If steam is the secret to quick and easy ironing, steam generator irons are key to getting a plentiful, steady supply of steam. While they may be bulky, and can be more expensive than regular irons, steam generators provide a professional level of performance for whizzing through piles of laundry.
As well as having a separate section to create a consistent level of steam, they are also easier to use as you don’t have to lift the water tank with each movement, making them perfect if you get tired using a heavy steam iron. The full unit is large and bulky so you will need an ironing board of a certain size, but they are the ultimate way of getting creases out of your clothes quickly and easily.
What to look for in a steam iron
First things first, steam output. While all steam irons will produce a lot of steam they aren’t created equal and when it comes down to it the more steam the better. That said you will want an iron where you have full control over the level of steam so you don’t overdo it with delicate items. For a steam generator iron you should be looking for a model with 90g+ of steam output, but it’s also worth checking if it has a steam shot function for boosting the steam for stubborn creases.
Once you know it will produce a lot of steam the next thing you have to think about is the water tank size, as a huge steam output isn’t so great if the tank can only keep it going for a few minutes. Tank size varies a lot but ideally, you’d be wanting to find a model with at least 1l capacity if it’s putting out a lot of steam so you don’t have to continually refill it.
The baseplate of the iron is also worth considering, is it ceramic so it won’t rust? Does it glide well or is it teflon coated? The less resistance the better with baseplates but the shape is also important; a rounded base means it doesn’t matter what direction you iron while some models also have notches in the nose to allow you to easily iron the area around buttons.
Finally, well apart from price, if you live in a hard water area you should check if it has an anti-calcification feature to help prevent the build up of limescale. If not we would strongly recommend only using distilled water in the iron to help prolong its life, although that will add to the running costs.
If you’re looking for something more compact and possibly cheaper, read our guide to the best steam irons.
Best Steam Generator Irons
Morphy Richards 42244 steam generator iron – best for an entry level steam generator
While there is a newer version of this iron available (the Morphy Richards 333020) this model is still a great performer and now it’s no longer top of the tree you can pick one up for a bargain price. Featuring a decent sized 1l water tank you will be able to get through a lot of clothes before needing to fill up and with an anti-scale filter you can use it in hard water areas without having to worry about it getting clogged with limescale.
The iron puts out 100g of steam, which isn’t the most output on our list, but will be enough to get you gliding through your creases. It is also capable of vertical steaming, allowing you to steam clothes on a coat hanger or even your curtains should you wish.
We found it to be a great performer, although you do have to be a bit careful with drips and having to hold down the steam button can be tiresome. Overall it is an excellent choice if you don’t want to spend upwards of £100 and is a steal for anything below £70.
Tefal GV8461 Pro Express Autoclean – best for professional levels of steam
The Tefal GV8461 comes with a fairly hefty price tag, but it delivers a huge amount of steam and a raft of extra features. Capable of putting out steam continuously at 6 bar pressure (120g a minute) it is more than powerful enough for everyday use and quickly making your way through creases.
The removable 1.8l water tank means you can easily refill the iron and it should provide 3 hours of use before it runs out – although if you do need to iron for more than 3 hours you can refill the tank without turning the iron off so you won’t need to wait for it to heat up again.
The iron has a Palladium Autoclean Soleplate that claims to destroy small fibres that would otherwise stick to the plate of the iron, eventually increasing friction in the long-run. Without using the iron for a long stretch of time we can’t confirm this, although it does feel like a good quality plate and it does glide well.
Beldray BEL0434V2 steam surge pro – good budget buy
Beldray might not be one of the better known iron brands but this steam generator is a good budget buy. It has a huge 2l water tank so you won’t have to keep refilling it and a ceramic plate for smooth ironing.
It can’t produce the same level of steam as the Tefal, but at around a third of the cost it still works well and is more than enough for casual use. Like other steam generator models it is capable of vertical steaming, although this is where we found its performance to be a little lacking compared with some of the other models.
Philips GC7619/20 PerfectCare Pure Steam – best for switching between fabrics
The Philips PerfectCare iron’s headline feature is its Optimal Temp technology which guarantees it won’t burn clothes, balancing heat and steam to provide the perfect ironing conditions for every fabric. It uses HeatFlow cyclonic technology to provide consistent steam at an even temperature that is suitable for all materials. In practice we found this to work well, providing good ironing on tougher fabrics and not damaging delicates.
It doesn’t quite match the Tefal for steam pressure, but it does provide 5 bar pressure so more than enough for your average user, as well as a 200g a minute steam boost.
If you’re in a hard water area it has a filter system that claims to take 99% of scale from tap water, although you will need to buy new cartridges after these fill up, so it’s worth thinking about that when it comes to ongoing costs. Philips claim the cartridges last for around 3 months, although that will depend on how often you use the iron.
Polti Vaporella 635 Pro – Best for old school style
This Italian-made steam generator from Polti is styled like an iron from the Edwardian period but has all the steam power you would expect of a modern up-to-date device. It doesn’t smash any performance records compared with some of the other models on our list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an exceptionally capable iron.
It only puts out 90g of steam a minute, but all this steam is concentrated through the tip of the iron so it is excellent at dealing with stubborn creases. It heats up quickly and can be up to full power in 3 minutes.
It does get through the 700ml water tank pretty quickly, but we loved the style of this iron as an alternative the standard plastic irons that are now so common.
Bosch TDI9020GB Steam Generator Iron – Best for compact steam
If you want the power of a steam generator iron but don’t want a large bulky model with a large base this iron from Bosch could be the one for you. In the shape of a standard steam iron, this Bosch squeezes a steam generator inside the body of the iron.
More like an overpowered steam iron than a steam generator iron, it only puts out 65g of steam a minute. It can go up to a 200g a minute steam boost, but with a water tank of only 400ml it won’t last long.
We found it does do a fantastic job when compared with a steam iron, but it’s not quite up to competing with a true steam generator iron.
Laurastar S5a – Best for the ultimate ironing experience
This one won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking for the Rolls-Royce of irons then look no further. Costing over £1,000 it’s hard to justify outside of professional use, but this steam generator – built into its own ironing board – is as good as it gets.
With an “active” ironing board, it is able to blow and suck air to either provide a cushion of air to stop creases forming or hold them securely on the board to help deal with existing creases.
The iron itself automatically delivers steam when the handle is pushed forwards, cutting off the steam when the iron isn’t moving or travelling backwards. This means you don’t have to press a specific steam button and helps save water, although with a 1.2-litre water tank there’s more than enough to spare.
The rounded iron baseplate is designed to stop creases forming and it delivers ultra-fine steam that, according to Laurastar, adapts to the fabric you are ironing to improve performance.
It all folds up into a neat package barely bigger than the average folded ironing board so is easy to store, although weighing 19kg with an empty tank, it will need more than a standard hook if you are planning on hanging it.
See also: Best Ironing Boards
Best Steam Generator Irons Summary