Looking for any suggestions on a machine that will work well for catering events...needs to be powerful enough to make lots of drinks without cooling down...is there one out there with a 110 instead of a 220, this always seems to be a problem?  any advice id appreciate!

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Please, someone pipe in about running a 220V machine off 110V outlet. As far as I know it is not possible, even with a step up transformer. You might be better off running several single groups. However, be careful that the service breaker in the building can handle the load of several machines, several grinders, the flowjet, etc.

Short answer: NO

Longer Answer: Assuming you would not fry the electronics by plugging a 220v machine into a 110v outlet, commercial espresso machines run on 220v because they run higher wattage heating elements that are needed for making multiple drinks in short order.

Example: you run a single group La Marzocco Linea 220v.  Runs at 2500 watts.

Volts = watts/Amps

Say you have a 220 volt circuit with required 20 amp breaker

Volts = 2500w / 20amps =125Volts 

If you plug this machine into a 110v outlet:  2500w/110v= 22.73 needed amps on circuit, which from my understanding of US electrical code, does not exist.  If you ran this machine on a 110v 15 or 20 amp circuit you would likely blow the fuse, or cause so much draw through the wire that you could start a fire.  I doubt the folks who hired you to cater their event would be very happy with either outcome. 

Running two 110volt machines is an option, but you would need to run them on separate circuits to do so safely. 

I have seen many single group Rio Vania machines used successfully on 110v 20amp, but I think they are going to have some recovery lag issues.  If I were to set up a mobile cart and you want portability and quality extraction/frothing, I would seriously look into the Rancilio 2 group Epoca.

I agree with the short answer: Don't try to run a 220V machine off of a 110V outlet!

The math on the long answer is a bit fuzzy, so for anyone interested in trying to calculate their machine's specs, here's my take on such things:

There are two different types of electrical loads in an espresso machine:

1) Resistive loads (heating elements, lights, and such) These draw most of the power used by almost any espresso or coffee machine, and work electrically almost the opposite of what was described above.  If you give them less voltage, they draw LESS amps, not MORE.

2) Inductive loads (basically, electromagnetic loads, like motors and solenoid coils.)  These are a very small portion of the total power draw of an espresso machine. My understanding of inductive loads isn't quite as solid, but essentially they work as Keith described - they "try" to pull however many amps of current they need off of a given voltage in order to produce their rated power... in other words if you give them less voltage, they'll draw more amps in order to produce the same wattage.

What all this means in practical terms is that if you just hook up a 220V machine to a 110V supply, there's a chance that your motor and/or solenoid coils will draw such high amperages that they'll melt down or burn up, but they draw so little power overall that they're still not likely to trip any circuit breakers.

On the other hand, heating elements have a fixed resistance, not a fixed wattage so with two versions of ohm's law, we can see what they'll do on mis-matched power:

watts=volts*amps (also volts=watts/amps and amps=watts/volts)

volts=amps*ohms (also amps=volts/ohms and ohms=volts/amps)

So if you start with a 220V, 2500W heating element, the first step to understanding it is to determine how many ohms of resistance it has, because that's the only fixed characteristic it has:

2500W / 220V = 11.36A, so it would draw 11.36 amps at the rated voltage

220V / 11.36A = 19.36 ohms, so the resistance of the element is 19.36 ohms

Now that we know the resistance of the element, we can see what it would do on a circuit with different voltage:

110V / 19.36 ohms = 5.68A, so it would only draw 5.68 amps on a 110 volt circuit

5.68A * 110V = 625W, so it would put out 625 watts worth of heat (compared to the rated 2500W or to the 1500-1800W that would be typical for a standard 110V machine)

As you can see, the relationship between voltage and wattage for a given resistance is exponential (if you supply half the voltage, you only get one quarter the power!)  There's no real risk of drawing too much power with a 220V machine on a 110V circuit, but it would utterly useless to try, because if you somehow made it work, it would have HALF the power of a standard 110V machine (and don't forget that risk of smoking your motor and coils!)

Sorry for such a lengthy post, but it's not a simple issue to break down!  Realistically, I know that the short answer of "No" is all that was needed for this thread, but I thought I'd better explain the math in case someone reading this thread was inspired to swap heating elements and convert a machine from one voltage to another (happens a lot in my job, but I don't recommend doing it unless you know this stuff well enough that you didn't need to read this post in the first place)  Best of luck!


Keith Eckert said:

Please, someone pipe in about running a 220V machine off 110V outlet. As far as I know it is not possible, even with a step up transformer. You might be better off running several single groups. However, be careful that the service breaker in the building can handle the load of several machines, several grinders, the flowjet, etc.

Short answer: NO

Longer Answer: Assuming you would not fry the electronics by plugging a 220v machine into a 110v outlet, commercial espresso machines run on 220v because they run higher wattage heating elements that are needed for making multiple drinks in short order.

Example: you run a single group La Marzocco Linea 220v.  Runs at 2500 watts.

Volts = watts/Amps

Say you have a 220 volt circuit with required 20 amp breaker

Volts = 2500w / 20amps =125Volts 

If you plug this machine into a 110v outlet:  2500w/110v= 22.73 needed amps on circuit, which from my understanding of US electrical code, does not exist.  If you ran this machine on a 110v 15 or 20 amp circuit you would likely blow the fuse, or cause so much draw through the wire that you could start a fire.  I doubt the folks who hired you to cater their event would be very happy with either outcome. 

Running two 110volt machines is an option, but you would need to run them on separate circuits to do so safely. 

I have seen many single group Rio Vania machines used successfully on 110v 20amp, but I think they are going to have some recovery lag issues.  If I were to set up a mobile cart and you want portability and quality extraction/frothing, I would seriously look into the Rancilio 2 group Epoca.

Spoke with our tech about the topic earlier this morning and he let me know of my error, and I was just logged on to revise and clarify my earlier post.  Just saw that Eric has already spoken to the fixed resistance of heating elements, so thank you Eric. 

So the answer to the original question about running a 220v machine on a 110v circuit is still a big NO.  Buy a machine that is designed for the type of power that you will have available to you. 

The question I have is, where in the US are you going to be operating that doesn't have 220v power?  As far as I know, every panel in America is wired with two hot legs, and every commercial espresso machine, 110v or 220v, is going to require a dedicated circuit to run.  It's not like if you have a 110v machine you can just plug it into any old outlet you find.  220v outlets are almost always, if done correctly, wired dedicated to a single outlet or hardwired.  And then what do you do about grinders? Those also should be on a dedicated outlet as well.  

If you had a cart/machine with circuit protection, in theory you could use the hot legs of two dedicated 110v outlets, if they are on separate legs in the panel.  

 

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