NewAir AI-100 Ice Maker Review by Irwin Mehserle
The NewAir AI-100 is a terrific appliance and offers several convenience features that make it a desirable portable ice cube maker.
Overall Design Good, Function Even Better
The value of appearance is always a personal issue, but to my eye the overall design of the AI-100 is good to great. The black plastic-topped stainless steel of the AI-100SS makes for an appliance you certainly won’t mind displaying.
Even more so, the AI-100R in red or the AI-100BK in black look really good too. The silver colored AI-100S is more utilitarian than stylish but it’s far from ugly. Whichever version you favor the unit is truly utilitarian. It does just what the manufacturer claims: makes a lot of ice quickly and easily.
Open it up and you might detect a plastic odor. That’s a common issue with a lot of appliances. They outgas for a while after production and the design and/or packaging can prevent the vapor from escaping. But that’s easy to resolve just by letting it air out for a while. If you’re in a hurry, just run a vinegar-water mixture through the unit a couple of times and then a pure-water rinse. Be sure to discard any ice cubes made during these cycles!
After that break-in period, you can start making a lot of ice in short order. The freezing cycle requires only 10-15 minutes to produce a batch of a nine cubes depending on size, initial water temperature, and other factors. After that, it can pump out more, hour after hour all day long, making up to 28 lbs per day. That’s a little less than the AI-200‘s 35 lbs, owing to a slightly smaller size: 12″ x 14″ x 15″.
The AI-100 is much lighter than its bigger sibling – a mere 31 lbs versus the AI-200′s robust 46 lbs. But even the lighter AI-100 is still heavy enough to minimize the odds of accidental tipping over, always a concern in a campground where dogs and kids are frequently running around.
The compact AI-100 is a quiet-running machine. You’ll barely hear the fan and it’s well sealed so ice dropping into the bin makes little noise. Those are welcome features for a unit that might well be used in an RV where you’re trying to watch TV.
The front panel is, like the overall design, functional looking and looks don’t deceive in this case. You can use it to select from any of three cube sizes: small, medium, or large – all of which are the now-pretty-standard bullet shape. Selection requires nothing more than a light tap on the button in front and a light shows you which size you chose.
The different sizes are useful for creating ice for, say, cocktails versus ice tea. It also means you can select the small size for quicker results, a welcome feature on a hot day when you have impatient, sweltering guests. The front panel also houses very prominent and easy-to-read “Add Water” and “Full Ice Basket” indicators.
I do like that the company included an ice scoop, a small but telling touch that other brands decided to forego. I also like that the bin on the AI-100 is removable. On the other hand, it doesn’t offer a self-cleaning function, nor a timer as the AI-210 does. However, since the AI-210 costs several dozen dollars more, it’s almost an exercise in comparing apples to caviar here.
Maintenance, Very Little
The AI-100 will require only modest maintenance. There’s no self-cleaning feature so you might want to wipe out the interior from time to time with a soft cloth soaked in a water-vinegar solution. The convenient drain plug on the bottom helps ease the effort here, too.
Turning it off and emptying it from time to time, letting it air out overnight, will help minimize even that requirement. Mildew is the chief villain in units like this where a constantly wet environment aids its growth. Of course, when it’s in operation the cold temperature prevents that but the stuff can grow fast when it’s warm and if you keep the lid closed.
The AI-100 is a small, easy-to-use portable ice cube maker with some welcome features. The removable bin and indicators on the front panel are particularly appreciated. It makes a lot of ice quickly and even re-uses melted water to make more.