How to Program an Auber PID on the Rancilio Silvia

Rancilio Silvia with Auber PIDPerhaps more than any other home espresso machine, the Rancilio Silvia has a devoted, storied following. Originally designed by commercial espresso machine manufacturer Rancilio to give as a gift to their distributors, it quickly took on a life of its own and, for many years, was considered the go-to espresso machine for home enthusiasts who wanted to craft specialty coffee quality drinks.

Owing to its creators, the Silvia featured largely commercial-grade components, which hadn’t really been on offer for many home-class espresso machines before. With copper-plated brass internals, a 58mm standard chrome-plated brass portafilter and a traditional steam wand, it provides the tools you need to make excellent espresso-based drinks. But it does have one major design element that have caused some folks to deem it as ‘finicky.’

The Silvia is a single boiler espresso machine that employs a rather simplistic temperature regulation system — a bi-metal thermostat that engages and disengages the heating element by bending one way or the other (as determined by the machine’s temperature). So, if the machine is on the lower end of the temperature spectrum, a small metal piece will bend one way in order to make a connection and allow the electrical current to reach the element, beginning the heat up process. On the other side of the spectrum, once the machine’s internal temperature reaches a high that causes this thin metal to bend in the opposite direction, it will interrupt the current and the machine will cease heating up. This is a very common method of temperature regulation used in appliances or thermostats around the home, and while it is cheap, reliable and effective, it also lends itself to a wide arc of variable temperature.

When these temperature variables happen in your home, you put on a sweater; when they happen in your espresso machine, they can result in marked differences in shot quality. At the hottest end of the spectrum, your coffee will taste burnt and over extracted, while on the coldest end it will taste sour. One way you can ensure you’re brewing at the right temperature, however, is to ‘temperature surf’ — pull just enough cold water into the boiler to engage the heating element, then, after it’s heated up to its highest temp, wait a bit (to allow the temp to come down from its hottest level) and then brew. Another way you can manage this is to circumvent the bi-metal thermostat altogether and install a PID!

The PID will take over managing the boiler’s temperature by using a more sophisticated and programmable electronic chipset. At SCG, you have the option of ordering a Rancilio Silvia from us that already has an Auber PID installed, which offers the ability to program the boiler temperature and elements of extraction such as pre-infusion and shot timing. In the video below, Gail shows us how to get into the Auber PID unit that we install on the Rancilio Silvia, navigate through it and program it for your specific needs.

Yes, this was a rather extensive and detailed lead-up to a simple how-to video, but knowing is half the battle, friend. And the other half is brought to you by espresso.

SCG How-To Guides: Programming the Auber PID on the Rancilio Silvia

4 comments for “How to Program an Auber PID on the Rancilio Silvia

  1. Charles Perry
    April 11, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I have installed the PID kit and it seems to work fine — I hear the pump, complete with the initial 1-second blast — except that no water is actually pumped. I have inspected the hose into the pump and can’t see any problem there. Any idea what could be going wrong?

    • April 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Hi Charles,

      I asked our techs about this issue and they said that that initial one second blast is called the Preinfusion Pulse Time. It should be factory set at 1.2 seconds. To see what is going on with your machine, they said to start off by running water through the steam wand for 15 or so seconds. There may not be any water in your boiler, which could be what is causing the problem. If that doesn’t work, you may also need to check your factory settings. Let us know how it goes and we can keep helping you troubleshoot.

      Thanks!

      Brenna

  2. Charles Perry
    May 12, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Thanks for the reply. I tried running the steam wand but still nothing came out. How would I check the factory settings?
    (BTW, an odd thing: When I opened the machine I found that the pump bracket had not been screwed down at the factory and the pump was just hanging there. This isn’t relevant to my issue, though; the pump was working before I installed the PID.)

    • May 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Hi Charles,

      I’m emailing a pdf on the factory settings over to you. I hope this helps!

      Brenna

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