Do you leave your espresso machine on all the time?

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Do you leave your espresso machine on all the time?

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#1: Post by medegraa »

Hey guys and gals,

I have a question for you:

Do you leave your machine on all the time or not? I have a Giotto that I have on a digital timer. It comes on about an hour before I most likely will use it. My reasoning is that I would be wasting energy leaving it on all the time. Is this line of reasoning correct? It seems that I remember someone saying it is more energy efficient to leave it on all the time (i.e. that it requires more energy to heat it up than it requires to keep it heated). Does any one have any data on this?



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#2: Post by 2xlp »

the efficiency depends on the boiler size + heating element

there's a thread either here, or on coffeegeek, where someone used a current meter ( ~$30 online ) to show the difference between a cold-start and constant on.

i believe on his machine, it ended up being negligible.

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#3: Post by HB »

Leave it on, or turn it off? discusses the advantages and disadvantages. Below is an excerpt:
HB wrote: I can appreciate the convenience of always-on espresso machines, especially for commercial units that demand hours to stabilize. But I've still not heard any compelling evidence tying premature component failures to on/off cycling. Simply put: What components are more likely to fail if a machine is run four hours a day versus 24/7?

In past discussions, I've read the following disadvantages of on/off cycling:
  • Inconvenient if one must wait, or added expense if one buys a timer; risk that machines without auto-refill with be turned on without water and burn out the heating element; risk that brew switch will be inadvertently be left in on position and burn out pump when timer starts it
  • Increases scale build-up at the boiler's waterline
  • "Stresses" connections of dissimilar metals (How does this manifest itself as a failure - boiler leaks? If so, from where?)
  • Electronic components are subjected to changing temperatures, which increases the likelihood of them failing. The argument that failures are more common with frequently cycled computers is often cited in the same context
  • Sensitive electronic components are subjected to electrical spikes when machine is turned on/off
I've read the following advantages of on/off cycling:
  • Saves energy
  • Increases the lifespan of gaskets
  • Reduced usage decreases pressurestat's carbon buildup, which is the leading cause of failure
  • Some "weaker" connections are made of nylon or plastic (tees, insulators). Exposure to less heat reduces their failure rates
  • Reduced exposure to high temperatures increases the lifespan of sensitive electronic components like controllers (note: applies mostly to prosumer / semi-commercial machines; they are located outside of the case of most commercial units)
Looking at the list above, the one that sticks out for me is the pressurestat. They cost around $40-$60. If I remember correctly, that roughly equates to the added energy cost of approximately two years' 24/7 operation. It wouldn't surprise me if 24/7 operation would decrease some pressurestat's lifespan by that much (e.g., CEME, MATER).

The calculations for a cafe are a lot easier. If the cafe closes at 10pm and reopens around 6am, realistically they have little choice but to run 24/7. For those with machines that warm up in 30-60 minutes, it's an option. Is on/off cycling a more economical option? I don't know for certain, but my guess is yes, it is for most prosumer / semi-commercial units.
To gather some data on how many do/don't leave their espresso machines on 24/7, I've made this thread into a poll. Thanks for the idea!

PS: I turn off my espresso equipment when I'm done for the day; I let my laptop run 24/7 with the screen/harddrive going off after 20 minutes of idle time.
Dan Kehn

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#4: Post by randomperson »

I don't like the idea of hot reservoir water and a slimy tank. Blech. I say use a timer to turn it on and off as needed.
I love La Valentina!

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#5: Post by Kristi »

If you do a good job insulating your boiler / group it will significantly reduce the elec bill. imho

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#6: Post by jesawdy »

Well, I answered no, but that might change. My daily driver is Silvia.... I turn it on in the AM (if I am not running late), pull some shots 30 minutes or so later, and then turn it off. In the evening, if I am so inclined, I will turn the machine back on for an evening cappa. On Saturday or Sunday, I will turn it on in the AM, and it will stay on all day, or at least until I have my afternoon cup.

