Continuous Steam Machine - Earlex's Steam Caddy
June 2005
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Earlex, Inc., the new U.S. subsidiary of UK-based Earlex Ltd., introduced its Steam Caddy, a 3-in-1 steam system that is said to produce steam in less than 1 min. Earlex says the steamer—which can function as a floor-mounted, hand-held, and an upholstery/clothes steamer—provides 30 min of steaming time without chemicals and can be refilled instantly.

The company says that in order to produce steam in such a small amount of time, it reversed the design of its previous steam machines. "Before the steam caddy, our steam cleaners were producing steam by heating a large volume of water when compared to the surface area of the heating element," Neil Roberts, design and development manager, explains. "To produce steam in under 1 min, we have reversed those ratios. By pumping a small volume of water onto a hot metal plate or block, steam can be produced very quickly."

This, according to Mr. Roberts, is possible because the water reservoir attaches to the wheeled caddy. Because the reservoir is separate from the boiler, the need to wait for the boiler to cool down before refilling is eliminated. Also, because the two components are separate, the caddy can be laid vertically or horizontally, depending on the user’s needs.

The company says in designing the instant steamer, increasing time efficiency for the user was a main goal. "After 15 years of supplying low-cost steam cleaning kits, we had collected a large amount of data relating to the way that consumers were using our products," Mr. Roberts tells APPLIANCE. "Our classic steam cleaners can take over 10 min to reach operating temperature. We could see from other trends in the market, that the consumer was prepared to spend more money on products that saved them time. The convenience of the Steam Caddy is that it can be taken from the cupboard, filled, used, and stored away again in less than half the time it takes for the classic steam cleaners to heat up."

The steamer stores up to six attachments, including a floor cleaner, a window/tile cleaner, an upholstery/clothes hose, the main cable, extension wands, and cleaning nozzles. The unit weighs 14 lb and is equipped with a 5-ft hose for cleaning. For clothes steaming, a built-in garment hanger slides into one of the two extension poles.

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