Fixing the Swan Teasmade backlight

We love our Swan STM100 Teasmade – two fresh cups of tea, in bed, whenever we want. But like many other people, we found the blue backlight far too bright – so bright it disturbed our sleep.

I got a bit tired of covering it up with a cloth every night. Here’s how I fixed it properly – the Gurunoia Teasmade backlight mod.

How to turn off the blue backlight on a Swan STM100 Teasmade

Note: this modification will void your warranty, can expose you to dangerous electrical voltages, and may ruin your Teasmade permanently. I’ve documented what I did to my machine here for information only – follow at your own risk.

The Teasmade is well put together and solid, but it seems to have rather more screws than strictly necessary. The module is a bit tricky to remove and replace, but everything else is straightforward. You’ll need a crosshead screwdriver, a craft knife, and a bit of patience.

1. Start by removing all 10 exposed screws from the base of the Teasmade. Then remove the base. All these screws are the same length.

2. Hold the Teasmade upside down with the clock facing away from you. Identify the large flat module that contains the clock, buttons, and controller. In a moment you’ll be sliding this out.

But first, slide out the thin rectangular grey heat shield between the boiling chamber and the module. You’ll need to flex it a little and push the wires out of the way to do this. It slides straight up.

3. The module is held in by two screws – one on top at the right, and one down the bottom at the left. Remove both screws. The two screws are identical, but different from the first set – they have a built-in flange.

4. Now very carefully slide the module up and out. This is a bit tricky, since you have to do several things simultaneously:

  • Flex the front panel away from the buttons (you need to use considerable force for this, but don’t use any tools or you may mark the panel).
  • Depress the buttons so they can slide up under the panel.
  • Slowly edge the module up on first one side then the other.
  • Unclip the module from the two screw posts from which you just removed screws.
  • Unhook the cable tie from the right-hand screw post.
  • Take care not to break the attachment of the delay-start button on the centre screw post as it slides past (although I did and it still works fine).
  • Take care not to lose the springs under the buttons (particularly the alarm-set and time-set buttons, which are not attached).

5. Undo the 12 screws on the clear side of the module. These screws are again identical, but different from the earlier screws. Swing the opaque plastic rear cover out of the way, taking care not to bend the components on the board as the cover passes them.

6. The clock face is backlit by four blue LEDs at the corners of the main board (KC-800-PC-V1.0). These are wired in series and controlled by a single transistor (TR2) driven by the microcontroller.

To disable the LEDs, all you need to do is break the connection anywhere in this chain. I chose to cut the trace at the top of the board, between the first and second LEDs. Use a sharp craft knife to cut through the green mask and the copper trace, into the fibreglass board. Go over it a few times to make sure it’s completely severed.

You can reverse this later by bridging the gap by soldering a wire across it (or across the nearest LED terminals, which may be more convenient), or you could try dimming the display rather than disabling it completely by using an appropriate resistor.

7. Replace the module cover and attach with the 12 screws.

8. Slide the module back in.

  • Make sure the buttons are in the right places. There’s a flat on the two smaller buttons to hold them in place – the bottom of the alarm-set button and the top of the time-set button.
  • Easing the clock back into position behind the panel may be tricky, since there’s a sharp metal surround in the panel. I used a credit card between the clock face and the surround to lever it into place.
  • Be sure to clip the module into both screw posts, and to hook the cable tie back over the screw post before you do so.
  • Screw it back in with two flanged screws.

9. Slide the heat shield back into place. Be sure the wires are kept as much as possible behind the heat shield, so they are not exposed to the heat of the boiling chamber.

10. Replace the bottom cover, taking care to fit the power cable filter and grommet correctly into the bottom cover. Attach with 10 screws.

You’re done! Power up and check everything still works. Result: a Teasmade you can leave on without disturbing your sleep, until it’s time for that trademark whooshing gurgle! The clock face is easily readable without the backlight, and anyway you probably already have a bedside clock.

