Home Ice Machine Review: NewAir or KitchenAid Ice Maker?

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When it comes to home ice machines, both NewAir and KitchenAid are heavyweight brands in terms of models available and ice output. In the ring today are two units that have a 50 pound and 51 pound daily ice making capacity, respectively: the NewAir Portable Ice Maker AI-215R and the KitchenAid Ice Maker KUIX305ESS. Both of these appliances are designed to make ice, and they both have nearly identical ice cube outputs, but the KitchenAid costs over $2000 more than the NewAir model. The following comparison review will dig into their finer points so you can see which is better (for you).

KitchenAid KUIX305ESS $2199 Freestanding or Built-In 51 Pounds Yes 1 Yes Gravity/Pump Not Included 100 Pounds
NewAir AI-215R $170 Portable/Countertop 50 Pounds No 3 Yes Side-Mounted 36.40 Pounds

15 Inch KitchenAid Ice Maker: Model KUIX305ESS


One of the most popular KitchenAid ice machines, the KUIX305ESS model is considered by its manufacturer to be a major appliance. And in fact, this thing is quite large. It measures 34”H x 14.88”W x 25.63”D, and weighs about 100 pounds. It looks like a small fridge, with a horizontal handle across the front and a front vent on the bottom. The price tag on this ice maker is quite large too, retailing at a cool $2,199. This model comes in stainless steel, but black or white color options are also available, with identical specs.

KitchenAid Ice Maker KUIX305ESS
KitchenAid 15 in. 51 lbs. Built-In or Freestanding Ice Maker


KitchenAid’s ice machine can be either freestanding or built-in. What the former really means is that it can stand freely beside your fridge in the kitchen, in the laundry room, in your bathroom, etc., while the latter means it can be built into your existing cabinetry. You’d want to go with the built-in option if you don’t have a lot of space.

The 15″ in the name of this ice maker refers to the cut-out size needed for cabinetry installation. More specifically, you need a 15” left-to-right cut-out, 24” front-to-back cut-out width, and a 34” cut-out height. Now you’re probably thinking, why are the cut-out dimensions smaller than the actual ice machine? Do you have to stuff the appliance in there and pray something doesn’t break? Luckily no. The door is included in the ice machine’s dimensions, but isn’t completely installed in the cabinetry — hence the discrepancy.

The title “freestanding” is somewhat misleading because this product does need to be hooked up to both an electrical outlet and a water line. You need a 115 volt, 60 Hz, AC only, 15- or 20-amp electrical supply and a cold water supply with water pressure between 30 and 120 psi. To put it bluntly, if you don’t got these things, it don’t work. So your placement options for your KitchenAid ice maker are going to quickly constrict to a few areas where you have access to these utility lines, along with a drain.


KitchenAid Ice Machine Drain Pump 1901A
KitchenAid Ice Machine Drain Pump 1901A

A big uh-oh with the KitchenAid KUIX305ESS ice maker is that it doesn’t come with a drain pump. But you will need one if you don’t have access to a floor drain for gravity draining. And if you don’t connect the ice maker to your floor drain or use a pump, water can flow back into the ice maker storage bin, and then overflow onto the floor, creating a small Arctic disaster in your kitchen.

KitchenAid says that the drain lines must have a minimum 5/8″ inside diameter, along with a 1″ drop per 48″ of run or 0.25″ drop per 12″. Now would be the time to get down on your hands and knees and take a good hard look at your life. Wait, we mean your drain.

If you find you don’t have a floor drain available, then be prepared to spend a couple hundred more dollars on a drain pump kit from KitchenAid (Part Number 1901A).


Once you have everything plugged in and turned on, the KitchenAid ice maker produces a steady supply of ice all day, with a maximum of 51 pounds total. A positive about this ice machine is that it has a hefty storage capacity of 35 pounds in the included ice bin. This means you’ll pretty much never run out of ice. However, the ice bin is not refrigerated, so while the ice maker interior will be colder than the rest of the room, the ice is still going to melt, eventually.

KitchenAid Ice Maker Control Panel
KitchenAid Ice Maker Control Panel

There’s also a Max Ice mode button. By pressing this, you send the ice cube machine into an ice-making frenzy that results in a 56% faster output than the regular cycle. The Max mode automatically shuts off after 24 hours, but you can turn it on again if you need a lot of cubes for an ice bath or something. The KitchenAid ice maker only makes one size ice cube: 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 1/2″. These are dimensions that will work for most of your daily needs, but it’s disappointing not to have a few different size options.

One of the better aspects of the KUIX305ESS is that it has a water filtration system that produces clean, transparent ice. This means you don’t have to worry about the fact that the H2O for your cubes is coming from an unfiltered water line. The KitchenAid ice maker filter is replaceable and will last about 9 months. There’s also a filter indicator light to remind you when it’s time for changing if you don’t want little frozen microbes in your cup of lemonade.


Keeping in line with its overall sleek, minimalist look, this ice maker model has a hidden, electronic control panel, along with features like a reversible door, giving you slightly more wiggle room in installation. This product also will automatically shut off when the ice storage bin is full and then wake itself up again to make more ice when the supply gets too low.

Finally, this ice maker does have a dedicated “Clean” button on the control panel. To use this, you have to put a solution of water and ice machine cleaner (purchased separately, of course) into the water pan and then run the cleaning cycle. This removes mineral build-up from the freezing cycle, so that your KitchenAid ice maker can keep purring along.

