For a few years now, we have used one of those big hulking steam generator irons and have been very pleased with the results.
However, when it finally gave up the will to live in the summer, we bought this cheap iron from Tesco as a stop gap measure whilst we researched our options. We could always use it as a spare when we had bought a bigger one was our rationale.
To be honest, once we had researched the options and my wife had decided on one of the more expensive ones, similar but better to the one which had expired, I broke out into a cold sweat. I baulked at forking out such a significant sum for a new one and changed the subject each time it was raised.
We have now been using this Tesco iron for about 4 months and, surprise surprise....my wife likes it, so we're going to keep it and use it and I'm off the hook! Yippee!
Why do we like it?
Well, it's a neat and functional iron. Nothing fancy by way of features, but nevertheless everything you need to get the job done.
Also, it's the right colour and fits in with the décor in Bedroom 3 where the ironing board is a semi-permanent erection.
It's worryingly light compared to what we were used to, but my wife is only little and she finds it easily manoeuvrable, allowing her to iron for longer. I don't have an issue with it either; I am tall and when I am ironing, it is quite easy to apply the requisite pressure to get things ironed satisfactorily.
Key for me to a successful if not enjoyable ironing experience is to iron things when they are a little bit damp and I am hugely paranoid about this. I iron all my own shirts and get very miffed if my wife leaves them on the line for too long and they go all dry and wrinkly. Anyway, I digress.
This iron has a steam facility and is described as Anti-Scale, Anti-Drip and Self Clean. To date, I have to report these as being accurate statements. Neither of us has ever had to clean the thing and we have burnt nothing with it.
I am impressed by the fact that it doesn't drip in use after you have filled it, because I hate that. That said, the water container is a bit small at only 200ml so you do have to fill it more often than you would want. We merely keep a jug of water on the adjacent bedside table to facilitate this. Also, although it has the usual dial indicating the heat settings, it isn't very well marked as to where the start point is, so that was a bit trial and error to start with.
Compared to the big one, now deceased, the generation of steam is a bit feeble at 25g variable steam and a 35g steam shot and this was the bit that concerned my wife initially. Yet, to be fair, it is sufficient to get the clothes ironed satisfactorily.
This is a 2000w light green and white iron and has proven well worth the minimal investment we made in buying it. They are still available at under a tenner on the Tesco Direct site and in store.
Following an accident of my mum's 7 year old Morphy Richards' Turbo-steam iron falling and unable to function, I've been resorted to giving her my Breville Diva iron on the strict belief that this will be a loan. In the meantime I need an iron which will be as good as my Breville but won't cost an arm and a leg whilst the design needs to be compact enough for my mum to handle since (and with relief) she finds my Diva model to be a little too big for her own liking.
"Cheap" and "basic" seem to be two phrases that Argos and Tesco love, rivalling each other with exclusive brand names in the household appliances sections - and the iron ranges are no exception. Although my Breville continues to impress, the choice of brand name has now fallen from my more respected wish of Rowenta or Tefal to supermarket brands or companies who offer a lot more than just features. At one end of the scale for example I found you can buy very expensive irons which are lightweight to hold yet have lots of features but remain bulky and can be difficult to store. All I wanted was a steam spray iron - how difficult is it? And experience taught me it had to have at least 1800 watts of heat following my own Breville iron which has 2000 watts for fast heat start up because if you're as rushed as I am in my daily life, the last thing you need is an iron which takes an age to heat up, never mind its steam function.
After deciding between Argos' own Steamworks iron, it was the IRS77 Tesco Steam Iron that my money chose; at £9-97 for quite a wealth of standard features that were once optionals on higher end Iron models only five years ago, the IRS77 doesn't disgrace itself in terms of what it offers. So how does if fair performance wise?
Weighing in at around 887g and even below one full kilogram I can't really fault this iron for being too heavy - certainly by the looks of it, the handle fits my hand like a glove even though it is slightly smaller than the average standard steam iron and has a unashamed Celtic green and white colouring that should, for the most part do well in Scotland if not for its purpose and price. It's not a pretty iron however although those who feel looks should be number one on their list for choosing an iron may need help! Additionally I found that the Tesco iron was one of the lightest in their shops and didn't realise the size of it until I compared it to a similarly priced Breville iron. For a start whilst it is green and white, geographically it apes my Breville Diva on its size, even though there are similar amount of holes for the steam to emerge through the stainless steel sole plate; its overall size becomes more apparent in use rather than storing away; compact, clean and stress free; even in the tightest of corners, my Tesco iron can be squeezed into corners my Breville would never have dared to stand.
