what is a steam generator iron

Do you want to make your life a little simpler and free up time so you can focus on the things that bring you joy? Then consider a steam generator iron. This device will enable you to complete your pile of ironing quickly and with little effort. Read on and discover the advantages and disadvantages of using a steam generator iron.

Steam Generator Irons: The Basics

What is a steam generator iron? Steam generator irons feature an iron that connects to a boiler where steam is generated under high pressure. When the boiler pressure is at its highest, the steam then passes through the iron, preparing it for usage. As a result, the steam that the iron releases is different from that of a regular iron because it’s dry and has a more powerful jet.

Advantages of Using a Steam Generator Iron

There are plenty of reasons why you’d want to use a steam generator iron. Below are some of the main reasons why we recommend using this appliance on your favourite clothing or bedding.

Cares For Your Clothes and Various Fabrics

The disadvantage of a conventional iron is that you can easily burn your favourite shirt if you’re not concentrating or accidentally slip up for a second. On the contrary, steam generator irons are ideal for use with all types of fabric, including delicate silks. This is because these appliances use steam during the ironing process to tackle stubborn creases without applying too much weight or heat as you press your clothes.

Furthermore, thanks to the large water tank capacity, you will find that some of the best steam generator irons produce twice the amount of steam as a regular iron, thereby helping moisturise and soften an array of fabrics. Finally, thanks to the electronic operating system, steam generator irons provide excellent results every time with little to no damage to your clothes.

The aluminium plate on a steam iron protects your clothing from rips compared to a steam iron that might stick to some fabric types due to uneven heating. This aspect makes it an ideal tool for beginners.

Easy to Use and Removes Deep Creases

Probably the most crucial factor for you when ironing is that the appliance can remove deep creases from your outfits. Fortunately, a steam generator iron produces more steam than a standard steam iron. The much higher steam output enables it to remove even the deepest creases with minimal effort.

Plus, a steam generator iron is easy to use, and it’ll come with an array of steam settings, such as a steam boost, that makes its operation simple and convenient.

Disadvantages of Using a Steam Generator Iron

As with everything, there are pros and cons. Below we’ve listed some disadvantages of using steam generators that could sway your decision.

Bulky and Heavy

Due to all that power and large water tank, steam generators tend to be heavier and bulkier than traditional steam iron. Hence, you will need a durable ironing board to support all that weight. While it’s possible to buy a compact or lightweight steam generator iron, you’ll need to increase your budget to do so.

Additionally, no matter how compact they say they are, you will rarely find steam generator iron models that are small enough to carry around with you easily. Plus, that extra bulk can also make steam generators a bit more challenging to handle if you need to move around the item you’re ironing.

Other Factors

Also, consider whether you live in a hard water area. Hard water contains more limescale, which can damage the steam generator. Hence, you may need to refill your iron with distilled water. Check your steam generator’s instruction manual to find out if this is necessary.

Do You Need a Steam Generator Iron?

a steam generator iron

At this point, you might be wondering if a steam generator iron is a suitable appliance for you. We say that there are many reasons to purchase steam generators, especially if you’re typically the person in the household who handles the laundry. And best of all, steam generators allow you to tackle a laundry pile in minimal time, so you won’t have to put as much effort into ironing while having crease-free clothing to wear.

What to Look For in a Steam Generator Iron

To help you find the best steam generator iron for your needs, we’ve included a buying guide. These are the features you need to consider throughout your search.

Water Tank Capacity

Many of these units typically have a large removable water tank, but that doesn’t mean that all boast the same size. Before purchasing any steam iron, we suggest considering how much you typically iron in one session. For example, do you have a large household with many garments to iron throughout the week? Or do you tend to iron one garment at a time? These answers can influence the water tank size that you need.

In particular, the larger the tank, the more ironing you’ll be able to whizz through in one session without making multiple trips to the tap to refill the container. If you’re concerned that a larger water tank will make the iron heavier, don’t be. This is because the heating element of these irons are separate from the machine. Therefore, your appliance won’t become unbearable heavy and cumbersome to move (although they are heavier than traditional irons).


Steam irons are available at various wattages. In a nutshell, the higher the wattage of the iron, the more power it will offer you and, therefore, the better performance you’ll receive. For example, a steam iron with a 1,800 wattage will offer better steam delivery than an iron with a lower wattage. 

So a higher-watt ironing unit will remove creases easier and may even decrease the overall ironing time, which is great if you prefer light work or want to manage large loads in a short amount of time.

Additionally, a higher-watt steam iron means that you’ll encounter reduced waiting times between each ironing session. But it’s worth remembering that this extra power will have an impact on the amount of electricity you use. 

If cost is a major concern for you, choose an energy-efficient alternative that comes with an array of power-saving modes and features.


A ceramic soleplate is the preferred option for the best results when ironing. Not only does this material feel smooth against garments, but it’s damage-resistant, making it a long-lasting choice.

Plus, a model with a ceramic plate allows you to simply turn the iron on, and it’ll glide against fabrics without any snags, helping to reduce burns.

soleplate with vents

Pressure Output

It’s not just the wattage that’s responsible for power and performance. One factor that influences steam pressure is bar pressure. The higher the bar pressure, the more steam can be generated, thus helping to keep your garments crease-free. Therefore, we recommend steam irons with a higher bar pressure for the best results vs steam irons.

Moreover, you’ll also want to take into consideration continuous steam output levels. This is recognised as grams per minute and is a simple method of measuring the amount of steam capacity that’s produced every minute during use. The higher the steam capacity, the less time you’ll have to spend ironing. This is due to the continuous flow of steam output that relaxes fabrics, removing creases easily and in less time.

Heating Time


The last thing you want is for your iron to take a long time to heat up, which is why it’s essential to also consider this aspect. Fortunately, a steam iron heats up much quicker than a standard iron, so you’ll never have the issue of waiting around for long periods for it to reach its maximum temperature. However, this time frame can vary from model to model. Some of the best steam generators reach their maximum temperature in just three minutes, but some models have an impressive two-minute heating time.

Safety Features

Everyone wants their ironing appliance to be safe to use, but that’s more critical if you have a pet or young child who could potentially become hurt if they come into contact with your appliance.

Fortunately, there’s a range of models that come with safety aspects. This includes a lock on the steam boost function, so the steam trigger must be flicked on to work. Another safety option is an auto shut-off feature after a specific period to prevent the appliance from continually getting hot when you’re not using it.

Choosing the Right Steam Generator Iron

Now that you already know what is a steam generator iron, it’s time to consider investing in a model that best suits your needs. We hope that with this article, we’ve been able to help you see a clearer picture of the benefits and drawbacks of this nifty household appliance. And once you’ve used a steam generator iron, you may find it hard to transition back to a standard model.

Or, perhaps you’re no stranger to using a steam iron and have used products by Tefal or Philips. If so, what are your go-to features or favourite models? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

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