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Pressure Washer Buying Guide: What to Look for When Shopping

As the summer months are coming close, many homeowners will seek ways to spruce up their homes. Pressure washing may enhance the curb appeal of your house by cleaning dirt and stains off of concrete or decking, walkways, patios, steps, and other surfaces.

Pressure washers are also great tools for cleaning cars or boats! Pressure washers come in all shapes and sizes, but before you break out the heavy artillery, make sure you read our Pressure Washer Buying Guide to find the best pressure washer that suits your needs.

Type of Pressure Washer

One of the first considerations is what you are going to pressure wash. Several types of pressure washers have different features depending on your needs.

Type By Power

Electric Pressure Washers

Electric pressure washing machines typically run between 2000-4000 watts and produce around 2000 PSI (pounds per square inch). These are great for lighter-duty jobs like washing vehicles, cleaning decks, and siding. However, they are not recommended for industrial use or commercial pressure washer applications.

Gas Pressure Washers

 Gas-powered units typically run at 3000-5800 PSI (pounds per square inch) with flow rates of up to 5 gallons per minute (GPM). These are great for medium-duty jobs, but they’re also the most expensive type of power washers.

Battery Powered Pressure Washers

Battery-powered pressure washing machines typically run between 1500 and 3600 watts with flow rates of up to 1 GPM. These are great for light-duty jobs on small, simple projects like cleaning patio furniture, patios, and small vehicles under a carport. However, remember that you will need to recharge the battery after every use or two.

Type By Water

Hot Water Pressure Washer

These pressure washers use hot water to deliver a more effective cleaning solution. These machines run at 3000+ PSI and GPM, similar to an industrial power washer. 

However, there is a difference between commercial pressure washing units and hot water ones. That is based on their two nozzles with distinct spray patterns: hot water and cold. It provides the ability to adjust the spray depending on what you are cleaning, which is not typically found in an industrial power washer.

Cold Water Pressure Washer

Cold water pressure washing machines use cold water instead of hot water to deliver a more effective cleaning solution for jobs around your home. These units run at around 2000 PSI, similar to an electric pressure washer.

Type By Duty

Light-Duty Pressure washers

The lightest-duty models are designed for small jobs around the house or apartment, like cleaning grills, small decks, and patio furniture. These machines typically produce less than 1800 PSI and up to 2 GPM often have smaller motors.

Medium-Duty Pressure Washers

Medium-duty pressure washers are more powerful than light-duty ones. But they are still suitable for lighter tasks that require a lot of power, like cleaning the siding of a house or boat. These machines typically produce between 1800 and 3000 PSI and 2-3 GPM. In addition, they have either larger motors or multiple nozzles to handle different surfaces.

Heavy-Duty Pressure Washers

Heavy-duty pressure washers are designed for heavy use in commercial settings like car dealerships, warehouses, and factories. These machines typically produce 3000+PSI and 3-4 GPM, have a much larger motor than other models.

Type by Uses 

Commercial Pressure Washers

Commercial pressure washers run at 3000+ PSI and 3-4 GPM. They are great for heavy-duty jobs like removing grease, cleaning large areas, and stripping paint off of brick or concrete.

Residential Pressure Washers

Residential pressure washers typically run around 2000 PSI and 2 GPM. They are light to medium duty cleaners that you can use to clean driveways, siding, or brick, remove mold from a deck, strip paint off of a fence, etc.

Pressure Washer Buying Guide: Which One is Right for You?

Once you have decided what type of pressure washer you need, it’s time to start looking at features that will help determine the best model for your needs. There are many different types and specifications of pressure washing machines available on the market today. The following features are what you should look for when shopping around:

PSI 

 PSI stands for pounds per square inch, the amount of pressure you can measure at any given point on a surface area. This number represents how much power your machine will have to remove dirt and grime from surfaces like concrete or metal. Devices with higher PSI will typically run at high GPM, which means they can remove dirt and grime faster.

GPM 

Maximum gallons per minute (GPM) is the maximum amount of water a machine can deliver. This number represents how much water your device provides and how fast it does so. High GPM machines can remove stains from surfaces more quickly, but it will depend on the PSI of your machine as well.

Cleaning Unit (CU)

The cleaning unit is PSI x GPM. A power washer’s total cleaning capacity is often GPM x PSI. It may be thought of as the amount of work it can complete.

