You don’t need a remote-controlled iKettle. You need remote controlled coffee in the morning

The kids are back to school and the wage-slaves are finally back to work, leaving the world blissfully quieter for retirees 😉 However, the silly season was extended over at the torygraph, who bring us the amazingly useless invention of…

This Smarter iKettle allows you to boil it remotely from your bedroom when you wake up, or when you’re on your way home from work. It will also tell you when your hot water is ready to pour, remind you to refill, and tell you when the kettle is empty.

the iKettle. Much like the Internet Connected fridge and the smartwatch, at £80 this is a solution in search of a problem. One which has had perfectly reasonable solutions ever since the 1960s, as the Telegraph very well knows. Indeed a search for the device shows it exercises the minds of our retired colonels-pining-for-the-glory-days-of-Empire an awful lot. Perhaps they had a crush on the woman in the ads back in the day 🙂

1509_teasmadeI like the enterprise of the British search of a morning cup of tea –

Mostly it was bought by a middle-aged, middle-income workforce who needed help getting out of their suburban beds.

Presumably they were sore that that the price of servants was so high in the 1970s… The Teasmade had some  positively lethal forerunners in the form of a methylated spirit burner lit by a match struck by the clockwork. What on earth could go wrong, eh – on a good day you rise to the pong of meths and stewed tea, on a bad day you get woken up by the smell of your house burning down. What’s not to like?

The trouble with the iKettle is that apart from a few people who drink hot though probably not boiling water as is, what you want to do with your boiled water is use it for something else, be that making beverages or boiling some spuds so you may as well go over there and press the damn button, and you tell whether the kettle has water in it by sloshing it about or listening to the noise. There is no need for the remote control at all. Indeed, if you want to spend money on simplifying your boiling water experience a Quooker tap is the way to go, you cut out all that filling the kettle first malarkey.

Tea? In the morning? What is this risible concept anyway?

The ermine household has no truck with the idea of tea, pretty much until 4pm. It’s coffee that is needed before the sun rises above the yardarm. Way back in working days I used a timer connected to a coffee machine in a gonzo version of the Teasmade and it served me well for years – far better to rise gradually to the smell of coffee than to some ghastly buzz or the latest Autotune hit. Obviously there’s no point in having an alarm as a retiree, so I have much sympathy with the concept of remote control – as long as it does the full job. So out with the timeswitch and in with the JS designs remote control mains socket. I have tried numerous Chinese cheapie remote switches, but they are all ghastly – no frequency control so if they work in summer they don’t in winter. What you really don’t need is one with a single switch that toggles state, because if the coffee is not in the same room you can’t get feedback on which state is ON. Separate on and off buttons, please.


JS uses a CR2032 cell, it’s easier for the Chinese crap alternatives to use one of those infernal 12V lighter batteries that has 10 LR44 coin cells in them, which makes running costs dear. I’m of the view that for something you get to use frequently it’s worth paying more to get something without rattiness, and lightwaveRF took all the Chinese rattiness[ref]investigation with a frequency counter of why the Chinese sockets would work some of the time showed they used a LC tuned circuit oscillator with a strip of PCB track inductor for frequency control of the TX, and were susceptible to temperature, humidity and hand capacity[/ref] away for me…

Anyway, the remote controlled mains socket and a lo-tech manual filter coffee machine that will power up if left switched on when the mains appears solves the problem the iKettle fails dismally – and you don’t have to putz about with a smartphone to launch coffee either.

There’s a certain fin de siècle decadence of something so complicatedly futile being exhibited at the IFA tradeshow as part of the leading edge. At least you could eat a chocolate teapot, and I have more admiration of the colonial entrepreneurs of over a century ago with their Heath-Robinson meths burners and matches. Let’s hear it from Stephen Covey and his Seven Habits of Successful People

Begin with the end in mind

You want a hot beverage at the end, not an excuse to piss about with a smartphone. [ref]While on the subject of smartphone driven hardware, experience has shown me that software has a much shorter mean-time-to-obsolescence than hardware. Any gizmo that needs an app to make it work will have the service life of a bluebottle, as Apple’s planned obsolescence orphans the app with an iOS upgrade.[/ref]. If we nailed this in 1902 we can keep to Covey’s maxim a century later.


10 thoughts on “You don’t need a remote-controlled iKettle. You need remote controlled coffee in the morning”

  1. Of course then there are the app features of inviting friends to your ‘kettle network’ and asking them how they take their drink via Facebook. Mind boggling!

