WindChaser Portable Ice Maker Review

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Product Requirements:
Adequate countertop space, a 120v
outlet and water

Update added 03/10/05: Please read the comments
section linked to this review. Many consumers are reporting that this item works
well for the first couple of months, and then will die after approx. 90 days.

Frontgate is one of the catalogs that
I enjoy perusing. Seldom will I actually see an item that I couldn’t live
without, but I do enjoy lusting over the household eye-candy. Frontgate will
usually have a few interesting – if somewhat pricey – gems hidden amongst the "keeping
up with the Vanderbilt’s fodder
." These are items that I either didn’t know
existed, or didn’t know that I couldn’t live without. Sometimes, ignorance is
bliss, but last month I was happy to be enlightened. Let me give you some

I have always wanted an icemaker in my kitchen. The last time I bought a new
refrigerator, in 1996, I seriously considered getting an in-door water and ice
dispenser. But the water quality in my town made me think twice about doing
that. That’s why we always have to take up a shelf in the freezer with a large
bag of ice.

Now, before you start thinking that I am some Evian sipping water elitist,
you should understand that where I live the water is very hard and it is
chock-full of minerals. As if that weren’t bad enough the water taste is
not consistent. It comes out of the tap cloudy, for goodness sakes. Some
days it can be bearable (disguised in iced tea), but on others it can best be
described as a cross between fishy and mossy. I’ll cook with it, but I wouldn’t
fill a pitcher with water to keep in the refrigerator like I would at the ranch
where we have a well.

Before you ask, yes I saw the Penn & Teller episode of
Bullsh*t where
they talked about bottled water. It made me laugh because they had obviously
been to San Angelo and tried our tap water. The water here is
so bad that I actually have to
give my

Peace Lilies
the 25¢/gallon
reverse-osmosis (R/O) water that we buy for our drinking water dispenser. If I
water those plants with tap water, the leaves will turn brown – as if they had
been burned. This is the same H20 that rotted out our water heater after less
than 7 years – no joke. Even my less than three-years-old dishwasher is starting
to act in a questionable manner, and I am anticipating it going out in the next
year or two. I have also had to replace my stainless flatware because it
actually corroded from the water in our dishwasher, and let’s not even discuss
the spots on our glassware – UGH! The point of all this is that without buying a
reverse osmosis unit for my entire house – or at the very least a water softener
– I see no reason to buy any more appliances that rely on a "good" water source.
Especially something like an icemaker, where I would be directly ingesting the

So when I was flipping through Frontgate and saw

Portable Ice Maker
that does not require hard wiring and plumbing to
operate, I was like, "Cool!" My interest was piqued – I didn’t even know
that a product like this existed – the WindChaser required a second look.

According to the catalog, the portable ice maker could be set on a counter
top and it would produce up to 30 pounds of ice within a 24 hour period,
freezing 12 cubes in a choice of three sizes every six to eight minutes. Up to
two and a half pounds of ice could be stored in the insulated compartment, and I
would be able to control the quality of the water used to make the ice. I had to
give it a try.

I have to admit that after looking at standalone ice machines in the past,
which can run in the thousands of dollars, the Frontgate price of $399 did not
seem totally out of line, but I did figure I could do better. A Google search of

portable ice makers
revealed a couple of different brands, and of them one
was easily identifiable as the WindChaser model sold by Frontgate. I wound up
ordering the stainless steel version from
A Trendy Home for $349.
There is also a grey version that can be found for just a little bit less.

When the box came, I was a little bit shocked at how large it was…


I had thought it might fit on the counter in my kitchen, but I quickly saw
that I was incorrect. Thankfully our breakfast room had a built-in shelf which
could easily accommodate it.

The actual measurements of the ice maker are 16.25" high x 14" wide x 15.5"
deep. The unit itself weighs about 50 pounds, so you will want to keep that in
mind when you are considering whether you might be interested in a device like
this or not.

The ice maker was very well packaged, with plenty of insulation, and the unit
was ding free when we unwrapped it. Looking at the directions, we saw that we
should leave it sitting for 24 hours unplugged to make sure that the refrigerant
had a chance to settle. In the meantime, we would unpack it and get it ready for

The front and left side…

The right side (note the drain plug) and the rear

Opening the flip lid on the front for the first time, we found a 10" long 
x 6" wide x 3" deep ice basket. This doesn’t seem that large, but it holds over
two pounds of ice when full. We would find that it was more than adequate for
our home.


