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Thread: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

  1. #1
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    Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    As I continue my slide down (up?) into coffee snobbery Ive become increasingly disappointed with the quality of coffee available at the airport were I work. Quality aside, the fact that the coffee vendors arent open at 2:30am when I really feel like something other than blend 43 is a huge issue.

    Ive decided the best option is to find my self a little old commercial machine that I can fix up and have set up permanently at work, problem solved!

    It seems that commercial machines come in either 3 phase or single phase 15A. Whilst a 3 phase machine is a possibility, it would be a bit of overkill, so Im thinking a 15A machine is the go. Theres no 15A outlets at work though. Bugger.

    I understand it is possible to convert a 15A machine to 10A, is this just a matter of changing the heating element in the boiler to one with a lower wattage? If so, are different heating elements available for most machines, or will I have to keep my eye out for a few specific models? I assume that the only downside of this modification is that it will take longer for the machine to heat up, and I suppose you would not be able to make a lot of drinks in a row due to the boiler temperature not keeping up.

    Is there anything Ive missed, or anything else I should know?

  2. #2
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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Hi prc6of7

    Most (if not all) commercial machines have three elements - one per phase when connected to 3 phase power or all three in parallel on single phase.

    For example mine is about 7 amps per phase (or as it is now 20 Amps on a single phase with all 3 elements connected.

    I could also have just one - and that would be 7 amps - plus a couple of amps for the pump etc (so can be used on a 10A outlet - which I did when rebuilding) or connect 2 elements and that would be OK on a 15A run (just)....

    A friendly sparky can reconfigure the element cabling for you (no need to purchase a new element).... or your local commercial machine repairer could do it as well.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    PRC6or7, Im guessing your next question will be if they can run on 1 why have 3 and the answer is that you may be able to get the right temp water from 1 element eventually, but itll take longer to both heat up initially and to recover between shots. This isnt so much of a problem if its on 24/7 and only used here and there, but in a commercial environment where theyre designed to be used you need quick recovery, hence the 3 elements. IIRC, the Azkoyen machines often have a 3-way switch which allows 1, 2 or 3 elements to be used, nice touch.

    Greg

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    hi prc6of7
    the majority of machines are single phase, 10, 15, 20 and 25 amp.
    some people refer to the larger plugs 15, 20, 25amp, as three phase because they are unfamiliar with the different sizes. it is mainly 3 and 4 group machines and super automatics that are wired three phase, this increases the machines potential
    if you downsize any element you will have a problem with group temp, steam recovery,incresed element failure and incresed wear on the pressure switch. the larger the boiler the bigger the problem.


    if you intend to do this look for a machine that has a smaller boiler size 6 or 8 lt not a 12/14 or bigger.

    AND get an electrician to do the modification.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Quote Originally Posted by prc6of7 link=1200611871/0#0 date=1200611871
    Ive decided the best option is to find my self a little old commercial machine that I can fix up and have set up permanently at work, problem solved!

    Is there anything Ive missed, or anything else I should know?

    A Commercial machine would sure be fun, but why not just get a good quality domestic machine eg Silvia/6910/Gaggia et-al.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Quote Originally Posted by reubster link=1200611871/0#4 date=1200616325
    A Commercial machine would sure be fun, but why not just get a good quality domestic machine eg Silvia/6910/Gaggia et-al.
    Of the research Ive done so far, it seems that if youre patient, you can pick up a little secondhand commercial for a few hundred dollars. Sure itd need work, but thats half the fun isnt it?

    The plan would be to have the machine running pretty much constantly while Im there (11 hour shifts, 4 on 4 off), I dont think Id be game to trust any other shift with it! Itd probably be required to make around 8 drinks at a time, a few times a day/night.


    To clear one or two things up for me... assuming were talking about an older one or two group machine;
    • Am I correct in saying that generally it will have a single boiler with three elements, hence the larger current requirements?

    • How does such a machine acheive the two temperatures required (ie. steam and extraction), does it have multiple boilers or use a heat exchanger...or something else?

    • Does anyone have, or know where I can get, a wiring diagram of a similar type of machine? An illustrated parts list would also be handy, just to help clarify a few things.

    Thanks for the info thus far, I knew I could count on you guys for quick and helpful advice.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    I just had a thought, if youre only using 1 element, that means youve got 2 spares! And dont say anything about false economies....

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    * Am I correct in saying that generally it will have a single boiler with three elements, hence the larger current requirements?

    Yep

    * How does such a machine acheive the two temperatures required (ie. steam and extraction), does it have multiple boilers or use a heat exchanger...or something else?
    HX or dual boiler

    * Does anyone have, or know where I can get, a wiring diagram of a similar type of machine? An illustrated parts list would also be handy, just to help clarify a few things.

    These may help, not wiring diagrams as such but they explain the different types with some illustrations.

    http://www.home-barista.com/forums/espresso-machines-101-t368.html
    http://www.home-barista.com/hx-love.html#_heatExchangers
    http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/javajim/07-14-2003

    HTH
    Greg

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    To tell you the truth prc6of7, I reckon for the amount of time your going to spend and the money taken doing it, youd be way better off getting a Silvia setup or equivalent. I guess once you start changing amperage and de-elementing boilers, you kinda lose the point of having a commercial machine in the first place. I agree that tinkering with these kinda things is fun, but I dont think I could take knowing that I have a machine that is running at a third its capacity. I guess if it was a home machine it might be a different story too.

    Just my 2 cents anyway!

    Hope it goes well!

