how would you build a portable ice maker?

i want to know how to build a portable ice maker that could run on 120v and 12v or just 12v so i could use it in the RV or who knows. i have seen them for sale but no one ever has them can some one help with ideas on this or insight ty

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krazymike58 (author) 13 days ago

ok give you the some about ME : i have played with most electronics, building HEATH KITS as a kid at age 11 yrs old i built a color TV from a heath kit, but at age 10 i built a oscilloscope, so that i could build other thing.for 38 yrs i was a ASE master automotive mech. and had my A/C certifications. i have DEGREES, in. graphic arts, animal husbandry, engineering, psychology 2 yrs. and a few others. i just as a youngster wanted to know things with out asking others. lol

but automotive was my skills mainly, last job before retiring, (after racing accident ) was FERRARI MOTORSPORTS in Scottsdale AZ

So let me ask on how would i build a portable ICE MAKER that could use both 12 v and say 120 v but be able to carry to picnics or beach or for use in my motorhome, or for ice when i have guest at home.

Impressive background and knowing you can understand what you need to make helps.. BTW you should post this to your home page here on instructables...

Here are the refrigerator options and limitations they impose ..

A) A Compressor fridge, can make ice, has an electric motor immersed in a closed Freon system with a fan to radiate (throw away) excess heat and provide a cool radiator to absorb local air temp to lower the re-circled air temperature.. This machine works very well, But it is heavy, and uses lots of electrical power.. Even though it is not portable I could make a pm brushless motor compressor with multiple windings that easily work with 120 VAC and 12VDC..

B) An absorption fridge uses Ammonia, water and a touch of Hydrogen and a heat source that can be a thermal 120 VAC heater or a 12 VDC heater or propane gas flame or sunlight focused by a light weight 12" sq large thin Fresnel lens.. It is not as efficient and may be portable, there are no moving parts.. it is level position sensitive and requires intricate plumbing at 14 atmospheres pressure..

C) There is the peltier solid state cooler that is ideal for a 12 VDC battery needing a heatsink with fan and a TR power supply for 120 VAC. You would have to research how to apply it.. My experience with a peltier car cooler/heater did not make ice but ran off a large wall wart on 120 VAC..

D) Jack mention's a reverse-Rankine cycle that I know nothing about..

Good luck building..

Reverse Rankine is the same thing as (A), what you call "compressor fridge".

I might be be calling it by a name few people use.

I tried the to tackle the problem of off grid ice making before.
You are basically down to two options:
a) Something similar to an Icy Ball.
b) A real fridge/freezer capable of running on gas/12V.
Currently I am at the stage where I say making a 1V freezer is the only real option left unless you want to buy one.
Icy balls and similar run on Ammonia and it is now next to impossible to legally get it in the required concentrations - thank to terrorism and drug makers.
12V fridge compressors are available at a pemium price but they make up for it when mainly used on solar system as then the running cost is literally zero.
I converted some leaking fridges and air conditioners to run on propane and the same can be done with a freezer - preferably an old one using R22.
Only downside for a 12 V system is that you need to find a compressor rated for R22 is the working gas - or have the system filled with the righ gas by a pro.

iceng13 days ago

What are your skills ?

What have you made ?

When I was in collage I thought I would make a liquid air LOX machine, thats when I learned about gas and the triple point and pressure and realized my abilities were not up to my desires. So do we relegate this to a youngsters dreams ?

I am not sure how to to interpret the statement,

"i have seen them for sale but no one ever has them"

It seems contradictory. Like they're available for sale, but they're not.

Actually, I bought one of these gizmos used from a thrift store a few years ago.

It looked exactly like this one,

In order for it to make ice, I had to feed it water and electricity.

Regarding the electricity, it wanted about 150 watts of 120 VAC mains power, when its compressor was turned on.

That is to say, this machine was using the same kind of reverse-Rankine cycle, with the same components, compressor+evaporator+condenser+refrigerant, as a big man-sized freezer, but it was tiny, and not too heavy for one person to lift.

That is to say, they do make small, RR, countertop sized, machines capable of freezing water, so you do not have to use a Peltier device. Even though those are simple, and very compact, the reverse-Rankine will give you better coefficient of performance.

And that should translate into more ice, for the same number of kilowatt*hours of input electrical energy.

Regarding the water, it had to be poured in, to a compartment in the machine. I think it wanted about a liter, every time it got thirsty, and it would let me know when it was thirsty by way of an indicator light that said, "low water", or words with similar meaning.

As far as I could tell, nearly all the liquid water I was pouring into it was turning into ice cubes.

Well, these pieces of ice were not actual cubes. They were cylindrical in shape, with a perfect cylindrical hole through the center. But, you know, no matter what shape they are, I think most people still call 'em, "ice cubes"

Anyway, this machine was capable of making a few liters of ice cubes per hour, as long as someone remembered to keep feeding it water.

12 volt
peltier module it moves heat from one side to the other.

You can buy them here:

You can get kits here:

As well as Amazon and Ebay.

iceng14 days ago

Easy use a 12V dc gear motor with a cigarette-plug and a 12v wall-wart dual wire plug to work on car or home...

You don't have a published skill set ? So find a broken one at a thrift shop and use the ice bucket and metal cream holder to tie to the shaft of the gear motor from eBay

Forget it, I misread your question as ice cream,... Bad on me :-/

An ice maker is a miniature air conditioner with a compressor or tricky ammonia gas thermal device cooler.. Both are usually a sealed machines hard to DIY without gasses and gauges !