A zip-locked package included an ice scoop and all of the warranty


A white cardboard box was in place to keep the ice-jets protected. This was
promptly discarded…


As per the instructions, I cleaned the interior thoroughly before we called
it a night.

This is the water reservoir, which sits underneath the ice

The next day, Steve moved it to it’s new home on the shelf and we plugged it
in for the first time. He added water from one of our R/O jugs…


Everything was in place and ready to go, so we selected medium ice size (the
second green dot) on the front of the soft touch display and hit start. You can
also make small or large cubes.

There are also red lights that will flash when the ice basket is full or the
water reservoir is low.


The ice-jets began to release water and in no time at all…


…we had a small number of cubes.


The WindChaser automatically lifted the cubes into the basket via the white
scooper-tray, and once again the ice-jets started to do their thing.


In about an hour, the ice basket looked like this…


Plenty of ice and made of good R/O water – not the funky stuff from our tap.
Having this ice maker has answered the question I used to have about why there
was a hole in the middle of most manufactured ice – they must use the same
process on a much larger scale. I would like to know what we should do to make
our ice crystal clear – it makes me wonder if ice manufacturers add a tiny bit
of "something" to theirs.

Needless to say, we were quite pleased with the results.

This unit is sold as something for people to keep in their bars or to use
outside, but it is also a good solution for people like us that don’t want to
hard-wire, hard-plum, or kill the unit over time with mineralized hard water.

Over the month we have had it, we have had a chance to learn the good, the
bad and the ugly about the unit…

The first strike against it is that it is noisy. The WindChaser makes noise
when it is making the ice, keeping it cold, and the worst can be when the
ice is kicked off the jets into the basket and a startling tumbling sound is
heard. The first time it did this in the middle of the night, Steve and I
thought someone had broken in! You would not want to keep this unit in the same
room in which you spend most of your time, but it is perfect for a breakfast
nook, bar, outdoor kitchen or office break room.

The second strike is, of course, it’s price. Not everyone will want to pay
this much for their own ice machine when they can just run down the street and
get a bag of ice for $1.29, or if they are fortunate and live in a place with
good tap water – able to make the stuff for free in the ice trays in their own

The good news is that if you enjoy ice in your drinks and you want the
convenience of having your own maker – this one does the job admirably. If you
want a machine such as this and you live in an area that has good tap water,
then you can of course use it to fill the reservoir.

We will definitely be keeping the WindChaser.

Price: $399 MSRP
There is a five-year manufacturer’s warranty on the compressor and one-year
warranty on other parts

Requires no hard-wiring or plumbing
Constantly working in the background to make ice and keep it frozen
No need to buy expensive bagged ice at convenience stores anymore


Update added 03/10/05: Please read the comments
section linked to this review. Many consumers are reporting that this item works
well for the first couple of months, and then will die after approx. 90 days.


    Product Information

    Manufacturer:WindChaser Products
    • Convenient
    • Requires no hard-wiring or plumbing
    • Constantly working in the background to make ice and keep it frozen
    • No need to buy expensive bagged ice at convenience stores anymore
    • Expensive
    • Noisy
    • Update added 03/10/05: Please read the comments
    • section linked to this review. Many consumers are reporting that this item works
    • well for the first couple of months, and then will die after approx. 90 days.

    42 thoughts on “WindChaser Portable Ice Maker Review”

    1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
    2. One could argue that you could just put your R/O water into ice cube trays. 🙂

      Also, why does the ice have a hole in the middle? I didn’t quite “get” how it makes the ice. Does the ice form on the things hanging down and then fall off? If that’s the case, then I see about the hole in the middle.

      And it seems you might have to boil your water to get clear cubes. A quick google search revealed the following info.

      Let me know if that works! I wonder if it would work for cube trays…

    3. One of the richest families in my town has a R/O filter installed in their home, and let me tell you, the water feels like LOTION! It is so soft and clean. It smells and tastes wonderful.

