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We purchased the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker so our reviewer could put it to the test in their home bar. Read on for the full review.
The Bottom Line:
The GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker's sleek looks and quick operation will elevate your home bar ice situation. Just be prepared to clear off a lot of counterspace.
- No water hookup required
- Easy to clean
- Makes perfect nugget ice quickly
- Comes with app for remote ice making
- Side vents blow warm air
- Size takes up counter space
Buy on Amazon, $579
The countertop ice maker is one of those appliances that you don’t think you need. But then once you have it, you’re extra grateful. Even though I love making drinks at home, I thought ice cube trays served my purposes just fine. When serving tropical drinks in my tiki mugs or even cobblers, I simply broke up the cubes. It wasn’t until I received the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which was our pick for best overall ice maker, to test that I realized how much I was missing from my home bar situation. But is it worth making room for and paying the price?
Weighing 44 pounds and measuring 17.25 x 10.5 x 15.5 inches, this GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker is the sort of appliance that is meant to stay put, like a microwave oven. Either that's a good or bad thing depending on how often you use it. Fortunately, I had just the spot for it in my kitchen: right between the refrigerator and the sink, which is convenient for draining and running it through its cleaning cycle as well as for chilling drinks pulled from the fridge. Despite the machine's height, it managed to clear my upper kitchen cabinets by a mere half-inch. But its size does take up a good portion of the countertop: a deal breaker if kitchen space is at a premium.
The brushed stainless-steel finish and sleek style allow it to blend in with just about any kitchen decor. However, that finish is prone to smudges, splatters and fingerprints and is somewhat difficult to wipe completely clean. This may only be an issue if you're a clean freak and/or are trying to take pristine product review photos of it.
The clear plastic pull-out drawer, which can hold 3 pounds of ice, is illuminated by an overhead night light, beautifully displaying the ice. Those who like to watch the ice drop will appreciate this nice touch. Drain holes at the bottom rear of the drawer allow meltwater to flow down to the water reservoir below it. Just don't make the mistake of removing the drawer from the machine and using it as an ice bucket, else prepare for cleanup. The drawer actually pulls out and hangs onto the machine at an angle. Its opening is wide enough to dig out ice with the accompanying ice scoop.
If you aren't able to empty the drawer right away, its front is triple-walled to better insulate the ice. How effective is that for preventing the ice from melting? The first time I made ice with the GE Profile Opal, I mistakenly thought it would shut itself off after using up all the water to make ice. It doesn't; you have to press the button to turn it off. So I left it running and then turned in for the night. I had already emptied its bin and figured any ice left over would just melt into the reservoir. After leaving the machine on for six hours overnight, I woke up to find that the bin was full of nugget ice. The nuggets were a bit stuck together but not a solid block. They were easy to break apart.
My GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker model, which is older and $50 cheaper than the brand-new 2.0 model, comes with a side tank. Earlier iterations only offered the side tank as an option. It serves to increase your ice-making capacity (to 9 pounds) without your having to constantly refill the water reservoir.
After using this ice maker for a couple of weeks, I already had a pretty good idea of its capabilities. It only has one button to operate, and you have to learn the meaning behind its different color ring lights to know what's going on with the machine. So when preparing for an intimate cocktail party, I began making ice three hours before start time just so I'd have a few "in case of emergency" pounds stored in the freezer. But I ended up needing to economize, portioning out a glassful of the fresh ice and my emergency ice per drink to make sure no one went without.
The machine took about 30 minutes to put out enough nuggets for one drink and an hour to make a pound of ice. It may not be as convenient as having a bag of store-bought ice at the ready, but it's definitely quicker than the freezer, which can take all day to make a few pounds. The ice the Opal produced is restaurant-quality, a perfect size, and not wet. Just start making the ice ahead of the party time and stick it in a cooler or freezer; store it in a freezer bag so that it's easier to break apart.
"The nuggets the GE Profile Opal produce are restaurant-quality, the perfect size, and not wet."
One issue discovered during the party is that warm air is constantly blowing out of the machine's side vents when it's working, which means you will want to relocate your liquor bottles, cocktail ingredients and ice bucket elsewhere so they don't heat up. The machine requires a 3-inch clearance for its rear and sides so it can breathe. But with the warm air it kicks out when it's working, you'll end up widening the perimeter a bit more to about 12 inches.
