Tag Archives: MLG PID review
Week 5: Rancilio Silvia V3 – PID Upgrade
I only had Silvia V3 for about a month and I decided to unleash the ultimate power of this machine. There are reasons behind the upgrade, first of all temperature surfing in both espresso and steam are totally fine if you have read my previous blog Temperature Surfing and Microfoam (Part 2), but it’s very time consuming. Imagine you have friends at your place, it will probably take 1 hour just to make 5-6 latte because of the boiler cycle. The other reason is the temperature control of PID is way more precise than surfing, so you can have more consistently perfect shots . Lastly, it looks cool with the digital thermometer display.
Choosing the PID for Silvia
There are so many PID kits on the market for Silvia, there are certain criteria I had:
- Safety and Reliability: Major parts of the PID kits such as SSR (Solid State Relay) and digital temperature controller must not be Made in China. If I am spending the money on the Italian made machine, why would I want some unreliable or low quality parts on Silvia?
- Void warranty: Any PID kit requires soldering, drilling or cutting existing wires are not in my consideration. The whole kit should be reversible in case of warranty work
- Steam Control: Without the steam control, PID kit is much cheaper because you will still be using the factory thermostat. In that case, you can read the digital temperature display and determine when to start steaming right before the indicator light turns off. However, if you miss it you have to wait for another cycle. With steam control, you will never miss the cycle because PID turns on the boiler automatically when the temperature drops
- Timer Control: For me, PID should only control the boiler/steam temperature, not the time of the extraction. Some PID kits let you preset as 25 seconds for extraction by clicking a button, personally I don’t like this. So, pre-infusion is not on my list because I want to keep the machine as “manual” as possible – I only need PID to help me to narrow the “deadband”.
- Looks Good: It has to look good overall by matching Miss Silvia high fashion sense in stainless steel. No aluminum case.
- Power supply: No additional power supply needed
There are several famous PID kits for Silvia V2 or V3:
- MLG PID Kits – with Steam control – $330
- PidSilvia.com – $120 to $240
- Auber Instruments pre-infusion – $245
PID Kit Arrived and Installed
Well, you may not have the same requirements that I have, for me I chose MLG PID Kits. The kit arrived and everything (controller, SSR and even all the cables) was in extremely high quality build and installation guide included were very clear and detail. Notice that the photos in the instruction were for Silvia V2, but it applies to Silvia V3 since Ranchilio has not change one thing. Both Watlow controller and SSR were Made in U.S.A. with hard copy manual included.
Installation was pretty easy, it took me 4 hours to install. It should not have taken that long but I just wanted to make sure everything was perfect without breaking anything, see the photos below for my installation in progress, the step-by-step installation guide was in color PDF and I loaded it on my iPad.
Water Pump was Leaking
Notes: Water Pump leaking has NOTHING to do with MLG PID Kit, it was Rancilio crappy quality control and/or parts. Perhaps, they fool customers by giving out refurbished machines and sell them as new.
At the end of the MLG PID Kit installation, I did a test run. I was shocked to see that the joint between the metal and plastic fitting of the ULKA EP-5 was leaking whenever the pump was on. No wonder why in the past weeks, I got some water on the table! Originally I thought I didn’t put the drip tray properly, now this explained why.
For minor leaking like this, it can be fixed easily. Since I didn’t know if that fitting was a forced fit or it was a threaded fit, I couldn’t find any information on the Internet. So, I tried using the “Nashua Stretch & Seal” (or “Magic Wrap”) and it failed so badly. I think the powerful pump produces quite decent pressure, this type of seal has NO WAY to hold the pressure of 10 bar (145 PSI) or above.
The seal used by Rancilio was hardened on brand new machine?
Next, I tried to unscrew them – Yes it was a threaded fitting. Then, some green stuff (see in the photos) felt off from the threads! It is very hard to believe the seal has already hardened because my machine was brand new. Now it makes me think that Rancilio or the store sold me a refurbished machine and charged me the price of a brand new one. This really bugged me. Anyways, life goes on…
Fixing this was extremely easy, I used a product called “Pipe Stick” (or any pipe joint compound, even teflon tape would work too) because I used that to fix a swimming pool pump before. Also, the product claims it can withstand up to 2000 PSI. Everything was fixed after an additional hour of work and no more leaking!
Using the PID
PID is extremely simple to use, the preset temperature by MLG for espresso brew was set to be 106C / 224F (for cold machine starts). The instruction suggested if you have warmed up the machine for 30 min or above, you can set the PID to be 105C / 222F (This is the latest notes provided by MLG, the older note said 226F as default) . As for steam mode, the preset is 146C / 295 F meaning that if the boiler temperature drops below that point, the boiler will start again in full power. The temperature usually will keep climbing till 148C / 300 F to 154C / 310 F at max.
PID makes life so much easier by saving time and water, most importantly it gives you repeatable good result consistently. I strongly recommend to get one for your Rancilio Silvia, you paid for what you get for MLG PID Kit although it is a bit expensive but it does worth every penny.