    4. Bluesfan – Yah, I could make the ice in trays – but it would still take up valuable room in my stocked freezer, and it might pick up food smells, too. 😡 😉

      The ice is made by water coming through the middle if the ice-jet – it must push up on the jet as it comes out, freeze, then it is dropped off – causing a hollow core.

      Boiling water is too much like work- so I’ll deal with the hazy ice, at leasts it tastes wonderful. 😉

      Tyler – we were quoted over $2k to put in a R/O system, and a water softener would have been even more. Then there are the monthly costs assosiated with having the systems. While I would love to make the splurge, we don’t plan on living in this house forever, so this is working just fine for now. 🙂

      Judie :0)

    5. I had no idea they are so expensive! No wonder the family that has it in my town is the richest…

    6. $2,000 for an R/O system really isn’t that much if you consider that really bad water will eventually ruin your dishwasher (and the dishes), clothes washer (and the clothes), fridge (if it has build-in ice making facilities), etc… You can get a good 20 years out of most appliances if your water’s OK. Where I used to live in Texas (Midland), an R/O and water softening system was a basic home requirement, like air-conditioning 🙂

      As for the funky food smells… buy a couple of boxes of baking soda… they even make a specially designed box with air-filters on both sides, so there’s no chance of spilling baking soda into your fridge.

      Mind you, an ice maker would be pretty darn cool for a rec room, bar, or maybe in the garage with your “drinks” fridge 🙂

      Then of course, there’s always the lure of setting up your own soda fountain!

    7. Clear cubes vs. foggie. Water purity has little to do with the transperancy of ice. the main factor of how clear ice is, is how quickly it is frozen. Slowly (over the period of hours) frozen ice will be clear. where rapidly frozen ice will be cloudy. This is not due to impure water. but trapped air inside the icecube. Slowly frozen ice allows all the mixed air to escape in time, leaving a pretty crystal cube. However the rapid frozen ice will trap air bubbles resulting in cloudy ice.

      boiling water and placing boiling hot water in freezer, will result in longer freeze time, allowing air to escape.

    8. I bought two of these machines:) and for the first three months thought they were great. but after they both broke, one broke twice I wasn’t real happy:(

      I have repeatedly tried to contact winchaserproduct on their “customer service” number and they do not answer but take a message with a promice to call back, they must have very long noses. I would recommend this produce to no one and would suggest that companies not carry this product as the ill feeling toward windchaser will come back on them. Also if you can contact them (good luck) their warrenty says you have to ship the unit back at your (as in 50 pounds) expense.

      Feel free to email me for details.


    9. Like Gil, my ice maker broke after about 3 months. I had 1 unanswered email and left 1 message that didn’t get returned. Today I finally got a live person, they tole me the ‘ice pusher’ is on order and took my name and numer to call me when it came in. I’ll let you know if they come thru with the part…$400 is alot of money to spend especially if its not working!

    10. We also purchased 2 of these models. One broke after 3 months and the other is ok. The one that broke I have had nothing but problems trying to get a replacement part for. I actually spoke with a person who stated he would ship the part. I called after not receiving the part after 2 weeks and reached a real person again. He stated they missed me on the shipment and it would go out that day. He even e-mailed me a UPS tracking number. I tracked the number and for over 1.5 weeks it has never been picked up from their facility. I have tried at least 5 times to call this week only to leave messages that are never returned. Help me, if we ban together maybe we can get a solution. Should we report to the BBB?
      Thanks for listening.

    11. I am in the refrigeration and ice making industry, and just returned from visiting one factory where these products are made in China. These types of products are made by several competitors in China, all function pretty much the same design, but with different housings. (Also probably explains why parts may be slow to arrive if Sunchaser doesn’t have a good parts stock- I don’t think they make these themselves).

      According to the manufacturer I visited (one of the largest) this product is starting to catch on in Europe and the USA and several appliance companies here are taking interest in them — they are starting to make private label versions for a number of companies. Perhaps this will cause prices to reduce. These sell for considerably less in China than the $350 – $390 prices here in the USA.

      I had a chance to see these products on the assembly line and in test, so to clear up the way that these machines make ice:

      water is pumped into a shallow tray that sits under 12 stainless steel rods or fingers that stick down into the tray. These rods are hollow and circulate refrigerant, making the rods cold, and ice forms onto the rods. The size of the cube is controlled by changing the cycle time that the rods are in the water.