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    have a look around for an expobar megacrem compact, they are a two group and run on 10a

  11. #11
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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Personally, I agree with yeeza prc6of7.....

    I think for the situation you have described, anything bar a Single Group Commercial is not going to be a very good fit, and these are hard to come by 2nd-hand. Think you would be better to consider a decent domestic machine like a Silvia, Vibiemme Domobar Levetta, etc. Much easier to pack up and lock away between shifts too.... ;)

    Now, for a home project..... Sure, any decent commercial 1/2 Group machine would be a worthwhile consideration, especially given that you can arrange to install a 15A Outlet to allow for at least two elements plus the pump to run quite comfortably (1,200-1,300W Elements) and thereby having to sacrifice little in the way of overall systems performance. After a decent resto job you would then have a beautiful machine to sit proudly on your benchtop at home 8-).

    All the best mate :),
    Mal.


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    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A


    I mentioned this to Ray just a week ago...

    What would happen if you put a "brick" in the boiler to reduce the volume of water? Not a real brick, maybe a lump of stainless or similar suspended near the middle of the boiler so as not to block any feeds.

    In my head, a "cheap" 20A machine could then have half the boiler, half the element (10A) and not loose performance on a few cups of coffee in a row.

    Of course it would no longer do commercial volumes but for the domestic or handful of cups with quick boiler heat times it makes sense to me.

    Ill try it one day when Im looking for a new project.
    ;)

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Yep,

    I reckon that would work ok Andy. Even better if it could be made easily removable in the event that circumstances change and a return to full capacity is desired. I guess it would come down to individual boiler design re: easy access to the innards, etc. Ive noticed that some of the newer 2/3 Group machines no longer use boilers with a removable end-plate, which would make life difficult for this type of fix.

    Anyway mate, believe it or not, Im going to bed now so catch you later on today ;)

    Mal.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Freeman link=1200611871/0#11 date=1200663964
    I mentioned this to Ray just a week ago...

    What would happen if you put a "brick" in the boiler to reduce the volume of water? Not a real brick, maybe a lump of stainless or similar suspended near the middle of the boiler so as not to block any feeds.
    Depending on the material used heat up times could be drastically affected by doing this. It takes a lot more energy to heat up the same volume of metal than water.


    Java "Sinks in water" phile

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Some heat-stable plastic maybe?

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Glass marbles?

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Yeah you would have to be mindful of the chunks of whatever you put in there dont turn into sacrificial anodes, protecting the boiler, but making your water taste funky. Haha, it would be an interesting experiment though..... hmm, glass marbles are pretty much the only thing I would try haha.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Dennis's Avatar
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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    a bottle?

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    I was thinking more along the lines of the smallish hollow glass spheres that you see around in craft shops, etc. Probably wouldnt need many and providing youre careful when ever you move the machine(not often I would imagine), they should be ok for a fairly long time. Might have to check em out in some boiling water first to make sure "they aint gonna blow :o".....

    Mal.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Thats why I suggested marbles because they are not hollow.
    And from memory glass is a good insulator therefore I imagine dont tranfer heat quickly so wouldnt affect heating up times but once hot would also retain the heat quite well.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Hmm, food for thought. By the sounds of things, if I do go down this path I may end up with the restoration project taking pride of place in my kitchen, thus relegating my just purchased Silvia to work.... decisions, decisions.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1200611871/15#18 date=1200731474
    I was thinking more along the lines of the smallish hollow glass spheres that you see around in craft shops, etc. Probably wouldnt need many and providing youre careful when ever you move the machine(not often I would imagine), they should be ok for a fairly long time. Might have to check em out in some boiling water first to make sure "they aint gonna blow :o".....

    Mal.
    Checking the glass spheres in boiling water is a good start but may not be enough. Not only is the water in the espresso machines boiler hotter, it is also under (roughly) a bar of pressure. This will put a lot of additional stress on the spheres. Stresses that they most likely were never designed to withstand.

    Not only will you have to check them for their ability to survive intact in the conditions in the boiler, you will also need to check their buoyancy. Again at the pressure and temperature of the boiler. Anything you put into the boiler can not touch the heating elements! The object(s) must sit on the bottom of the boiler with-out touching the heating elements. If your filler object(s) touches the heating elements it will cause a hot spot to develop which can quickly kill your element!


    Java "Things that make you go hhhhmmmm...." phile

  23. #23
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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Actually, thats the reason I thought that something with buoyancy might be better, to keep them away from the heating elements which are usually on the bottom of the boiler. Everything you say about the potential for implosion/explosion of hollow spheres is fair enough though Java, a bit of experimenting in a pressure cooker would soon sort that out I would imagine..... :o

    Mal.

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Borosylicate (Pyrex) glass spheres will work - theyve been tested for deep submergance vehicles.

    Dont know where you would get them though, and imagine they would be expensive. Maybe a glass blower?

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A


    Things that make you go hhhhmmmm....
    I like posting things that make you go hmmmmmm, its a great use of the forum to get a pile of different thoughts on a whacky idea.
    ;)

    Back to stainless as a possible...

    How about a stainless tube with the ends welded shut and two sets of "tripod legs" to suspend it in the middle of the boiler well away from the element and the water pickups?


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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    How about a stainless steel tripod with pyrex glass marbles around it? haha. Maybe even those pyrex glass stirring rods?

    Is this O/T by the way?

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    Re: Converting 15A Machines to 10A

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I am also interested in a expobar megacrem, how did you go with yours? did you end up getting one?



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