ECM Puristika PID causes pulsating lights in my kitchen

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Derryisreal
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#1: Post by Derryisreal »

Hi guys, just recently I upgraded to an ECM Puristika from a non-PID Silvia. The Puristika is a better machine on every level, the shots I pull are awesome, but...
The Puristika's PID, once it starts cycling on and off (at about 84 C) affects my kitchen lights and my bathroom vanity lights. They start pulsating (slightly dim, then come back to normal) in synchrony with it. I should mention that the apartment I live in is in an older building and has the kitchen outlets, kitchen lights, bathroom outlets, bathroom lights on the same circuit breaker :roll:
This is very irritating, so I turn the lights off while I brew my morning espresso, which is obviously not a long term solution.
Before you ask, I did call an electrician, he came and checked all connections, down at the main circuit breaker panel, the connection from the pole to the building, the outlet I am using (it is GFCI one) and didn't find any loose wires, fluctuating voltages, etc.
I should mention that the ECM is not the only appliance that causes this behavior; a Vitamix blender at the highest speed does it too, so does a very low powered CHI straightening iron.
The lights in the kitchen pulsate almost imperceptibly, the vanity fixture in the bathroom having four bulbs in parallel, pulsates much more noticeably.
I did read somewhere on HB that PWM PIDs could cause this, while some other ones (Rancilio Silvia Pro, La Marzocco?) wont. Also, Jim Schulman wrote this in another thread:
another_jim wrote:If the lights are dimming when the PID pulses, you need to find a better wired outlet. If the other appliances are fine, and the pump pulses, replace the power cord and the wiring to the boiler's element with 12 or 14 gauge wire. Italian machines are built for 220, and use 18 gauge wire internally -- this is legal in the US, but bad practice, and a non-starter when one adds switching controls.

If rewiring the outlet (for the dimming bulb) is impossible, consider using an SCR and a 4 to 20 mA controller. This will not pulse, but works like a controllable dimmer switch.
But I am not sure I understand what needs to be done.
Any suggestions would be very appreciated!
Sorry for the long rant.

Thank you.
Neither milk, nor sugar.

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Jeff
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#2: Post by Jeff »

What you describe sounds like the voltage being pulled down by the power draw of the appliance. The problem is likely the shared wiring upstream of the appliance and the lights. LED bulbs seem to be much more sensitive to voltage droop than incandescents were. PIDs with high switching rates (second or so) can make this more evident. Eyes are "tuned" for rapid changes such as predators about to strike over slow changes. The older "on for 20 seconds then off for 90" thermostats probably cause the same droop, but it is less noticed.

DaveC

#3: Post by DaveC »

What value is the circuit breaker that feeds the kitchen, I don't believe you mentioned it?
Do the lights pulse only in the kitchen?
Have you tried it in a different room, do the lights pulse.


In the UK lights have their own separate circuit and the kitchen is usually a high current drain area...

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Derryisreal (original poster)
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#4: Post by Derryisreal (original poster) »

Hi Dave, the circuit breaker is 20 amp one, but unfortunately it shares wiring with the kitchen and bathroom outlets and lights :roll: My lights are all LED, but I tried an incandescent bulb and it is affected too, albeit less so.
Neither milk, nor sugar.

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Derryisreal (original poster)
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#5: Post by Derryisreal (original poster) »

Thanks Jeff, however, I am baffled by the CHI straightening iron doing it - it seems to be a mere 35 Watts device, but also has a tiny red LED light that stays on while heating up, once heated up, it starts flashing (as if it had a PID) and the kitchen/bathroom lights start their dance too.
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Nunas
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#6: Post by Nunas »

Ivo, this could be a potentially dangerous situation. The effect you are describing with your espresso machine might be considered normal in an old building, with what would be considered by today's standards to be substandard wiring. But, a 20-amp circuit isn't substandard (as long as there isn't a bunch of stuff all drawing from it at the same time). What concerns me most is your 35-Watt device doing the same thing. This should not happen on a 20-amp circuit, especially as you mentioned testing with incandescent bulbs and getting the same result. What you describe is a symptom of a loose joint. This could be anywhere upstream of your espresso machine, as circuits are daisy-chained from outlet to outlet. An IR-drop in a bad joint will cause local heating in that joint. Left unrepaired, it could eventually start a fire. This wouldn't likely happen when a device that goes on and off repeatedly is plugged in, or with a low current device, but something that draws a lot of current for a long enough period, like an electric kettle, for example, might be dangerous.

Try this. Shut off everything on that circuit except that espresso machine and a single incandescent light bulb. If you're a bit of a DIY guy, you might try plugging the machine into various outlets on that circuit, until you discover one that does not cause the problem (it would be upstream of any problem). If you don't find one, then the problem could be in the panel. Also, if you happen to have a VOM (multimeter) it would be a good idea to measure the voltage at the socket of the lamp that is dimming intermittently. This would give an electrician an idea of the magnitude of the problem.

Of course, there may be little or no fire danger. But, if it were me, I'd call the building superintendent and have him send over an electrician, just to be on the safe side.

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Derryisreal (original poster)
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#7: Post by Derryisreal (original poster) »

Nunas wrote:But, if it were me, I'd call the building superintendent and have him send over an electrician, just to be on the safe side.
Thanks Nunas, I already did, the landlord herself fetched the electrician, he checked, the voltage drop was less than a volt with the machine running, as I said, he checked the main circuit breaker panel and found it OK, additionally he did a bunch of checks with his voltmeter, everything seemed to check out. The voltage, by the way was at 115v.
Neither milk, nor sugar.

Quester

#8: Post by Quester replying to Derryisreal »

Do you know how they checked this? A meter with a fast min/max function can record an event as short as 250 µs. That's different than an averaging function.
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BaristaBoy E61

#9: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Nunas wrote:But, a 20-amp circuit isn't substandard (as long as there isn't a bunch of stuff all drawing from it at the same time). What concerns me most is your 35-Watt device doing the same thing.
+1 for Nunas

Make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home!
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"

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Derryisreal (original poster)
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#10: Post by Derryisreal (original poster) »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote:Make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home!
NOT helpful.
Neither milk, nor sugar.