      At the end of the cycle, the water tray swivels out of the way (the water in the tray falls back into the water reservoir when this happens). The control then activates a valve that reverses the refrigeration cycle, causing the stainless finger rods to warm up instead of getting cold. This releases the cube from the rod. (the rod is also the cause of the “hole in the ice cube)

      Then another scooper mechanism slides forward which pushes the cubes forward until they dump into the holding basket. The scooper retracts, the ice tray rotates back under the rods, refills with water, and the cycle starts again. A very slick little machine.

      Regarding clear ice, the posts concerning air and impurities in the water are correct. Speed has nothing to do with it, as commercial ice machines make a new sheet of ice every 8-10 minutes – very fast. The temperature that you store ice is also important, and commercial ice machines do not have a frozen compartment for this reason, relying on the bulk of the ice in the bin to hold the product, until it eventually melts.

      If you keep ice below about 22 degrees F, it develops microfractures which also clouds it up. This is why ice merchandisers in front of the gas station only cool to about 24F, and if you buy a bag of ice and then put it in your deep freeze a day later it will no longer be as clear. If you are able to get the Windchaser to make clear ice in the first place by boiling it and removing the impurities and air (don’t know if this will work) the bin has no refrigeration, so it should stay clear… it melts and the water reservoir is below the holding basket, so the water recycles.

    12. icebrain, since you are in the industry: do you have any idea what might be going wrong with the units that people have posted about? There seems to be a common problem where the ice-makers will stop working at around the three month mark. I’ll leave you to read the other comments, but if you have any suggestions that an owner could try – short of sending the 50 pound unit in for service, then I am sure our readers would appreciate it.
      Judie :0)

    13. I bought one of these ice machines and sat it on my cabinet waiting for the for the time that I could plug the machine in and make Ice. Well the time came I plugged it in and it made 1 round of ice. The next afternoon it decided to make another round of ice. No matter how full the water tank was it said low water. I boxed this machine back up and took it back from the store that I bought it from. I exchanged it for another ice machine. I again put it on my cabinet and waited the correct amount of time and then plugged it in. It made 4 rounds of ice. The low water light came on and it will not make anymore ice. The water tank is full. I will be taking this machine back and getting my money back. I will never purchase any thing from this company again.

    14. Well, then I think the consensus is in – these machines do not have consistant quality. I will post an addendum in the review and direct people to read the reports in this thread. Thank you all for submitting your experiences!

      We finally broke down and bought a refrigerator with an in-door icemaker, so I am not even using mine any more. :blink:

    15. I just received a Wind Chaser purchased on R-Bay without a manual. I guessed, and filled the tank under the ice tray and pressed start. I made one round of ice and the red lite for low water went on. Am I supposed to wait for something before pressing start. Is there someplace I can view the operating manual? Thanks for any hekp.


    17. How recently? If it was within the return period, then you should send it back and get a refund.

      If not, then you may have to take issue with the company you ordered from, Windchaser directly, or with your credit card company.

    18. Judie,

      I’m not an icemaker tech, but have had my share of troubleshooting appliances like these and others. 😉

      I would guess (having not seen or touched one 😀 ) that on the machine that constantly indicates low water has a sensor problem; i.e. corrosion, defective part, loose wire, etc. Other possibility might be a defective thermistor (basically a temp sensing device inside the unit itself which tells the machine what to do & when…basically). Really hard to say for certain, but wouldn’t expect to see these problems on a relatively new machine. Have seen similar problems on standard refrigerator ice makers, but usually units w/some age.

      Have seen humidifiers that have little wire water level sensors that w/in two fills have coated the sensor wire and the sensor then tells the machine there is no water and therfore it won’t run. Tap water has lots of minerals and “stuff” in it that if heavy enough, might be coating the sensor– but just a guess on my part. However, that would explain why the original test with R/O water didn’t have those problems. I know on the humidifiers that have such a sensor, they warn you to check it if you have a “no-go” scenario and how to clean it…

      Just out of curiosity, if you look down in the tank, do you see a little wire sticking out at about 2/3 way down in the tank?