Portability

Portable pressure washers are typically smaller and lighter than most other power washers. Therefore, compared to other machines available on the market today, these units will generally have a lower PSI, GPM, CU, weight (lbs), and engine size. However, this is not always the case, as many models offer multiple options for different features.

Warranty

Pressure washers are typically backed with a warranty covering the engine, pump, and frame for one year. Some brands will also offer three years of protection on specific components like nozzles for hoses. That will give you, even more peace of mind when purchasing your pressure washer. Shop around and compare brands to find the best warranty for your needs.

Cost

 There is a wide range of pressure washer prices available on the market today. Shop around and compare brands to find the best price for your needs.

A reputable manufacturer will charge anything from $150 to $250 for an electric pressure washer with a minimum pressure of 1,800 to 2,000 psi.

A gas washer can range from $300 to $500, with professional models costing upwards of $2000.

For a cold water pressure washer in the 3000 psi range from a reputable manufacturer, you can expect to pay around $300.

A hot water unit typically used for commercial and residential purposes will run anywhere from $350 – $700 depending on features and brand name.

If you are looking for an industrial-grade power washer, you can expect to pay over $1000 for a unit in the 3000+ psi range.

Finally, if you are looking for a cheap power washer under 200, you can read this article.

How does a pressure washer work?

Pressure washers have a gas engine or an electric motor to drive a pump and a high-pressure hose. The pump uses an impeller to pressurize water and then shoots it out through the nozzle at very high speeds, which allows you to remove dirt and grime from surfaces like concrete or metal.

Potential Risks

The fact is that pressure washers are not simply bigger versions of garden hoses. Their nozzles discharge water at a pressure three to eight times greater than a garden hose. There are several risks to consider when using one, including:

-You can quickly lose control of your pressure washer tips over—which is easy to do when you’re working with an extension cord or not on firm ground

-It’s all too easy for the high spray force from water that has been pressurized to cause damage—to you, nearby structures, or even cars

-If the pressure washer is powerful enough, it can strip paint off of your car’s body

-Water at high pressure can puncture tires and hit with so much force that it could break glass windows. -It doesn’t take long for a large water leak to cause severe property damage.

Pressure Washer Parts 

Engines

Pressure washers have engines that drive the pump. The size of a compression chamber is determined by the number of cc in a machine (cc). The larger the cc is, the more influential the engine.

Motors

Electric cleaners require a motor to drive the pump. Watts or Amps, for example, will be used to describe them – indicating how much energy they have. You can find this kind of engine:

  • Universal (Least Price): It’s very light and straightforward to transport. For minor jobs, it’s a cheap and dependable alternative. It isn’t quiet.
  • Induction (Medium Price): A high-quality motor with better performance than you must pay extra. Extremely quiet and long-lasting.
  • Water-cooled (Expensive): Costs more, is more dependable. Water is used to cool it to extend the life of the motor. Induction motors are designed with this in mind.

Tank

The tank holds the water pressurized by the pump and engine for cleaning or sanitation purposes. Most machines come with a standard 40-pound capacity tank, but other size options are available on some models.

Pressure Washer Accessories

Nozzle

The nozzle is the best tool for directing water to specific areas. There are four types of nozzles available, 0º, 15º, 25º, and 40° designs allow you to run your stream to different angles so that you can clean large surfaces with ease.

  • 0 degrees (red nozzle) is the most powerful, concentrated nozzle setting.
  • 15 degrees (yellow nozzle) is used for heavy-duty cleaning.
  • 25 degrees (green nozzle) is used for general cleaning.
  • 40 degrees (white nozzle) is used for vehicles, patio furniture, boats, and easily damaged surfaces.
  • 65 degrees (black nozzle) is a low-pressure nozzle used to apply soap and other cleaning agents.

Caution

Make sure you’re using the appropriate nozzle for the task to avoid injury and damage.

Adjustable Wands

An adjustable wand allows you to change the pressure of your washer by regulating water flow. Choosing the correct type of wand is essential for cleaning to remove dirt and grime effectively.

Spray Gun

A spray gun lets you direct high-pressure water exactly where needed for detailed tasks like removing stubborn stains or paint from hard-to-reach areas.

Other Attachments

Other attachments allow you to add features like detergents, brushes, and sprinklers to your pressure washer for added convenience, depending on the task at hand.

