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Leave it on, or turn it off?

Postby Dogshot on Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:14 pm

I have a dual boiler machine (BII), with both boilers insulated. I currently have the machine on a timer to turn on at 6:00am and off at 8:30pm.

I use the machine throughout the day, 7 days a week. Electricity consumption aside, what is better for the machine - to just leave it on 24/7 or turn it off over night? If it has different effects on different parts, which is better from an expensive or difficult servicing issue? For example, does leaving it on 24/7 age the electronics faster? Is it good or bad to 'exercise' the vacuum breaker by turning off regularly? etc.

Thanks, Mark.
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Postby danblev on Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:54 am

My experience is on a HX machine.
The group gasket dried out quite soon after my timer broke and I left it on continuously.
On the other hand, turning it off seems to require pulling out a short steam spurt to get it to its working pressure.
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Postby HB on Thu Jan 26, 2006 12:36 pm

danblev wrote:The group gasket dried out quite soon after my timer broke and I left it on continuously.

The question of letting espresso equipment run comes up frequently; the thread Is it really safe to leave a HX on 24/7? echos Dan's comment that some components such as gaskets deteriorate more quickly. Vendors invariably recommend leaving the equipment on, claiming that it reduces failure rates. The truth is likely closer to some components benefitting from the steady temperatures (less metal expansion, less scale buildup) while others suffer (electronics rarely like constant exposure to heat, same for components made of rubber, plastic, or nylon).

I'm unconvinced there's a noteworthy benefit of 24/7 operation. Until there is indisputable evidence of a net benefit with all considerations weighing in (longevity, convenience, costs, environmental impact), I am unwilling to pay the extra cost / produce the extra pollution of the added electricity. Besides, I have a cautious nature and believe it's good advice to never leave something hot running unattended (iron, stove, space heater, etc.).

danblev wrote:On the other hand, turning it off seems to require pulling out a short steam spurt to get it to its working pressure.

Sounds like the vacuum breaker is sticking.
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Postby Compass Coffee on Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:59 am

HB wrote:The question of letting espresso equipment run comes up frequently; the thread Is it really safe to leave a HX on 24/7? echos Dan's comment that some components such as gaskets deteriorate more quickly. Vendors invariably recommend leaving the equipment on, claiming that it reduces failure rates. The truth is likely closer to some components benefitting from the steady temperatures (less metal expansion, less scale buildup) while others suffer (electronics rarely like constant exposure to heat, same for components made of rubber, plastic, or nylon).

I'm unconvinced there's a noteworthy benefit of 24/7 operation. Until there is indisputable evidence of a net benefit with all considerations weighing in (longevity, convenience, costs, environmental impact), I am unwilling to pay the extra cost / produce the extra pollution of the added electricity. Besides, I have a cautious nature and believe it's good advice to never leave something hot running unattended (iron, stove, space heater, etc.).

Not indisputable evidence but based on a couple decades computer field work it's commonly held the highest rate of failures is during power-up. Many IT departments I've worked with pay to have someone there onsite when they have a large scheduled downing of their servers for just this reason.

That said even though my Bric's heater is only on about 7sec every 150sec when idle so electrical consumption not huge, I turn it off at night before going to bed as a safety precaution, on an hour before I get up by timer. One of these days I'll do some calculating to see if any electricity is actually even be saved being off 6 or 7 hours a day since initially during warm-up period the heater is on much more.
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Postby HB on Fri Jan 27, 2006 9:08 am

Compass Coffee wrote:Not indisputable evidence but based on a couple decades computer field work it's commonly held the highest rate of failures is during power-up. Many IT departments I've worked with pay to have someone there onsite when they have a large scheduled downing of their servers for just this reason.

They are equally likely to fail to reboot because of software errors, missing scripts, passwords not entered, dependent server not finished rebooting, etc. You could argue that the auto-fill controller board is like a computer, but beyond that the comparison of espresso machines and servers is a real stretch.

Ultimately espresso machines are not very complicated and I believe the better ones deliver many years of reliable service whether they are cycled on and off or not. I don't know the point where the cost of the extra energy of 24/7 operation "pays" for the presumed increase in longevity and I've never read anything other than speculation or anecdotal evidence. For the typical E61 machine that warms up in 30 minutes, my general advice is to turn the machine off it will be idle for four hours or more.
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Postby Ken Fox on Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:05 am

Dogshot wrote:I have a dual boiler machine (BII), with both boilers insulated. I currently have the machine on a timer to turn on at 6:00am and off at 8:30pm.

I use the machine throughout the day, 7 days a week. Electricity consumption aside, what is better for the machine - to just leave it on 24/7 or turn it off over night? If it has different effects on different parts, which is better from an expensive or difficult servicing issue? For example, does leaving it on 24/7 age the electronics faster? Is it good or bad to 'exercise' the vacuum breaker by turning off regularly? etc.

Thanks, Mark.


I ran my first Cimbali Jr. on a timer part of the time, for the first few years of its life. My experience was that I needed to replace group gaskets MORE often, and had failures in the vacuum breaker. My opinion is that with a commercial level of machine it will take longer than the cited hour or two to really reach temperature, and the result is worse shot quality especially in the morning if the machine came on an hour or two before use.

The energy savings for timer operation are exaggerated in my view.

I think it depends on the equipment, but if you are talking about a commercial level of machine, I would leave it on 24/7.

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Postby Compass Coffee on Fri Jan 27, 2006 11:22 am

HB wrote:They are equally likely to fail to reboot because of software errors, missing scripts, passwords not entered, dependent server not finished rebooting, etc. You could argue that the auto-fill controller board is like a computer, but beyond that the comparison of espresso machines and servers is a real stretch.

Actually no they aren't, initial stress on components of power up does have higher failure rate than non-power off re-start software errors. (I'm not talking home environment with non-knoweledgable users making all kinds of dumb changes etc.) Besides, I consider software errors more analogous to failures on the handle side of the portafilter. :shock:

How directly a modern espresso machine relates to a computer, you made the original refererence to electronic components (versus electrical) first not me. :!: :wink:
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Postby HB on Fri Jan 27, 2006 2:34 pm

Compass Coffee wrote:Actually no they aren't, initial stress on components of power up does have higher failure rate than non-power off re-start software errors.

Reminds me of an old joke: A service technician, hardware engineer, and programmer are driving down the highway and get a flat. The engineer says they should diagnose the failure by downloading data from the car's onboard computer. The tech advises simply replacing all four tires. The programmer suggests they keep driving and hope the problem goes away.
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Postby Dogshot on Sun Jan 29, 2006 1:15 am

Thanks for the information, everyone.

I think that (mostly for household safety reasons) I will continue to use the timer to turn off overnight. I'll see how wear-and-tear goes for the first couple years.

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Postby HB on Sun Jan 29, 2006 1:30 pm

Ken Fox wrote:My opinion is that with a commercial level of machine it will take longer than the cited hour or two to really reach temperature, and the result is worse shot quality especially in the morning if the machine came on an hour or two before use.

I noted that Junior was among the slower machines to warm up and recommended at least 90 minutes in the review. You have been posting a lot of temperature plots lately, why not test your assertion? A plot of the first few pulls with the thermofilter for your espresso machine being on for two hours and another series after idling a half day should settle the question (at least for Junior).
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