Espresso Machines and Power Surges

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Anthony

#1: Post by Anthony »

With storm season approaching, I would like to know if espresso equipment should be protected with surge protectors--or perhaps just certain equipment or specific machines. All of my main electronic equipment is "protected," but as a storm passed through our area yesterday, I sacrificed my mid-morning shots to the better part of prevention just in case, unplugging my equipment when the lights began to flicker and right before the power went out (and came back on).

By the way, I found one thread on types of surge protectors Array/knockbox/recommended-surge-protectors-t5269.html, but before I invest, I wanted to learn about the necessity of doing this and if so, then what kind of protection.

Thanks

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cannonfodder
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#2: Post by cannonfodder »

Most machines (other than a lever machine) at least have a small brain box (level box). At the high end you get volumetric dosing, flow meters, PID's, etc... essentially a small solid state computer inside a water heater. They are susceptible to power spikes. A basic box with just a lever box will get you around $80 for a replacement last I looked. If you have something like a LM FB80 with all the gizmo's it could cost you several hundred to replace. Most machines have a basic BUSS fuse to help protect the electronics but a lightning strike will blow the fuse ad the surge will simply arc and take out everything with it. So, depending on your paranoia, and machine, yes a large surge protector may be advisable. Having said that, my machine pulls 20 amps and a good suppressor is hard to come by at a decent price, so I run my box without one. If I take a hit that fry's the level box, I will just pony up and get a replacement.
Dave Stephens

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cafeIKE
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#3: Post by cafeIKE »

Most surge suppressor are ONE TIME devices. They use one or more MOVs [Metal Oxide Varistors] that blow when a surge hits.

A true surge suppressor needs to match the load and an espresso machine load varies continuously from nothing to full tilt boogie.

A surge suppressor capable of providing proper protection for my espresso kit will cost more than the equipment it protects. So, like Dave, I forego using one. OTOH, I have several kilobux invested in protecting our computer data. Note : NOT the hardware, but the data on the hardware.

BobS

#4: Post by BobS »

Whole house surge suppressors run $200 to $250 plus installation. Essentially a large set of MOVs across
the three phases coming into the house. Of course they don't protect against lightning strikes coming in
via the telephone line or antenna feed-ins.

FWIW - I always have my espresso machine pluuged into a surge suppresor (MOV).

Bob

zin1953

#5: Post by zin1953 »

Being in the Berkeley Hills, PG&E regularly surprises us with power outages and fluctuations over much of the year.

I have my Elektra T1 plugged into a Panamax Max 2 20-Amp Surge Suppressor, while the grinders are plugged into the same type of Belkin 15-amp suppressor (BZ108000-04) I use for the computers . . .
A morning without coffee is sleep. -- Anon.

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JohnB.
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#6: Post by JohnB. »

I use the Panamax Max 2 20A protector for my Vivaldi S1 as well as a lightning suppressor on my breaker box. If I'm in the house during a bad storm I still pull the plug just to be safe.
LMWDP 267

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cafeIKE
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#7: Post by cafeIKE »

zin1953 wrote:Being in the Berkeley Hills, PG&E regularly surprises us with power outages and fluctuations over much of the year.

I have my Elektra T1 plugged into a Panamax Max 2 20-Amp Surge Suppressor, while the grinders are plugged into the same type of Belkin 15-amp suppressor (BZ108000-04) I use for the computers . . .
There's not much point in surge protecting a grinder. The power switch is all the surge protection required. Never use an espresso machine, grinder, anything electrical during a nearby lightning storm.

Those Belkin devices are most likely MOVs as they are too small to include the parts to actually handle 10,000A. In a lightning strike, there are multiple pulses. The first pulse pops the MOV and the next toast your gear.

"Varistors can absorb part of a surge. How much effect this has on risk to connected equipment depends on the equipment and details of the selected varistor. Varistors do not absorb a significant percentage of a lightning strike as energy that must be conducted elsewhere is many orders of magnitude greater than what is absorbed by the small device." ...from Wiki Varistor

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Barnstormer's~Betty

#8: Post by Barnstormer's~Betty »

We're at the peak of hurricane season in Houston. During a normal year there's always a chance for electrical surges and brown-outs.

I have both the Panamax M2 (15A for grinder) and M2A20 (20A for espresso). The Panamax has a 1350 joule rating, with a max impulse current of 52,000A. This is plenty for all surges, and it will disconnect AC power to my equipment for a lightning strike.

I'd rather replace a fried Panamax box ($65 total at Office Depot), instead of replacing perfect equipment. For good measure I turn everything off & unplug for trips and storms. Surge spec's here: http://www.panamax.com/Products/Other/M2.aspx#tab_spec

A generator is good to prevent brown-out's as the power ramps back up. We don't have one, because at the cost for the square footage vs. required propane, it averaged out to $1000 per week. At the current status of Ike and the total loss of 2 power plants, it could take weeks to restore the electricity.

Right now we're chillin' with my in-law's. I was experiencing caffeine withdrawals (flu-like symptoms), and had to seek refuge to SBUX. Ya'll shoulda seen the look on the barista's face when I ordered (2) Venti six-shot Americano's. I drank the first one down on the drive home. Getting out of the truck I tried to appear as though my espresso addiction was modestly tamped with just one beverage. My husband asked me why I hadn't drank my coffee yet (Americano #2 in hand). He only drinks Dr. Pepper. My apparent guilt explained the rest.

June

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cafeIKE
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#9: Post by cafeIKE »

Barnstormer's~Betty wrote:I'd rather replace a fried Panamax box ($65 total at Office Depot), instead of replacing perfect equipment. For good measure I turn everything off & unplug for trips and storms.
Unplugging is the ONLY safe method. If you don't unplug and get hit by lightning, you'll probably have to replace both the equipment and the surge suppressors. IOW, the surge suppressor offers NO protection against lightning.

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cannonfodder
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#10: Post by cannonfodder »

Very, very few line conditioners will protect against a lightning strike. I have one, it is the size of a small car, is fed by a 480 3 phase with a pre UPS conditioner and feeds a dedicated breaker box with a make and break service bypass. It will take a lightning strike, it will be burnt beyond recognition but protect the gear on the other side, in theory.

Your average Belkin or APC surge suppresser will not take a direct lightning strike, forget the $20 Wal-Mart power strip. Most will simply melt and the spike will arc, but if your house takes a lightning strike, or the pole a couple of doors down, your machine will be the last of your worries since your house will burst into fire. Keep in mind, a lightning bolt produces a heat surge around 50,000 degrees F and over a million volts not to mention the 30,000 amps. The only foolproof solution is to unplug it.
Dave Stephens