If you follow me on Facebook, you know that recently I had some serious iron drama. It’s that drama which has led me to put these two steam generators side by side for a comparison test.
Steam generators are similar to irons, but offer significantly more steam power. The water is held in a separate “boiler” that the iron connects to. The boiler holds a lot more water than a traditional steam iron and the steam that is generated is pressurized, which is highly effective against wrinkles. These generators also allow for continuous steam. As long as you hold the button, steam is generated! This makes them useful for vertical steaming as well. Oh, and these irons don’t turn off after 5-7 minutes of non-use (which is also good for sewing, although you do need to be more diligent in making sure you turn it off when done). This type of iron is ideal for sewing or people who do a lot of ironing!
A little background on this post
While I don’t want to bore you with the details, I will tell you that I have used the Reliable Iron Maven for the past 2 years without issue. When it broke, I decided to give the Rowenta a try. While I loved my Reliable, I was not happy that it died after 2 years. I would expect 3-4 years for an iron in this price range – even if I do use it a lot. To make a long story short, the first two Rowenta’s I ordered showed up at my door in open boxes and obviously used – NOT OK! The 3rd time I ordered the Reliable hoping for a different outcome only to receive an iron who’s power indicator didn’t work. All 3 irons went back to Amazon and I opted to order from a different company completely. I am currently using the Rowenta Steam Station. The lesson I learned is NEVER order an iron from Amazon! Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon, and I use them often. I’ve never had a problem with them until this! Strange? I thought so….
Ok…on to the comparison.
Both irons are similar in size and weight. The Rowenta is more of a rectangular shape while the Reliable is rounder and taller. Both have a 1 year limited warranty. The Rowenta runs at a higher wattage and offers a longer power cord which may be useful depending on your ironing set up. Both iron bases will need to be set on a table or stand – they are just too large and heavy to sit on the ironing board.
When it comes to water capacity, the Reliable offers a larger tank, however, the Rowenta allows you to add water easily at any time. The Reliable needs to be shut off and cooled down prior to opening the water tank valve as it is under tremendous pressure. This is due to the Reliable having only one water tank while the Rowenta has two (one that is under pressure, the other is not). Both steam generators have power, low water and iron power light indicators. The heat up on the Rowenta time is much quicker than the Reliable which is great for the impatient ironer. The Rowenta also offers an Anti-Calc filtration system to remove impurities from tap water.
When it comes to the iron itself, Rowenta offers a stainless steel soleplate which promises smooth, non-stick gliding while the aluminum soleplate of the Reliable will distribute the heat more evenly. Rowenta has lots more tiny steam holes than the 13 larger ones of the Reliable. Rowenta might slightly outperform the Reliable with steam distribution due to this. The Reliable’s steam button is located on the top of the iron handle and has a lock option while the Rowenta’s button is on the underside of the handle. Button location is really a matter of preference as is the type of handle (Rowenta is plastic, Reliable is cork). As for the tip of the iron, the Reliable has a more formed, tip which is more suitable to detail ironing (around buttons, collars, etc.).
When it comes to convenience, Rowenta fairs better in the water refill area, but Reliable jumps ahead with a removable iron rest and an On/Off switch. To turn the Rowenta on or off you actually need to unplug it which in most cases means bending over and having an easily accessible outlet.
And finally, performance. Both irons work wonders with wrinkles and both offer vertical steam. Reliable is a bit stronger in the continuous steam arena though – the Rowenta seems to lose a bit of power after the initial few seconds of holding the button. The other thing to note with the Rowenta is that it has a compressor in it that hums quite loudly when it fills the second pressurized water tank. The Reliable may make a few popping sounds on heat up, but ultimately you won’t know it’s on (the Rowenta may scare you from time to time). One other thing not noted on the chart is the metal iron cord holder. This is great, especially if the boiler sits on a table that is lower than your ironing board – it keeps that cord out of the way.
As for reliability, I am unable to say. While I know the Reliable died on me after two short years, I can’t compare it with the Rowenta since I just got it. Other reviewers have complained about the steam button breaking over time, but for now, it works just fine on mine. One thing to note is that if something does go wrong with the iron, Reliable’s service center is located in Canada and you will be required to ship your broken iron there for repair which could be time consuming and costly. Rowenta’s service center is located within the USA.
Boiler Features: Rowenta
Iron Features: Rowenta
Looks like it’s somewhat of a tie. The bottom line is that this is going to come down to personal preference. Which features are more important to YOU? Whichever iron you decide on, I can tell you that both are an excellent addition to a sewing room!