In terms of ice-making noises, the machine isn't especially loud, only emitting a hum from the fan and the occasional rattle of ice nuggets dropping into the bin, which you can hear from the next room. When it starts tapping into the water from the side tank, there are a few whirs and glugs from air bubbles.
This GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker, which is the model before the new 2.0 ice maker, is Bluetooth compatible, allowing you to connect your phone through the Opal app and monitor your ice machine as well as schedule when to make ice. You just have to be within range of the machine, unlike with the 2.0, which has Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect with the ice maker even when you're not home. The side water tank, which is good for 9 pounds of ice, can be brought out and attached for parties when you don't want to have to monitor the water reservoir. It easily adheres to the side of the ice maker via magnets and the connected drain tube.
"If you regularly drink tropical cocktails at home, it may be worth splurging on the GE Profile Opal."
The ice maker needs to be cleaned regularly, especially if you haven't used it in a few days. For those needing a reminder, the machine will signal it's time to clean by turning the display ring around the front button a solid yellow. Fortunately, the cleaning process can be engaged with the flick of the switch on the back of the unit. And it's even easier when your machine is near the sink since not only do you need to drain the water but you'll need fresh water to rinse it.
Cleaning involves pouring a mixture of five cups of water and a teaspoon of bleach into the water reservoir and turning on the cleaning cycle. After three minutes, the light ring will pulse, signaling you to then drain the machine. To do so, simply detach the drain hoses behind the machine and either lay them down into a sink or in a bucket. You'll need to repeat this process with five cups of fresh water three more times. Again, the light ring will let you know when it's ready: the ring will become brighter after each cycle and solid yellow when it's good to go. The entire process takes about 30 minutes to do.
For a deeper clean to remove mineral deposits, fill the reservoir with vinegar to the max fill line and run three cleaning cycles. Or you can buy an ice maker descaler and cleaning solution online. The Opal cleaning kit GE used to sell for its ice makers is no longer available. This cleaning process should be done every six months to keep your ice maker working properly.
To clean the side tank, you need to remove and drain it and then hand wash it with mild dish soap and warm water. Rinse it out thoroughly and let it air dry. Never wash any component of the ice maker in the dishwasher.
For a nice-to-have item, the GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker with an MSRP of $549 is pricey, especially considering there are other decent options available for around $100. But if you are a fan of nugget ice, regularly drink tropical cocktails at home and/or care about appearance, it may be worth splurging on this sleek-looking machine with its bells and whistles. It comes with a one-year warranty for parts and labor.
Competition: GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker vs. Newair Nugget Ice Maker
Up against the similarly priced Newair Nugget Ice Maker (view at Amazon), which snagged the title for "Best for Nugget Ice" in our Best Ice Maker roundup, the GE falls short in ice production. It churns out 24 pounds of ice in a day and takes about 15 minutes to produce its first nuggets, while the Newair can make 40 pounds in a day and takes 5 minutes to drop its first batch. The Newair is also 0.75 inch shorter, albeit 0.8 inch deeper. But the GE not only looks more attractive, but it also comes with an app that allows you to monitor the machine and even schedule when you want ice made.
If you have the room and the funds, the attractive and efficient GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker (view at Amazon) will elevate any nugget ice lover's home bar setup.
- Product Name: GE Profile Opal Nugget Ice Maker
- Product Brand: General Electric
- Product Number/UPC/SKU: OPAL01GEPKT1
- Price: $549
- Product Dimensions (DxWxH): 15.5 x 10.5 x 16.5 inches
- Color Options: Stainless Steel
- Material: Stainless steel
- Warranty: Limited 1-year entire appliance
- What’s Included: 3-lb storage bin capacity, side tank, ice scoop, drip tray
Why Trust Liquor.com?
Caroline Pardilla is a writer specializing in cocktails and bars. She is based in Los Angeles and has contributed to Liquor.com since 2016. Pardilla has nearly two decades of experience as a writer and editor. In addition to her work with Liquor.com, she has written for publications including BBC Travel, Eater, LAist, LA Weekly and Los Angeles magazine