Future enhancements

The delay-start button still has a bright blue LED behind it. A future mod will do something about that; for now just mask it with some tape or a filter behind the button.

It would be great to have the backlight just come on when needed – say when you pressed a button. Please post if you know how to reprogram the microcontroller (it says something like “Elan EM78P808BAAQJ 07307 BG07782” which is presumably the Elan EM78P808).

Please let me know if you try this. Comments and corrections welcome!

42 thoughts on “Fixing the Swan Teasmade backlight

  1. Thanks for this. I found that a 12k resistor is about right for a nice dim but readable display.
    And one end of the LED for the delay start is conveniently connected to jumper J2 which can be cut on the back of that board without having to remove the board. I used a 12k resistor again. regards Brian

  2. Thanks Brian – I look forward to trying that out. I've been meaning to get back to this, but fixing the backlight made such a difference I've not quite got around to finishing the job properly. Cheers!

  3. UPDATE! Even with the 12k resistor my wife still found it too bright. So changed it last weekend to 150k. In a pitch dark room you can still read the clock. Changed the delay start LED resistor to 22k as well. Hopefully that's it!

    regards

    Brian

  4. I have dismantled mine and there is a 2 transistor circuit providing a constant current driver and on off enable, connected to the main IC. But the IC in practice does not turn it on or off or dim it, so looks as if they thought about adding dimming but did not. Another 50p on a LDR is all they needed to add.

    I have worked out a one transistor, LDR and a few resistors addition to the circuit to dim it but have not actually added it yet. Just wondering if anyone else has tried this. Need to be careful as mounting the LDR externally has to be done on mains wring as the circuit is not fully isolated from mains.

  5. LDR = Light Dependent Resistor. My idea is that it auto dims depending on the room light level. My Pure DAB radio on other side of bed does this, so it’s a complete mystery to me why Swan did not add this simple function. I am also going to add a push button to brighten it up a bit from the auto dim setting if want to more easily read the time in middle of night.

  6. Thanks for this. I'd recently bought a "Cookworks Signature" teasmade in an end-of-line sale, having seen some reviews saying the clock had "a soft green glow"; in reality it was more like a green lighthouse beam! This teasmade turns out to be a rebadged Micromark TeaExpress and, after opening it up, appears to have pretty much identical innards to the Swan. I snipped off one of the LEDs to disable the backlight, and popped some masking tape over the "delayed tea" and "alarm only" buttons. The first now has a dim glow which doesn't disturb, although I must have overdone the "alarm only" one which I now can't see at all πŸ˜‰ All in all, a great upgrade though!

  7. Incidentally, I also tried one of the new Swan Radio teasmades (STM100RADN) which boasts "auto-dimming". This is partly true; the clock face dims slightly (although it's still too bright) but the buttons continue to blaze away like headlights. I took this back rather than attempt the upgrade, since the unit also has a very loud mains hum which makes it useless in the bedroom. (The Cookworks also has a bit of a hum, but it's fairly quiet).

  8. Thanks Garry – pleased it was useful! I finally got around to doing as Brian suggested and dimming the delay start LED by snipping J2 (on the light-brown small board, not the main green one) and adding a resistor. My wife is fussier than his, though – we put a 1M resistor in! 100k was too bright. (I worry 1M may be a little bit too dim though). We like the dark.

  9. I've noticed that another benefit to disabling the backlight completely is that I can now see the clock hands from in bed, rather than having to sit up and look down at the clock. Obviously this only works in the morning when it's light enough to see!

  10. does anyone know if swan have updated this yet to switch on/off backlight? I really want one but the light issue is putting me off.

  11. Thank you very much for clear instructions. Job done and all working correctly with no glaring back light to keep us awake. Our present teasmade is the third since our trusty Goblin gave up and all three have suffered the same overbright backlight problem. If only Swan would tweak the board to solve this at manufacture…

  12. Great – thanks for letting us know! I agree, it's such an obvious thing for them to do. What has gone wrong with your Swans? Ours is still doing fine after more than two years of daily use.

