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If we had to establish an ironer category, I would undoubtedly be in the "Repass'tout" box: bodysuits for the youngest, bed linen for the large, table sets, jeans, sweaters, dresses, and obviously the evil shirts ( but why should men wear suits at work, why?). To help me in this thankless task, I am equipped with a steam iron but like any good "Repass'tout" I always wondered if a steam generator would not change my life. Until now, the price of the steam generator has always succeeded in dissuading me from it because if I am "Repass'tout", I am also "Economis'tout" and the idea of investing as much money (about 200 €) while my steam iron still works very well gives me cold sweats. Last week, Philips asked me to test its new PerfectCare steam generator for ten days with OptimalTemp GC 9230, the opportunity for me to determine if a steam generator is really worth the price difference compared to a steam iron.
A professional system, a complicated use?
When we talk about a steam generator, we continually highlight the professional side of the product. I am suspicious by nature with the name professional which I always relate to the multiplication of buttons and options. Fortunately the steam generator tested PerfectCare has simplified the process: we fill the water tank, plug in the machine, press the power button, wait until the control unit stops flashing and we can get to work.
The special feature of the PerfectCare steam generator is that it is no longer equipped with a thermostat and that you can therefore switch from a delicate fabric to a thick cotton without having to adjust anything. So I tested on different materials: cashmere, silk, synthetic fabrics, cotton or wool. I did not panic, I just told myself that, in the event of a failure, I should have kept the invoices for my clothes to have them reimbursed by Philips. Fortunately, there were no losses. Optimal Temp technology is an innovation from Philips. It allows you to iron any type of fabric without having to worry about the temperature. If the technology works, the mystery remains. A lot has been said about this machine when it came out, in particular that it was "intelligent", capable of recognizing the type of fabric it was ironing and adapting accordingly. When I spoke about it with one of his competitors, he told me that he had completely dissected the power plant to understand how it worked and that if it was able to operate on any type of fabric it was because it was set to a single temperature that all fabrics can support. I do not know where the truth lies, Philips remains rather discreet about this technology but the fact is that it works. It would therefore be necessary to be able to test the efficiency of this plant compared to another with a thermostat.
Debit your ironing basket thanks to the steam flow
Thanks to this test, I was finally able to understand the notions of steam flow and pressure of steam generators, notions that I hasten to share with you. First of all, note that the pressure in bars and the steam flow are closely linked. I read somewhere, but to verify, that a pressure at least equal to 3.5 bars was needed for a power plant to be effective. Say like that, it sounds like a no-brainer but there are nevertheless a few details that are important. Philips offers several models of PerfectCare steam generators with pressures ranging from 5 to 6 bars. The more the pressure increases, the more the steam flow is important but only on the pressing effect, that is to say the button which allows to send a higher pressure for stubborn folds but a pressure which is not continuous. The manufacturers are clever, they generally put forward the steam flow of the pressing effect but I advise you rather to watch the steam flow continuously from the machine, much more speaking. However, prepare for a puzzle because some manufacturers of power plants remain vague on the continuous steam flow and in the most transparent, we do not exceed the continuous steam flow of 120 g / min for a pressure of 5 bars. I therefore invite you to check carefully whether the advertised steam flow rate is that of continuous steam. At the same time, the pressing effect is important: my test, carried out on a thick cotton skirt that has been lying around in the basket for months, proves it!
Weight: a factor of comfort
When using the steam generator iron, I wondered where this impression of lightness came from while I was passing and ironing on the fabric. Comparing with the steam iron that I started at the same time, I immediately understood and I took my kitchen scale to check my feeling: the iron of the steam generator weighs about 1.2 kg while the steam iron weighs 1.5 kg but empty! When I added the water to the steam iron, the weight reached 1.8 kg, which is 600 g different from the iron in the steam generator iron.
It is an option that I never used on my steam iron, precisely because of this weight because to hold at arm's length 2 kg would wear me out very quickly. So I had a lot of fun testing vertical steaming with the PerfectCare steam generator iron: as the name suggests, steaming wrinkles, it does not iron. So don't expect to do "pschit-pschit" and then wear the garment (though). In the photo below, I have ironed half of the dress so you can see the difference.
