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Why a Steam Generator Iron Is a Life Changer (Plus: We Review 3 of the Best)

If you’re aren’t using this iron to iron your clothes, you’re missing out on life. This, my friend, is a steam generator iron. Sure, it’s pricey and bulky, but it’s worth every penny and every inch of space it’s going to take up in your home.

I’ve never liked ironing. In my household, ironing was only done on a need-to basis. I’ve always relied on a regular steam iron, and never saw the need for a steam generator before. But after working on this review and testing out three steam generators over the course of three weeks? I am now a true convert and no, we’re not getting paid for this article.

Read on to see the light and why I’m gushing over this appliance:



Source: Philips


1. It’s so much more powerful than a regular steam iron.

A steam generator works on the same principle as a regular steam iron (that is, steam is used to remove creases), except its water tank and heating element are located separately in another unit. This unit connects to the actual iron via a rubber hose. This separation allows a steam generator iron to produce a much more powerful steam, averaging at least 120g/min. In comparison, the steam output for regular steam iron hovers around 50g/min, with higher-end models reaching only 75g/min.

This powerful steam output means you will need less time and effort to work through your ironing pile as the powerful steam removes creases that much faster. For thinner fabrics, ironing one side of the garment is often enough as the powerful steam pushes through the layer of fabric to straighten the creases on the other side as well.

2. It’s a lot lighter than a regular steam iron.

Because the water reservoir and heating element are located separately from the iron itself, you don’t carry around this extra weight when you iron. Most steam generator irons are light enough to handle vertical ironing.

3. You don’t need to refill your tank as often.

Because the water reservoirs for steam generators usually hold a larger capacity compared to a regular steam iron, there isn’t a need to refill the water tank as often. Most regular steam irons tend to have a water tank capacity of about 200 to 300ml, while the capacity of water tanks for steam generators averages around 1.4L. This makes the ironing process that much smoother and less disruptive.



Source: Expert Reviews

Like with all appliances, a steam generator iron isn’t without its disadvantages. Here are the cons:

1. It’s bulky.

The extra unit containing the water reservoir and heating element is huge. And you’ll usually need a different type of ironing board (a much larger one) to house the entire element. You can place the extra unit on the floor (or a nearby table) while you iron though, so you don’t need to change your ironing board. The rubber hose that connects both the iron with the extra unit is usually long enough. When it comes to storage, I won’t lie: it’s going to take up a lot of space in your cupboards or wherever you place it.

2. It’s pricey.

Steam generators are expensive. Most cost above $400, which is an astronomical sum compared to a regular steam iron which you can get for less than $100. Paying this amount for an iron is not for everybody, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you want to halve the time and effort it takes to go through your ironing pile.

3. It gets steamy.

One thing I realised while I was using the steam generator is that the room turns into this semi-sauna state after 10 minutes of ironing. I needed to wipe down my glasses a few times because there was just so much steam being produced from the irons. A minor downside compared to how efficient my ironing became though!



Braun CareStyle 5 steam generator iron IS 5043
$499 at major electronic stores

The good:
Buttons for steam production and steam boost were located at convenient and intuitive locations underneath and on top of the handle of the iron. There is only one temperature setting, which made life really easy. I also really liked how the iron can be clicked into place and secured during storage. The overall design of the machine was clean and simple, and unlike Tefal or Philips, it felt solid rather than plasticky.

What can be improved:
There was a lot of steam produced during ironing, which misted my glasses a few times during the process. Unlike Philips and Tefal, the water tank cannot be removed from the main machine. As such, you need a separate container to transfer water from your tap into the tank. There were also no design features in place to manage the cables.

Buy this if: you want an affordable steam generator iron with minimal fuss


Philips Perfect Care Elite Plus steam generator iron GC9682/86
$799 at major electronic stores

The good:
This steam generator comes with an automatic setting. I love this setting as it lets you iron your clothes without having to continually press a steam button to let steam out while ironing. This setting is also intelligent: it stops steaming when the iron stops and starts steaming again when you move it. I also like how lightweight the actual iron is, making it a breeze to iron with. A small beep to indicate when the iron is ready to use is also really helpful. It’s also perhaps the most silent of the steam generators we tested.

What can be improved:
This iron has a MAX setting, which produces a larger steam output than automatic. However, I felt it wasn’t as powerful as Tefal’s at its maximum. The steam didn’t manage to penetrate through my clothes fully even at the highest setting, which meant that I had to iron my clothes on both sides to remove all the creases.

Buy this if: you want to take the guesswork out of ironing


Tefal Pro Express X-Pert Care 
$839 at major electronic stores

The good:
I enjoyed working with the Tefal steam generator. Steam output was strong even at the middle mode (wool), which we used for most of our garments. I didn’t have to iron most of my clothes on both sides (save for the thicker materials like denim) as the steam was powerful enough to penetrate the fabrics. Love the retractable cable that helps to tuck the electrical cord neatly into the machine as well as the protective cover that comes with a handle for easy transportation.

What can be improved:
There are a total of five modes to choose from: synthetic, silk, wool, cotton and linen. However, moving from a high mode to a lower setting required a really long wait. As such, I just stuck to a single setting throughout my ironing to save time, which kinda defeated the purpose of having five modes in the first place. Steam produced during ironing was also not entirely consistent. There were times when steam was really powerful and times when steam output was faltering.

Buy this if: you need to do some heavy duty ironing


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