5 Things to Consider when Buying a Steam Iron or Steam Generator
Choosing a new appliance is always a difficult process when you are not familiar with the different product lines, features and jargon. In addition to our comprehensive buyers guide, here is a run down of the 5 most important things to look for when buying a new steam iron or steam generator iron.
Finding the Perfect Steam Iron
Some irons can be over 1.5 kilos in weight - and that's before you add any water. If you iron for long periods of time, check the weight of the iron or consider steam generators which have more lightweight irons (generally around 1 kilo)
A ceramic soleplate is the smoothest and most damage resistant (stainless steel is also good, aluminium or non-stick are the poorest). Some manufacturers coat their ceramic soleplate with another material to give even better gliding or scratch protection.
Continuous Steam Output
While most irons have a larger 'burst shot' which delivers a short, large puff of steam, it's the continuous steam output that matters. To tackle a wide range of fabric types, 35g or more is ideal.
The maximum length is around 3 metres, though some irons only have 2 metres. Think about where you will be ironing most and how accessible the plug sockets are.
More and more irons are coming with this handy safety feature that cuts off the power after a period of inactivity.
Buying a Steam Generator Iron
Pressure is measured in Bar with around 6.5bar being the current maximum. Anything over 5 bar should be plenty for every day ironing.
Water Tank Size
A steam generator uses much more water so a big water tank will mean less time stopping to refill. A 1.5 litre tank is ideal, though some models have a giant 2 litre capacity.
With all the extra water use, a steam generator is more likely to suffer from limescale in hard water areas. Make sure there is some kind of filter or calc-clean system. Tefal use a very clever calc-collection system, while Philips and some others use replaceable cartridges to filter the water.
An increasing number of steam generators (and some hand irons too) are equipped with automatic controls, doing away altogether with buttons and dials. These systems work well and are appearing even on entry level models.
Your Ironing Board
Steam generators are heavier and bulkier than hand irons and will require an ironing board that is designed for such a unit. Alternatively you could position the unit on a nearby table or worktop as long as it's safe and stable.
We hope you've found this article useful, for more detailed information about buying a steam iron, read our buyers guide.