    I use X10 to control some outside lights (previous owners had them hard wired to burn all through the night/winter with a light sensor!!!). A mix of timer and manual override is just practical. The X10 technology is old but, generally, reliable although not sure how long it will stay available. A couple of years ago I also rigged up web access, via a raspberry pi, but it just isn’t as easy as pressing a button on a controller and so I haven’t reinstalled on the pi.

    The lightwave looks interesting- how good is the range?

    The key here is fit to the user’s need, this certainly doesn’t fit mine as in the morning the kettle boils whilst I feed the chickens.



  2. “…remind you to refill, and tell you when the kettle is empty.” So they’re encouraging us to fill our kettles to the brim, then just keep reboiling water you won’t use at the time until you need to refill again. What a waste of energy and money. I boil just enough water for the purpose that I require it.


  3. @Stpegasbees Facebook, now there’s a thought. howsabout networking everybody’s kettle together so they can all have tea at the same time but not in the same place. Win-win – more iKettle sales and more facebook eyeballs!

    lightwaveRF seems to use the low-power 433MHz for the last 10m link to their devices, the gateway would extend the range/match it to wifi and mobile. It was a stroke of brilliance to permit decentralised RF remote control as well – I only bought this because I was sick of buying Chines rubbish on ebay and not getting coffee in the winter – the last straw was measuring a 12V battery at 11V which was enough to stop the misaligned Chinese remote and socket working.

    Range seems to be about 20m LOS and it works all over my semidetached house, through a couple of walls and the suspended wooden floor. It does somehow warm my heart to see British design just working!

    @Ray hehe – you will seriously have arrived if you can get the tabby to press the kettle button for you!

    @RIT Seems so – get another win for the Quooker tap which seems to solve most of the real ‘problems’ with kettles. I’m a tea barbarian, but I’m sure there are people around who say you shouldn’t reboil water for tea – indeed these guys

    In order to draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.

    @Edward interesting thread – nice to see some love for the Quooker, together with a link to the fearsome non-electric vintage option and the right way to make tea inside a moving vehicle. I have had the experience of driving on a business trip with a tea-only Brit in generally coffee-drinking France. His solution to getting a cup of tea was to sit in the passenger seat and run a plastic 12V Halfords kettle sort of like this between his legs while I drove at speed on the autoroute so the shocking 10A load of the kettle wouldn’t blow our chances of starting again. The kettle was gutless – he did get his tea after about half an hour and 30 miles, but a BV looks like the right way to go about this job 😉


  4. I don’t drink coffee. So I do drink tea in the morning, at ten, at noon, after noon, at five, in the evening and the night. Not only I’d want a remote controlled kettle, but I’d want it to be controlled from a google glass or even better, that it determines automatically when I will want a cup of tea in 5 minutes, so it can boil the water and dip the tea automatically even before I think of it!


  5. When you reach a certain age there’s every chance that you will have to take a pill first thing, under instruction to wait for half an hour before eating breakfast. So there’s ample time to brush your teeth, shave, floss your teeth, dress, stroll down the garden to pick up windfalls for slicing onto your muesli, and so forth. Into this hectic schedule you can fit making a couple of mugs of coffee and slicing the bread for toast. Or collecting eggs for poaching, if that’s your inclination.


  6. Hmmm clockwork, matches and meths or cheapo mains controllers… actually not sure what’s least lethal.
    However with both meths and tea available before rising, the steampunk teasmade is this gentleman’s preferred choice.


  7. “The Teasmade had some positively lethal forerunners in the form of a methylated spirit burner lit by a match struck by the clockwork. What on earth could go wrong, eh – on a good day you rise to the pong of meths and stewed tea, on a bad day you get woken up by the smell of your house burning down. What’s not to like?” – This. Sounds. Incredible.

    It does look like the lady in the goblin photo doesn’t know how to use a tea cup, which is fantastic.

    To be honest, I enjoy the slow process of making a coffee in the morning. Too bad Mrs Z hates the smell of coffee, haha.

    With the right marketing, it will sadly sell. Probably in John Lewis.


  8. I have a filter coffee machine with a built in timer, so you put in the coffee and water before you go to bed and hey presto, come down stairs to the smell of fresh coffee. With the Panasonic Bread Maker also having a timer function I can mix the smell of coffee with the smell of fresh bread too. And then ruin it all by letting rip a tremendous morning fart. As is my right.


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