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cassady

Do I leave the espresso machine on...

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Here's my question:

I pull three or four shots of expresso a night from an older *$'s rebranded Saeco machine (while I save up for an Andreja Premium). I generally turn it off when I'm done, then turn it back on when I want another. Using temperature surfing, I can usually pull a decent shot -- but would it matter if I just left it on? It would be on for about five hours every night.

I'm not worried about electricity, just wear and tear on the machine.

Thanks for your help,

cass

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I have plugged in a timer to to the wall plug/socket for our Rancilio S26. This causes the machine to switch on at 6am and off at 11pm. Start the day (usually at around 6.30) with drawing off steaming water for tea. Cappuccino with breakfast and mid-morning; espresso after lunch; tea in the afternoon. Evenings, we usually draw off some of the hot water for one reason or another while cooking. After dinner we may have a de-caff espresso. Before going to bed, we have mugs of mint tea. So it gets used all day long and it really would be a pain to have to wait for it to heat up everytime we wanted it. My engineer has told me that it will not cause any more wear and tear. Since it's a commercial machine, he says, it is very underused at this level and that many restaurants and commercial outlets leave their machines always on.

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A commercial machine or even a "pro-sumer" machine like the Andreja takes far longer to heat up then small units like the Saeco. But for 4 or 5 hours? Leave it on. Although there's far less thermal mass to heat on the Saeco and a much smaller boiler it's still easier to leave it on.

I'll guess that most of the wear and tear on a machine like the Saeco comes from the process of pulling shots and steaming. I wouldn't leave it on 24/7 but I doubt that 4 - 5 hour periods will have any effect on its longevity.

I leave the La Marzocco's in our cafes on 24/7 (as most shops do). My Isomac home machine stays on all weekend - from Friday night through Monday morning (I make shots at the shop Tues - Fri and my home machine stays idle during those times).

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This is fascinating to me. We have a Racilio Silvia and I've become the house asshole because I get pissed if I see the machine's been left on. Somewhere, I got the impression that leaving it on was bad for the machine. Specifically, my limited mechanical understanding makes me worry that there would be significant pressure build-up in the machine over time.

I will gladly eat crow in order to have the machine on all day -- and the timer idea is ingenious. So, this is all to say:

You can really leave it on all day?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Pretty much since the day I bought it three years ago, I have run my Pasquini Livia off of a timer. Please note that for some of the espresso machines, they draw a lot of amps, so you have to ensure that you purchase a timer with sufficient capacity. I bought mine from Home Depot.

My Livia is set to come on at 0400, and turn off at 0700, come on at 1600 and turn off at 2100 Monday through Friday. In other words, it comes on before I leave for work, turns off, and then turns on before I get back home and turns off in the evening. On the weekends, it is set to come on at 0600 and turn off at 2100. As a semi-commercial machine, it is actually designed to be left on 24/7, but I run it off the timer for energy-conservation reasons.

For the more consumer-level machines, I don't think I would leave it on 24/7, but as Owen says, I don't think leaving it on for several hours at a stretch will hurt anything.


Edited by MGLloyd (log)

Regards,

Michael Lloyd

Mill Creek, Washington USA

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Every restaurant I've ever worked in leaves the machine on all the time. In fact, the machine at work was turned off by someone on Thursday evening and I had to wait for my first-thing-in-the-day double cappuccino yesterday when I got in. It wasn't pretty. :angry:

Granted these are all commercial machines but I'd be more concerned about the fluctuation in pressure and constant heating and cooling doing more damage to the machine than having it sit at the pressure and temperature it was designed for, no? I'm no engineer, but wear and tear seems to me would come from making the machine work harder to build up the pressure and heat up than from using it as intended.

The timer idea is very smart from the conservation angle.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Disclaimer: I have zero experience with your machine. That said, you should check with an expert (the manufacturer, a knowledgeable retailer or a geek who knows the machine) before leaving it on for extended periods or putting it on a timer. Vapor lock problems mean some machines, even more prosumerish machines like the NS Oscar, cannot be run off a timer without a third-party fix, which may or may not be available for your machine. In the meantime, see Mark Prince's celebrated Cheating Miss Silvia article on getting cold machines up to temp fast for tips that may be applicable to your rebranded Saeco.

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With a small home type machine it is probably fine to turn it off and on, conservation is a virtue. However there are good reasons that manufacturers recommend commercial machines be left on 24/7/365. The expansion and contraction inherent in the heating/cooling cycle can cause the fittings in the machine to become loose over time and lead to expensive service calls. Also, if the steam jet is not cleaned properly, milk residue can be drawn into the tank while cooling where it will scorch and inevitably sour, ruining every cup of foam therafter. Besides, there is not much conservation to worry about when you're pulling many dozens of shots a day and it is good to have it always ready.

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A thermoblock machine, or one with a ml sized boiler like the Sacco, its not an issue either way, so I'd err on the side of safety and turn it off. Generally these machines don't have any safety for running out of water, save a overtemp thermostat, which on some units is a fusible link (ie replace after it trips), so I'm not very comfortable with leaving them on unobserved.

Prosumer/commercial machines, otoh, have a large thermal mass-not just the boiler, but the group often takes 20 min or so to temp stabilize, so leave those on. They almost always have autofill with a logic circuit that turns the heat off if they run out of water.

As to the vaccum break/timer issue, yes, this is a problem, specifically w/ the Oscar, but a breaker can be added for 20 bucks in parts, which is what I did w/ my Oscar. You do need a big grounded timer, not some cheap hardware store version.

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Yes - an "appliance timer" is what they're called (so I think) get a timer that will handle 20 amps just in case.

Espresso machines with boilers have a pressurestat the regulates the pressure in the boiler and also have a safety release valve that automatically pops open to relieve pressure if it gets to too high a level.

For my weekend use I find it easier to just leave my unit turned on all the time but I suppose I'd look into a timer if I was using it every day.

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In the meantime, see Mark Prince's celebrated Cheating Miss Silvia article on getting cold machines up to temp fast for tips that may be applicable to your rebranded Saeco.

I second the recommendation. We've been following the advice in this article for years and can get Miss Silvia up and running in under five minutes with this procedure.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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