The health benefits of steam have been known for thousands of years and there is evidence for steam baths being used as early as the times during the Roman Empire. Fast forward to 2020 and modern families look for ways to transform their baths into steam rooms. That is done through something called a steam generator. Choosing the best steam shower generators, however, is a bit tricky since there are a lot of models and they all might look strangely similar to one another.
In this guide, we will go over some of the top steam shower generators for 2020, review their pros and cons, and ultimately put them side by side to see what their main differences are…
Steam Planet Superior 9kW Steam Bath Generator
The Steam Planet Superior 9kW steam generator is one of the best-selling models on the market for a few very good reasons. First of all, the unit is quite inexpensive compared to other 9kW generators that have similar build quality. It also is relatively easy to install and comes with most of its accessories and needed parts for the installation.
The build quality of this steam generator is definitely a standout feature here. Everything is made out of stainless steel and even the steam head is chrome-made. The steam outlet here has a separate aromatherapy reservoir built into it which is quite rare for this price point. It heats up in a matter of minutes and can provide consistent steam for long durations without stopping. The 9kW output is enough to heat up 320 to 360 cubic feet. One thing that I don’t like, though, is that the self-draining feature is gravity fed, unlike some slightly more expensive models that have it as a powered feature. The 220-volt operation might also be an issue for people that have their outlets work at 120 Volts.
Another good feature here is the control panel which can be mounted either inside your steam room or outside the bathroom. It connects with the generator through a 16ft connecting cable. It allows you to control the temperature of the steam room and other different functions including pre-heat timers and more.
As a whole, this ETL certified steam generator is a great bang for your buck even if you are on a tighter budget. There have been some leakage issues with certain models but those are rare and the warranty fully covers any potential issues. The company’s support team is also very responsive and quick to help you with any potential issues you have during the installation or usage.
- Decently priced
- Good material quality
- Heats up fast
- Decent control options
- Has an aromatherapy reservoir
- Excellent customer support
- Relatively easy installation
- Gravity-fed self-draining
- Some users report leakage issues
EliteSteam 7.5kW Home Steam Shower System
EliteSteam is a brand that works closely with Steamist which is one of the most respected brands out there when it comes to steam baths and generators. The EliteSteam 7.5kW Home steam shower system is quite expensive but well-worth your money as it is one of the most well-built models out there.
Despite having a lower power output, this generator has another advantage thanks to that – it is rather compact. It measures 15 by 6 by 15.5 inches which is a few inches less than typical models in this power range, making it fit easier in smaller places like under the sink, counters, and others. The installation process is actually relatively simple, as the EliteSteam generator comes with all the necessary wiring and parts to install it to your shower system. Once installed, it performs very well even if your steam room is larger than average. Still, it is rated for a 250 cubic feet room, so make sure you fit into that criteria, otherwise, you might need a more powerful generator. The draining is passive here, although you can purchase the AutoDrain Valve additionally.
One thing that really puts this system aside is that it works at 240 volts. While normal generators will work at 120 or 220 volts, having a unit that works at 240 volts makes it much more resilient and long-lasting with lower amperages passing through its internal components ultimately preserving them for longer.
There are a few options you can choose from based on the inside control unit materials – brushed nickel, polished chrome, and polished nickel. Those are just cosmetic differences and nothing substantial actually differs from the three versions. The warranty period on everything here is 1 year with a 10-year warranty that follows which covers all parts. One last thing that really stands out here is that you get a steam head with this model, while most other cheaper generators don’t come with one, making you spend quite a lot more to get it.
- Market-leading material quality
- No leakages
- Heats up fast
- Comes with a luxury steamhead
- Made in the USA
- The control panel is easy to use
- Installation is easy
- Quite expensive for a 7.5kW generator
- Only good for 250 cubit feet
CGoldenWall 6kW Steam Generator
The CGoldenWall 6kW Steam generator is one of the cheaper models out there but it doesn’t sacrifice too much of its quality and performance for that lower price tag. In fact, it is a great deal for your money if you have a smaller bathroom.
