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220V to 110V.. possible !? - Page 3

Postby drdna on Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:15 pm

Just want to reinforce the comments made above. If you are not familiar with electricity, make sure you have someone like a licensed electrician help you. The major issue is using materials that don't have the capacity to withstand the amount of current flow demanded and overheat, causing them to explode or burst into flame.

This is admittedly not that likely in a simple step-up voltage application. You can get an adequately rated step up voltage transformer for 110v to 220v use here. However, keep in mind that the current flow is limited by what your wall socket provides. A step-up transformer will change your voltage, but it won't give you more current/wattage than your wall socket already has.

Most likely, this will not cause any explosions. Instead, you will just have a machine that turns on but never steams properly, doesn't work well, and occasionally blows your circuit breaker. Because the machine components are built to run at a certain voltage, the solution is to provide that voltage. A dedicated line must be put in to use this machine. Either a 220v line or a 110v line coupled to a step-up transformer (either must have sufficient current flow) will do.

I currently have a La Cimbali DRM grinder that runs on 220v and I use a step-up transformer that sits behind the grinder. It works just fine, but the power requirements of the grinder are much less than that of your espresso machine.

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Postby sweaner on Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:25 pm

Juanjo, here is an idea. I have pre-wired my new kitchen to be able to easily get 220 in the future. Therefore, you can run you machine in MY kitchen! :lol:
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Postby Juanjo on Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:57 pm

good news.. kind of.

just checked the heat element in the machine and is actually 2500W
so I can use a 3000w step up transformer in my regular 15amps apt.. :D
right!!
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Postby drdna on Sun Aug 23, 2009 4:25 pm

Maybe.

The rating on the boiler is 2500W, although it may not use nearly that much power.
Remember that if you use a step-up transformer, the voltage will double while the current is cut in half.

As you recall, P=IE
so I=P/E
so I=2500W/110V
so I=22.72 amperes

Thus, you ought to have this on a circuit capable of providing in excess of 22 amps. The standard 15 amp circuit may be inadequate.
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Postby orphanespresso on Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:32 am

Nice photo....and the photo has caused me to all day ponder this problem and ask many questions , and possibly answered a few, to myself at least.

We are all now quite familiar with ohm's law and all of these numbers and equations...but I began to wonder.....

Your element is 2500w 220v therefore using a current calculated by p=ie . The boiler element has 4 contact posts, with wires to 2 and brass straps to the other 2, so if you pull out the element you will likely find two elements, or two loops which are joined by these brass straps. If you test the ohms access the terminals with the wires with the straps as they are you will get a reading of the total ohms of the element designed to run 220v with a load of 2500 watts and a calculated current draw of 11 something. If you unhook the brass straps you will have separated the two loops of the element into smaller components, each loop will read some ohms less than the total and since the two are in series in the circuit the ohms of each of the smaller loops will add up to the total of the entire element. The simplest example of this is a La Pavoni element with a max and min function....one loop is 200w and the other is 800w and there is a brass strap joining the two.

We tested this theory on a similar element with 4 posts and it has a smaller and a larger loop and when unhooking the brass strap could trace each of the two elements which make up the larger (2000w) element in our case. One loop is 10 ohm and the other is 18 ohms and yes when the brass strap is in place the reading is 28 ohms. So my question is, what happens if one unhooks the brass straps and uses just one of the loops for the heat production. This will of course drop the current draw way down. Could it be reasonable to assume that one can then switch the element to 110 when dropping out half of it, therefore dropping the watts also by half and keeping the current about the same, or at least below your critical 15 amps. In other words, we can wire our element using either loop, the 18 ohm (about 2/3 of the total or 1300 watts approx) or the 10 ohm loop which would be about 1/3 of the total or 750 watts give or take. Each of these reductions in wattage would be accompanied by a drop in current demand as well.

Beyond the equations, which are a good start, some practical information is needed, such as the resistance on each of the element loops that make up complete element. If this can be done, you would wire the 110 neutral to one contact of your new reduced element and the 110 hot wire to the switch and through the pstat side of the element. You would also change the pstat wiring a bit and a auto fill device if there is one. The wires look big enough to sustain the current, unless there are some surprisingly tiny wires in there somewhere.

I have a feeling that this is how some conversions from 220 to 110 are done when there is no 110 element available to swap over. 2000 watts is about the top end for 110v since the numbers work out to 18 amps at this wattage and is approaching the limit of service on even a 20 amp service, which is why they use 220 for the big stuff. With one part of the element only working, the machine would be slow to heat of course since the boiler is so big but if you can get the amp number down enough on 110v then your circuit breaker should tell the tale of whether this theory, and it is untested at least by me, will work in practice.
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Postby ira on Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:26 pm

Juanjo wrote:good news.. kind of.

just checked the heat element in the machine and is actually 2500W
so I can use a 3000w step up transformer in my regular 15amps apt.. :D
right!!


