Using A 220v Espresso Machine In The Us
Q: I recently moved back to the US from Europe. I am shipping my very nice pump espresso machine back and was wondering if it is possible to us it on the same circuit as the refigerator. I am not sure what the wattage (probably at least 1k) of the machine is (still in transit), but it is too much to resonably use with a step-up transformer. What is the difference in the 220v found in Europe and that used in appliances here in the US? I'm guessing if the 'fridge solution doesn't go then I can get a new transformer put in. Any tips for that? Thanks in advance!
A: I think you'll have to change the heating elements, except possibly the kind that works by conducting electricity through the water, and any electric pump will have to be changed. Any electronic control circuitry will need a new isolation transformer (probably the easiest change to make), but some can be rewired. The 50 Hz electricity used in Europe is not a problem except for AC synchronous motors, like those found in mechanical timers, clocks, and very old phonographs. My guess is that it if it worked on 220 volts AC 50 Hertz in Europe it will will work OK on 60 hertz in North America. Although a typical North American electric kettle for example can take 1200 watts, 1000 watts could require a fairly heavy and expensive transformer to step up the 110 volts from a regular wall outlet to 220 volts for your machine. Or have a 220 volt outlet installed for this machine only. After all North American clothes dryers, electric cooking stoves and many electric heating systems use 220 volts which is available in almost every North American residence. BUT; discuss carefully with a really knowledgeable electrician because in the European machine one of the 220 volt wires would have been live and (most probably but not absolutely, because of different electrical system in different countries) the other wire would have been the neutral. Wiring it up to North American 220 volt would probably mean that both those wires will be live! (one wire at plus 110 volts to neutral and the other at minus 110 volts, as it were!) Since all equipment should also be correctly grounded or earthed that may be OK. But on the other hand it may not; so be careful! There are also ways of wiring up transformers which are called 'auto-transformers' somewhat complicated to explain, except to mention that it can be done so that the North American 110 volts is transformed and added to 110 volts again to make 220! One advantage being that the such a transformer only has to be big enough to handle half the amount of power. But again it needs very careful wiring to ensure that neutrals and grounds are, for safety and insurance purposes, correct. In other words you want your coffee to be 'hot'; but you don't want the machine to be 'hot', electrically!