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The JavaJim Jam by Jim Piccinich
Protect Your Espresso Machine Investment
Author: Jim Piccinich
Posted: March 1, 2003
Article rating: 6.3
feedback: (6) comments | read | write
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Now, you own an espresso machine, how do you protect it's electrical components? Over the past year, we have seen a greater increase in electrical defects in espresso machines. Most of the causes have been electrical surges that normally do not affect other appliances.

There are two types of nasty electrical interferences that can negatively affect your espresso machine, especially the electrical components and electronics. These electrical interferences are known surges and spikes.


Surges are short-term increases in voltage, typically lasting at least 1/100 of a second and result when high-powered electrical motors, such as air conditioners and household appliances, are switched off, causing extra voltage to dissipate through the power line. They can also occur from within the electric company's "electrical grid or network." Without surge protection, sensitive electronic components in an espresso machine can be prematurely damaged or destroyed.

As most people are aware, it is very important to place a surge suppressor on your computer system. Have you ever wondered if the same should be done for your espresso machine? Many home model espresso machine owners do not think of protecting their investment, but it is very important to do so.

Suppressors work by absorbing some of the electrical surge and diverting the rest to ground. That's why all plug-in surge suppressors have three-prong plugs and receptacles. If you cut off the suppressor ground pin to make it fit a two-prong wall receptacle, you will eliminate its effectiveness.

Home model espresso machines have many electrical components - from the power cord to the switches to the pressure control to the thermostats to the heating element, and in some cases, to the motherboard (brain unit on semi-commercial espresso machines), or what we call the black box. We have seen all these parts, in one shape, form, or another become prematurely defective due to electrical surges from the electrical lines inside customers’ homes. Therefore, it is important to protect your espresso machine investment from 1st-line with a surge suppressor.

Surge suppressors are rated in joule (pronounced [jOOl, joul]). The abbreviation is J, and it is defined as a unit of work or energy in the mks system of units, which is based on the metric system; it is the work done or energy expended by a force of one Newton acting through a distance of 1 meter. The joule is named for James P. Joule.

When shopping for the a surge suppressor, it is important to select one with a higher joules rating as the higher ratings will offer a greater level of protection for your equipment AND with a lower "maximum voltage" rating. Hundreds of surge suppressor brands and models are available. However, quality should be no sacrifice to price after purchasing an espresso machine ranging in price from $200 to $2,000.

Examples of a surge suppressor can be seen here: Belkin

A specific example of a single outlet protector is the Belkin Surge Cube.


Spikes, also referred to as impulses, are instantaneous, dramatic increases in voltage. A spike can enter all household appliances and electronic equipment through your power, cable, or phone lines. Spikes are typically caused by a nearby lightning strike, but they can also occur when utility power comes back online after having been knocked out. Like high-voltage surges, spikes can severely damage or completely destroy many electrical components of your espresso machine. Sometimes, a fire can result from such a spike in voltage.

One way to protect from spikes is with the installation of Surge Arrestors. A surge arrestor is the initial step for whole-house protection of appliances because it safeguards all hard-wired equipment (light switches, heating and air-conditioning systems, ceiling fans, etc.), which usually can't be protected by plug-in surge devices. Most arrestors can cut a surge to 600 volts. The suppressor then takes over, reducing it to a more manageable voltage.

Arrestors cost around $50 to $250, and you should hire a licensed electrician, who will connect the arrestors to your electrical service panel for around $100 (depending upon local electrician rates). Many local electrical utility companies can also install surge arrestors near electricity meters.

Remember, it is important to protect your espresso equipment, as it is your computer equipment and other household appliances.

This article is reprinted on CoffeeGeek with permission from 1st-line Equipment, LLC.

Article rating: 6.3
Author: Jim Piccinich
Posted: March 1, 2003
feedback: (6) comments | read | write
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