For all practical purposes, you CAN NOT get 2500 watts out of a 117V outlet no matter what you do. If you rewire the elements you might get it to heat on 117, hard to tell if it would get hot enough to make espresso. Insulating the boiler might help a lot but it might still take an hour or two to warm up. As someone else said, without some knowledge you're going down a path that leads to failure or fire, hard to say which.

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Postby mhoy on Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:32 am

As Doug has spelled out, you can likely cut the power requirement of the boiler by rewiring the connection. It's what I've done with my Elektra (but a 110v model). They likely run the two heating elements in parallel (for failure conditions you still get some heat).

However how about the other 220 parts? In particular, wiring, solenoids and brain box.
A 220v wire will use less current for a given power rating while a 110v one will need to be thicker for the same power rating. Wires could be replace...
Solenoids are replaceable.
Brain box? Perhaps it runs from stepped down DC, or maybe there isn't one.

Simpler to use the step up transformer with an insulated boiler running at lower power. :-/

BTW: IF you have not worked with electricity before, be exceedingly cautious on what you end up doing. There are lethal voltages here and you do not want to risk a fire.

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Postby Grant on Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:18 am

"I canna change the the laws of physics Jim!"


Therefore, according to Scotty, U.S.S. Enterprise (and the laws of physics), the power USED in an electrical circuit cannot exceed the power supply coming IN to the circuit. The maximum power a 110V, 15A circuit can SAFELY provide is approximately 1700W before wiring starts to get warm, fire risk increases, and breakers blow. This number is not actually fixed as it depends on your incoming line voltage, but the practical limits are set by electrical code to ensure regardless of your electrical conditions, safety is always controlled.

Some homes may only have roughly 110V supplied at the outlet, while other (like here), we actually get around 124 volts at the outlet. This voltage is variable as it depends on your location in the country, your city, your building, your local wiring, and time of day, how hot it is outside (people using air conditioner all over your state) etc. etc.

If a machine wants to draw 3000W, you need a circuit that can provide 3000W. Like mentioned, there is no way a typical residential 110V outlet can provide this.....

But....there IS a device that converts TWO 110V outlets to a single 220V output at higher wattage....but there is a requirement. The two 110V outlets used as the source HAVE to be on DIFFERENT phases in the electrical panel. This is how you get your 220V at home....each hot wire comes a different 1/2 of your electrical panel and is 180 degrees out of phase, therefore the potential voltage between each is 220V.

http://www.quick220.com/

This will allow you to convert two 110V 15A circuits to a single higher wattage 220V output.

Both the laws of physics and Scotty will remain happy.

Again, you require two outlets on different phases of the electrical panel though. So, you need two outlets close to each other, and also on different phases. This may not exist in your location/room/building.

I am not 100% sure I would want to use it for a continuous on, high power draw device either...almost like you are cheating mother nature or something. Better make sure your building/insurance folks don't have any concerns over a device like this.
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Postby Psyd on Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:22 pm

Marshall wrote: You are endangering the lives of your family and your neighbors. Get a machine that was designed for U.S. domestic use.


That's a bit harsh, and not really that helpful. There are many ways to operate a 220V machine in a 110V world, especially since there are very few residences in the US that *don't* have 220V entering them at one point or another.
The very first step, and the most important one, the very one that stops those fires you fear so much, is to ask folks that know how to do it without burning the building down. Since he's already taken that step, I think that we can move on from here.
I wired my very own 220V circuit for my 220V machine, and while my house may burn to the ground, it won't be because I wired in an espresso machine. Of that, I am absolutely certain.

Let's try to concentrate on suggesting safe and manageable ways to make this project work instead of reasons that it will be difficult or tricky.

And they design machines for 220V domestic use every day in this country. Mostly because almost every domocile gets 220V with a center tap to divide it into two 110V feeds. Still 220V if you bypass that center tap, though.
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Postby Marshall on Fri Aug 28, 2009 6:24 pm

Psyd wrote:That's a bit harsh, and not really that helpful. There are many ways to operate a 220V machine in a 110V world, especially since there are very few residences in the US that *don't* have 220V entering them at one point or another.
The very first step, and the most important one, the very one that stops those fires you fear so much, is to ask folks that know how to do it without burning the building down. Since he's already taken that step, I think that we can move on from here.

The OP lives in Brooklyn, not Tucson, from which I drew a few (possibly wrong) assumptions, having grown up in New York:
1. He rents and does not own his home.
2. He lives in multi-family housing.
3. His apartment building is wall-to-wall with his neighbors.
4. His concern for the safety of his family and neighbors exceeds his fascination with beautiful machines.

You see "do it yourself adventure" for amateur electricians. I see property damage and death (having handled some horrendous fire claims). This isn't cabinet making we're talking about.
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