  13. Phew – done it! But what a job. The panel is a devil to remove and even harder to replace. Swan clearly didn't expect this to be subjected to diy mods. I used a 22k resistor for the button which gives a dim glow. Two tips for those about to have a go. Rather than cut the panel I de-soldered the top RH terminal to make it a dry joint – works just as well but easier to restore. I found using a credit card rather thick so I cut an acetate panel from a Tesco croissant pack which is perfect. Having done one I am going to buy another 'hardly used' to modify then put it on eBay to see what reaction there is. Not that I intend going into production – to much hassle.

  14. Thanks Doug – good tip re the acetate, thanks for that. Any takers on eBay?

  15. My kettle part has corroded through in a year and now have to reverse my mod and return it under warrantee. Anyone else had this problem? Hoping might get the later model in return with a measure of dimming.

  16. Hi Paula – you should take it back and get it replaced. Even if it’s out of warranty, it’s reasonable to expect an appliance to last more than 12 months, so they should repair or replace under the Sale of Goods Act.

    –KW 😎

  17. Has anyone ever tried to install a pot-warmer?

    I just found a mug warmer on ebay and I am going to disassemble it, wire it to the heating element inside the teasmade (so that it goes on and off with the water boiling process), cut out a spot for it where the teapot sits, and ta-dah! No more lukewarm tea on winter’s mornings…

    Suggestions? Advice?

  18. The ( very bright ) backlight on my Swan Teasmade has just started flashing continuously. I have switched off at the main in the hope of re-setting it, but it continues. Any ideas ??

    Many thanks RET

  19. Hi RET,

    It normally flashes when it’s boiled, but it shouldn’t keep going. It’s a fault, most likely the circuit board inside has got damp. Try putting the machine somewhere warm (e.g., your hot water or boiler cupboard) for a few days. I’m afraid even if it fixes it, your machine is probably on its way out. They haven’t built them to last this time πŸ™

    Good luck!

    –KW 😎

  20. hi,

    We have had our teasmade for about three years (out of warranty then) and it’s been fine. But suddenly now the actual tea making facility has stopped working, leaving only the light and clock / alarm. Any ideas on troubleshooting please?

  21. Helen,
    I have just experienced the same problem with my Argos/Cookworks teasmade which seems to have similar circuitry to the Swan. For a while I noticed a gradual dimming of the green LED backlight. Also, when the problem first started the relay switching the heating element didn’t switch with a distinct click but rather a slightly delayed and weaker action pointing to insufficient energizing voltage.

    I deduced that something in the supply voltage to the electronics had deteriorated, initially suspecting an electrolytic capacitor. After opening the electronics module I saw that the mains voltage drop was achieved by a series capacitor. Its value should be 1Β΅F which in my teasmade had dropped to about one third of its nominal value. I have ordered a replacement and expect/hope the teasmade to return to normal working order.

    At this stage I must stress this repair MUST only be attempted by electrically COMPETENT persons and that the capacitor must be a suitably rated X2 type component. If not there is the real danger of fire risk or worse. Due to the nature of the circuit the low voltage side is NOT isolated from the mains and could, if incorrectly repaired present the danger of a potentially fatal electric shock. This post is not intended as an instruction, merely pointing out the problem in my teasmade. I take no responsibilty for the action of others in this matter.

  22. Our model has triangular-slot-head screws in the base. You have to grind a screwdriver bit down to remove them.

    I could have done with finding this tip earlier as we have suffered a blue room for a number of years now. I’m sure it upsets sleep!
    Anyway, our boiler has corroded through and water leaks onto the thermostat which probably spells the end of the unit.

  23. I have a Swan Teasmade type DO1-1. The alarm hand of the clock has slipped so that I cannot set the alarm and have to wake then press the NOW button. Does anyone know how I can get to the clock face? The clear plastic front of the machine seems to have 6 clips keeping it in place, do I have to brake them or is there a better way?

