The 9 Reasons Nugget Ice Makers Are So Expensive

Nugget ice makers make deliciously chewy and small nugget ice cubes and they do it quickly and efficiently. If you’re like me and love nugget ice you might have wanted to get one of these machines but balked at the price.

Give it’s just a glorified ice maker why are nugget ice machines like the GE Opal Nugget Ice Machine so expensive?

Nugget ice machines are so expensive because they are fairly new technology and the complexity and size of the machines makes them more difficult to manufacture. At home machines are still fairly new and they will likely come down in price as more competitors enter the market.

There are a wide variety of reasons of reasons nugget ice makers are still extremely expensive. Let’s have a look at them in more detail.

Let’s look at each reason in detail to understand the real reasons behind the expensive nugget ice maker’s cost. 

1. Newness Of The Technology

Traditional heavyweight and high-capacity freezers take more than 3-4 hours to convert water into ice, whereas nugget ice makers take about fifteen minutes to make ice nuggets. How do they do it so quickly? 

Nugget ice makers use innovative technology capable of doing this wonder in no time. The machine has a cold metal cylinder that converts water into ice when water runs through it, and a drill throws ice out in nugget form. 

While nugget ice makers have existed in commercial form for many years an at-home bench top nugget ice maker didn’t really exist until a company called FirstBuild (which is a crowdsourced community GE has harnessed) launched the Opal Nugget Ice Maker on Indiegogo in 2015.

The slide deck below shows exactly how the first prototype was put together in 2015 by hacking an existing (but not nugget) home ice maker. Click here if you want to see how nugget ice makers makes ice.

It company then took another 12 months until it completed and started shipping the first nugget ice makers in 2016.

So while commercial nugget ice makers aren’t new, at home nugget ice makers are quite a new product and as a result like all new technologies they start out more expensive. Over time new companies make similar products for a more affordable price and this is only just starting to happen with Nugget Ice Makers.

However, there aren’t that many imitators yet so prices remain high.

2. The Production Cost and Lack of Mass Production

Manufacturing a nugget ice maker comes with a lot of different manufacturing costs. These include:

  • Direct raw material cost
  • Labor cost
  • Overhead cost
  • Office/factory maintenance, etc. 

So, when it comes to nugget ice makers, you have to factor in the production cost to their price.

Because nugget ice makers are still fairly expensive and niche products they aren’t made in mass like some other products (eg. coolers – here’s how they are made). When a product is made in smaller quantities it is usually more costly than making it in bulk as you do not get economies of scale.

Moreover, when a manufacturer produces something, they also calculate their profit in the selling price that needs to be borne by the customer themselves. 

Therefore, you not only pay for the nugget ice maker but also the laborer’s wage, employees’ salary, and manufacturers’ profit, making the product costlier for you. 

3. Demand For Nugget Ice Makers

When there is a lot of demand prices will rise in the short term, but over the long term companies tend to come in and manufacture the same product for a lower price.

If a company is making an expensive product but there is a low volume of sales it may not be attractive to other companies to make that same product because there just isn’t enough volume and potential profit in it for them.

Nugget ice makers are still sold as a very premium product and nugget ice makers still have some problems, like being quite large, that make them undesirable to many people. This could potential keep the price high as GE isn’t selling enough to warrant a price reduction to increase sales.

4. The Quality of the Product

There are some cheap ice makers on the market at the moment. They don’t make nugget ice but instead make white ice cubes that are larger than nuggets.

However, the quality of these products is pretty low. They are made from cheap plastic parts and I wouldn’t expect them to have an extremely long lifespan.

The Opal Nugget Ice Maker on the other hand is worth the cost because it is made with high quality parts. Both internally and externally the product is made from high quality materials and finishes.

Because it’s being sold as a premium product it needs to be of premium quality. This jacks up the manufacturing costs and also jacks up the price.

See the latest price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Amazon
(or compare to the price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Walmart)

5. The Inclusion of Modern Technology

The nugget ice makers are equipped with modern technology. For example, GE Profile Opal 2.0 (available at Walmart) has built-in wifi allowing you to control it remotely from your smartphone. You can schedule ice making, control it remotely and monitor the processes on your smartphone.

Moreover, if your ice maker needs any support, there is an application through which you can order needed equipment or ask for help. These technological enhancements and facilities add up the cost along with the features in your nugget ice makers. 

To understand more about the working process of Opal nugget ice makers, click here to read an entire article on it.

6. The Size and Storage Capacity

Nugget ice makers make ice rapidly. However, if you need ice in bulk, there is a storage bin. The size and storage capacity of the ice maker also contributes to the manufacturing costs of the product.

Smaller ice makers that store less ice can be made to be more compact and thus cost less to make and sell. Nugget ice makers have large storage bins and large augers to create the nugget ice in the first place.

If the ice maker is big and has heavy machinery, the prices will go up accordingly. 

7. Being The First To Make Something

We already talked about the innovative technology and the fact at home nugget ice machines are fairly new, thus no competitors have come along to bring the price down.

However, another consideration is that being the first to make something comes with added costs.

If you’re the first to make components there are extra costs in manufacturing than when other companies already make the same or similar components.

8. The Transportation Cost

While not making them excessively expensive transportation costs do add to the overall cost of a product. If you’re not located in the US then these add a huge cost to this product at the moment.

Currently nugget ice makers are primarily sold in the US and aren’t sold in many other regions. This is common when a product is first launched.

I remember being a Yeti cooler back in 2016 and shipping it to Australia and shipping cost me over $200. If I want to buy an Opal Nugget Ice Maker then I’m going to have to pay similar in shipping making the product even more expensive for me.

9. The Chewable Ice

If I have to choose my favorite reason out of the list, I will happily choose the last option. Nugget ice makers do not make regular, stone-like ice cubes. Instead, they scrape the ice and compact it into a nugget shape. It makes the ice chewable and crunchy. 

The ice is undoubtably unique and more premium than any other ice maker on the market. Therefore people will pay more for it and companies will want to charge more if people are willing to pay it.

People pay more for nugget ice makers for the type of ice they produce. Ice nuggets are best for drinks as they soak up the liquor and retain flavor till the last sip. Therefore, the demand for chewable and crunchy ice adds up to the cost of the nugget ice makers.

See the latest price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Amazon
(or compare to the price of the GE Opal Nugget Ice Maker at Walmart)


Nugget ice makers are so expensive for the following reasons:

  1. The newness of the technology
  2. The production cost and lack of mass production
  3. Demand for nugget ice makers
  4. The quality of the product
  5. The inclusion of modern technology
  6. The size and storage capacity
  7. Being the first to make something
  8. The transportation costs
  9. The amazing chewable premium ice