Usability Features (hose length, lances, handles and wheels, cord length, auto start/stop)

Hose Length

A longer hose allows you to reach further distances on your surface for cleaning. In comparison, some more mobile people prefer a shorter hose.

Lances

A lance provides the best tool for directing water where it needs to go. There are three types of lances designed specifically for different-sized nozzles: 15°, 25°, 40°.

Handles and Wheels

 Most pressure washers come with a handle for carrying when in use or transported from place to place. Some models have wheels that allow the machine to roll over flat surfaces at your convenience. A long power cord ensures that you can reach all the ways to your surface without moving the power source.

Auto Start/Stop 

An automatic start and stop feature is on pressure washers. It turns the water off when there’s no movement in front of it. It saves battery life (or gas) by locking the trigger. It is good because people might walk by and accidentally press the trigger.

How to Use a Pressure Washer?

How you use a pressure washer is determined by the surface you’re cleaning. These general power washer tips will get you started and keep you safe, no matter your cleaning project.

  • Check the instruction booklet for any vital information or warnings.
  • Before you start, check to see whether you know how to quickly turn off the pressure washer and release the system’s pressure.
  • Avoid using the washer on hot surfaces since you could get burned.
  • When cleaning around them, be aware of electrical sockets and tree branches so they don’t accidentally get knocked into something or damaged by flying debris.
  • Do not point your sprayer at another person or pet. If possible, choose a soap with no bleach or harsh chemicals.
  • Place the wand on a downward angle to avoid getting liquid in your eyes or ears, and keep them pointed down when spraying so you don’t get liquid in them by accident.
  • Wear protective clothing like goggles, boots, tight-fitting clothes that won’t become tangled up with hoses, etcetera. Protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen.
  • Proper Storage of Your Pressure Washer
  • Store your pressure washer in an open, dry area not exposed to extreme temperatures or weather conditions. Make sure it’s clean before storing by using a soft cloth dipped in plain water while it’s still wet from use. Do not store it with the empty gas tank.

Uses For A Pressure Washer

When purchasing, consider how you’ll use it. And whether there are other items you may buy once you have it that you would not need to purchase, such as simply cleaning your car but then wanting to clean your driveway. First, check the criteria to ensure appropriate and adequate tasks you want to be done. Then, purchase the best pressure washer you can afford based on your needs.

Here are some examples of how you may use BAR pressure:

Light Use – 100 BAR

Garden furniture

Garden tools

Motorbikes

Bicycles

Rubbish bins

Medium Use – 110 TO 130 BAR

Car Cleaning

Boats

Lawnmowers

Fencing

Guttering

Swimming pools and hot tubs

Heavy Use – 130 BAR +

Brickwork

Decking

Patios

Concrete driveways

Note: 1 Bar = 14.503773773 PSI

If you want to clean your automobile, the lower end of the range is more than sufficient. You won’t want anything too powerful because it would harm the paintwork on your car if used at high pressure. On the other hand, if you intend to clean the patio or drive, a higher pressure will be beneficial since it allows you to remove stubborn dirt with ease. The higher end of the ranges would be ideal for this purpose.

You can use pressure washers to clean various things like decks, vehicles, and other outdoor equipment. They’re also helpful for cleaning inside your home. You don’t need high-pressure water for multiple reasons, such as removing mold or mildew from interior surfaces, washing the grout between tiles in bathrooms or kitchen floors, and more. Some people also use pressure washers to remove snow, ice, and other debris from their properties.

Pressure Washer Safety Tips

  • Only use the pressure washer in an open area with enough space to keep a safe distance from you. Before operating your machine, always read product labels and manuals for important safety information.
  • Do not direct the sprayer at yourself or other people, even if they are behind protective gear like goggles. It could still cause them to harm by splashing and droplets.
  • Do not point the sprayer at electrical sockets, gas lines, or wiring because it could cause an explosion or fire hazard. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to use it. If water is coming out as soon as you connect the hose, check for any leaks in the connection points first before using.
  • Do not leave the pressure washer running unattended. If it makes a strange noise, smoke, or doesn’t seem to be working correctly, turn it off, unplug immediately, and check for any leaks before using it again.
  • Let your machine cool down after use, so you don’t get burned by accidentally touching something hot on accident. Limit children’s access to your device.
  • Do not mix too many chemicals with your pressure washer. It can cause hazardous fumes and damage the machine’s pump by reducing life expectancy. If used frequently, only use what’s recommended on product labels or manuals for best results.
  • Be aware that some surfaces like textured walls will require more care when using a pressure washer to avoid unintentionally causing damage or removing paint.
  • Be sure the gas tank is never empty before storing it in an area where children can’t reach it for safety purposes. Remove any attachments like nozzles from your machine while you’re not using them, so they don’t get damaged by accident.
  • Make sure your pressure washer is stored in a warm area if you’re not going to use it for an extended period. If possible, keep the machine inside a storage shed or garage where temperature changes aren’t likely to affect it as much over long periods.