Now, with a bigger machine, like my Cimbali M32 Bistro, I would be inclined to leave it on all day, possibly insulating the boiler. It has an awful amount of mass to get warmed up. Right now, the Cimbali heat exchanger to grouphead connection on my machine leaks on warm up, but at full temp is perfectly fine. In talking to the local Cimbali service folks, they claim this can be a common problem for the machine's age, and if it was often turned off and on. In fact, the service technician pretty much said just leaving it on was a viable fix and the thing to do while awaiting proper service.
Jeff Sawdy

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#7: Post by cannonfodder »

Well, I said yes but with a condition. My lever machine is not designed for 24/7 operation so it is on and off. My Isomac at the office gets turned on when I get to work, off when I leave, my home machine is a two group, it runs 24/7 unless I am out on business with the exception of the summer. That big boiler pumps out a lot of heat, way too much for the summer so it is on very early in the morning, off when I leave for work and back on a couple hours before I head home then off for the night. So for 3 of the 4 seasons, 24/7.
Dave Stephens

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#8: Post by alsterlingcafe »

Interesting discussion topic.......

Firstly, I don't like leaving any electrical device in the on position 24/7 unless it's got a very sophisticated hibernation mode. I suppose it gets back to all those cheesy public service films we (kids of the 50's) saw in second grade where the house burns down because someone made an octopus connection with 12 devices and the Christmas tree, all going into one outlet, and then leaving everything running while the family all goes caroling!??....coming back an hour later to a pile of ashes!!! I know, it's not directly related, but those damn films set me up to be even more neurotic and more the worrier than I am genetically! (and I'm the guy that doesn't shut off the breakers if I'm doing residential electrical...oh well?) :lol:

Focusing on home espresso units, not commercial.......While we can all quantitatively discuss the "startup" current consumption of an espresso machine, it becomes a bit tougher to accurately quantify the damage to plastics and metals when they go through the direct or indirect stress of being energized and de-energized. The best we can do is accept repair labor and repair parts statistics; that's assuming you can find enough info to come to a reasonable conclusion. I've not seen, as was stated, enough information about seals, solenoids, etc., to convince me that our machinery cannot tolerate on-off cycling without component failure.....I just don't buy it. And as was stated, who wants to hold hot water in a boiler overnight? (this and other good points were included in HB's reply) Sure, you flush the boiler when you get back to the machine, but I can't think that's really good for the boilers?

I'm of the opinion that ideally, it's best to accommodate one's own particular needs. Using the S1, even in the economy mode where the brew boiler is energized first, then the steam boiler, for me, the machine generates too much heat to be left on in the summer. Beyond all that, my S1 only takes 15 minutes to come up to temp on both boilers; sufficient enough to crank out my first cappuccino in the morning. (20-30 minutes and it's fully heated) I use that 15 minutes to watch my wife prepare our breakfast! (Geeze......if she reads this she'll kill me!!!) :roll: Truthfully, I use the machine approximately 3 times a day, max; breakfast, mid afternoon and sometimes in the early evening for ourselves and/or house guests. The other issue is having hot water components sitting there, waiting for someone to accidentally touch, etc. All you have to do on the S1 is tap the hot water button and you've got 200 degree water pouring out. With grandkids running around the house it's just one more hazard I'm not willing to introduce. If this were an office machine, then there's no question that the machine would run throughout the day and be shut off when we left. Not too many insurance companies would want to hear about how you leave a "coffee maker" on at night! (can we say "higher insurance rates?")

Best, Al

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#9: Post by DaveC »

My 3 hapence worth.

For a prosumer machine leaving it on all the time causes the following problems I consider important to my personal ownership of the machine.

1. Reduces the life of the heating element
2. Reduces the life of the Gicar/Giemme (whatever) autofill boxes and other electromechanical components
3. Stresses the vacuum breaker (as they normally let by a bit)
4. Reduces the life of the pressurestat
5. Reduces the life of the group gasket but more importantly the life of all the little O'rings/gaskets in the E61 group and throughout any hot parts of the machine
6. If something goes wrong...I don't want to be asleep (or out of the house)
7. If it trips the whole house RCD, other things switch off while I am out (during the night, the house burglar alarm will go off after a few hours) and the smoke alarms beep constantly
8. The wiring insulation (depending on type) and any plastic connectors become brittle
9. The life of the neons is reduced

Why on earth would I want to leave it on all the time, when it can be on a timer and ready when I wake up, or I just wait 20 mins!

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#10: Post by alsterlingcafe » point exactly! Al in SoCal