Steam Iron vs Steam Generator – All You Need To Know

steam iron vs steam generator

Well-ironed clothes contribute significantly to our general look – it is hard to feel good while wearing wrinkled clothing. With irons, we can get the wrinkles and folds out of our clothes and look neat.

There are several iron designs, and their modes of operation also differ. Some common designs of irons include the steam iron and steam generator. Both types operate in similar ways, but there are still differences.

For those questioning the differences between the steam iron and steam generator, we are here to give you the answer. This post takes a look at the steam iron vs steam generator, and we’ll show you all that you need to know.

What is a Steam Generator Iron?

Steam generator for ironing

A steam generator is an iron that produces steam. When we take a look at the build of the iron, we can see why it gets its name.

A steam generator is a steam-producing iron with a separate water tank and iron component. The water tank is connected to the boilerplate, and it is connected to the iron via a cord.

A steam button makes water run into the boiler, which heats the water and turns it into steam. The steam is transferred to the iron via the cord and released through pores on the soleplate.

What is a Steam Iron?

Steam Iron on Black Background

A steam iron also produces steam, but the design is not as complex as the steam generator iron. The steam iron exists as a single unit without a separate water tank. The steam iron comprises the water tank, boiler, and soleplate.

The water tank comes first, and the boilerplate is located directly below the tank. Water flows directly to the boilerplate and is converted to steam, and then the steam flows through the steam vents in the soleplate.

We can already spot some of the differences in their descriptions, but we’ll list out and explain all the differences below.

Steam Iron vs Steam Generator


Steam Iron and Steam Generator

Although both designs of iron make use of steam in their operation, there are still some glaring differences that affect their usage. Let’s take a look at some of these differences:


From the descriptions we’ve viewed earlier, we can see a clear difference in the design of both types.

The steam generator consists of two parts – a water tank and an iron. A cord connects both components, but they still exist as separate units. When using a steam generator, steam is first produced from the water tank and boilerplate unit before it is transferred to the iron soleplate via the connecting cord.

On the other hand, the steam iron comes as a single unit – the water tank, boilerplate, and soleplate all exist in the same device. This difference in design opens up a load of other differences between the steam iron and steam generator.

Water Capacity

From the design of both irons, we can tell there will be an obvious difference in their water capacities. The steam generator comes with a separate tank that can hold several liters of water, which is the design’s point.

On the other hand, the standard steam iron comes with a built-in water tank. Although the water tank of the steam iron can also hold some liters of water, it can’t be compared to a water tank that exists as a separate unit.

If you are looking for an iron that can hold large volumes of water, the steam generator is the right choice for you.

Steam Production

The steam iron gives off steam from the operation of the in-built water tank, boilerplate, and pores in the soleplate. The amount of steam produced greatly depends on the water tank’s capacity and power usage of the iron.

As mentioned above, the steam generator has a separate water tank, allowing it to hold more water. Thanks to the larger water capacity, the steam generator can produce more steam than the steam iron.

The steam generator is the way to go if you run a large laundry business or need an iron that can produce plenty of steam. If you’re using your iron for small-scale or personal use, the steam iron will be sufficient.

Power Usage

We’ve mentioned that the steam generator has two components – the water tank unit and the iron unit. Both units require a certain amount of power to operate – you first need to boil water in the tank separately and then power the iron.

The steam iron is a single unit, and all of the components are powered together. The steam generator uses more power when compared to the steam iron, and it is classified as heavy-duty equipment.

The power usage of both irons will affect their steam production – this is why the steam generator is said to produce more steam than the steam iron.

We recommend a steam iron if you want to use it as a domestic or small-scale iron. Using the steam generator for household ironing seems like a waste because it consumes so much power.

Steam Pressure

The steam pressure refers to the amount of force with which steam is generated from the pores in the soleplate. Steam pressure matters when you want to deep steam a piece of cloth, and it will also determine how fast and effectively you can steam.

Just like the steam output, the steam power also depends on the iron’s water capacity and power usage. The steam generator has a larger water tank and uses much more power to convert water into steam. Steam is then produced at high pressure in the steam generator.

The steam iron also generates steam at a sufficient pressure, but it is not as intense as the steam generator.

Time Efficiency

Another interesting difference is the time efficiency between the two irons. When we say time efficiency, we’re referring to the amount of time we save using the iron. Three main factors determine the time efficiency – refill time, steam production time, and steam pressure.

The steam generator comes with a separate tank and can hold a larger water capacity – the amount of time you’ll have to refill the tank while ironing is greatly reduced. The steam iron has a smaller water capacity, and you might have to stop ironing to refill the water tank.. Considering the refill time, the steam generator takes the win.

The steam production time is also in favor of the steam generator. The heating element of the steam generator uses more power and converts water into steam faster. If you don’t mind the power factor, you can start steaming your clothes faster with the steam generator.

Finally, the steam pressure also affects your ironing time. The higher the pressure of the steam, the more effectively it can penetrate the deep creases of clothes and thicker fabrics. The steam generator produces higher steam pressure than the steam iron, and it will save you more time.

Our breakdown shows that the steam generator is the best choice if you want to save time. This doesn’t mean that the steam iron takes forever –

it isn’t just as fast as the steam generator.

Noise Production

If you’ve used a steam generator before, you’ll know it can be very noisy. The steam generator makes noise when the water is boiling, and the pressure pump also contributes to the noise production.

On the other hand, the steam iron is relatively quiet and hardly gives off any noise disturbance. If you don’t mind the noise, stick to the steam generator iron. The quiet steam iron will allow you to work in silence.

Heating time

Heating time and steam production time are not the same. Heating time refers to the time it takes for the boiling plate to heat the water. Due to the large tank capacity of the steam generator, it takes about 2 minutes for it to heat up.

The steam iron has a smaller water tank, which can heat up faster. In terms of heating time, the steam iron is the winner. Once both devices are heated up, the steam production time is in favor of the steam generator.


The size is another glaring difference – the steam generator is much larger. The steam generator has two units, while the steam iron is just one.

It will be uncomfortable to use a steam generator if your workspace is small, and it’ll be better to stick to the steam iron.


The steam generator generally costs more than a steam iron. Steam generators are better suited for industrial or commercial use, and it can be excessive to use them for domestic purposes.

A steam generator can be up to three times the price of regular steam irons because of the extra components and design.

It is worth getting a steam generator if you plan to use the iron for large-scale purposes. If you’re using it on a smaller scale, stick with the traditional steam iron.

Vertical Steaming

Woman steaming blue dress

You can use your steam generator for vertical steaming because it has a higher steam pressure. The steam iron is not as effective as a vertical steamer.

Steam Iron vs Steam Generator: Conclusion

The right iron will improve your ironing experience and make it more enjoyable. Today, we looked at two common types of steam-producing irons – the steam iron vs steam generator.

From our explanations above, we can see that the steam generator is more powerful and suitable for large-scale use, while the steam iron is perfect for domestic or small-scale use.



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