HomeRoast Digest

Topic: new apt. blues (27 msgs / 626 lines)
1) From: Peter Barnes
I finished moving to Jersey City this weekend, and to my great 
misfortune, the wiring in my apartment hasn't been updated for a long, 
long time.  Suffice to say that I used my voltmeter to check some 
outlets, and found only *one* that received even 100 volts.  Not even 
110.  Everything else was in the 90-95 range.  Since I do my roasting 
with a Rosto, I knew I was out of luck.  So I tried a popcorn popper 
(but I couldn't use the good outlet in the middle of the living room 
with that) so I used a kitchen outlet. 
Good luck!
The coffee never even reached first crack.  So my hand is forced.  I'm 
going to have to make an investment in a variac right now, no matter 
what, rewire my machines, and while waiting for the following to happen, 
learn to use a wok to roast coffee.  I guess in the grand scheme of 
things, this is a good thing.  But right now, in my caffeine-deprived 
body, this feels like the end of the world.  I'm going to have to buy 
some non-fresh coffee to get me through.
So sad.

2) From: Ben Treichel
I'm afraid there is more bad news for you. A variac that expects 110, 
will put out 130. So if you feed it 90, you will be lucky to get 116v. A 
step-up transformer from Radio Shack, or any other place will be cheaper.
Peter Barnes wrote:

3) From: Peter Barnes
ooh, that is bad.  My roommate and I had a crash course on electronics 
over the weekend, because not only is the wiring bad, but we only have 
two 15A circuits to work with in the place.  But you're right, a 
transformer would probably do the trick.  Thanks.
Ben Treichel wrote:

4) From: miKe mcKoffee

5) From: Michael Vanecek
A rack of heavy-duty batteries, a charger and a good inverter.
'nuff said. :)
The things we go through for a good cup of coffee...
miKe mcKoffee wrote:

6) From: Rich Adams
I got a 2000 watt power inverter for the Land Cruiser, surges up to 4K.
I can roast on the road np, or, in this case, in an apt parking lot.
Rich Adams

7) From: Ken Mary
Do you have an electric stove at 220 volts? Laundry room? Dryers are 220v.
Buy a 220 variac.
Call the local or county housing authority and complain. Such low voltages
could ruin equipment.

8) From: Peter Barnes
Unfortunately, (or rather, fortunately) we have a gas stove, no laundry 
room, nothing in the building runs on 220V.  We looked into that option 
We are certainly considering whether we should take action, and what 
action to take.  There are ways to get around this for roasting coffee, 
but our five computers and one server certainly aren't going to be very 
Meanwhile, I've spent my entire morning at work researching all these 
options you guys keep telling me about.  I am basically electronically 
illiterate, so the past few days has been a tremendous crash course in 
all sorts of wired things.  I actually may use the "roasting in my car 
option" setup, since outdoor roasting would be the ideal situation...
But keep the ideas rolling.
Ken Mary wrote:

9) From: miKe mcKoffee

10) From: Peter Barnes
If we had a YARD, that would be an option.  Oh, the joys of living in 
the middle of the city.  Trust me, that is high on my priority list for 
the day when I actually have a yard...  or a brick oven...  i'm not picky.
miKe mcKoffee wrote:

11) From: Seth Goodman
At 09:33 AM 7/7/03 -0400, Peter Barnes wrote:
It was pretty hot in the Northeast this past weekend, so I'm wondering if 
you might have tested your voltage while the local power company had 
reduced line voltage. Have you tried testing at an off-peak hour (such as 
late at night)?
If that's not the case, your line voltage is really unacceptable, and not 
just for roasting.  Anything outside the range of +/- 10% of the nominal 
120V really needs to be looked at, as someone else has already suggested.
Good luck!
Seth Goodman

12) From: Peter Barnes
We ran three line voltage tests:  
2 PM Saturday
9 AM Sunday
1:30 AM this morning.
You're probably right.  Time to make some phone calls...
Seth Goodman wrote:

13) From: gin
how about another place to live? maybe trade apt's with someone who does not

