Have you ever wondered how the portable ice maker at your home works? What is the mechanism behind the formation of ice in such a short time? There was a time when the only known way of making ice was to put water in ice trays and put them in the freezer. This process of making ice would take hours. It has been automated over the years and now we have ice makers that can get the job done in minutes.
Basic Design of an Ice Maker
The basic design of an Ice Maker is pretty similar to that of a refrigerator. When the cycle begins, an electric signal initiates which fills water in the ice mold, present in the Ice Maker. Then, the cooling machinery begins to freeze this water. There is an internal thermostat in the machine which stops the machine when the temperature has reached freezing point.
When cubes have been made, the heating center of the machine activates. You might be wondering why there is a heating center in an ice maker. The job of this coil is to separate the cubes from the ice molds. There are ejector blades in your ice maker and they then eject the cubes into the dispenser. Once a cycle is completed, another will begin until you turn off the ice maker or there is not enough water for another round of ice making.
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Steps of Ice Making
Now, we will explain the process in steps. During the whole cycle, there are steps that are repeated continuously. If there is a problem or error in even one of these steps, the cycle will not take place properly.
Sending Water to Water Valve
A water valve is present in your ice maker which is present behind the cooling system. Electrical wires connect this valve to the central circuit and when a signal is received in the form of electric current from the central circuit, the valve will open.
As the valve opens, space is made for water to move in. Water moves in and fills the mold. The ice mold is made of plastic and is mostly a semicircle shape. Some machines can make different sizes of ice cubes and they have different molds in them. This valve remains open for 7 seconds only.
Once water is in the mold, the cooling mechanism can begin now. The thermostat of the ice maker detects the temperature changes. First of all, it allows the temperature to reach the freezing point quickly so that the water in ice molds can freeze in just minutes. The temperature will go down to -13 degrees Celsius at which ice is formed.
When the thermostat detects that the optimum temperature has been reached, it closes the switch to halt current flow in the circuit. As a result of that, the current flow starts flowing to the heating coil, instead. The heat from this coil loosens up the ice cubes from their molds.
The current then flows to the motor of the machine. Rotation of gears in the machine initiates the working of ejector blades. These blades push out the ice from the machine into the dispenser. The cubes will come out together as they will be connected to each other. There are notches present in the ice molds so the ice cubes are released as a single unit.
Commercial Ice Makers
The portable ice maker you are using at home is not as advanced as the ones that are used in the commercial sector but the mechanism of action is pretty much the same. Your portable ice maker can make 8 to 9 cubes in one cycle while the commercial ice makers make tonnes of ice. This is because they have bigger ice molds, more powerful motors and larger ejector blades. The basic cooling and heating technology is almost similar.
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Understanding Problems in Working of an Ice Maker
When you know the working mechanism of an ice maker, you will be able to understand what problems could possibly arise. It is possible that the thermostat of your ice maker is not working properly or the ejector blades are not moving with enough pressure to eject out the ice.
Similarly, the tubes could be clogged as a result of which water does not fill in the ice molds. When you understand the working, troubleshooting becomes easier. However, do not mess with the machine at home if you do not have expertise in dealing with machinery.
Get it fixed from an expert otherwise you might end up making the damage bigger. Now that you understand how an ice maker works, you will be able to appreciate this amazing technology that lets you enjoy parties, road trips and just a chill, lazy evening on the couch.