By Princewill Ekwujuru & Blessing Adegor
In the midst of brand competition, seven manufacturers of pressing iron have stepped up efforts to increase their market share by introducing innovative features into their products.
The seven competing manufacturers are Black &Decker, T-fal, Rowenta, SunBeam, Philip, Kenwood and Binatone.
In order to attract more customers, the manufacturers have enhanced their products with innovative features aimed at improving consumers’ ironing experience.
These features are steam holes, water reservoir tanks, variable steam settings, self-clean and anti-calc feature that increase efficiency and product’s lifespan.
Other measures introduced to improve customer experience and use of the products include steam force light emitting diode, LED display, retractable cord, and iron carrying case.
In order to ascertain the capacity and capabilities of the pressing iron brands, a test was carried out on various fabrics with the help of two laundry service operators – Rosetti Laundry Services, located along LASU–Isheri Expressway, Lagos and another operator, Ukpong Elias, along the same axis.
The findings reveal the pros and cons of the various pressing iron brands which helped to determine customers’ preference.
Black & Decker
The digital display of the brand enables users set the desired temperature to the exact requirement of the fabric to be ironed. It has large water reservoir, independent steam and temperature controls, with tone alert when temperature reaches its limit.
But the brand has shorter cord than most irons, no horizontal or tip automatic shut-off and no shut-off button, hence the user has to unplug it.
This brand irons well on cotton clothes but requires some serious heat – uses 1,725 watts to get up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit to do that – making it the hottest iron tested. It is ideal for ironing unyielding fabrics, has 64 steam holes and an easy-to-use dial to control steam intensity.
The soleplate is non-stick and scratch resistant, lightweight and so reduces arm fatigue. If the iron is on but unused for some minutes, or if it’s on and tipped down on its face for 30 seconds, it automatically shuts off. The water reservoir is mid-range in size.
For Rowenta, it has 300 steam holes; works well on all types of fabric and has anti-mineral deposit system that prevents dirt. Its disadvantages are small water reservoir, has no digital display, automatic shut-off happens too frequently and it is not good for sewing projects.
Good for easier removal of creases, has a dual spray mist button. It also comes with a large water tank and 1,400 watts of power. To enhance its looks and increase durability, it has a chrome finish and a stainless steel soleplate with non-stick properties.
It is lightweight, self-cleaning and its anti-calc feature increases efficiency and lifespan. It has a liquid crystal diode, LCD display that shows clearly the mode of fabric the iron is on and a stainless steel soleplate, variable temperature and steam control.
However, it is short of steam that helps in tackling more difficult creases, has short and retractable cord and variable steam with four different settings. Also, the macro holes do not deliver as much steam as micro holes and the steam burst is not as powerful as in some brands.
This brand is lightweight, sleek and portable as it only takes up minimal space. With 1400 watts of power, it ensures high performance. Its features include non-stick soleplate for smooth ironing, variable temperature setting and steam setting, dry/spray/steam functions, self clean function, amongst others.
This pressing iron slides easily on clothes. It is equipped with pre-set temperature for different fabrics, which can be set easily by revolving the knob and also has an indicator for cut-off and cut-on. It is lightweight, soleplate is aluminium with American heritage coating, has 1100watts power point and stylish design. The disadvantages include no swivel cord and indicator located below the handle.
This product has a user-friendly design, with anti-scale device which prevents it from accumulating dirt, thereby increasing its life span. The pointed tip makes ironing easy around buttons. It’s easy to operate, has adjustable steam settings and gives continuous steam output for better crease removal. It also allows for vertical ironing for curtain, suit and dresses. The water spray system removes wrinkles from clothes easily and is power- saving. It consumes 2,400watts for a quick heating process which helps in saving user time and less effort. It also gives a constant high steam output.
Consumers that spoke to Vanguard Companies and Market were divergent in their opinion on preference for the brands.
According to the Director of Rosetti Laundry Services, Nnaemeka Udodirim: “Rowenta is the best pressing iron because of its excellent steaming capabilities, anti-mineral deposit system and self-cleaning features. It performs best on every type of material. Rowenta iron is well balanced, reducing fatigue on your arms and wrists as it runs smoothly over any type of fabric.”
On the other hand, Ukpong Elias said: “Before the advent of Rowenta and other brands, Philip was the best for the business, but when technology and innovation keep changing, people began to see new things and want to try them out, that changed their mind, that is not to say Philip is not good, people want to experience new things. I still use Philip brand and Black and Decker.”
A retailer at Alaba Suru Market, Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Mustapha Audu said: “I use the Philip brand. I prefer it because it prevents clothes from sticking on the surface at the highest temperature.”
He added: “I buy more Philip products than any other because it has cleaner surface that is easy to maintain. Philip steam iron is the one leading the market now.”
Mrs. Joy Muoka, a trader said: “I use the T-fal at home, it is a perfect brand. The soleplate is non-stick and scratch resistant, lightweight, making it no problem for arm fatigue. If the iron is on but unused for some minutes, or if it’s on and tipped down on its face for 30 seconds, it automatically shuts off.”
Another trader, Mr. Israel Igwe, who sells at Boundary market, Ajegunle, Apapa in Lagos said: ”People prefer both dry and steam Philip pressing iron, it is difficult to get new Philip steam iron. The Philip brand is the best because the heat is higher and it irons conveniently. The quality is the best, soldiers use it a lot.”
A distributor in various iron brands, Mekson and Bros, at Alaba International market, Ojo Local Government Area said: “This steam iron (Rowenta) glides smoothly over fabrics thanks to its stainless steel soleplate and the 300 steam holes deliver powerful and consistent steam to your clothes to eliminate creases and wrinkles quickly.”