how use a machine with different voltage



In the 50th the distribution of electricity in Italy was in the hands of some private companies that decided prices and mode of production.

The voltage of domestic appliances were much different, as 110-volt, 125, 150, 160, 220, 230, 260, 280.


The nationalization and the subsequent unification of the voltage to 220 volts took place in 1962. Consequently there are still many coffee machines produced in those years with a different voltage than the standard. Also there are many countries where the present voltage is 110 volts (U.S., Canada, Taiwan, ...)

What to do if you have or want to buy a coffee machine with a different voltage than the supply in your home?  The best solution would be to replace the heating element, but if this is not possible, better use a transformer or Variac.


ESPRESSO MACHINE 110-125 VOLT/220-240-260 VOLT

If the conversion is between 110 volt and 220 and vice versa, it is sufficient to use a transformer. The transformer power must be adequate for the power of heating element. The household espresso machines have usually a capacity ranging from 550W to 1300W, so you need a transformer with an output of at least 3000W,  like this



If the conversion is between 110 volt and 160 volt is it possible uses the machine without transformer. The heating time will be more slow, about twice.

I have personally tested two machines to 160 volts, a Faemina and a Gaggia Gilda first model.



The Gaggia Gilda reaches the proper temperature in about 10-12 minutes, then must be switched off because has a single heating element. No other tests performed.



Before tests, I installed a pressure gauge on the steam tap. Be noted that the faemina works at a pressure of 0.2 atm


I compared a 160 volt machine (with 110 volt line) with a 220 volt machine.

220 volt faemina
- heating time about 6 minutes to reach 0,2 atm with 0,6 l of water
- switching to "minimo" the pressure remain constant
- steam abundant in position "minimo" and "massimo"

160 volt faemina (with 110 volt power)
- heating time about 12 minutes to reach 0,2 atm with 0,6 l of water
- switching to "minimo" the pressure goes down a bit
- steam abundant to position "massimo", not much to position "minimo"
- body machine temperature about 91 C

The only problem that I found is that to make a good cappuccino is better switch on to position "massimo" (behaviour normal for the europiccola with 2 elements) or let the machine to "minimo" for more time.

Alternatively you can use a Variac, that allows to transform 110  volt or 220 volt to 160 volt.





2012 Francesco Ceccarelli. All rights reserved.
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