Smart-phone app brings an early end to Aga saga

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The Independent Tech

Aga, the stove beloved of middle-class households, is moving into the 21st century with a new model that heats up within minutes and may be controlled by smartphone.

Despite looking like a traditional cast-iron range cooker, the Aga Total Control has electrical elements in every oven door, wall and ceiling rather than relying on one heat source slowly warming the whole appliance.

The change means that instead of taking six hours to warm up, a hotplate can be ready in eight minutes and the baking oven in 22 minutes. The manufacturer, based in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, says the move will lower the average weekly electricity bill for cooking from around £20 to £5, which may help offset environmental criticism that the cooker uses too much energy.

Eventually, the manufacturer hopes to allow users to fire up the oven remotely by using a smartphone app, meaning that Aga owners can set it to come on as they return home.

William McGrath, the chief executive of Aga Rangemaster Group, said the company wanted to keep the aspects of the cooker that they treasured – the warmth, the cooking and the look – while making it more practical.

He said: "It's a big change. The product has become programmable. The important thing was to keep everything people liked but to look at a new approach. It's probably the biggest change in the way we have done things since 1935."

The company hopes to develop a smartphone application by Christmas. The new model will cost £9,595, a little more than the £9,000 charged for the equivalent three-oven standard oil-fired or electric Aga. Agas sales fell during the economic slump to 11,650 last year, and the company has laid off 20 per cent of its workforce in the past three years. Last year sales nudged back up by 5 per cent to £259m. The company is now hoping to sell more Agas overseas.

Mr McGrath – who will launch the new model today – said: "We think it will open up a whole new market for us in the UK and abroad. It's a step change in the way the product operates. It runs on your timetable."

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