I find this very practical, especially as pre-ironing: with a really crumpled garment, you can iron beforehand to avoid wrinkles during ironing.
Can we watch TV with a steam generator?
The favorite occupation of those who come back is to be able to follow the TV without really watching it, hence the success of the afternoon TV movies. While the steam iron is silent, the steam generator needs to pressurize to give continuous steam: if you have a Nespresso type espresso coffee maker, you must know this characteristic noise. Fortunately this noise is not permanent, the rest of the time you will only have to undergo the noise of the steam which escapes from the iron which in no way prevents you from watching Plus belle la vie or listening to Laughs and songs (if you really care).
Can we iron with children?
I do not iron my children (even if it is the shameful dream that makes any respectable parent) but it happens, unfortunately too often, that my children are present during the ironing session and that they find fun to embark on a marathon around the ironing board. Suddenly, the steam no longer leaves the power plant but from the ears of the parent, who is tired of having to manage the safety of his little monsters, in addition to ironing. With the steam iron, I have no other solution than to stay glued to the steam iron which postpones the storage of the laundry. With the steam generator iron, you find the use of both hands: the plant tested has a locking system which allows the iron to be trapped on the plant. Thanks to this, the sole, the most dangerous part of the steam generator, is no longer accessible to the little ones and we can therefore store clothes directly on a hanger. Remember that the power plant weighs almost 5 kg, which is far too heavy for children to accidentally drop it from the ironing board.
If you no longer have to worry about the safety of your children, remember to keep a little caution for yourself: the steam given off by the iron of a power plant is powerful and my fingers have been hot several time. If the instructions state that you should never apply steam near your hands, in practice you are obliged to hold the fabric in certain strategic places such as the seams. I brushed against the burn several times but as the scalded cat fears cold water we always avoided the disaster while having been very hot. The cord connecting the iron to the central unit also reaches significant temperatures, so avoid rubbing it too much. Finally not sure that you can watch TV as quietly as with a steam iron.
And limestone is our business?
I admit it without shame, I am not careful and before this test, I had never been concerned with the scaling of my steam iron. I am fortunate to live in a region where the water quality is very good and not very calcareous and, by checking this morning the anti-limescale rod of my iron, I could notice that it had been very little attacked despite use for several years. For people like me, it is unthinkable to have to use a descaling system that requires organization and care. Suffice to say that the system of anti-limescale cassettes is to be banished: I would never think about it and then the idea of spending more money for a machine (around 30 € for 6 Domena cassettes for example, one and a half years of use) which has already cost me an arm is not an attractive option. The PerfectCare steam generator iron is equipped with the Easy De-Calc system: after a month or about 10 ironing, the Easy De-Calc light will start to flash red, indicating that the boiler must be descaled.
It's like the Port-Salut, it's marked on it so you really should be in bad faith to ignore the descaling of your machine. Then simply unscrew the button, taking care to put a container under it capable of recovering flowing water and then screw the button back on. The machine is descaled! Then we can be surprised at the disconcerting ease of such a system. Why do some competitors, ironing specialists, continue to offer cassettes that constrain users? Is it really effective? Are we going to have the same result if we live in Nord-Pas-de-Calais or in Rhône-Alpes? Unfortunately I have no answers to these questions but they deserve to be asked by a specialist. If in doubt, if your water is not very calcareous, it may not be necessary to dwell on the descaling system. If not, do not hesitate to dwell a little more on the question.
Unquestionably, my steam iron does not make the weight compared to this steam generator even if some obstacles call into question the purchase of a steam generator: its size, defect of any steam generator, and especially its price, the Philips steam generator PerfectCare GC9230 that I tested costing a trifle of 280 € is a substantial budget for an activity that remains nevertheless off-putting. It is therefore not today that I am going to take the plunge and invest in a steam generator, but I have learned the lesson and I now know what specifications I should dwell on before buying: - the weight of the iron - the noise from the power plant - the security systems - unlimited autonomy - the descaling system depending on the hardness of your tap water. - continuous steam flow and pressing effect. Philips, Central Vapor PerfectCare Optimal Temps, GC9230, 280 € TTC