In terms of dimensions, this model measures 17 x 6.7 x 12 inches. That makes it fairly practical, meaning you can put it in most places, even though it would be best to install it externally on a wall near your steam room. Materials here are decent with most of the outlets, valves, and intakes being made out of reinforced materials. The water intake has a humanized design meaning it can be manually controlled. The steam outlet has a built-in reinforcement tank that helps with some of the safety features here. The drainage port is manual which is one of the few downsides on this model. The heating tubes on the inside are made out of stainless steel. The last thing I want to mention here is the circuit board which has been modified to work with both 220V and 110V outlets.
The installation process is relatively easy, although you cannot install this generator outside and will find it hard to install it further away from the bathroom. Luckily, the company has a responsive customer support team that will help you out if you have any issues with the process. The generator will be good for heating up a 140-210 cubic feet room.
The display control panel here also doubles as a microcomputer that controls all the features of the generator. it allows you to set up a timer for your steam bath as well as delay-start it. The steam starts around 5 minutes after you’ve turned the generator on and you can adjust the temperature between 77 to 131 degrees (Fahrenheit). The timers work from 1 to 60 minutes (both for pre-heat and for stopping). In terms of safety, there are protections against water shortages and high temperatures, as well as high pressures. That prevents the tank from expanding even in cases that you block the steam head.
In case the classic generator isn’t good enough for you, you can opt for the more powerful 9kW models which are commercial-grade. There is also a 4.5kW option that is great for small bathrooms. As a whole, all the models are priced very well and are a great bang for your buck considering their build quality and ease of use.
- Very cheap
- Suitable for small rooms
- Decent material quality
- LED display and light system
- Good safety features
- Easy to install and operate
- Manual drainage
- Not very powerful
Steam Spa Royal RY900CHC Steam Generator
The Steam Spa RY900CHC 9kW Royal Steam geneator is a top-of-the-line unit that comes with all the bells and whistles of modern steam generators. Being packed full of features it does cost a little more than other comparable 9kW models but it still is a solid option for anyone looking to make a great-feeling and even better looking spa room in his house.
The build quality here is great, with everything here being made out of aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and chrome. The steam tank is reinforced and there is an automatic drainage system that purges the unit after each bath to reduce potential damage from water staying on the inside for too long. In terms of heating up, it takes just a few minutes for the steam to be generated and you can control the pre-heat and auto shut-off features from the two control panels. They also allow you to set up the temperature and other timing functions. There is even a fragrance reservoir that allows you to create aromatherapy steam baths for you and your family.
The installation process here is pretty straight-forward with the only hard thing being the size of the generator. One more thing that you need to consider during the installation is to put the water filter before the water feed to the generator. That water filter will reduce the mineral contaminants and rust building up on the inside of the unit. That extends the life of it greatly and is an advisable thing to do for any other steam generating system you buy.
In your package here you will be getting the generator, a Chroma therapy LED light that changes colors, chrome steam head, a water filter, and chrome-made dual control panels for your bathroom wall.
- Good bang for the buck
- Has a franrance reservoir
- Two control panels
- Great build quality
- Has a water filter
- Automatic drainage
- Can be harder to install
- Customer support isn’t very responsive
Steamist Premium 7kW Home Steam Generator
Steamist is the go-to brand for steam generators nowadays and is the leader in home-spa technologies. Their Premium 7kW Home steam generator (TSG-7) is one of the most expensive models on this list but also one of the best. All of the components here are made out of stainless steel, including the outer shell and the inner heating tubes. this ensures longevity and a good return of your investment. If you want to further extend the service life and capabilities of your generator, you can also attach a water filter to the system. That will take care of most mineral buildups.
Despite being 7kW, this steam generator can easily cover 300 cubic feet of space, and thanks to its variable steam output, you can delicately control the steam that comes out of it. On top of all that, the TSG-7 is also very compact and fits in most closets, under-the-sink spaces and is very minimal when wall-mounted.
One last thing that I really like about the Steamist products is their warranty coverages. Everything is covered by a 2-year warranty with an additional extended warranty for the parts after that. Both the build process, parts, and customer support are USA-sourced, meaning you get what you paid for, even if it is more expensive than other 7kW competitors.
