Powering Off Espresso Machine

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jonkzak

#1: Post by jonkzak » Dec 15, 2011, 1:44 am

Are there any issues with shutting down my espresso machine (Wega Atlas 2 group). I have it on a kiosk (sp) thus power is not available while not in use.

Thanks,

Jon

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Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. » Dec 15, 2011, 2:05 am

The only immediate problem would presumably be the warm up time. As long as it isn't subject to freezing temperatures when off you should be OK. If it is left on its own, so to speak, you might want to have a solenoid shut off on the water supply line so when power is off the water pressure supply to the machine is also off.
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jonkzak

#3: Post by jonkzak » Dec 15, 2011, 2:31 am

When I talk to shop operators they say to leave them on or they will develop problems, leaks, etc... Anyone ever heard this?

Thanks,

JonJon

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Peppersass
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#4: Post by Peppersass » Dec 15, 2011, 3:05 am

It's a tradeoff between the thermal stress of turning the machine on and off repeatedly versus the wear and tear of having it on 24x7. It's possible that some seals will fail prematurely because they're expanding and contracting each time power is cycled. Or, the seal material may have a certain effective life in the presence of heat. I don't think anyone has a definitive answer for this.

I would contact the manufacturer of the machine and see what they recommend. Note however, that you might get a different answer depending on who you speak with! I've had that experience.

mitch236

#5: Post by mitch236 » Dec 15, 2011, 9:23 am

jonkzak wrote:Are there any issues with shutting down my espresso machine (Wega Atlas 2 group). I have it on a kiosk (sp) thus power is not available while not in use.

Thanks,

Jon
Aside from what's been mentioned here and any manufacturer's recommendations, what choice do you have?

Many cafe's turn their machines off every night and then back on in the morning without much drama. Those same cafe's also leave the water on (meaning there is no water shutoff) as well. The main problem I see with this is you have to get to the cafe really early to let the machine warm up properly before your morning customers arrive!! Set that alarm clock!!!!

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HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB » Dec 15, 2011, 9:27 am

jonkzak wrote:Are there any issues with shutting down my espresso machine (Wega Atlas 2 group). I have it on a kiosk thus power is not available while not in use.
No, I don't believe so. But it's been almost three weeks since this question came up, so for the benefit of those who haven't read previous "leave it on, leave it off?" debates, here's a repost of my short primer:
HB wrote:This question comes up regularly and the FAQ points to several past discussions: Running an espresso machine 24/7, Electricity Usage Monitor, actual consumption (CoffeeGeek), and a poll.

My take on it from last time:

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.
And Andy's insight in support of the above:
AndyS wrote:Turning the machine off overnight will always save electricity, no matter what size it is. People who say "it takes more electricity to warm it back up than you save by turning it off" are incorrect.

There are two caveats:
1. The amount of electricity saved may be quite low, as Mike says.
2. Some people claim that certain machine components (eg, gaskets) last longer when the machine is on 24/7. (Unfortunately, many of these people are probably just repeating anecdotal evidence that does not constitute real proof. One would think that the major machine manufacturers have a lot of good data on this, though.)
For more details, see one of the more thorough discussions of this frequently asked question below:
As a noteworthy side note, Brian Ludviksen at Counter Culture Coffee is trying a "green experiment" by having their 3-group La Marzocco Strada cycle off on weekends and after hours during the week. I run my 2-group the same way (i.e., on at 6am and turned off manually most days, otherwise automatically at 6pm). After a year or two, we'll compare notes on longer-term failure rates.
Dan Kehn