A Buyer’s Guide To Steam Generator Irons
Although a steam generator iron looks pretty similar to a standard steam iron – especially the “iron” part of it – it is significantly different in its construction and operation. A steam generator iron uses pressurised steam which is produced in a separate boiler – rather than in the body of the iron itself. The steam is forced along a hollow flexible tube to the iron by pressing a button.
Steam generator irons have a number of advantages over more conventional steam irons. However, they do tend to cost a little more – so it’s worth taking time to consider the various key points before you decide which one is right for you.
The main things to look at when comparing steam generator irons are as below:
- Steam pressure.
- Capacity of the water reservoir.
- The soleplate.
- Ease of cleaning.
- Ease of use.
The steam causes heat and moisture to penetrate the fabric of the garment being ironed. This makes it more flexible and removal of creases and wrinkles is easier as a result. The higher the pressure of the steam, the deeper it will penetrate the garment being ironed and the better the finished result will be.
The output of steam generator irons is generally given in grams of steam per minute. The higher the number, the more steam is produced and the easier it is to iron. Typical values range from 70 to 140 grams per minute (g/min).
You may also see steam pressure expressed in bar. Again the higher the number, the more steam will be produced, the deeper it will penetrate the fabric and the better the results will be.
Water Reservoir Capacity
Steam generator irons tend to have a good size of water reservoir. This means that you can iron for quite some time before you have to refill them. The exact time will vary depending upon the type of fabric you’re pressing and the temperature you have your iron set at – but a 1.4 litre reservoir should be good for at least a couple of hours of ironing.
If you do a lot of ironing then you will probably want to consider getting one of the larger tanks available. If you have a relatively small ironing board, then you might want to ensure that the connecting tube from the reservoir to the iron is long enough for you to work with the reservoir positioned on the floor rather than on the board itself.
It’s also worth considering how easy it is to fill the reservoir. Many of the better steam generator irons have detachable reservoirs to make filling easier. It’s a lot better than messing around with jugs of water.
The iron’s soleplate should glide smoothly across the surface of a variety of different fabrics – whilst still generating enough friction to remove any creases and wrinkles. It should be tough, durable and scratch resistant.
Ease Of Cleaning
Most modern irons, whether normal steam irons or steam generator irons, use plain old tap water. Depending upon where you live, this will probably contain a variety of different minerals – including magnesium and calcium. This can cause scale deposits when the water is heated and evaporates.
If you live in a hard water area (you probably do) then look for an iron which has a suitable anti-scale system. Some irons use water to loosen the scale and flush it out. Others have a removable anti-scale cartridge for easy cleaning.
Ease Of Use
As previously discussed, you may find it best if your steam generator iron has a long enough hose connection so that you can position this on the floor rather than at the end of the board.
A removable water reservoir is also something that most people will find convenient.
Other features, which may appeal to a greater or lesser extent to different people, might include automatically retracting power cords, easy clean soleplates, fast heat up etc.
- Make sure you get the right steam pressure for your needs.
- Pick a large enough water reservoir.
- Make sure that the soleplate is of a suitable design and material.
- Make sure that anti-scaling is included if you live in a hard water area.