Breville Barista Express BES870XL (US Model) - Running at 100v/60Hz in Japan
I am using above stated espresso maker. I live in West Japan (60Hz 100v) and was in touch with the Breville support lately as the machine is acting up. Basically I am having the same problem as the guy in this video:
I hope someone could help me with a few questions:
Is there a problem running the machine at 100v 60 Hz instead of the 120v 60 Hz in the States? The Breville guy said it might even shortcircuit or burn the machine out. To my understanding of electrics lower voltage will interfere with the heat up and might irritate the timers. But under no circumstances it could break the machine... Any electricians here?
The machine was working quite well initially but since we pull a lot more shots (about ten per day) it seems to break increasingly. Problems are:
- Loud pump at times (it seems to run empty and need to refill first),
- OPV working unreliably (after steaming the water is way too hot),
- no pressure build up (sometimes good, sometimes bad...),
- unreliable grind amounts (this is weird as it seems the more you grind in a short amount of time the more ground you'll get...), etc.
It would be great if someone could give me advice on what to look out for. I am planning on opening the machine on Monday/Tuesday. I think the grinder is difficult to analyze but help with the pump/OPV would be appreciated!
Is it possible to replace the Ulka pump in the machine with a better pump, as I believe the pump is currently causing most of the issues (also stated by the guy in the video above (read the video description). I saw that there are also 100v models of Ulka pumps out there. Would it be better to get a 100v one? Or should I get a step up Transformer?
I am planning to switch to a Rocket Espresso Maker soon (this is not a question, just a statement since probably a lot of people will say I should just ditch the Breville
In Australia, appliances are rated at 240V but our supply dips to 230V and sometimes as high as 245-250V (I saw this yesterday on an appliance I was testing). Appliances are designed to be able to handle fluctuations in voltage like this, plus or minus 10-15V.
A drop of 20V which may even become larger due to the fluctuation of the 100V line might cause some problems in the future. The parts of the control board responsible for maintaining AC supply voltage and resulting DC rectification are going to have to be working beyond the intended limits of their design. Also, the pump, thermoblock and solenoids will also be working below their rated capacities. I'm not entirely sure what the outcome would be from long term use at 100V but I can't imagine it'll continue to work smoothly.
A step up transformer would be ideal because of all the 120V components I previously mentioned, not just the pump.
The OPV you refer to isn't actually an OPV as found in other machines. It's more of a safety valve. Its main purpose is to open once the machine has refilled the thermoblock (this is when the machine runs by itself for a short time once you've finished extraction or steaming) and purge the excess water into the drip tray.
This is also why these and other Breville machines use an insane amount of water and why you need to fill it up so often.
Some cheaper Sunbeam, Krups and other entry level machines also utilise this auto refill function but they don't seem to feel it necessary to run for a thousand years and purge the equivalent of the 40 days and 40 nights of rain that destroyed mankind back in the day.
The pump hesitation you are experiencing also affects my Sunbeam EM6910 sometimes and all of the Barista Express machines I've ever used. This is due to the fact that the machines don't have a proper OPV and this is what happens when the pump maxes out, it surges on and off like that. That's why you notice it happening when you use a higher dose or finer grind, you're stressing the pump harder. Running at 120V may help somewhat as the pump will have more power available.
Here's a picture of the replacement pump I am considering. It's a 1 / 1.5 minutes rated one. Anyone thinks this could be a problem?