Best Portable Tailgate Ice Maker for El Gran Juego de Fútbol Americano

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papa johns pizza garlic knotsEverybody stop what you’re doing and get excited for a very large sporting event that I can’t legally mention by its specific name without coughing up a chunk of money. You may find that odd since this is an article related to a championship football game, but most of us aren’t as fortunate to have the personal VIP connections to professional football players the same way that Papa John does, who is arguably using his Garlic Knots to attain a certain level of popularity. Since I also don’t have such delicious edibles to grease the wheels of friendship (and my coronary arteries, I’ve got to conserve my money to be used on any number of important things like food, gas, alimony, or even a brand new portable ice maker for, you guessed it, an awesome tailgate party before the “Big Game.”

Tailgating is one of the best parts of any grand sporting event such as the “Gran Juego de Fúbol Americano,” as they may or may not say in Español (which is Spanish for “Spanish”). There’s good food, drinks, and a strong sense of anticipation and energy from the crowd that adds to the overall excitement. With good food and a large crowd in mild weather, however, people are going to need cold drinks or things might get a little out of control. That’s where a high quality, portable ice maker comes in handy because ice and beverages go together like some sort of applicable analogy. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd and be the savior of any get-together by having plenty of cold ice to go around, but don’t try to be a hero if you’re not well prepared. You need the best portable tailgate ice maker to serve up the best quality ice for the “Colossal Contest.”

Choosing the Best Portable Ice Maker

There are a lot of different portable ice makers on the market today that come in different sizes, ice making ability, and pricing. While having a large selection of options to choose from is great for any consumer, it can be a daunting task to go through all of the choices to find what’s right for you. In order to narrow down the scope of our purchasing endeavor, we have to determine the parameters of our search by specifying what is needed.

magic chef ice maker 27 pounds ice
Magic Chef MCIM22TS Portable Ice Maker

We have already established that the ice maker has to be portable in order to be transported from one location to another. This means that the ice maker will have to be able to fit in a car or light enough in weight to be carried around without strain. From the size and weight limitations, we can agree that an ice maker with the dimensions of roughly 15 inches in height, 11 inches in width,  and 14 inches in depth, but what about its other features?

For portable ice maker models of this size, they can typically produce about nine pieces of ice during one cycle, which lasts several minutes, or about as long as it takes before a new piece of gum loses its flavor. In a daily total, these models will have created between 25 to 30 pounds of quality ice.

After establishing the size and amount of ice needed, we can narrow down our focus to four popular models of portable ice makers for the “Mammoth Match” or any mid-sized match in-between. These models will be, in alphabetical order: the Igloo ICE101 Portable Electronic Ice Maker, Magic Chef MCIM22T Portable Ice Maker, NewAir AI-100 Portable Ice Maker, and the Whynter IMC-270M Compact Portable Ice Maker. From here, we can tailor our search into categories to compare these four freestanding ice makers.

To determine which is the best, we will look at how well each one stacks up in terms of: 1) Product design, 2) Ice production, 3) Power consumption, and 4) Use and maintenance.

Product Design

igloo ice maker 26 pounds ice
Igloo ICE101 Portable Electronic Ice Maker

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most of these models look very similar to each other, in the same way that most automobiles have the same basic look and functionality. All four of these portable ice makers have a similar box-like design that features a top-side flip-open lid with a see-through viewing window to examine the amount and condition of the ice inside without having to open up the lid and letting out all of the cool air.

The differences outside of their basic design are subtle, but still noticeable. The Magic Chef MCIM22 and the NewAir AI-100 both keep stronger box-shape angles, but the Igloo ICE101 and the Whynter IMC-270M are much more rounded out in the front end as opposed to being flat and angular. The rounded front end looks sleeker and may allow for better compact storage, but there’s also the possibility that it may reduce the overall storage space for ice.

The NewAir AI-100 Portable Ice Maker is slightly larger than the other models, with the Whynter ice maker the smallest model of the bunch.

IGLOO ICE101 14.5″ 11.25″ 15″
MAGIC CHEF MCIM22 14.88″ 11.69″ 14.45″
NEWAIR AI-100 15″ 11.75″ 14.5″
WHYNTER IMC-270M 13″ 9.5″ 14.1″

All of these models also include a circular, stainless steel side vent to release the heat produced by the unit while in operation. The only difference between these vents is the placement; Igloo ICE101 and the Whynter IMC-270M models have a vents on their left side while the Magic Chef MCIM22 and the NewAir AI-100 have their vents located on the right side.

