worth the downside of bottom freezer. It's impossible to find anything in those giant drawers, the drawers are prone to breaking or slipping off the tracks if you aren't careful, things can fall out of the drawer and under the bottom drawer and then you have to take the whole thing out.

And yes, if you want to freeze something that is somewhat delicate until frozen, or that needs to be balanced - heck, even just making ice cubes - it's a nightmare trying to do that with those drawers.

If they made a "bottom freezer" that just had regular shelves, the way it does with a top freezer, that seems like the ideal situation. But I'm not sure those exist, for some reason.
posted by litera scripta manet at 5:11 PM on May 14


Response by poster: Well I'm going to be getting a French door because however bad the bottom freezer is, at least the fridge is at eye level.

30-inch, french door*, ice dispenser (no water): 6 models

I just searched consumer reports and found 0. Maybe you were seeing the ice makers? or maybe consumers reports knows I'm in Canada and only gave me Canadian models?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:29 PM on May 14


When we moved our refrigerator during a kitchen remodel, the pipe to get to the fill line for the fridge went sideways through the wall. We had the advantage of taking the drywall off to do it though, as we were replacing the cabinets too. The main idea is that we didn't have to tear up the floor or the ceiling
posted by TimHare at 8:16 PM on May 14


Here in Australia we have a Mitsubishi fridge with a non-plumbed ice maker that I can recommend if they are sold in the US. I think this is the model.

The ice maker has a pull out water container that you refill. Definitely won’t stand up to a party needing ice, but pretty good. I also like the “soft freeze” drawer for ice cream.

I think it is a good compromise on your requirements of <30” (650mm), French-doors (ish) and also the freezer is in the middle of the stack, not the bottom, if that makes sense. Having the lower refrigerated section is great for heavy drinks, bags of rice and all the flours we keep in there to avoid moths, although by design it is for fruit and vegetables.

No complaints after about 5 years of use; my husband doesn’t like how much it beeps, although I think it’s a good thing, because someone always forgets to fully shut the fridge door when cooking.

(Anyone with price shock from that link might want to keep in mind that the AUD:USD rate is currently about $0.66…)
posted by ec2y at 10:18 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I just searched consumer reports and found 0 [ice dispensers]. Maybe you were seeing the ice makers?

Yup! Ice maker in one column, water dispenser in another column. I guess the sideways print had me not properly processing the text :) Sorry about that.
posted by intermod at 7:13 PM on May 15


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