  24. Just to say a big thank you for the detailed and very clear instructions. I have just earned some long over-dew brownie points with my wife who is fed up of the Blue Room and had resorted to just keeping the machine unplugged until she wants tea! All fixed and working well. Thanks!

  25. Thanks Dave for the kind words! I’m very pleased this page is still going strong after four years. Enjoy your tea!

  26. Why can’t I just pull the light out of its holder and cover the hole with put tape over the hole to stop light coming through. This is on my teasmade Stm 101
    Regards
    Dennis

  27. This is too advanced my my liking so I shall result to taping black paper over the clock.

    Another issue I have is how to remove the second hand? it ticks far too loudly.

    rgds

  28. Been trying to do this all afternoon, but can’t get the clock module out. Did they start gluing it in on the models with the silly triangular screw heads?

  29. My teas made had started to leak and sometimes cannot set the clock or alarm. The other morning with the leak it actually tripped the switch on the mains. HELP please.

  30. Hi Norma – unfortunately I think this means your Teasmade is on its way out. They don’t make them like they used to. The boiler is made of thin metal, and eventually it rusts through and starts to leak onto the electrics. Mine did the same as yours, and eventually we replaced it with a simple kettle πŸ™

  31. Hi there, we have a Swan teasmade STM100RADN bought in 2010 for my mother, but it has been in its box till last week. We made one pot of tea with it, got the clock set up and working but found that it lost time! A few days ago we had a mini powercut in the area (our lights only flickered for a few moments though) and I noticed that the clock was off and on checking further, none of the buttons worked except for the one controlling the bright white light on top! We filled it up with water to try to make tea, but it wouldn’t work so have had to turn it upside down and empty the machine out! My other half wonders if a power surge could have harmed the unit. What does anyone think? It’s well past its guarantee period sadly. Does anyone know how I could attempt to repair it? Absolutely loved the one cup of tea I had from it!!!! Thanks, Carole.

  32. Hi I have exactly the same problem with my teasmade which is the same model as yours. Not aware of a power surge though, simply haven’t used it for ages and upon trying none of the buttons work other than the bedside light function and the hands are no longer showing on the clockface. Any ideas please?

  33. We have a new Swan Teasmade and the ticking of the wretched clock is like hammer blows on an anvil. Hammer aside… anyone know how to stop the clock from ticking please ?

  34. Have a STM101 model bought in 2014 from John Lewis.
    The “on” “off” “now” toggle switch works intermittently in the “on” position, meaning that I cannot rely on acup of tea when awakening.
    I have had a look at the works and it appears that the switch is soldered directly to the PCB. One solution would be to reverse the connections to the switch, if this is possible. Any suggestions?
    John Lewis didn’t qubble: gave a refund and told me to dispose of the teasmade. Don’t belong to the generation that scraps repairable goods, so see why can be done.

  35. We were given a ‘Teasmade’ as a wedding present 51 years ago and have just bought our 5th (the previous one lasts 13 years!) The current model makes the tea then sounds the alarm. We just want the tea to be made, then pour it out when we are ready. At the moment I have to sit by the wretched thing waiting to silence it. Swan describe it as a RETRO TEASMADE- ‘RETROGRADE’ more like.
    Any ideas how the alarm feature can be removed?

  36. Love that this thread is still going strong… Does anyone know what size the triangular screws used on the base of the STM100. Also anyone had success with the above process on this model?

  37. This week I bought an STM100 from a local charity shop (Β£2 – the unit etc was immaculate, almost unused – I’ve worked out why!). The blue backlight is a nuisance as is having to lift my head off the pillow to see the time. (Contacted Swan and they advised ‘it’s a known design fault’ (so that’s all right then ….)) My simple solution is to plug the Teasmade in to a digital timer plug. The timer switches the Teasmade on at (in my case) 0600 each morning. I press the ‘tea now’ button and enjoy my tea. The timer switches the Teasmade off at (in my case) 2330; means I can use the lamp, which I switch off manually before going to sleep and the blue display switches off, via the timer, at 2330. I use a digital radio alarm clock for seeing what time it is.

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