I have been reading here about immersion, counterflow and plate chillers and they don't seem to chill the wort much faster than my current method; ice.
Many people have stated that their chillers cool the wort to pitching temperature in 20-25 minutes. I'm able to to chill mine to 75-80 degrees F in 25 minutes or so just filling my sink with ice and water around the brew pot.
Is the extra 5-10 minutes cooling time really going to make that big of a difference? For the $65+ wort chiller price, I can buy a lot of ice at the grocery, not to mention the 50 gallons of water I'll save not running the tap for 20 minutes on every batch.
Is an immersion chiller considered essential equipment or is it just another brewing gadget that isn't truly necessary for casual brewers?