Three of the four models include a convenient exterior drain mounted on the side of the unit for quick and easy water drainage. The only one that doesn’t come with a side mounted drain is the Whynter model ice maker that requires the unit be lifted to reach the water drain plug located underneath the unit. That seems much messier than it needs to be considering it is a lot easier to reach a drain plug when it is on its side.

Deciding by Color

By now, the Igloo, Magic Chef, and NewAir models seem to have an upper hand over the Whynter in terms of product design, but there is one key feature that can help set a more decisive victory: color options. After all, when you’re out there supporting your favorite team during the “Szuper Küzdőtér.”

Passing game as cold as NewAir AI-100VO portable ice maker
Peyton Manning’s Current Passing Game

The Magic Chef and the Whynter offer the fewest colors. The Magic Chef has two basic color options: white and silver. Whynter has three basic color options: metallic black, metallic red, and metallic silver. Those options will severely limit any portable tailgate ice maker from sporting team colors, but none of those even come close to matching the team colors of Denver or Carolina in this year’s “Grand Game.”

The Igloo model has five color options, a definite improvement over the previous two models mentioned. These colors are black, red, silver, stainless steel, and white. Black might work, but you’d need to throw in some blue or it might seem like Oakland is playing in the “San Francisco Sports Spectacular” instead of Carolina.

The NewAir AI-100 Portable Ice Maker is the only model in the group that offers six options with more bold, colorful choices. These include black, red, silver, stainless steel, cyan blue, and vermillion orange. If you noticed, the NewAir AI-100CB Cyan Blue Ice Maker and the NewAir AI-100VO Vermillion Orange Ice Maker both make the best portable ice makers because they match each competing team’s color.

Ice Production

newair ice maker 28 pound ice
NewAir AI-100CB Portable Ice Maker

In the span of a 24 hour day, the NewAir AI-100 portable ice makers continue to be on a roll. The NewAir AI-100 produces 28 pounds of ice per day with nine bullet-shaped pieces popping out in about 6-15 minutes per cycle, depending on which size you want. The bigger the ice, the longer it will take to freeze.

The Magic Chef and the NewAir models each offer three different sizes of bullet-shaped ice: small, medium, or large. The Igloo and Whynter models are more modest in their size offerings with only two sizes, small or large. All four models, however, will produce nine pieces of ice per cycle, but at slightly different minimum rates.

The Igloo ICE101 can create 26 pounds of ice daily with nine pieces being created as quickly as seven minutes. The Magic Chef MCIM22 has about the same ice production cycling rate, but can produce about 27 pounds of ice per day. The Whynter IMC-270M can produce the same amount as the Magic Chef despite being smaller than the others, but it takes longer to crack out nine pieces of ice at a rate between 10-15 minutes.

So, this quarter also goes to the NewAir AI-100 Portable Ice Maker.

Power Consumption

Three of the four portable ice makers share similar power specifications that won’t likely set them apart. The Igloo, Magic Chef, and NewAir models are 120 watt ice makers running on 115 volts and a peak 2.7 amps during ice making harvest.

The Whynter, on the other hand, produces 27 pounds of ice daily while consuming 120 watts, 115 volts, and 1.7 amps during ice making current and 2.1 amps during ice making harvest. This slightly lower amperage compared with its daily ice making production puts the Whynter IMC-270M Compact Ice Maker on the comeback trail.

Use and Maintenance

whynter ice maker 27 pounds ice
Whynter IMC-270MS Compact Ice Maker

It’s the final comparison and it’s down to NewAir and Whynter. The NewAir AI-100 Portable Ice Maker can take it all or it can tie with the Whynter IMC-270M Compact Ice Maker. The other two models can still save face, I suppose, but it seems unlikely at this point since all of the models have a very similar interface and maintenance features.

All four models have two push-button controls that allow for easy operation of the unit. You can turn the power on and off with one button and select the size of the ice with the other button. Each model also features LED indicator lights that tell you when the removable ice bin is full or to refill the water tank.

Most of the models have a plastic construction, making it lightweight and easy to clean. Draining, as mentioned, is also easy with the side drain on for three of the four models–the Whynter ice maker being the exception.

Overall, we can call it a three way draw with Whynter losing out on this one by a slim margin.

Which is the Best Portable Tailgate Ice Maker?

bullet shaped ice in ice maker
NewAir AI-100R Portable Ice Maker

The NewAir AI-100 series of portable ice makers wins it by two. Compared to the others, the AI-100 is light, portable, colorful, and produces 28 pounds of ice daily at a steady rate of nine pieces in about six minutes at the very earliest. That means you can plug it into any indoor or outdoor electrical outlet and get more ice for your awesome tailgate party with less waiting. Then, you can pour all of the left over ice over the winning coach after the “Grande Gioco.”

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