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Siemens has been making electric home appliances since the beginning of the 20th century. The brand quickly became a symbol of reliability and quality.
Siemens was already busy in the home appliances market as the 20th century began. In 1904 it developed silicon carbide heating rods that were installed in hot plates and electric heaters. Two years later, the company put its first vacuum cleaner on the market. This "dust suction pump" was used in both commercial environs and homes and was equipped with a 1-horsepower motor and a water filter. The drawback: it weighed a hefty three German hundredweight – about 150 kilograms.
In those days, electric appliances were entirely a luxury and appeared only in wealthy homes. Vacuuming was usually done with "home dust suction pumps" that had a central suction unit and a system of tubes distributed around the building, to which a handheld unit could then be connected.
The company's first portable fan-driven vacuum cleaner – still a rather heavy affair – followed in 1924, and seven years later came the "whispering" Protos-Super canister vacuum cleaner for hotels and commercial properties. Siemens introduced its first lightweight manual vacuum cleaner in 1935.
More and more homes in Germany got electricity in the 1920s. Where only five percent of the homes in Berlin were connected to the grid in 1914, the figure had risen to 25 percent by 1925 and to 50 percent two years later. As electricity spread, so did early small appliances like electric irons. These relatively inexpensive irons eliminated the need to manipulate the tricky, dangerous hot coals that had heated non-electric versions.
The first appliance comparable to today's electric cookers reached the market in the mid-1920s. In 1926, Siemens presented its first "baking tube," an actual tube with a heating coil wrapped around it. This was the first time people could cook their "Sunday roast" electrically, without having to deal with wood or coal.
The first electric washing machines were introduced around the same time. Siemens presented the "Protos Turbo" washer in 1928, a drum-type machine that could both wash and spin-dry a load. It eliminated the need to lift heavy, wet laundry from the washing machine to a spin-dryer.
During the years of Germany’s postwar reconstruction and its "economic miracle," electric home appliances symbolized the population's rising prosperity. The kind of home comfort that had been taken for granted in the USA since the inter-war era now became standard in Germany as well. By the early 1960s, the market for cookers, refrigerators and washing machines began to seem saturated. So in 1964, Siemens presented its first dishwasher. This alternative to hand washing launched the dishwasher's irresistible rise.
About the same time, two market leaders – Siemens and Bosch – began exploring possible avenues for collaboration. Ultimately, in 1967, they combined their home appliance operations in Bosch-Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH (BSHG, now BSH). That same year, the company marketed its first dishwasher with a stainless steel interior tub, ensuring a longer service life for the machine. The company's first built-in dishwasher followed in 1980.
Water damage from overflowing dishwashers or clothes washers had been a significant concern for many during the postwar decades. The Aqua-Stop system patented by Bosch-Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH in 1985 provided a solution. As the name suggests, this was a security system that reliably prevented water damage from burst or detached hoses or hose leaks. The technology was so reliable that the company offered customers a lifetime guarantee against water damage. And it held to that path. Only two years later, in 1987, BSH presented its customers with an expanded system that could now protect against overflows and leaks inside the appliance, as well as damage to the drain hose.
Ten years later, BSH developers presented yet another innovation, the aquaSensor. It sensed how dirty the water was, and adjusted the addition of detergent and the washing or rinsing program accordingly – an important feature for sustainability, as well.
Siemens had also been at work in the kitchen since the 1920s. In 1950 the company presented its first automatic hotplate. It made cooking significantly easier because it kept the temperature constant automatically. When built-in kitchens became fashionable in the early 1960s, Siemens offered customers built-in appliances, like its first "Universal" built-in cooker of 1962.
It followed up in 1980 with its first oven that included an integrated microwave and four years later came the first induction cooktop – innovations that not only revolutionized cooking, but consumed up to 50 percent less electricity.
The glass-ceramic cooktops that Siemens presented in 1998 had extensible sensors that sensed pot temperature by infrared, and thus kept the pot consistently at the desired heat – with accuracy to within a degree. The advantage was that there was no need to lift the pot lid, cutting electric power consumption by up to another 80 percent.
In 2010, Siemens introduced a real energy-saving champion on the market. The ecoStar2 dishwasher saved 30 percent more electricity than was required for a Class A energy efficiency rating. Water consumption was only seven liters per wash cycle, almost half the figure from previous washers and a washing operation used only 0.73 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.
This was possible because of the zeolite technology developed by Siemens in 2008, which won multiple awards. This unique technology used zeolites – aluminum silicates – which have a very large surface area and a porous interior that can absorb water and heat up. So moist air flows through the zeolites and heats them, causing them to absorb moisture and making the drying process significantly faster and more efficient. A standard cycle at 50 degrees Celsius ran just over two hours, about 30 minutes less than conventional dishwashers needed.
In 2014, kitchen appliances got smart too. Siemens presented its first networked appliances: The iQ700 ovens, steam ovens and dishwashers. These could be controlled directly from the control panel as usual, but also via a smartphone or tablet, because they could be networked via Wi-Fi or WLAN.
The only prerequisite was the Home Connect app, which offered functions precisely tailored to the Siemens appliance it was connected to – remote control and more. For example, the app had a digital cookbook, as well as functions to help make shopping lists or recipes and to actuate the oven directly.
Operating instructions – in words, pictures and video – were also integrated into the Home Connect app. It included tips and tricks as well for using the appliance and – for the dishwasher – information about various cycles’ resource efficiency. A direct connection to the replacement parts and after-sales service included data about the device and servicing, making things easier for the user in the event of a defect.