- Made in the USA
- Good customer support
- Superb build quality
- Easy to install
- Compact design
- Heats up fast
- Very expensive for a 7kW generator
Kohler K-5529-NA Invigoration Steam Generator
Kohler generators are some of the best in the market and the brand even producest professional-grade steam generators for large spa steam rooms. The K-5529-NA is a good mid-sized option for people looking to get a generator that can steam up a 250 cubic feet bathroom in a matter of minutes.
The whole generator is made out of stainless steel including its outer insulation and its inner tubing and other components. Apart from its structural qualities, stainless steel also ensures proper temperature maintenance during the heating up process. All the materials are additionally coated with an anti-corrosion finish.
In terms of its performance, the 9kW model can deliver steam to your shower in less than a minute which is really fast compared to its competitors. After that initial delivery, steam is consistently sent to the shower at a constant speed without any interruptions. There are no temperature fluctuations and you can delicately control the amount of steam and heat you want inside the shower. The recommended space this generator is good for is 250 cubic feet. If you have a bigger room, you can get the bigger models which range from 11kW all the way up to 30kW which is good for huge spa steam rooms. On the contrary, there are two smaller models measuring 7kW and 5kW which are great for small bathrooms and heat up very fast too. The installation process isn’t very hard since the generator is relatively compact but if you want to put it in a wall it will get slightly more complicated. Still, the control unit can be located both inside and outside of your bathroom and is the most functional one out of this list. You can control various features from it ranging form the temperature to music and other cool features that you have installed.
As a whole, Kohler products are mostly professional-grade and are rarely bought for small in-house bathrooms due to their high price. However, if you don’t have a set budget, this is one of your best options for a 200-300 cubic feet room in your home.
- Large range of models
- Stainless steel construction
- Anti-corrosion coating
- The 9kW model is a great mid-sized generator
- The control unit is highly functional
- Installation is straight-forward
- Very expensive
Mr. Steam MS225EC1 Residential Steam Generator
Despite the catchy name, Mr. Steam products don’t tend to have the best reputation out there. The MS225EC1, however, is a decent option for anyone looking for a good alternative to all of the expensive models that will handle your steam bath with ease and only has a few minor downsides.
The key feature of this generator is that it is really well-built and has a unique design compared to some of its competitors. First, it uses recyclable stainless steel both for its outside shell and its internal components. There is a drain valve that is manually operated at the bottom. All the other connectors (both for piping and electrical) can be easily assembled and installed to your electric grid and bathroom piping. Steam-wise, there is a precision sensor that measures and controls the steam and temperature inside your steam room. That is paired with a microprocessor that controls all the other functions like delayed start, auto shut-off, and more. The temperature cap here is around 120 degrees.
The thing that I really don’t like here is that, despite the big price tag, you have to pay a lot more extra to get Mr. Steam’s autoflush system. That really doesn’t sit well, especially in a price bracket where most other competitors have their auto-drain features built-in into them. Still, for a residential bathroom steam generator, the MS225EC1 is definitely something you should at least consider.
- Good for smaller bathrooms
- Decent build quality
- Good temperature and steam control
- Stainless steel elements
- Good thermal management shell design
- Auto-drain comes separately and is really expensive
- Not very powerful for a large steam bath
- Customer support is bad
Steam shower generators haven’t been always around or at least not in such an efficient form factor. Nowadays, they are compact, powerful, and can supply your bathroom with a virtually endless supply of hot steam. That makes them especially efficient and convenient for large families or even commercial use. They do, however, vary a lot in terms of their power, dimensions, build quality, heating elements, and a ton more features, which is why people often have a hard time finding the right model for their needs. Before we get into the process of properly choosing a good generator, let’s first answer the most important question here.
What is a steam shower generator?
Steam generators are, in their essence, enclosed units with heating elements in them that have water coming in them and going through those heaters. While it does that, the water boils and turns into steam which is then transported via tubing to your shower, bathroom, or steam room. Their operation can be adjusted in various aspects including exact temperature, duration of the steam-generating process, and more. While they aren’t very cheap, they are one of the most efficient ways of turning your bathroom to a steam room in order to enjoy all their benefits. In terms of their benefits and potential drawbacks, we will discuss that further down the guide. Now, let’s take a look at all of the features that define a good model and that you should be keeping an eye open for…
Features To Look For
Some of the most important features in a steam shower generator are:
- Overall dimensions
- Power figures
- Run and wait times
- Ease of use and installation
- Build quality
- Noise levels
- Additional features and accessories
- Price and warranty
Even if the dimensions of the generator should always comply with the space you made in the wall, you should still be looking for the best possible size-to-power ratio in order to have a compact generator.
