Steam irons vs steam generator irons: which should you choose?Tips on when to invest in a steam generator iron

28 February 2015

Steam generator

The best steam generator irons will help you blitz through your ironing pile in record time

Nobody wants to spend more time ironing than necessary, and a steam generator can help you whiz through the job more quickly and with less effort than a regular iron.

But with some models costing more than £250, they're not cheap. Below we reveal when it's worth paying more for a steam generator, and when you’d be better off sticking with a regular iron.

If you just want to know which are the best models to buy, head straight to reviews of Best Buy irons and steam generators.

Are steam generators better than regular irons?

The more steam you have to work with the faster you’ll blitz your laundry pile. The best steam generators typically belt out more than twice as much steam as conventional irons, making them invaluable if you regularly iron large loads of laundry and need a lot of steam power to shift deep creases.

But it’s not always the steam generators that advertise the highest steam rates that deliver the fastest ironing. Which? irons expert Jess O’Leary says: ‘You don’t have to pay more for a steam generator that boasts a high steam rate, as unlike a regular iron, steam generators don’t deliver steam continuously – you control the amount you use.

‘This means the advertised steam rate is less important, if you want more steam you simply press the steam trigger more often or for longer.

‘We’ve found that some pricey and powerful steamers aren’t as good at smoothing creases as cheaper alternatives, while some mid-range models excel in our tests. Some of the best steam generators we’ve seen cost £150, which is great value for this type of appliance.'

When is a regular iron better than a steam generator?

Regular irons are cheaper to buy and easier to store. Some of the best models produce huge amounts of steam and are more than a match for large laundry piles. These tend to be more expensive than the budget options available, but they’ll help you spend less time and effort at the ironing board.

If you iron regularly and don’t want to shell out for a steam generator, look for an iron that steams powerfully and has soleplate that glides effortlessly, as this will help you make light work of creased and crumpled clothes.

For occasional ironers who want to spend as little as possible, check out our top five cheap steam irons which cost less than £50.

Are cheap steam generator irons worth the money?

Most steam generators are pretty pricey, making cheap models priced less than £100 really stand out. But we’ve found that these budget options typically score poorly in our tests and don’t offer the quick-and-easy ironing experience that is the hallmark of a great steam generator.

If you're tempted to buy a cheap steam generator to save cash, we think you'd be better off choosing a Best Buy premium steam iron for the same money.

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