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What is the Best Wattage for a Steam Iron 

By  Carol

Steam irons in the UK are made by different brand names and each brand may make several models. One common element of any steam iron however, is that they will all have a power rating. This power rating is measured in watts which is the standard measurement of power. On your steam iron, it is usually shown as something like 2400W as one example.

In principle, the higher the wattage of the steam iron the faster the heat generation will be. That means for the user that more steam can be generated faster. Often this is referred to as the "heat up time." Another key benefit is that the temperature of the ironing soleplate increases at a faster pace.

Common Wattage Ratings on Steam Irons

Steam irons come in a range of power ratings and is measured in watts. We have included the various size in watts below:

  • 2000 watts
  • 2400 watts
  • 2500 watts
  • 2600 watts
  • 2700 watts
  • 2800 watts
  • 3000 watts
  • 3050 watts
  • 3100 watts

The most popular ratings are 2400, 2600 and 3100 watts.

What wattage should a steam iron be?

There is no perfect power rating for a steam iron. Modern steam irons have at least 2400 watts at the lowest rating and that is more than enough to quickly heat up an iron. An iron with this type of rating heats up in a little under 2 minutes. At the higher wattage of around 3100 watts, the heat up time may increase by around 15-20 seconds. It doesn't make a huge difference really, but if time is of crucial importance, then those extra watts do make a small difference.

Most steam irons have a water tank. The average size of that water tank is around 300ml. When that runs out it need to be refilled. That means the water needs to be boiled again to make steam. An iron with a higher wattage will also do this quicker. Again there is not a huge difference in that heat up time, but larger wattage irons will do that faster.

Steam Output and Wattage

Steam irons produce steam to help get rid of wrinkles from clothes and your laundry. In fact steam is the key thing to make ironing faster by quickly loosening the fabric and easing out wrinkles really quickly. Two options are available on most steam irons:

  1. Constant (continuous) steam output - this is the normal rate of steam that comes out of the iron once it is ready to use
  2. Steam shot - this is a boost or larger shot of steam that you can use for really stubborn wrinkles or creases that are harder to iron out.

Both of these are measured in grams per minute g/min by all steam iron manufacturers. Those steam irons with higher wattage ratings can produce higher rates of steam. For example:

  • A 2400W steam iron will produce 40g/min of continuous steam and a 110 g/min steam shot
  • A 2600W steam iron will produce 50g/min of continuous steam and a 160 g/min steam shot
  • A 2400W steam iron will produce 60g/min of continuous steam and a 200 g/min steam shot

This may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer as the quality of the boiler inside the iron also determines the steam outputs, as does the water tank size.

So, as you can see this is one of the key differences when you buy a larger wattage iron. Most of the top brands will make a higher wattage iron. There is the Russell Hobbs Powerstream Ultra 3100W, the Breville VIN401 DiamondXpress, Tefal FV9788 to name but a few, all rated at 3000W and above. The Russell Hobbs model is the best selling iron on the UK market.

Picking the Right Steam Iron Wattage

Almost always you will find that higher wattage steam irons will cost more than lower rated ones. It is difficult though to find the exact difference in price. That is because so many other features change the price of a steam iron. As a general rule though, higher wattage irons tend to be more expensive, and if you compared two irons with exactly the same features, then the higher wattage one would be slightly more expensive.

You can read more about the various features in our steam iron buying guide.

Higher Wattage Irons are more expensive to run

It is worth knowing that steam irons with a higher wattage are more expensive to run with regard to electricity costs.

We have created a table below showing the most common wattage ratings for steam irons, and then used the average price per kWh in 2022 which is 28p/kWh. We have then shown ironing times of 15 minutes, 30 minutes and one hour using a steam iron.

Steam Iron Wattage

15 minutes ironing

30 minutes ironing

60 minutes ironing

2400 watts

16.8p

33.6p

67.2p

2600 watts

18.2p

36.4p

72.8p

2800 watts

19.6p

39.2p

78.4p

3100 watts

21.7p

43.4p

86.8p

You can see from this that the higher the wattage of your iron, the more it will cost to run. Electricity prices in the UK continue to go up, and the actual rate will depend on which supplier you are with and which tariff you are on. You can read more detail about the costs of running a steam iron by clicking here.

Our Summary

Higher wattage steam irons heat up faster in terms of creating steam and heating the soleplate. That can save you a few seconds of time but nothing more than that. Likewise, when you refill your iron with water, higher wattage irons will be able to boil that faster and create steam faster.

In addition to that, the higher the wattage of an iron, the larger steam output they can create. That is especially important for anyone who also wants to use vertical steaming. Higher steam outputs are always better for that.

On the downside higher wattage steam irons are more expensive to run. At the end of the day the steam iron you pick will always be down to personal choice. Wattage is just one thing you have to consider among many other features.

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