REVIEW – Even though it is wintertime, we are still getting days up into the upper 80s here in south Texas. I have always been a fan of the nugget ice you can sometimes find in various restaurants. It is super crunchy and easy to chew. It also tends to make a nice almost slushy margarita without having to break out the blender! Recently, I have been seeing more and more of the countertop nugget makers being available on the market. When the Qualeben Nugget Icemaker came available to review I jumped on the opportunity. Let’s see if we can get a refreshing margarita or two from it!
What is it?
The Qualeben Nugget Nugget Ice Maker is a countertop nugget ice maker. You can manually fill it with water or connect it to a water source via the supplied piping.
What’s in the box?
- Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker that is pictured at the top of this review.
- One quick start guide
- One user manual
- Thank you card – registration info to get an extra year of warranty for a total of 2 years, 180 days of free return shipping, VIP customer service, and exclusive discounts
- Ice scoop
- Hose and hardware to connect the ice maker to a continuous water source
- makes up to 26 pounds a day of ice
- ability to hook up to a water source
- 4.8-pound ice bin
- self-cleaning function
- less than 50db sound when making ice
Design and features
The picture below shows the top part of the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker. You can see that it has a lip to allow for the opening of the lid. The lid will stay open on its own when lifted all of the way. Just above the lid are the buttons to control the functioning of the ice maker.
This is the back of the ice maker. It comes taped up like this for shipping. The two hoses are connected to each other to recirculate the water in the ice maker. I have a picture below showing how you would connect it to a water source should you so desire. The exhaust fan is also located on the back of the unit.
This is a picture of the left side of the unit as you are facing it. The left side looks identical. The holes are for air intake and cooling of the unit.
Here is a close-up shot of the buttons on the top of the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker. Working from left to right the buttons are:
- Ice Making indicator – this is an indicator only and will light up when the unit is in the process of making ice
- Cleaning indicator – this indicator that will light up when the unit is self-cleaning
- Power button – used to turn the unit on and off
- Clean button-pushing this button will put the unit into an 8 minute cleaning mode. More on this later
- Add water indicator – this indicator will light up letting you know that you need to add more water to the unit.
- Ice full indicator – this indicator will light up letting you know the ice bin is full.
Next, I have a picture of the inside of the ice maker. You can see the basket inside with the tunnel above where the ice drops.
Here is a picture of the basket outside of the machine. You can see that it has two handles to make it easy to grab. You need to remove the basket from the ice maker in order to manually add water to the machine.
Setup was pretty easy. I took a picture of the quick start guide showing you how to connect the ice maker to a continuous water source. I did not do this myself as I did not have on hand a 1/4 inch connector to tie into an existing water source. I think I may end up tying it into the water pipe behind our refrigerator. The water going to our fridge is already softened and filtered and would be ideal. I just need to motivate myself to move the fridge and take a look at the hose behind it and see if I can add a splitter to it.
Another thing to note is that it was recommended in the manual that you let the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker sit in its designated location two hours before turning it on. That is to allow any refrigerant to settle in place due to shipping mishandling. You are never supposed to tilt the ice maker more than 45 degrees and never upside down. I was very unhappy to see the box was sitting upside down on my front porch after delivery. I let it sit for about half a day before turning it on just to be safe.
I manually added water to the ice maker as needed. The nice thing about this ice maker is that as the ice melts, the water goes back to the reservoir and can be reused again to make more ice. In the picture below, you can see a max fill line. I used softened and filtered water at all times in the ice maker. I also took the time to wash and clean out the ice basket and give the inside of the ice maker a good cleaning.
Here is some extra information on cleaning. The manual recommends ‘daily’ cleaning and a full auto cleaning every 2 days when the system is used. Daily cleaning means unplugging the left side drain hose as you look at the back of the machine and letting it drain into a sink or bucket. Then manually wiping out the inside of the machine. Auto-cleaning entails the same thing, but adding more water back in and pressing the clean button on top of the ice maker. That force cycles the water through the machine for about 8 minutes. When it is done, you once again pull the drain hose and let it drain into a bucket or sink.
Reading those instructions would make you think that this ice maker was made for occasional use and not continuous use. I will admit that we have had the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker for about a month and it has been plugged in nonstop since we received it. I have never once run a cleaning cycle because we always use softened and filtered water. Plus I make sure to use the ice scoop provided and store the ice scoop in a clean place. If you have hard water and do not have a water softener, you will most likely want to clean the machine more often.
As I stated above, this ice maker has been plugged in nonstop for about a month. There are only two of us in the house and I work from home every day. I have to manually refill the water bin about two to three times a week. The picture below shows the Ice Making indicator turned on letting me know it is starting to make ice.
Opening the lid, I could see a steady trickle of water coming down the chute. When the ice maker reaches freezing temps, little ice bullets will start to drop in ones and twos. This ice maker does not work like the ice maker in your fridge. It does not dump a bunch of ice into the basket at one time. It trickles them into the basket in ones and twos.
This is how much ice we had after about an hour. It is not super speedy. If you were getting ready for a party and wanted a bunch of ice, I would get a really good cooler like a Yeti and dump ice into it all day long before your party starts. You can see the nuggets look great and they are the perfect texture.
When the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker is full, the full indicator will light.
The ice maker must have a sensor near the bottom of the ice tunnel. What I found myself doing is scooping the ice forward to fill the bin up front. I would then close the lid and the ice maker would start again filling up the bin completely.
One thing to note. Once the ice maker thinks it is full it will turn off ice-making features, but keep the ice refrigerated. It is not however cold enough to keep the ice from slowly melting. After a few hours even though the full light is on, you can see the level of ice has dropped well below the full line. You must either open the lid or if you wait 8 hours without opening it, the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker will turn back on and make more ice. At a party, this should not be an issue as people will be opening the ice maker all of the time thus forcing it to stay on. For the two of us, we never had an issue of running out of ice when we needed it.
I also want to talk briefly about the noise this thing makes. It does make a motor sound. I could notice it in my kitchen which is all tile and pretty echoey. It however is still quieter than my LG refrigerator’s ice maker. You can hear the ice clunking down in that and when the water comes on you can hear it big time. For the Qualeben, I can hear the bullet ice trickle down, but it easily becomes background noise. The ice maker also made a funny burping noise the first couple of days maybe two or three times. I think that was the system getting all of the air out of it. It has not made any unusual noises in the past three weeks.
Finally here is a picture of a tasty margarita! Yes it was awesome!
What I like
- It makes crunchy bullet ice!
- As the ice melts, it reuses the water to make more ice.
- It will restart after 8 hours on its own to make more ice.
- Pretty quiet compared to my refrigerator ice maker.
- Makes mixed drinks more fun.
- You can hook it up to a continuous water source.
What needs to be improved
- I would like the ice maker to start making more ice quicker than 8 hours. Maybe reduce it down to 4 hours.
- It could stand to be a little quieter.
So far we are really loving the Qualeben Nugget Ice Maker. My husband especially uses it all of the time in the evenings when he comes home. It has run continuously for about a month with no issues and I highly recommend the unit. I will post an update six months or so from now letting you know how it is doing running all of the time.