Approximately one-quarter of us find ironing relaxing. Statistically speaking, that means most people are at best indifferent, and at worst actively dislike the task.
If you’re in the majority, you probably find irons heavy, cumbersome and annoying – especially with their undersized water tanks. What’s a person to do? Enter the steam generator, a large-capacity, high-power iron that produces steady steam and removes even the most stubborn of wrinkles with ease.
Our Top 3 Steam Generator Iron Picks
There are a lot of steam generator irons to choose from – an online search at a popular online retailer yields over 150 results. That’s why we’ve taken the guesswork out of the process and recommended three outstanding irons, based on their quality, performance and user reviews.
1. Philips GC9630/20 Perfect Care Elite Steam Generator Iron Review
Philips designs some of the finest home appliances on the market – including the highly-rated GC9630/20 Perfect Care Elite Steam Generator Iron, Philips’ best, most effective steam generator.
A lightweight yet powerful performer with automatic settings and built-in safety features, this offering from Philips deserves its place at the top of our list.
One Temperature to Rule Them All
Pick up the Philips PerfectCare Elite, and it might feel like something is missing. That’s because it is. Unlike a standard iron, the PerfectCare Elite lacks a temperature control dial.
This wasn’t a mistake – integrated OptimalTEMP technology uses a smart sensor to adjust soleplate temperature levels as necessary, for the best possible result. No more categorizing clothes, fiddling with a dial, waiting for the correct temperature to be reached, and hoping nothing gets burned.
On-Demand Steam Generator
You’re likely familiar with standard steam irons, whose small water tanks run dry fast, and don’t always produce steam when you need it.
Only misting your clothes with a spray bottle could be less convenient! That’s why the Philips PerfectCare Elite uses OptimalTEMP – it automatically controls not just temperature, but steam output.
The right amount of steam is produced, regardless of fabric type, and released at an impressive 6.7 bars of pressure.
Steam is emitted at 135g/minute – and can be increased to 475g/minute using a steam boost function. It’s perfect for thick fabrics and tough creases. And Philips – known for well-optimized products – has vented and shaped the PerfectCare Elite’s soleplate to drive steam deeper into clothes, removing wrinkles faster.
What this means for you is saving, on average, forty minutes of ironing per week. That’s over 36 hours a year!
The PerfectCare Elite is easy to use. Simply fill the water tank and depress the power button. Wait two minutes, and iron away. When you need steam, squeeze the conveniently positioned trigger under the handle – once for a quick burst, and twice for constant output.
Related: 5 Best Steam Iron Brands of 2022
Steam Generator That Cleans Itself
Any appliance, from water kettles and coffee machines, too hot water boilers and irons, is prone to limescale – a buildup of calcium carbonate that impairs performance.
Removing limescale can be a pain, but not with the PerfectCare Elite. As you use the iron, it automatically descales itself, removing minerals from the water. After ten hours of runtime, a visual and audible signal alerts you to open the Easy De-Calc spout and drain the water.
Just be sure to use a container with a capacity of at least 250ml, and ensure the iron has been unplugged for two hours.
Generous Water Capacity
Even a big pile of laundry is no match for the Philips PerfectCare Elite. The spacious water tank holds 1.8 litres – that’s enough for up to two hours of non-stop ironing.
And if that doesn’t get you through the day, refilling the tank is as simple as it gets.
There’s no need to unplug the iron – just pop off the tank, place it under the tap, and add water through the large hole, which should prevent most splashes and spills.
Big Power in a Lightweight Package
At first glance, the PerfectCare Elite looks massive and heavy. That’s because of the large base and oversized, removable water tank.
Remember, though, that the PerfectCare Elite iron only rests on the base, and when removed – connected only by a steam hose – weighs under one kilogram.
And the T-IonicGlide soleplate, with its specially designed, scratch-resistant, low-friction coating, slides easily over clothes. The result is faster, better ironing, with a minimum of physical effort.
Philips Steam Generator Iron: Pros and Cons
- Safe and energy-efficient design
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- 2-year warranty
- Light, ergonomic and easy to handle
- Automatically adjusts temperature and steam
- Safety lock for easy transport and storage
- Approved by independent textile authorities
- Scratch-resistant soleplate glides over clothes
- Somewhat short power cord
- Noisy operation
- Cool-off period before descaling could be shorter
2. Tefal GV9071 Pro Express Care High Pressure Steam Generator
You may recognize the Tefal name from their kitchen appliances, excellent non-stick frying pans and other cookware. Turns out, they make steam generator irons, too. The Tefal GV9071 Pro Express Care simplifies ironing with its foolproof settings and high-pressure steam.
Let’s explore how it stacks up against other steam generator irons.