8 Trusted Pressure Washer Brands

KarcherA German company that is a world leader in producing high-pressure appliances for cleaning and gardening.

Generac: Generac is a US-based maker of electric generators specializing in residential backup power systems. You may also use it to run pressure washers and other outdoor equipment like lawn mowers or snow blowers with the proper attachments.

AR Blue Clean: A consumer-friendly company that focuses on creating products to simplify home cleaning projects.

Greenworks:  Generac manufactures electric lawn and garden tools, including power washers for indoor and outdoor use.

Sun Joe: Sun Joe specializes in steam cleaners and pressure washer units suitable for household uses like washing vehicles or other outdoor equipment.

Simpson Cleaning:  A company focused on the cleaning supply industry known for its pressure washers and other cleaning products, supplies, and accessories designed to make home projects easier.

Ryobi: Ryobi manufactures power tools and outdoor appliances, including pressure washer units suitable for household uses like washing vehicles or other outdoor equipment.

Craftsman: Craftsman is a famous tool company division that focuses on producing pressure washers with higher PSI ratings, suitable for demanding projects.

Most Popular Pressure Washers 

Top-Rated Electric Pressure Washers

Last update on 2022-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2022-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2022-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top-Rated Gas Pressure Washers

Last update on 2022-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Should You Rent or Buy a Pressure Washer?

Suppose you’re a casual user and want to clean your driveway or patio once in a while. In that case, it’s probably not worth the investment of buying one yourself. On the other hand, renting may be more expensive than buying a new one if you have an outdoor business with heavy-duty cleaning.

If your pressure washer is used for commercial purposes, be sure to check with the rental company first about any insurance requirements. So you don’t put yourself at risk of being sued if anything goes wrong during the job.

What is the last piece of pressure washer advice you’d give?

Suppose you want a pressure washer that will last for years to come, one that can withstand the elements and one that you know is well-made and dependable. In that case, we recommend purchasing a pressure washer from an established manufacturer with a good guarantee and an extensive support network. 

For decades, international brands such as Ryobi, Generac, Karcher, etc. With the assurance of top-quality performance, as well as nationwide service support, if something goes wrong, you can buy one of these reputable manufacturers with confidence.

We don’t recommend purchasing a low-cost, no-name brand from sites like eBay. These are generally produced in China and do not include assistance agent support or a trustworthy warranty if something goes wrong (which is frequently the case with inexpensive items!).

FAQs about Pressure Washer Buying Guide

What is a good PSI for a Pressure Washer?

The higher the water pressure, the more power it takes to push that much water through your washer. Some electric-powered pressure washers can produce up to 1300 to 1700 PSI and 1.5 GPM.

However, most experts recommend using between 2000 and 3000 PSI with a minimum of 2.5 GPM for most major house renovations.

Yes, 2000 PSI is sufficient for smaller home projects. However, you may require a bit more PSI for more extensive work.

Which is more important, water flow or pressure?

It’s essential to have both, and they go together in many cases. For example, if you want to clean your patio, you’ll need a high-pressure hose to remove dirt and stains that have been there for years. On the other hand, the high water flow will speed up the process by quickly washing away the grime it removes.

How should I store my pressure washer in the winter?

Yes. You should. 

What Detergent Should I Use?

There’s a detergent for every scenario, dependent on how you intend to use your pressure washer. For example, there are several vehicle cleaners on the market. Still, most pressure washer manufacturers provide their detergent for auto cleaning or others that work equally well on patio cleans.

How Should I Store My Pressure Washer In The Winter?

Check out our blog and guide on keeping Your Pressure Washer in the winter.

Last update on 2022-07-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Brett Tyler

Brett Tyler

I’m Brett Tyler, an entrepreneur, but more importantly (well, to me at least), a tool head. I’m passionate about all sorts of machines and how they work – it’s in my blood.

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