      Either way, it’s definitely not something the end-user should have to fuss with.
      Let me know.

    19. There was a question about the “low water” blinker staying on even if the water reservoir was full. I have one idea worth trying that comes from two experiences.

      I believe that the low water sensor is electronic, and the way it “tells” water is in the reservoir is to measure the conductivity. My old Pasquini Livia espresso machine had such a sensor and, unless I added three or four grains of salt to the RO water, the LED would flash for days.

      I also have one of the Master/SunPenTown/MagicChef/Sno brand portable ice makers–I bought mine locally from Master, who claims to make it in the PRC and OEM it to other companies–and asked the onsite engineer Steve about the issue. His line of ice makers does indeed use a conductivity sensor and if you are using very clean water, in my case RO, it may help to have just a smidge of salt added to the reservoir whenever you fill up.

      Just my $.02. Hope it is somewhat helpful.

    20. Cheffie,
      Good call. Didnt think about an electronic sensor. The RO water would be too pure and therefore too poor a conductor…
      One would think that if a company was making ice machines they’d think about people using purified water so they could have “good” ice. Most likely a limitation of electronics I would imagine. A couple grains of salt most likely doesn’t “taint” the ice tho.

    21. Who can help out

      Been looking at these things for months. How often do you have to fill the resevoir? It looks like the price is dropping like a rock? Does that mean they will disappear. Thanks for your input.

    22. You have to refill the reservoir every time it reaches a certain level – it just depends on how often you need or make ice.

      The price is probably dropping because these are not reliable. If you have read the previous comments, then you’ll know that performance is iffy and there is a better than 50% chance that after 3 months the unit will no longer work properly.

    23. Thanks Judie I was afraid of the quality issue. We can buy the things for $150.00 now but……Though it was too good to be true. My water question should have been, if you made ice cubes for 8 hours, how many times would you have to fill it up. And by the way the points about the RO water and the sensor are absolutly correct and valid. We have run across this problem with many other types of equipment.

    24. Disappointed Owner

      I purchased a Windchaser Ice machine and despite the noise I was pleased for about 4 months. Now, i am soooooo disappointed 😡

      I used filtered h2o because i didnt want chemicals/elements to clog the inner plumbing. I liked the soft ice that it made but noticed how quickly it melted. I thought it also had a freezer compartment that kept the ice frozen after being made. I later realized that the ice would only be stored in a holding area like an ice chest with no freezer area. The only freezing area is actually on the metal rods. If we opened the ice maker door often, it would warm that area of the ice keeper and the ice melted quicker. 🙁

      The ice maker only worked well for a few months. Now, when it fills up the metal rods area, it does NOT stop running. The h2o keeps flowing and running over for a several minutes. Then, it sounds like a compressor or some lil motor keeps surging up & down continually and never completely stops. I notice the rods dont freeze up immediately like they used to. The ice is very thin, hardly frozen, and only about 1/3 the size they normally were. The ice breaks easily and can barely withstand being scooped into a glass. :confused:

      I believe part of the problem is that the freezing rods are faulty since the rods barely freeze anymore. Also, the back of the windchaser is very warm and I am afraid it may start a fire.

      I thoroughly read the Windchaser website troubleshooting tips. I decided to try mixing filtered & tap h2o but no difference was realized.

      I like the entire principle of the ice maker & chest but too expensive if it doesnt withstand a few years. 🙁 😡

      Although, I have been unsuccessful in getting customer phone assistance, i will be persistant to get through.

    25. Thanks to all comments to date. Very informative and I am now leaning away from purchasing a WindChaser. However, after all my research I still have the same concerns, finding a portable ice maker that has a freezer compartment for the cubes rather than a compartment that acts as a standard cooler with ice slowly melting away. Is anyone aware of such a product or brand of portable ice maker? If such a product does not exist, what’s the next best alternative (in your opinion)? Thanks to all for your input and guidance.

    26. Wondered if anyone had any recent updates. A local chain here (Tuesday Mornings) is blowing these out at $149. I think I now see why.

      However, I’m still interested. I really want one for the RV. Impossible to make a decent amount of ice in that little freezer, and always so darn inconvenient to run to the store for another bag of ice.

      This would be perfect. (assuming it didn’t break down!)


