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steam generator versus gravity-feed iron

17 years ago

My old Rowenta Professional iron has stopped steaming and started leaking. I am considering stepping up to a Rowenta steam generator (DG-980) or a lower-end gravity-feed iron for working with heavier drapery and upholstery fabrics. I need something with good steam. I can't decide between the steam generator and gravity feed. Both would provide a good amount of steam, but which will be more durable in the long run? I want something that can be left on while sewing, but then again I also need something for "casual" ironing. I'm not picturing a gravity-feed as suitable for this but maybe I am wrong? I might need a secondary cheap iron. What are the pros and cons of these two systems? Is one a better all-around ironing set-up?

Comments (16)

  • 17 years ago

    My Rowenta weant south less than a year after purchase. From what I hear, it's a fairly common occurance and I'll never buy a Rowenta again.

    The Rowenta cost nearly $100. For half again as much one can buy a gravity feed iron, which as Chelone says, was designed to be turned on in the morning and run all day.

    I find not having to tip it upright easier on my wrist, anyway.

    In front of my sewing machine are the switches to the lights in the sewing room. One switch controls the outlet the iron is plugged into, so when I've sewn long enough to have a few things to press, I flip the switch.

  • 17 years ago

    With a gravity feed iron it is very important that you close the valve on the suspended tank and then hit the steam button and allow the water in the line to be "steamed out". You NEVER want to leave standing water inside the iron itself.

    I've accidently left mine on for 2-3 days and nothing bad ever happened, but I don't recommend it, lol!

    I think I paid $250 for my Sapporo in 1996.

  • 17 years ago

    Is there anything to look for when choosing a gravity-feed? I've looked online at some models that range in price from $70 (on eBay) to hundreds of dollars and I wonder what makes some so much more expensive. It seems there aren't many options on these types of irons to make a difference between brands. I am assuming the quality of the iron itself is what makes the price higher? Are there brands to avoid? How hot does the iron, especially the handle, get? Do you use your gravity-feed for normal laundry ironing as well as workroom tasks? Thanks.

  • 17 years ago

    The handle is fully insulated and never gets hot on my Sapporo. It should NEVER get hot on any quality gravity feed iron. The beauty of these irons is that the components that make up the system are easily interchanageable. The thermostat goes... fix it. The solenoid, fix that... this is how professional, "industrial" equipment is made. Ask those questions! Naomoto will probably be replaceable down to a washer; Sapporo WON'T BE. Inform yourself.

    I can't speak to the long-term "quality" of the irons in question. I can tell you that Naomoto is the most expensive and is considered the "Cadillac". They are great, but I couldn't afford one when I bought the Sapporo (1/2 the price). Sussman is another big name in professional grade pressing equipment (dry cleaning). I' really far out of that "loop", these days.

    I wouldn't buy any equipment off e-bay, frankly; though a I'd be in the front row at a liquidatin auction!(where do you think the "buys" on e-bay come from?!). Go to a local (ish) dealer and discuss your needs with them. Be honest with your price point. They'll help you and they'll be there to help you if/when you need service help.

  • 17 years ago

    I am afraid my budget is pretty small, so a Cadillac is out. Is it possible to get a decent gravity-feed for about $100? I am not sure who would sell these kinds of irons around me.

  • 17 years ago

    My immediate response is, "not likely".

    Maybe e-Bay could turn up something.

    But here's the rub: you are now venturing into the realm of "professional" quality machinery. And it COSTS MORE MONEY, because there are more parts. Because there are more parts you can actually FIX the thing when it breaks down. More parts (that can be more easily replaced) means more money UP FRONT. But it also means longer, hassle-free work periods!

    I know the cost seems staggering; but I went through 2-3 cheapo irons before I "wised up". I had plenty of money to buy my present iron... I was too "cheap". And I was a fool. I should have bought the damn thing 3 yrs. before and SAVED the better part of $120, based on $40/cheapie iron.

    Buy a quality iron. I've never thought Rowenta was worth much... they aren't "players" in the industrial field; neither is Bernina.

  • 17 years ago

    This may be a silly question, but where (besides online) can you buy a gravity-feed iron? I've called a bunch of sew and vac places and nobody carries them.

  • 17 years ago

    Try searching for "tailoring supplies", "drapery supplies". There are several out there and they will sell retail. Solo Slide Fastener is one, so is Banasch's. That failing, try calling a shop that deals in industrial sewing equipment.

  • 17 years ago

    Thanks chelone, those resources are very helpful. I think it looks like it is possible to get a gravity feed for under $200 at least. I see some at that are under $150 but I have no idea if these are quality or not. Does your iron have a urethane, rubber or cork handle? What do you use for just casual laundry ironing?

  • 17 years ago

    I work professionally, and my iron is "on" for 8+ hrs./day, longer if I'm a dope and forget to turn off the iron after closing the tank's tap and clearing the line. (I've done it more than once!). My iron has a handle that isn't cork, I suspect it's rubber, but I don't know for sure.

  • 17 years ago

    You might want to consider going to the opposite extreme. My local quilt store owner teaches tons of classes. Over the years, she has decided the best way to go is to buy the cheapest irons. She keeps 2 or 3 on during each class. She says if she only pays $10.00 to $15.00 when they stop heating or steaming she just throws it away.

    I love taking her classes. Lots of fun and she's practical.

  • 17 years ago

    I decided to splurge on an entry-level gravity feed, but I still want an inexpensive iron for laundry and short ironing tasks. I'm looking at the Black & Decker D2030 or the Conair 4-way shut-off models for that purpose. I can't find the Conair in person to see it, however.

  • 17 years ago

    i use the rowenta steam generator iron and adore it. most of my sewing is clothing and home decor. It's been running perfectly for three years now.

  • 17 years ago

    My Rowenta Professional (which I liked b/c it didn't have the dreaded auto-shut-off) had a temperature dial that decided to gum up. I went to Target and bought a cheap Black & Decker "First Impression" model for $25, has a self-winding cord, works like a charm, and at that price, I don't feel like I am married to it if it goes south after a year or two. Never again will I buy a Rowenta! Now that I'm working at a Bernina dealer, a steam generator would be nice,and I've used her Bernina one at many, many classes. Right now, tho, my boss is trying to talk me into a 730 sewing/embroidery machine with a stitch regulator. One purchase at a time...

  • 16 years ago

    I gave up on my Rowenta steam generator for the same reasons that the OP did. However, I sent it in for repair just in case it would work as a backup for the Reliable that I bought to replace it. The Rowenta now works better than I can recall it ever working. It's a pain to refill, though. The Reliable is far superior when I do big (for me) projects because the steam supply lasts so much longer, but it's clunky, so it has its own permanent place on my counter.