14) From: john roberts
An obvious question is how confident are you in your meter? Can we assume
you've measured power at other locations.
Another consideration is possible imbalance in your distribution. Uneven
loading of circuits could cause one leg to load down, while pushing another
leg up to over voltage. Even though you may not have any 220v appliances, at
your fuse panel where the service is brought into your building it will
usually be 220-230v.
I had an interesting occurrence regarding out of spec power. Several years
ago I returned home from work and thought the lights were a little bright
but didn't think much of it. Our eyes aren't very sensitive to absolute
brightness, but after a while I just had to whip out my trusty voltmeter.
Sure enough I was logging over 130v at the outlet.
I called my local power company and asked them if they were aware of
anything and they said no. I then went to my fuse box and measured 270v
coming into the house. So I didn't have a personal wiring problem. The power
company guy wasn't ready to accept my word for it, but it was a quiet night
so he drove out to my house, to show me that I was wrong.
A half hour later he shows up in a big old truck with more blinking lights
than a Tijuana taxi cab. He whips out an ancient but trusty old Simpson
voltmeter. Walks around to my power meter and measures 270V... He then says
I must have a bad transformer on my pole (huh?) and makes a pretty hairy
measurement of that, but it was good too. He then says he'll be back in a
few minutes and drives away. Sure enough about ten minutes after he drives
away the lights dim down to normal.
It turns out the substation about 2 miles up the road has an auto-ranging
auto-former that ratchets up and down with power demand. Apparently it got
stuck and as the evening went on and load dropped off the voltage would have
kept going up. He whacked it with a hammer and it's been fine ever since.
Sometimes power companies will intentionally drop voltage (called
brown-outs) when they can't keep up with demand, usually in the summer when
everybody has their air conditioning cranked. Since the same power at a
lower voltage can deliver more current. Such cheating can be bad for
Good luck with your situation, what does your landlord say? You can't be the
first to notice.

15) From: Rich Adams

16) From: Bob Yellin
Just out of curiosity I measured the maximum voltage output of my KRM
Variac, model 2090 (20 Amps) and with an input voltage of 120v, I got a max
output of 147.5v under no-load conditions, all measured @ +/- 1% accuracy.
That means that there may be a chance to bring the voltage to a normal
level with this Variac (90v/110v*147.5v0.6v). Maybe worth a try if all
else fails.
Bob Yellin

17) From: Ben Treichel
I based my calcs on the plate data. 110 in 130 out, so your getting more 
than promised.
Bob Yellin wrote:

18) From: Rick Farris
Yeah.  The actual equation is:
	(1::1 setting)/(max setting) = (input voltage)/(output voltage)
Or, solving for output voltage:
	output voltage = (max setting) * (input voltage) / (1::1
setting) And
	input voltage  = (1::1 setting) * (output voltage) / (max
Where (1::1 setting) on a KRM 2090 is 110, and (max setting) is 135.
If you are looking for 120 VAC output then:
	input = (110 * 120 / 135) = (148.5 / 135) = 98 VAC
(I know the max number marked on the KRM is 130, but the knob goes to
Should be (90v/135 * 147.5)!
-- Rick

19) From: Peter Barnes
Well, I just did my first two wok roasts.  I read Jim's wok poem very 
carefully for about 5 seconds, then started roasting.  I think I can 
really come to enjoy the wok as a roaster - the rhythm of the stirring 
and the total control of the roast is very nice.  Both of my roasts came 
out very uneven, but they are still WAY better than the barely roasted 
coffee I tried to brew this morning.

20) From: Ed Needham
I would call the local electric company and ask them to fix it.  It's you
that pays the electric bill (I presume), and you are a customer of theirs.
They may have equipment failing on your neighborhood grid that could be fixed
or upgraded.  It sure couldn't hurt.
Ed Needham
To Absurdity and Beyond!http://www.homeroaster.comed

21) From: miKe mcKoffee

22) From: jim gundlach
On Monday, July 7, 2003, at 11:48  PM, Peter Barnes wrote:
Just a few thoughts:
You might increase the amount of beans in a roast.
Lowering the heat a bit when you are in the middle of the first crack 
and taking it to finish can even things out.  It also improves flavor.
Most important is to keep the beans moving.  You cannot take a break 
from stirring during wok or pan roasting.
Last night I roasted the last of my Sumatra Mandheling Classic" Lot 
4365.  I found three black beans that had a bad flavor and a piece of a 
broken jade bead that was still green when the rest of the roast was 
entering first crack.  When you wok roast you do get to look over the 
beans well enough to remove potential problems.
Jim Gundlach

23) From: Kenneth Roberts
All those PC's, you must have a UPS?
Can you charge your UPS and get a 15 minute roast off that?
Can a UPS handle it?  Someone must have tried it!!

24) From: Peter Barnes
That is an idea to try.  Our UPS occasionally gets unhappy with the poor 
voltage, but you could be right.  I'll give that a shot tonight and let 
you know if it work...
Kenneth Roberts wrote:

25) From: Ed Needham
You better read the instructions for your UPS closely.  Somewhere I read that
high wattage items and motors can ruin them.
Ed Needham
To Absurdity and Beyond!http://www.homeroaster.comed

26) From: Rick Farris (home)
Motors present an inductive load and might be a problem.  But the fan motor
in the roaster won't.  The big load in a roaster is the heating element
which should be about 95% resistive, so I don't think the fact that it's a
roaster is going to be a problem.
Of course, if you try to drive a 1500W roaster with a 600W UPS, then
there're going to be fireworks.
-- Rick

27) From: Mike Fronzaglia
Yep!  APC did have Hearthware roasters in mind when they designed their
products!  The variation of draw from the roaster did not sit well with the
APC!  :-)  Works better on my network (the APC that is)...
Mike Fronzaglia
MCP, CSSA, A+, Dell
Freelance Trumpet Performance and Instruction

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