Unlike the Philips PerfectCare Elite, Tefal’s premium iron features Smart Technology that lets you select the correct ironing mode with one tap.
Located on the rear of the Pro Express Care base is an easy to understand user interface, where one of five settings – synthetics, silk, wool, cotton and linen – can be selected by means of a two-way toggle button. Each preset is optimized for the type of fabric, ensuring the correct temperature and quantity of steam.
Basic steam irons simply bring what little water they hold to a predesignated, roughly regulated temperature.
Tefal’s Smart Technology, on the other hand, utilizes a precise, high-accuracy electronic regulator – with less than one per cent variation – to monitor soleplate temperature and steam output.
Providing an excellent 7.5 bars of high-pressure steam – that’s over 108 PSI, about what you’d find in a firmly inflated bike tyre – Tefal’s Pro Express has what it takes to smooth even the most deep-set creases. 120g/min of steam softens garments, while the steam boost function increases output levels to 500g/minute, penetrating up to four layers of fabric for wrinkle-free results.
It Keeps Going and Going
With a 1.6-litre water tank, the Tefal GV9071 Pro Express Care holds enough water for almost two hours of steady ironing—more than enough for most people’s daily needs. Should you need to iron longer, the water tank is easy to remove and fill.
Despite the large dimensions of the tank and base, the Pro Express Care iron itself – which, like other steam generator irons, merely rests upon, and isn’t connected to the base – is light and compact.
The stain-resistant, Durilium Air Glide Autoclean soleplate slides easily over clothes, and carefully placed holes evenly distribute steam, making your job as easy as possible. (Fun fact: ‘Durilium’ is the trademark name for an aluminium alloy that’s age-hardened using a low-temperature heat-treating process.) And a two-minute heat-up time means the Pro Express Care is ready to go when you are.
Keeping it Clean
Limescale: it lurks, unseen, in even the cleanest water, accumulating insidiously until tenacious calcium deposits narrow hoses and clog holes, reducing your once-powerful iron to a wheezing slab of warm, damp metal.
Okay, well, that was dramatic. The reality isn’t half as bad, but limescale does prevent any steam generator iron from functioning at its best and can stain your clothes. It’s for that reason that Tefal included a patented Scale Collector – a twist-in rod that attracts up to ten times more sediment (as compared to other scale capturing tools).
When it’s time to descale your iron, simply remove the collector, and tap it on the edge of a garbage bin to knock the scales off.
Pros and Cons: Tefal Pro Steam Generator
- 2,400 watts of power
- Up to 500g/minute of steam
- Smart Technology balances heat and steam
- Powerful, 7.5 bar integrated boiler
- Safety lock holds iron to base
- Effective limescale collector
- Lightweight and easy to hold
- Durilium soleplate glides over clothes
- Available in two attractive colour combinations
- Power lead sometimes tangles
- Occasional inconsistent boiler performance
- Auto-resets back to coolest setting
- Higher-priced than some steam generator irons
3. Morphy Richards 332012 Power Steam Elite
Morphy Richards may not be an immediately recognizable household name like Philips or Tefal, but the brand – a portmanteau of the names of the company founders, Charles Morphy and Donal Richards – has been around since 1936.
A little more than a decade later, Morphy Richards began to manufacture spin dryers and refrigerators, and by 1954, sold the first heat-controlled steam iron. They’ve been at it ever since, producing modern steam generator irons like the well-reviewed Power Steam Elite. Let’s take a closer look.
Heat and Steam at The Touch of a Button
On the back of the Power Steam Elite’s base is a control panel with a central power button and a rocker switch.
A left or right press cycles through the different options and status indicators, which are simple to understand. There are only three heat and steam settings, but as with our other recommended steam generator irons, less is more – for almost any ironing task, three options are plenty.
The buttons are slightly raised rather than flush with the control panel surface, making them easier to press.
This 2,400-watt iron produces 6.5 bars of pressure and a respectable 190g/minute of steam that gets pushed through 25 symmetrically arranged holes on the base of the soleplate.
Though there’s no steam boost feature, the rate of steam produced works well and is perfectly acceptable on a mid-priced iron. Ceramaslide coating on the soleplate provides a durable and stick-free surface that glides over clothes to smooth out wrinkles and remove creases.
Supersized Water Tank for Almost Endless Ironing
Boasting a huge, 2.2-litre water tank, the Morphy Richards 332012 Power Steam Elite is a high-capacity steam generator iron that provides extended runtime. When the tank finally does run empty, it’s a quick matter of removing and refilling it.
A thoughtfully positioned handle keeps the tank oriented in the right direction. You can also use the continuous fill function to keep the tank topped up while ironing. A handy flip-out tab directs water into the tank and away from the ironing board.
