Perhaps the most notable differences are in the output and, for units with bins, storage capacities between the two. Home ice makers typically produce less than 100 pounds of ice per day, though some higher-production units exist. Meanwhile, some commercial ice machines can produce more than 30 times that, with outputs stretching to 3,380 pounds per day.
Residential undercounter ice makers typically produce a few dozen pounds of ice per 24 hours and most have integral storage bins that can hold a couple dozen pounds of ice in reserve. Compare that to commercial ice makers that can hold as much as a whopping 4,640 pounds of ice. Another notable difference is that residential units all include bins, while many commercial ice machines are sold as separate pieces; in the latter case, a production unit is paired with a bin by the end user to meet his or her operation's specific needs.
Certain types of non-residential facilities do just fine with home ice makers rated for commercial use:
Athletic stadium or arena boxes
Office break rooms
Cabana and other outdoor bars (look for outdoor rating)
Standard commercial ice makers are larger and therefore a better fit for most foodservice operations:
What type of condenser do I need for a commercial ice cube machine?
Most popular with ice machines sold in the United States, air-cooled condensers fit into most facilities. Fans blow cool ambient air across the refrigerant coils, cooling the fluid enough to cool the evaporator plate. Commercial ice machines typically take in cold air and push it out through a grille, so they require ventilation clearances. On ice machine heads, the grille is usually on the front or one of the sides. This type of ice maker machine is the easiest to install and is also usually cheaper with lower utility costs.
Water-cooled condensers use flowing water to cool the coils and refrigerant. If you have a cooling tower available, water will circulate around the coils through a trough. This process draws heat out of the refrigerant and moves it through the tower and its own coils. These condensers aren't used often since they use a large amount of water when they aren't paired with cooling towers. When a tower is not used, these ice machines need a constant flow of plumbed water, which means huge water demand. Also, without a tower, the cooling water line has to be filtered, requiring frequent cartridge replacements. If the water is not filtered, it can cause issues with the refrigeration system.
Industrial ice machines with remote condensers are actually air-cooled units with long refrigerant lines. Remote ice machine heads and condensers are typically purchased on their own and connected by these lines. Long lines enable the operator to place the condenser in a separate location, where it can displace heat and noise away from employees and customers.