The IRS77 isn't Tesco's cheapest iron however because an even more basic version available lacks the claimed steam output of 28g to 35g shots of steam per minute and stainless steel sole-plate that the IRS77 features. There is also a variable steam function, an anti-calcium, lime scale cleaning system built in and anti-drip facility; not bad for a mere tenner! The IRS77 can also steam vertically which effectively means that it can "steam" fresh curtains to keep them hygienic and dust free, or a function that I simply can't live without; having the advantage of being able to steam press my hanging suits for school and applying steam to my shower cubicle windows when the steam cleaner is being borrowed.
In general day to day use however there aren't that many downsides. The IRS77 performs very well, not just because of its small size or that the fact that I found it takes mere seconds for the iron to heat up. Tesco advertise this iron (and much of their products) wrongly stating that it has a 1600kw element, but in reality the minimum heat is generated between 1800 watts and maximum heat at 2000 watts. The power cord is about 3 metres in length and whilst this may be an industry standard, I do appreciate that the cord isn't as thickly roped as my Breville and therefore doesn't kink awkwardly. A central ball cord holder at the back that sprouts out from the rear pillar ensures that the cord can be turned around on a 360° axis which is handy for anyone left or right handed.
Filling the IRS77 is pretty similar to my own Breville even though on the IRS77, the cover for the water spout needs to be picked up and swung over and in this respect shows up poor quality plastic on its hinge. Whilst this can be discounted, filling straight from a tap is difficult and it is a lot better just to either allow your kitchen water tap to trickle somewhat into the flow rather than try to fill it on full force which of course just doesn't work on many electric only hand held irons, let alone this Tesco budget iron. Heating up reveals that this iron is very fast, continuous in its heat and has a great uniform factor helped along possibly by a lot of steam holes on the stainless steel sole plate - another winner - Tesco's cheapest travel iron which is a smidge smaller sports a tacky non-stick coating that doesn't feel or look like it will last over a period of time. The general handling of the IRS77's design is good with a comfortable handle, easy to select rotary control dial and a series of two buttons for the steam spray, steam shot and a variable slider for the steam control all within easy reach for fingers; naturally it also has a LED light and it is easily spotted when the iron has reached its optimum temperature. Whilst this sounds and indeed looks like many irons on the market there is only one downside that I've come across in the use of this iron; the water tank only has a capacity of 200 ml and in use, I can testify that after ironing just three shirts, 200 ml just doesn't last long enough!
In some way then, it would appear that Tesco may well have thought about this iron through; it has a small water tank that can appear to be awkward if you iron in a separate room and don't keep a frequent jug of water with you to fill the iron (regardless of the fact that along with the iron, you'll get a rather cheap feeling plastic tumbler filler jug fit for that purpose) On the other hand the size of the iron and the increased 1800 watt element should mean that I can breeze through ironing tasks with increased speed and less water. However, when the tank nearly needs to be filled again, it seems like the IRS77 runs out of steam earlier than expected; you can see the amount of water clearly in the tank through the lime green window for instance. In spite of its use in Scotland where in our region lime scale is unheard of, I immediately flipped the top rotary control into its self clean mode one day, turned the heat up on the dial, waited for a few moments before whatever was in the tank came shooting out the metal stainless steel foot plate - this did cure later fill ups of water to its maximum capacity in the iron and seemed to prolong its steam function for enough steam over 4 cotton shirts. Even with its claimed 35g maximum steam shot, I find that some clothing such as thick denim or sweatshirts are easy to iron even though the IRS77 doesn't feel like it could handle multiple layered fabrics; so it is a pity that despite the high element, I found the IRS77 needed a bit more time with different fabrics despite its kudos performance on the thinnest of fabrics such as Terry Cloth cotton or cotton t-shirts or shirts..The smaller sole plate doesn't let itself down even though bigger fabrics may need bigger surface iron contacting time. The best news is that my mum has taken to the Tesco iron well and fits her needs without being too heavy for her Arthritic hands.
The problem with the IRS77 is that Tesco don't really know what they have here but that shouldn't worry any consumer apart from the iron's size being smaller than most on the market. It has a lot more specific features and power overall than any small travel iron but lacks any plug that could supply an additional idea worth considering. Without a travel plug or adaptor, unless you happen to own your own then it is considerably cheap both on price and design. However as a standard iron for your home unless you have the smallest amount of clothing to iron, you'll be pushed to constantly filling the tank, and the stop-start procedure each time can become wearing! But at the price I paid, there is little to moan about otherwise; well done Tesco!. Thanks for reading. © Nar2 2008
Short name: Tesco IRS77