Steam Generator Irons Vs Regular Steam Irons – Compared and Explained

Although used for the same purpose, steam generator irons differ from regular steam irons and are often used in different settings. In fact, steam generator irons have unique features that allow them to cut through wrinkles much faster than the traditional steam iron, making them a more popular choice for professional settings.

After extensive research on the steam generator iron and the regular steam iron, we can confidently reveal some of the most significant differences in their function and capacity. Read on to find out more!

What’s the Difference Between a Steam Generator Iron and a Traditional Steam Iron?

The main difference between these two machines is their water tanks. While a steam iron has a built-in water tank, a steam generator iron has a separate water tank with a larger tank capacity.

As a result, steam generator irons can quickly steam several garments over a short period of time. In contrast, steam irons take more time to get creases out of garments.

Steam Generator Iron: When to Use

Steam generator irons are often used in professional settings. If you are looking for an iron to use for hours on end without being concerned about a dip in performance, then steam generator irons are your best bet and many people use them at home to get through the ironing quicker.

Pros of the Steam Generator Iron

●       Powerful steam output

●       Vertical steam ironing is possible (curtains, etc.)

●       The water tank does not need to be filled as often

●       Creates a large amount of heat and steam for the best results

●       It eliminates tough creases and wrinkles with ease

●       Simple to use

Cons of the Steam Generator Iron

●       It takes longer to heat up

●       More expensive compared to regular steam irons

●       Storage may be an issue as they take up more space

●       Large size

●       Some can be noisy during operation

●       Multiple cables to deal with

Regular Steam Iron: When to Use

The regular steam iron is ideal for home use, as its steam output works effectively on difficult creases. Its portable size also makes it an ideal choice for travellers, particularly in the case of cordless steam irons, making it the most convenient way to give your clothes a professionally ironed appearance.

Pros of the Regular Steam Iron

●       Great for personal use

●       Only one electrical cord

●       Simple for horizontal steaming

●       Affordably priced

●       Light and portable

Cons of the Regular Steam Iron

●       Frequent refiling (lower water capacity)

●       Not suitable for every fabric

●       Water can drip onto your ironing board or fabrics

●      Not easy to steam vertical items (i.e. curtains)

●       Longer steam production time

Comparison of the Steam Generator Iron and Regular Steam Iron Features

Power and Water Capacity

As previously mentioned, the steam generator iron has a separate base that houses a water tank, resulting in the water tank being significantly larger than a steam iron.

As a result, steam production will be higher and will deliver more bars of steam pressure, effortlessly removing tough creases in the fabric. On the other hand, the regular steam iron has a lower water capacity due to its lighter weight and smaller size.

Steam generator irons use more electricity than steam irons. While not ideal for your electric bill, they are very useful in ironing large loads of laundry and you will likely be using them for less time due to higher efficiency.


In terms of design, steam generator irons are vastly different from steam irons. Steam generator irons contain two separate parts: the iron and the water tank.

The iron portion of the steam generator is separated from the water tank by a separate unit. The ironing section is connected to the base by a cord, and it emits steam onto clothes through pores in the soleplate.

Once you press the steam button, water moves from the water tank to the boiler, where it turns into steam and flows out of the iron. The moisture gets released at a high temperature to penetrate the fabric thoroughly.

The conventional steam iron has a much more basic design. It features a single unit which consists of the water tank, the boiler, and the soleplate. The boilerplate can be found just below the water tank, making it easy to convert water into steam. The steam iron has a lightweight and small size, which makes it easy to handle and carry around.

Heating Time

Most regular steam irons can heat up faster than steam generator irons. Steam generator irons contain a large water tank that can generally hold more than two litres of water, resulting in you potentially having to wait two to three minutes before ironing.

Conversely, heat time for the regular steam iron is between 40 to 50 seconds. As a result, you can begin ironing nearly immediately after turning it on.


Steam generator irons allow you to iron for more than an hour at a time. On the other hand, a regular steam iron needs its tank refilled every 30 to 40 minutes, and sometimes less if you use a lot of steam and utilise the water spray feature.

For quick and powerful crease removal, a steam generator iron is an ideal choice. This is because the steam output of a generator iron is more powerful than regular steam irons.

Safety Features

Several models of steam generator irons and steam irons contain an auto shut-off feature that turns off when the water level gets too low.

However, steam generator irons have far more safety features, including a steam boost function and safety lock system. These features help add extra security, especially if there are children or pets nearby.


The storage of a steam generator iron could be an issue due to its size. On the other hand, keeping a steam iron is quite simple, as it is small enough to easily keep in the top of your wardrobe or tucked into a cupboard.


The cost of a steam generator iron is typically significantly more than a regular steam iron. The main reason for this price difference is primarily due to the complex technology of steam generator irons.

Our Recommendation For the Best Steam Generator Iron: Philips Perfect Care Elite GC9650/80

Steam generator iron

If you are looking for an efficient but marginally less expensive steam generator iron, the Philips GC9650/80 model is for you. The large tank is the most noticeable feature of this steam iron.

It eliminates the need to worry about running out of steam constantly. Furthermore, it comes with a modern design making it a top choice for many.


●      High Steam Output

It can provide you with a 470g steam boost when in boost mode. It consistently delivers 135G per minute steam, which is relatively higher than many other steam generator irons.

●      Lightweight Design

This steam generator iron has a lightweight design making it easy to move around, thereby preventing fatigue. Similarly, the lightweight design allows you to get into every area of the fabric with minimal effort.

●      Automatically Optimises Temperature

One significant benefit of the Philips steam generator iron is that it automatically regulates the temperature. You won’t have to keep turning knobs or changing settings over and over. The intelligent sensor adjusts the steam according to the temperature. The range is wide enough to be used on any fabric, including jeans, silk, thick curtains, etc.

Our Recommendation for the Best Regular Steam Iron: Tefal FV2662 Ultraglide Anti-Scale Steam Iron

Regular steam iron

If you’re looking for the best steam iron on the market, then the Tefal FV2662 Ultraglide Anti-Scale Steam Iron is for you. Using 2500W of power for fast heat-up, this steam iron tackles creases well, and at just 1.61 kg makes quick work of ironing a large pile of clothes.


●       Steam Burst For Wrinkles

This iron plus steamer provides a stream shot of 150g of steam per minute, making it ideal for quickly eliminating even the most stubborn wrinkles. It also features steam burst buttons that allow you to control the amount of steam you want while steaming – perfect for when ironing over and around zips.

●       Durilium Air Glide Soleplate

The Tefal Ultraglide contains a Durilium Air glide soleplate, allowing for 33% more effortless gliding than other Tefal soleplates. The result? Quick and super-efficient ironing with a scratch-resistant soleplate.

●       Steam Capacity

This steam iron has a continuous steam output of up to 40g per min to quickly eliminate creases, plus a large 270ml water tank for longer ironing sessions without interruption.

●       Long, Tangle-Free Cord

The iron has a 1.75m cord that is always tangle-free. As a result, reachability is not an issue with this iron. You can iron fabrics of all sizes without worrying about being too far from an electrical plug.

While we love the Tefal Ultraglide, this brand also makes one of our favourite steam generator irons. Check out our review on the Best Tefal Steam Generator Iron.

Conclusion: Which Iron is Better?

The steam generator irons and the conventional steam iron both have their own set of functions for which they are well suited. Steam generator irons are the best fit for commercial use, such as in the case of hotels, clothes shops, online clothing companies, etc., but still completely ideal for home use too and for steaming any manner of fabric. On the other hand, regular steam irons are ideal for personal use, where comfort, portability, and a lower price point are more important.