If we had to sum up this KitchenAid ice maker in one sentence we’d say: A very expensive home ice maker that looks great and produces clean ice, but which has strict installation requirements for your house.

NewAir Portable Ice Maker: Model AI-215R


Within the line of NewAir ice makers, the AI-215R Portable Ice Maker has the largest daily ice-making capacity and is the most expensive option available. However, this thing still runs for only about $170, which is drastically cheaper than the KitchenAid ice maker. Like so much cheaper that we can’t even do the math. Size-wise the NewAir looks completely different from its competitor. Considered a portable ice maker, it weighs 37.60 pounds and measures 14.25″L x 16.88″W x 16.75″H. In other words, this thing is fairly compact and easy to move around. This model comes in red, but there’s also a stainless steel finish option available with identical specs.

NewAir Portable Hom Ice Maker AI-215R
NewAir Portable Home Ice Maker AI-215R


The purpose of NewAir’s ice maker is to not be installed. This thing is freestanding in all senses of the word: you can take it to make ice anywhere you have access to a plug. Specifically, this ice making machine has a rated voltage of 115V/60Hz, and uses just 170 watts. While the AI-215R is in use, it will obviously take up some counter space, but it’s completely storable after you’re done making ice. And while the KitchenAid model is married to its water line, outlet, and drain, the NewAir machine can be taken to the park, out into the yard, in an RV — almost anywhere you need ice and have electricity, no water line needed. This is a portable ice maker at its best.


NewAir AI-215R Ice Maker Side Drain
NewAir Ice Maker Drain

Keeping in line with its portability, the NewAir ice maker has a side-mounted drain. This drain consists of two parts: a small cap screwed over a plug, which is inserted into an opening on the side of the ice maker. Water drains via this outlet when the cap is removed.

The drain prevents overflow damage and makes getting rid of leftover water easy when you want to stow it away. While the cap is susceptible to being misplaced, the drain system is significantly less tethered and less expensive than the KitchenAid model.


Since the NewAir ice maker isn’t connected to a water line, filling must be done manually. After you plugging in, you just open it up, remove the ice basket, and fill the water reservoir up to the maximum water line marked inside. The NewAir home ice maker has the potential to spit out up to 12 ice pieces per operating cycle, with each cycle taking anywhere between 7 and 13 minutes depending on the temperature outside. In total, this unit can produce about 50 pounds of ice per day. This output is nearly identical to the KitchenAid machine.

NewAir AI-215R ice maker bin and scoop
NewAir AI-215R Removable Ice Bin and Included Scoop

One difference though is that the NewAir machine’s removable ice bin is significantly smaller than the the KitchenAid’s 35 pound bin. This means that the former is more suited to smaller applications, and probably wouldn’t be convenient if you’re trying to fill up an ice bath.

When the ice basket is full, the maker automatically stops making ice. The unit will also shut off if the water level gets too low. If you forget about the ice you made and allow it to melt, the water conveniently drips through slats in the bin and back into the reservoir, to be used for another batch when desired.

In contrast to the KitchenAid ice maker, the NewAir home ice machine produces 3 different cube sizes — small, medium, and large. These all have a unique “bullet shape” which looks pretty cool, but may not be suitable for super elegant settings. On the other hand, having an ice cube size option is useful for making different drinks, recipes, etc.

The one area where the NewAir maker falls short of the KitchenAid model is in filtering. If you want clear ice, you’ll have to pour in distilled or independently filtered water. If you fill up the ice machine directly from your tap, there’s no built-in filter to remove all of the tap gunk for you. So you can expect cloudier ice from the NewAir ice maker if you’re not taking the initiative to filter the water you use.


NewAir Ice Maker Control Panel
NewAir Ice Maker Control Panel

The NewAir AI-215R ice maker has a front control panel with LCD display. There are dedicated buttons for turning the ice maker on and off, changing the ice size, setting the timer, and running the self-clean option. Yup, this ice maker has a timer, which the KitchenAid appliance does not have. The timer balances out the NewAir’s smaller capacity ice bin, since you can set the unit to automatically start making ice within a range of 18 hours, with 30 minute increments. You can also set the unit to shut-down if it’s already working its little butt off.

Also, while the NewAir model doesn’t have a filter, it does have a self-cleaning function that’s more cost-effective than the KitchenAid ice maker. That’s because you just have to add a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water into the reservoir, hold down the CLEAN button on the control panel, and wait about 5 minutes while the solution rinses off the ice maker’s innards. Run it again with water and voila! you’re done. This more DIY solution means you’ll always have cleaner on-hand, unlike the KitchenAid machine. Last but not least, the NewAir AI-215R comes with an ice scoop so you don’t have to get frostbite if you want cubes.

If we had to sum up the NewAir AI-215R ice maker in one sentence, we’d say: A relatively inexpensive and portable ice maker that provides enough cubes for daily needs, but which will require some extra manual work for ice production.

The Best Ice Machine Ever (Of These Two)

NewAir AI-215R Home Ice Maker Cubes Outdoors
The winner enjoying a cold one: the NewAir AI-215R Home Ice Maker

We feel that the price tag on the KitchenAid ice maker isn’t worth it, especially since this model does not include a drain pump. It’s also missing features like a timer and it has strict installation criteria. In contrast, the NewAir ice maker works just as well as the KitchenAid model, but it costs a lot less, can be taken anywhere, has more features, and it comes from a brand dedicated to reliable home appliances.

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