The Power Steam Elite can, of course, be removed from its base, making it light and easy to hold – even vertically.
It can be positioned parallel to curtains and hanging garments or used to freshen large mattresses and duvets that don’t easily fit on an ironing board.
Made with Safety and Efficiency in Mind
Irons get hot and use a lot of electricity. To help protect against burns and save you energy, the Morphy Richards 332012 Power Steam Elite is equipped with a fail-safe, auto shut-off mechanism that activates after ten minutes of inactivity.
Turning the iron back on merely requires a press of the steam trigger or power button.
When not in use, the Power Steam Elite can be locked onto the base, which provides a safe place for the iron to cool down before putting it away, and a cable storage system keeps cables and hoses neat and untangled.
Diverts and Collects Limescale Automatically
To maximize its lifespan and performance, the Power Steam Elite should be periodically cleaned. Doing so will remove limescale buildup that could otherwise prevent the iron from functioning optimally.
An auto-clean system uses freshwater from the primary tank to flush limescale from the boiler, transferring it to a separate compartment. All you need to do is remove the tank and empty it down the drain.
Pros and Cons
- Simplified menu and user controls
- Three steam and heat settings for any fabric type
- Huge, 2.2-litre water tank lets you iron for hours
- 195g/minute steam output
- Powerful, 6.5 bar, high-pressure pump
- 10-minute auto-shutoff
- Convenient safety lock
- Cable storage system
- Ceramaslide soleplate coating
- Can be used vertically
- Automatic limescale collection
- Cleaning reminder sometimes interrupts ironing
- Descaling requires thorough emptying of tank
- Water tank color makes it hard to see fill level
Steam Generator Iron Buying Guide
Just about any steam generator will outperform a basic iron, by virtue of an integrated boiler, precise steam and temperature control, high pressure, and large water capacity.
Let’s explore in more detail exactly what to look for when buying a steam generator iron.
What Are You Wearing?
Cotton is far and away the most common fabric, but most wardrobes contain a wide variety of garments – it’s not unusual to find woollen sweaters, nylon outerwear, stretchy track bottoms, blended socks and rayon undergarments next to denim jeans and cotton t-shirts.
Look for a steam generator iron that can handle as many fabric types as possible. Some models use auto-sensing to predetermine the levels of heat and steam; others are, to varying degrees, user-adjustable.
Whether you control the settings or leave it up to the machine is a matter of preference. What’s most important is that your clothes come out crisp, clean, and wrinkle-free.
Thirsty for More
Steam generators use a lot of water, which accounts for the extra-large water tanks. As a general rule, the more clothes you iron, and the deeper set their creases and wrinkles, the more water you’ll need.
The top of the range steam generator irons have big tanks, and even the smallest among our most-recommended models holds enough water for close to two hours of ironing – but when in doubt, err on the side of bigger.
Get Pumped – Feel the Power
To push steam from an internal boiler, through a soleplate and deep into layers of fabric, high pressure is required. Look for a steam generator iron that provides at least 6 bars (a unit of measurement based on the force needed to move water) of pressure, and uses at least 2,400 watts for more consistent heat.
In regard to steam output, we suggest an iron that emits at least 130g/minute (grams per minute). More is better for stubborn creases and thick textiles.
Good for The Sole
Power is provided by the base, and water comes from the tank—but the soleplate is where the action happens.
Look for a steam generator iron with a soleplate that’s thin, manoeuvrable, and shaped to fit in tricky areas like under collars and around buttons. Steam holes should be evenly distributed, and a smooth-gliding, low-friction coating or plate material is recommended to help the iron slide over clothes without bunching.
Get a Grip
Lightweight, good balance and an ergonomically shaped handle with correctly positioned control switches go a long way toward ensuring your comfort, especially during prolonged use. As with other tools, it’s worth paying attention to how an iron feels in your hand.
For Your Convenience
To the uninitiated, these irons look positively enormous – a honking great big base and water tank, with an iron perched on top.
However, are you meant to carry it across the room?
Easily enough, actually.
Some of the finest steam generator irons feature safety locks that hold them securely to the base, for easy transport and storage. Heat-resistant materials atop the base give you a safe place to set down the iron, and a good cord management system helps keep the steam hose and electrical lead out of the way.
If you’re tired of pressing your clothes with an ineffectual iron, spending hours turning and rotating garments, and fighting with stubborn wrinkles—you need a steam generator.
Do they cost more?
Yes. But buying one is an investment, and your return is more free time to enjoy life. (As a bonus, if you happen to love ironing, a good steam generator will make it that much more pleasant.) We hope our guide has helped; thanks for reading!
- Our Top 3 Steam Generator Iron Picks
- Steam Generator Iron Buying Guide