    27. I have owned the Windchaser Model ICM15S for around 3 years now. We RV full time and the unit has worked great until last week when it started leaking water out of the inside of the unit. Trying to call anyone at Windchaser is a joke, with their phone system it keeps running you in circles. I emailed them, and finally 2 days later, they acknowledged my email. I made a gasket to correct the leak, but now the water tray doesn’t fill full enough to make the regular size ice cubes. I can’t find a setting to adjust the fill time, but it would be nice to talk to someone at Windchaser about the problem. Does anyone know of a parts jobber around the country that carries parts for this unit? Thanks.

    28. I have one of these units, and it worked fairly well for several months. Now, however, it has decided it doesn’t want to run, so when I start it it runs for several minutes, then shuts off. No ice, no nothin’. I have become increasingly frustrated with this thing and have said many unkind things to it, so I think it may have decided it just doesn’t like being in my house any more. That’s fine, I will be happy to help it find a new home. There’s a landfill not far from here…

    29. I am a appliance tech and just picked up one of these for $15 at my local goodwill store. Took it home and same problem as all others, the water level light not letting unit operate all the time. I removed back half of casing and removed the red and brown wire from the waterline going to the pump. the 2 screws that hold the wires on actually go all the way into the watertube and as water is on both screws it conducts and lets the board know to begin. now, look at the tips of the 2 screws, they are suppose to be shiny like the entire screw however most likely yours will be discolored from hard water. upon 2 minutes with a fine sandpaper, i scrape cleaned the screws and put it together. walla! been running like new for a couple months now. Goodluck and enjoy your ice maker if you do this simple fix.

    30. Just FYI for everyone; Windchaser just rebrands/reuses some other common parts. (not sure who actually makes the ice maker)

      Found that the “E-Wave” ice maker has many identical parts. (notably, the control board and temp sensors are the same, at least)

      See here for parts that has… if you google by the part you need’s manufacture part number, may find it cheaper than these guys.


    31. My Windchaser water pump needs replacement. Where can I get a replacement pump for the ICM15 or ICM 15S. I’d like to get an ICBM to target the dysfunctional non working number 1-800-405-2943 doesn’t seem to be a working number.


    32. Just picked up a model ICM12 evidently put out by the Landlord after an eviction. Read every one of the comments here, and Particularly love the Tech’s tips!

      This unit looks brand new, unlike most the other items put out. Surprisingly, it still had water in it. Looking for a Manual for my ICM12 Model, and ran across this site.

      Thanks for the info and hopefully My luck will be better than several who’ve taken the time to bitch or leave Reviews; which Most Happy Consumers don’t do. As a 28-Year Advertising Exec, I know it’s Wise to consider this fact before making decisions.

      But since all Posts are so Old, Doe This Company/Model even still exist and produced? I STILL need a Manual! :~)


    33. I had the Windchaser ICM15s. Worked fine for over a year then stopped making ice. It would freeze ok but would never eject the cubes, just kept repeating the process filling, freezing etc.

      Eventually found the problem to be the micro switch that controls the stepper motor limits. The motor hits the switches hard each cycle eventually breaking them. One switch was permanently open. Replaced with repair clinic item # 1399382 and unit works fine. Overall poor design., had to bend the actuator tab on each switch to ensure the movement of the motor made contact

    34. Mine lights up the “ice full” light, but the basket is empty. It appears the sensor is just above the basket, but not sure if it’s the actual sensor or a control board issue. Unlike the low water issue, which can get corroded and then can’t sense water in the tank, the ice full sensor would be the opposite and senses water/ice all the time… doesn’t seem likely to be a corrosion issue, plus mine looks super clean.

      If anybody has anything to share about this problem, please do.


    35. I have one of these that my in-laws bought several years ago. I was just checking how much they sold for, because I was going to donate it to a Church tag sale.

      Now that I have seen the comments on here about a lack of reliability, I think I will just keep it.

      My wife and I used it for a couple of years, with no problems. My in-laws couldn’t handle the constant filling it required, and they used more ice than it could produce, so it got passed to us.

      I tested it over the last couple of days, and it worked fine, but I had forgotten how loud that thing is.

    36. Can you please help me find the replacement ice storage basket and the ice collecting tray for this model?

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