Across the board, the Sunbeam Steam Master performed at or just slightly below average in our testing. It is one of the most inexpensive models we've tested and would be a reasonable investment for those that don't demand much from their iron — someone that just needs a simple appliance to iron a few standard garments a week or less. If you're looking for something more precise and powerful for advanced sewing projects, there are much better options available. This steam iron is a decent option if you just need something for occasional use and don't want to spend much.Editor's Note: We updated this review for the Sunbeam Steam Master on April 21, 2022, with additional information about value and suggestions for other comparable products.
Sunbeam Steam Master Review
Pros: High heat, inexpensive
Cons: Poor steam output, not very maneuverable, generally cheap performance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Steam Master is a budget-friendly option for those whose main priority is the price and who don't demand much from their iron. Read on to see if the cut in cost is worth the cut in performance.
The Steam Master offers a below-average performance here, but we didn't expect much more than we got for such an inexpensive model. It lost some points in wrinkle reduction performance as well as glide. This iron starts to steam at higher temperature settings but leaves lots of drips and some calcium deposits on cotton and linen. We also noticed that it struggles with gliding on linen and silk. The silk setting is also not very effective and leaves lots of water dribbles. This ruined some of our garments as the dribbles remained visible even after they dried. Most other irons struggle with polyester, but the Steam Master does surprisingly well here. It is very effective with no additional steam necessary, although many water droplets were left behind during our polyester testing as well.
The shape of the Steam Master makes it difficult to reach deeper narrow sections, and the burst of steam does not really burst at all while the water spray emits everything from a stream to fine mist to large leaky water droplets. Overall, this budget steam iron performs like a budget device.
The name Steam Master may be a bit of a misnomer here - "Steam Apprentice" would be a more appropriate name. Performance was well below average for this model in our steam output test.
The Steam Master produced a measly 20 grams per minute of steam during our testing. This is one of the lowest outputs we measured. Additionally, the soleplate has the fewest number of steam holes of any of the tested models. There are 7, and they are placed around the perimeter of the soleplate. Consequently, pressing the burst-of-steam button produces a lackluster puff. If your clothes tend to sprout stubborn wrinkles, you would be better served looking for a model with a bit more power.
Ease of Use
This is an interesting metric for the Steam Master, as the overall score it receives is nothing to write home about, but some of the ease-of-use features it does offer are great. We love the retractable cord. Storing the entire cord within the appliance makes for a quick and hassle-free cleanup, and at just three pounds, this model is highly portable, which we also appreciate.
The handle is not the most ergonomic. It is an oval shape that tapers out at the top, becoming too wide to hold. This design sends your hand further back on the handle and impedes maneuverability. Even if your hand is big enough to wrap around the thicker part of the handle, you will find that the controls are in your way.
The soleplate shape is functional and fairly standard but doesn't give you the ability to be precise like most of the more expensive models. A dial on the front of the handle lets you select the ironing temperature based on fabric type. Two buttons on top of the handle let you emit a burst of steam or shoot a misting spray out of the front of the iron. These buttons could be easier to press while your hand is on the handle, but they aren't terribly awkward either. As for filling up the Steam Master, we appreciate that the lid slides completely out of the way and offers a large hole — but you must have decent aim because there's nothing to funnel water, so spillage is eminent.
This is where the Steam Master truly shines. Although, we're not sure it matters, considering how poorly it performs in other metrics. After five minutes, this steam iron hit a whopping average of 359 degrees Fahrenheit. This is one of the hottest irons we tested. Unfortunately, like many others in our test suite, the soleplate seems to have a rather inconsistent spread of heat. During our testing, we found that the coolest spot on the iron was 73 degrees cooler than the hottest.
Should You Buy the Sunbeam Steam Master?
The Sunbeam Steam Master is a very inexpensive iron, and, to a large degree, it feels like one. It will certainly get the job done, but you can find better performance at a slightly higher price point.
What Other Steam Iron Should You Consider?
The Steam Master is nothing if not budget-friendly. That being said, the cheapest option is often not a valuable one. You can easily gain a better value for just a few dollars more by buying a steam iron like the award-winning Black+Decker D3030 Allure. If you often need an iron while on the go, the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot is a less expensive and, in many ways, directly comparable steam iron in a more compact package.
— Michelle Powell and Hayley Thomas
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