Ice Bank systems provide cooling to buildings in a highly efficient manner. Ice is produced, water runs through it, and air passes across that ice-chilled water to drop the air temperature being blown out. Because these systems produce the ice during off-peak usage hours, utility companies typically provide energy price reductions to these clients. Additionally, because ice bank systems are operating in cooler times of the day, costs of energy are further reduced and the system runs more efficiently. This efficiency positively correlates to longer life expectancy of the system. Thus, ice bank systems are becoming more popular as energy costs rise. Because of space and upfront costs, these systems are most often seen in commercial or industrial applications.

What is an Ice Bank System?

Ice bank cooling technology cools considerable quantities of water and enables the dispensing temperature to be kept constant. They consist of a stainless steel coil and a copper coil immersed in a reservoir full of water.  The copper coil containing the refrigerant gas freezes the water contained within the reservoir producing a cold supply, which in turn cools the drinking water flowing through the stainless steel coil. In this way the water cooler offers greater performance and in particular it ensures the cleanliness of the water.

Ice Banks Can Be Sized for Most Needs

There are manufacturers of ice banks where modularity is front and center. In these types of configurations, your ice bank and grow with your needs. CALMAC is one of these manufacturers where the installers can bolt together more than one unit creating a ‘train’ of ice banks. This reduces  the piping, connections, insulation and even the storage footprint needed. 

Since ice banks can be configured inline with a chiller, the chiller sizing can also be reduced. This is an important consideration to increase cooling capacities while reducing energy usage during peak hours. The chiller can charge the ice bank during off peak hours and be at the ready for the next day during production.

Thermal Storage – It’s All About Cycles

The cycles of how an ice bank works in conjunction with a chiller is rather unique to CALMAC. Basically, you have a charge cycle, discharge cycle and a bypass cycle.

The charge cycle happens during off peak hours. It works by taking cooled water containing ethylene or propylene glycol from the chiller and circulating it through the heat exchanger inside the IceBank® tank. This process leaves about 95 percent of the water inside the tank frozen solid. This process takes about 6 to 12 hours depending upon system needs.

The discharge cycle occurs during peak load hours. The glycol solution that is leaving the chiller is right at 52°F allowing the chiller to operate more efficiently than a conventional chiller requirement of 44°F. The ice is downstream from the chiller and allows the glycol to cool from 52°F to 44°F and is used in conjunction with a temperature-modulating valve.

This valve allows a bypass loop of solution to mix with the 34°F solution and achieve the desired 44°F temperature. This solution is then distributed to the air-handler coil, where is cools the air from 75°F to 55°F. Finally, the solution leaving the air-handler coil is now 60°F as it goes back to the chiller where it’s cooled back to 52°F.

The bypass cycle happens during mild temperature days in the spring and fall. Using the temperature-modulating valve in the bypass loop helps to provide unlimited capacity control. This allows the chiller to provide all the necessary cooling for the building without using stored cooling. When the building’s cooling load is equal to or lower than the chiller’s capacity, all of the system coolant flows through the bypass loop.


As noted by CALMAC, maintenance of their IceBank® tanks and storage systems are pretty straightforward. Essentially you should perform your chiller maintenance as directed by your chiller manufacturer. On top of that, you would have the health of the glycol solution checked annually along with the water level in the tanks. Adding biocide every other year will eliminate algae growth.

Service and Repair

At B.I.M.S., Inc., our team of highly trained service technicians is available 24/7 to ensure your ice bank is repaired quickly and correctly. We pride ourselves on giving quality service that is focused on ensuring longevity of the whole system, optimizing efficiency, and centering on the source of the problems versus only alleviating symptoms. Much like a doctor, we want to treat what’s causing the fever rather than only treat the fever.

We also understand how precious keeping a business in operation is. Thus, if something goes wrong, we will work with you to get the problem resolved so that “down-time” is kept to a minimum. If, worst case scenario, the ice bank system needs replacing, our team will work diligently to ensure the process is as flawless and as quick as possible. For any issue, has access to a vast network of distributors for parts and equipment (including those hard to find). 


Keep your ice bank system performing at its optimal level and help ensure its long life by having it properly maintained. This preventive maintenance keeps the ice bank operating at peak efficiency, minimizes unnecessary repairs and down-time, and helps keep energy costs low. This service keeps your system clean and in good working order. It also helps prevent smaller problems from becoming larger, more costly problems.

With preventive maintenance, we like to partner with our clients in order to provide options best for the situation and create custom solutions that fit your needs. We understand the importance and adverse effects of having an operation down in the commercial/industrial realm and will thus work on comprehensive, systemic solutions to keep you up and running.

Call us today at (833) 879-2467 if you have any questions about ice banks and/or are having issues with your ice bank system.

B.I.M.S., Inc. provides heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, indoor air quality services and more to Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth, Waxahachie, Denton, and to the surrounding areas in Texas. CALMAC® and IceBank® are registered trademarks of CALMAC, a portfolio of Trane.

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