Most 7-10 kW generators are around 6-8 inches deep and 16 inches wide and tall, giving them a cubic shape, although some models out there are more elongated and will require a special hope in the wall to be made for their specific footprint. If you already have a space ready, make sure you purchase a generator according to the dimensions you have. Make sure that you leave some space on one side for all of the outlets, tubing, and the pressure-relief valve.
The power of modern steam shower generators is measured in KiloWatts. Most units that are made for home use are between 7 and 10 kW with some smaller units having a power output of 5-6 kW. Typically, the less kW a generator has, the longer it will take to produce steam and keep a steady (and high) temperature. Those long wait times might end up costing you more money as opposed to getting a slightly more powerful generator that will take much less time to fully heat up and be operational.
Another thing that is very important and often gets overlooked is the Voltage of your generator. Without going too deep into how electricity works, 240 Volt units will require fewer amps to work, and will, therefore, be much more durable and long-lasting since they won’t have that big of an electricity flow going through their parts. In summary, 240 Volts are more efficient and save you money in the long-run but that doesn’t mean that 220-Volt generators are much more inferior – they are the less ideal option. The bad side to all of that is that you will need a voltage adapter to run these generators for the US-based outlets which run at 110-120 Volts AC. There are some generators that come out of the box working at 110 Volts but those are rare and most models typically work at 220 with the option to adapt to other types of outlets.
Run and wait times
The run time of a steam generator is the amount of time the generator can provide steam for. Typically, that figure is a bit outdated since modern generators can practically give you an endless supply of steam once they are fully warmed up. Still, there are some cheaper and less powerful models out there that will generate steam at certain intervals using the time in-between those to heat up the water again.
The wait time is pretty self-explanatory. It gives you an idea of how much time the generator will need before it starts producing heat. Obviously, you don’t want a model that will make you wait 5-10 minutes in your bathroom before it kicks in, so avoid the cheaper 4-6 kW models as they do tend to take some time to fully heat up.
Everywhere that heat is generated, there is often moisture. A place that both generates heat and steam is even more susceptible to such issues. Moisture leads to mold and internal damage that can degrade your heater’s performance and life expectancy. That is why some units are equipped with drain functions that allow them to stay clean of excess water that builds on the inside. Some more advanced generators even have auto-drain systems in place that keep everything inside them dry at all times.
Ease of use and installation
While most steam generators come with detailed installation instructions, I do recommend you use the help of a professional for the installation process. Those are very power-demanding appliances that require a lot of tubing to be done for them to work properly. Still, here are a few things you need to consider if you plan on installing one yourself:
- Make sure the generator is away from any bathroom furniture
- Place it in a location that won’t obstruct movement or any doors
- It needs to be near a water supply
- It needs to be near an electrical outlet
- Make sure you have an adapter if the Voltages of the unit and your outlets don’t match
- Make sure that the outlet (and the fuse for it) can handle the power demand of the generator (usually 8-10 kW)
- Waterseal the area in which you will use the steam shower
One other important thing about the installation process is the proximity to the bathroom. While it is ideal to have the generator away from your home’s interior such as your basement or outside the house, some models simply don’t allow for that and need to be built as close to the bathroom as possible. Some models are even recommended to be built inside the bathroom itself, which has its pros and cons but is also difficult because you have to think about that before finishing the bathroom construction.
Modern steam shower generators vary a lot in their build quality. As a whole, look for things like high-quality circuit boards, stainless steel heating tubers, reinforcement tanks, well-built safety valves. All of these will affect both the performance and the life expectancy of the generator. The outer body is also important to be built from stainless steel which will prevent rust build-up.
