Money and Convenience

Cold drinks and ice are luxuries you tend to take for granted while you’re at home, but they can be hard to come by when you’re out traveling in your RV. Some RV owners get around this by dumping a load of ice in a cooler before the start of each trip. Others just buy ice whenever they stop or make it in ice trays in their freezer, but more and more are discovering that the best way to get ice on a long trip is to buy a portable ice maker for their RV so they can make it wherever they go. They’re easy to use, easy to store, and can last for years with proper maintenance.

RV campers love portable ice makers because they can make a lot of ice very quickly. A typical freezer takes approximately 3-4 hours to freeze a tray of ice cubes. NewAir ice makers can make ice cubes in as little as six minutes. That means if you plug it in when you stop for the day, you’ll have a bucket of ice ready as soon as you’re done unpacking and setting up for the night. The NewAir AI-100R Portable Ice Maker can make 28 pounds a day, while the NewAir AI-215SS Portable Ice Maker can make up to 50 pounds. That’s enough to fill a full size cooler, enough to keep soda and beer cold all day long, enough for a large family, enough to host a party, enough to make ice tea, and more than enough to freshen your drinks at the end of the day. If you have the right equipment, it’s even enough to make ice cream.

An ice maker in your RV can also save you money. Bags of ice cost $2.50 – $5.00 at a typical grocery store and if you’re a serious traveler, you know how quickly these costs can add up. Ice makers are cheap and let you make ice as you go. No extra expense. No trips to the store. Just ice wherever you are.

Storage and Operation

Portable ice makers are compact and can be stored almost anywhere: under tables, in cabinets, on counters, behind seats, or in the basement. They’re lightweight and easy to carry, less than 40 pounds, which means they can be taken out and set up anywhere without a hassle. It comes with a six foot power cord and requires only 120 volts, so its perfectly compatible with all your power outlets. You can hook it up inside or plug it into your generator and use it outside.

The operation is simple. Plug in the unit, fill up the reservoir, put in the ice basket, and its ready to starting making ice. Select the size of the ice you want by pressing the “SELECT” button and cycling through the available ice: small, medium, and large. Once you’ve made your choice, press the “POWER” button and the ice making cycle will start. The ice will accumulate in the ice basket until it’s completely full. The “ICE” indicator will flash when it’s time to empty the basket. Ice makers can’t freeze ice as it’s produced, so if you don’t use it, it will start to melt again. The good news is NewAir ice makers recycle melted ice as it drips down into the reservoir, so none of it will go to waste. The “ADD WATER” indicator comes on when the reservoir runs dry. When it does, deactivate the unit by pressing the “POWER” button and refill the reservoir. Be careful not to fill it past the “MAX WATER” line, or else it will seep into the ice basket and cause the ice to melt faster as it falls in. Once the reservoir has been filled, wait three minutes for the refrigerant in the compressor to settle down before turning the ice maker back on again.


When it’s below 60°F, large ice cubes tend to stick together. If you’re making ice somewhere cold, it’s recommended you make small or medium ice cubes instead of large ones. Never leave your ice maker resting in direct sunlight if you can help it. It’ll make the ice melt faster and interfere with the ice making process, which means it will either produce less ice, produce smaller cubes, or require more time to produce ice. If there’s no shade, set the ice maker onto its largest setting to make your ice last longer.

Never unplug the unit without turning it off first, or the machine’s ice making cycle may get frozen. If you plug your ice maker in and a large block of ice forms around the ice prongs and the evaporative apparatus, you’ll know this is what’s happened. Turn off the machine, unplug it, and wait for the ice to melt. Once it’s drained down into the reservoir, plug the ice maker in again and turn it on in order to reset the ice making cycle.

Refill the reservoir with fresh water every 24 hours to make sure your ice is clean and fresh.

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Cleaning and Maintenance

Portable ice cube makers can break down very quickly if they’re not cleaned regularly, especially when you’re out on the road and using it every day. Clean out the reservoir with diluted detergent and warm every week, using a sponge or soft cloth to wipe down the ice basket and reservoir and remove and dust or debris that may have gathered around the filter at the bottom.

Hard water may be an issue as well. It can bind to the piping and the water pump, clogging or disabling your machine. Hard water is most common in the Midwest, the Mountain States, and southern Florida. If you’re traveling through those areas, or suspect your campground may be using hard water, it’s good idea to flush out the ice maker in your RV once a month with a 50/50 solution of vinegar or CLR in order to remove any mineral deposits that may have built up in your machine.

Dust and debris can also build up around the internal components as well. If the rate of ice production is still slow after you’ve flushed out your machine, this may be the cause. Remove the back panel and clear out the dust with some compressed air. Pay special attention to the fan and outer fins. Dust often collects there. You should also remove the top panel and wipe down the evaporator assembly, the prongs and cooling coils where ice forms.

Finally, if you’re not going to be using the ice maker for a long period of time, always drain the unit and wipe it down before storing it away.

Common Problems

Though most problems with your portable ice maker machine can be avoided, a few crop up that are unrelated. Most of these have a simple solution, others require the attention of a qualified technician.

All NewAir ice makers come covered by a 1-year warranty. Once you’re contacted the service department, they’ll arrange the appropriate repairs free of charge. Some of them are so simple they can actually performed at home with a few household tools.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to imagine what a boon ice is on a long trip. Whether or you’re camping out at the beach or in a state park, an iced drink can make all the difference on a hot afternoon. Whether you need loads of ice for a cooler or just prefer to scoop out a few cubes when you need them, a portable ice maker in your RV is the best way to get ice out on the road.

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