Cartonomy 101: The Electric Vending Cart

Posted by Lilly on April 3, 2012 at 12:00 AM


Photo Credit: FreezerPlanet.com

First and foremost, you are not crazy, and I am not illiterate.  The word "cartonomy" doesn't exist, so I'm adopting it to now mean the science that is the diversity of Italian Ice carts. We'll go into the many different types of carts, their functions and uses, along with the pros and cons of each. This is a three-part lesson, broken out into the three most popularly used carts.  We'll cover the electric, the cold plate and the non-refrigerated carts. 


Today, we begin our study of the Electric Cart.  Please take notes.


The electric Italian Ice vending cart is a unit that comes in various sizes and which is fully electric. It has a heavy duty cord and plugs into an electrical outlet.  Youi set the temperature dial to your desired scooping temperature.  It is a "set it and forget it" unit. They come in small to very large sizes, have an onboard compressor, like your standard home freezer.  But, of course, they are UL and NSF rated to be used outdoors. 


Who Uses Electric Vending Carts?

These carts are used by any vendor who attends events where electricity in the form of a dedicated outlet or generator hookup will be provided.  They can also be used indoors, making them ideal for catered jobs, like indoor school functions, private parties and company events. 


The Pros

  • What makes an electric vending cart so appealing is that it maintains its set temperature continually and consistenty, alleviating the headache of fluctuating temperatures and the possibility of your product becoming too hard or too soft. 
  • It can be operational as soon as it's plugged in and reaches the set temperature.  With other units (cold plates, which are discussed in another article), you must remember to plug the unit into electricity a day in advance to reach correct temperatures. Not so with the electric.
  • In addition, with dedicated electricity, these units can have onboard lights, neon signs, and other electricity-driven appliances for add-on products. 

The Cons

  • As you may have guessed, the dedicated electricity of these carts restricts them to venues that provide electricity.  So, unlike the traditional vendor carts that can literally move anywhere, these are limited to where they can be used.  If you are able to enter an event on a patch of grass next to a fantastic pathway with great foot traffic but no nearby electrical outlet or generator, you obviously will not want this unit. 
  • It is heavy, having an onboard compressor and electrical components and plumbing.  These range in the 500 lbs of weight.  And that's not including the weight added when Italian Ice tubs are put into it.  That makes them difficult for the one-person operation, particularly if that one person is a woman.
  • Electric vending carts can be more expensive than other units.
  • They have components that can require expensive service, for instance, if the compressor breaks or if something goes wrong with the electrical system or plumbing/tubing. 


So, a vendor would need to assess where they plan to sell their Italian Ice in order to determine if this electricity-dependent model would be more useful to them longterm. Perhaps, you are thinking of only going into indoor catering events or can be assured of electricity nearby at outdoor events.  Then the electric cart may be the way to go, but it's not usually the beginning operator's choice of cart. However, as a side note, if the unit were to break down or if you wanted to use it as a non-refrigerated model, this can be done via the use of dry ice or reuseable cold plates.  Though you would be toting around a very heavy non-refrigerated cart, dry ice or reuseable cold plates could prevent the loss of sales.

See also:

The Cold Plate Vending Cart

The Non-Refrigerated Vending Cart

Reusable Cold Plates

Pushcart Manufacturers & Resellers

Categories: Pushcarts

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1 Comment

Reply Lauren T Wilson
7:39 PM on March 11, 2016 
Hi there!

I am sitting with the question of which cart do I purchase. They all have pros and cons. I've been using a NR push cart for the past two years. It's been frustrating using dry ice because my product is either too hard or too soft. Would love to hear your insight. Thank you!

Lauren W.