As with any other electrical appliance, you will need to keep in mind the noise levels it produces. This is especially valid if you plan on installing it outside of your bathroom where it can create a lot of operational noise for the rest of your family to hear. More powerful models are typically louder but they also allow to be installed further away from the bathroom giving you the option to put them either outside the house or in your basement. Vibration also produces a humming noise that is quite irritating when the generator is outside the bathroom. There are ways you can insulate the place you’ve put the generator, as well as dampen its bottom and side surfaces that connect to your walls.
Additional features and accessories
One of the most important additional features is the pre-heating control. While cheaper models will come with basic control options, more expensive steam generators will have a HUD that can be attached to the wall and controlled from there. Some of these may be touchscreen-capable, have wireless connectivity for a phone app, and more. The best possible function of this pre-heating control is to have the option to start the generator from your phone on your way home.
Another feature that is an absolute must is the auto shut-off function. In short, cheaper models need to be turned on and off every time you use the shower but can run out of hot water and quickly overheat if you aren’t careful. That can lead to leakages, breaks, or other issues. More expensive models, on the other hand, use that auto shut-off feature that allows them to stop the moment they don’t have enough hot water to generate steam. That preserves their internal components for longer and makes them much safer to be around your bathroom.
Price and warranty
Last but definitely not least is the price and the warranty of the model. While most steam generators come with standard 2-year warranty coverage, there are brands out there that offer warranties up to 5-10 years or even lifetime warranties on certain elements. Those models, however, tend to be quite expensive which brings us to one of the biggest drawbacks of steam shower generators – they can be very expensive. Installation prices aside, these generators can set you back a few thousand dollars and will additionally require you to do some work on your bathroom to seal it properly in order for steam to not leak out.
Pros and Cons of Owning A Steam Shower Generator
The main advantages of having a steam shower in your home are closely connected to the steam room benefits we experience when going to a spa center, such as:
- You get a healthier skin
- Your nervous system relaxes and is put into a much calmer state
- Your respiratory system is loosened up and cleansed
- The temperature inside a steam room (or bathroom) work out your cardiovascular system
- You don’t have to pay for spa sessions since you will have the steam from the comfort of your home
- Your whole family gets to enjoy the benefits from the steam shower
Of course, there are also a few drawbacks that often prevent people from buying and installing a steam generator for their bathrooms. Those are:
- How hard they are to be installed and how many tools you often need to finish the installation
- They are sometimes hard to maintain
- Steam generators take up a lot of power making them inefficient to run over long periods
- Some models are very expensive and can cost you up to a few thousand dollars
To learn some of the main differences between saunas and steam rooms, click here!
Frequently Asked Questions
What size of steam generator do I need?
The size isn’t the main determining factor when it comes to capacity, rather it is the power output. That power output is measured in kW and anything between 6 and 10 kW is often more than good enough for an average-sized bathroom. If you plan on making a dedicated steam room, look for models of 10 kW and above.
Do steam generators need to be enclosed?
While some steam generators require venting, most modern models have no problems to be enclosed in a box or a hole in the wall. Still, one of the best locations you can put one is either on an outside wall or in the service room of your house.
Are steam showers bad for your lungs?
No, in fact, steam showers are very beneficial for your respiratory system. The warm moist air loosens the tissues along your airways, making it easier to clean itself and absorb more oxygen into your body, ultimately opening up the lungs further and allowing you to take deeper breaths.
Can steam showers be used along with my regular shower?
Yes, most steam generators are designed to give you a separate steam shower experience. If you connect them to the general shower tubing, however, you will have to use either one of the two.
Do Steam showers cause mold?
If you haven’t sealed the area in which you will use the steam shower, then yes – excessive steam can cause mold by greatly increasing the humidity of the bathroom air. The steam generator itself can also cause mold to build up depending on where you’ve put it and how often you maintain and clean it.
The best steam shower generators are often defined by how fast they produce their steam and how consistent they are with the process. Still, warm-up times and steam production aside, there are quite a lot of additional factors that you should take into consideration. Those are the build quality, how easy it is to install it, how easy is the generator to use, the overall dimensions, and a few more things that can easily get overlooked. Whichever model you pick, however, try to stay within your budget, as these generators can easily set you back a few thousand dollars.