Being able to produce ice cubes in your small travel trailer or boat in a couple of minutes is everyone’s dream, right? Gone are the days with drinking lukewarm water because you forgot to fill up your already packed freezer with bulky ice cube bags.
However, finding an ice maker that runs on 12v can be a challenge. I’ve managed to find a few of them but they’re a lot more expensive than if you were to buy a 220v ice maker and run it via an inverter. Many people choose a portable refrigerator with a built-in fridge as a result.
In this article, I’ll cover:
- The list of the best 12v ice makers
- Why it’s tough to find a 12v ice maker
- Should you buy a 12v or 220v ice maker?
- Can you power a 220v ice maker from a 12v outlet?
Without further ado, let’s dive straight into what you’re all here for… the ice makers.
The list of the best 12v ice makers
Let’s take a closer look at the three 12v ice makers I’ve found – #1 being the Brass Monkey which is by far my favorite of the three ice makers!
#1: Brass Monkey 12v ice maker
The Brass Monkey comes in at around $350 and in just 7 minutes you’ve got yourself a good chunk of ice cubes. You can even choose between 2 difference ice cube sizes. However, I’d go with the larger ice cube size since the smaller ones are simply too small.
I decided to purchase one myself to see if the whole 12v ice maker thing was even possible. And my god was I surprised by how well this bad boy worked! On Brass Monkey’s website, you can find a list of all the stockists if you want to give it a try yourself.
What I really like about the Brass Monkey ice maker is that it uses the previously made ice cubes to cool down the water you’re feeding the machine with. So even if you’re feeding it with lukewarm water at 30°C (86 degrees fahrenheit), it can still turn it into ice cubes.
The entire ice maker weighs just 9.2 kg (20.3 pounds) and measures:
Length: 350 mm (13.7 inches)
Height: 352 mm (13.8 inches)
Width: 275 mm (10.8 inches)
I’m not going to go too much into detail so if you want to have a closer look at how the Brass Monkey works, hop over to Phil’s review on YouTube:
Overall, I’m really happy with purchasing the Brass Monkey myself and trying it out. It’s also surprisingly cheap compared to the other 12v ice makers on this list, and it “only” draws about 4 to 5 amps when running which is decent for a 12v ice maker.
#2: SnoMaster 12v ice maker
Stepping up a notch, we’ve got the SnoMaster that’s capable of producing 12 cubes per cycle and a cycle takes approximately 15 minutes. That’s about 15 kg (33 pounds) every 24 hours. You definitely won’t need ice anymore.
It’s a tad more expensive than the Brass Monkey coming in at $899 but you can sometimes find a good deal. While I’m writing this article, it’s currently priced at $450 at GTFOverland.
The downsides of buying the SnoMaster is 1) the fact that it uses around 8 amps an hour which, if you’re camping off-grid, is quite a lot of power, and 2) it’s a lot heavier and bulkier than something like the Brass Monkey.
The SnoMaster weighs 17.2 kg (37.9 pounds) and measures:
Length: 398 mm (15.7 inches)
Height: 414 mm (16.3 inches)
Width: 360 mm (14.2 inches)
Even though it’s a fairly bulky ice maker, its stainless steel construction and its hinge pins make the SnoMaster almost indestructible. Now, if you’d like to see how this thing works, take a look at Dean who takes it for a spin:
Now, I mentioned it was capable of producing 15 kg (33 pounds) of ice every 24 hours but it really depends on the temperature of the water you’re filling it up with. The lower the temperature of the water, the faster you’ll have ice cubes.
#3: Challenger 12v ice maker
The Challenger 12v ice maker is another ice maker that’s able to run on 12v. To be honest, it doesn’t really come close to the Brass Monkey in terms of portability and to the SnoMaster in terms of durability. And it comes in at almost $900 so it’s definitely not cheap.
However, it only draws 4 amps and is capable of producing ice cubes in just 15 minutes without the need of a drain. So if you’re using it for your converted van or in a boat, it’s fantastic.
The Challenger weighs 14 kg (30.9 pounds) and measures:
Length: 370 mm (14.6 inches)
Height: 345 mm (13.6 inches)
Width: 310 mm (12.2 inches)
It comes with its own little 3L water tank so all you have to do is make sure it’s connected to a 12v socket and that the water tank is filled, and it’ll make 12 to 15 kg (26 to 33 pounds) of ice in just 24 hours.
I wouldn’t go with the Challenger unless the Brass Monkey is completely sold out. You get so much more value from the Brass Monkey and it’s a lot cheaper than the Challenger.
Why it’s tough to find a 12v ice maker
If you’ve been searching for a 12v ice maker for some time now, you’ve probably realized that the market for 12v ice makers is pretty thin. There’s frankly not a lot of ice makers capable of producing ice cubes with 12 volts and draw only a few amps.
Most people that are looking for an ice maker and living in an RV tend to hook up a 220 to 240 volt ice maker to their sine wave inverter. The sine wave inverter is then connected to the batteries which get power from the solar panels.
Given most people that live in their RVs already own a sine wave inverter, it really makes no sense to go for a more power-hungry 12v ice maker.
And others are fine with stacking their fridge with bags of ice cubes. So, as previously mentioned, the market for 12v ice makers is pretty thin.
Should you buy a 12v or 220v ice maker?
In general, 12 volt ice makers are 5 to 8 times more expensive than similar 220 to 240 volt ice makers and draws a lot more power (between 5 to 10 amps an hour).
So the obvious choice would, of course, be to go with the 220 volt ice maker. However, sometimes you’re either not hooked up to a 220 volt power outlet at a campsite or in possession of a sine wave inverter. And that’s when a 12 volt ice maker comes in handy!
But as a general rule of thumb, you should try to opt for a 220 to 240 volt ice maker since you’ll save a ton of power and it’s a lot easier to find one that’s not sold out.
Can you power a 220v ice maker from a 12v outlet?
Short answer; no. Powering a 220v ice maker with a 12v power outlet in your car for example won’t work the way you’d imagine. Your 220v ice maker simply won’t be able to produce ice cubes on such a low voltage.
If you’re planning on using the 12v ice maker in your car and you only have the battery your car is running on, then you shouldn’t go for a 220v ice maker. It simply won’t work.
Your best bet would be to opt for either a 12v ice maker or a 12v cooler with a fridge compartment where you can store ice cube bags.
As previously mentioned, the market for 12v ice makers is extremely thin. I was only able to find three 12v ice makers that lived up to my own requirements. They won’t be producing as many ice cubes as fast as if you were to purchase a 220v ice maker but they get the job done.
The only downside is they get sold out quickly! Best of luck hunting one down.