Before you look at which pressure washer to buy, it is important to establish what you will be predominantly using it for. Most people will want them for washing bins, keeping their patios and paths clean, and perhaps even washing their cars. There will sometimes be a need to keep premises such as kennels or stables clean, in which cases it is likely that more powerful commercial washers will prove to be more appropriate.
Once you have decided what your main uses will be, there are a number of other factors that you should consider, bearing in mind that there are hundreds of different products to choose from.
This is a crucial consideration for both individuals and businesses. Because there is such a variety of washers available, the prices also vary considerably. However, there are two things that remain constant; firstly, electric washers are always cheaper than petrol powered models and, secondly, well-known brand names will come with a premium price tag. Prices start from as little as £60 but some commercial models can cost thousands.
Electric or Petrol Pressure Washers
This is still one of the most common questions, especially for first-time buyers. Both have their pros and cons (some of which are outlined below and should help make the decision slightly easier).
Electric Pressure Washers
– No fuel required
– Smaller motor so lighter overall
– Much cheaper than petrol equivalent
– Rechargeable batteries available in some models
– Lower power
– Length of the mains lead can be restrictive.
Petrol Pressure Washers
– Greater PSI and GPM than electric models
– No mains lead needed with petrol pressure washers.
– More expensive than electric models
– Bulkier, heavier and harder to handle
– Petrol can go stale if left
Crucial Pressure Washer Features
Pressure washer power is calculated by multiplying the Maximum Water Pressure by the Flow Rate. The water pressure is expressed in pounds per square inch (PSI) whilst the flow rate is given gallons per minute (GPM).
This is a simple way of knowing how powerful a product is. Depending on your circumstances, you will need a PSI of between 1500 and 4000. A 1500 PSI washer is perfectly adequate for cleaning grills, bikes, and cars whilst a 4000 PSI washer can be used to clean industrial equipment, strip paint, and for other commercial/professional jobs.
GPM (gallons per minute) essentially tells you how much water a pressure washer sprays each minute. Higher GPM gives faster and more efficient cleaning, but only when combined with a high PSI.
There are three main groups of washers based on GPM. Light (2GPM), Medium (3GPM), and Heavy (4GPM).
Weight is quite an important consideration as it affects portability and could restrict who can use it. As a rule, petrol washers will be heavier than electric models but most will have wheels to help make them more mobile. However, at some point, you will need to lift it (perhaps when loading into your car) so if possible, try and ensure it isn’t too heavy.
The majority of pressure washers are stand-up models with two wheels and a wand, and a handle at the top. However, four-wheel designs are popular as they distribute the weight more evenly and are easier to move around.
Must-have Pressure Washer Accessories
There are numerous accessories for pressure washers. Some of the most popular are outlined below:
This basic accessory extends the reach of the wand, allowing the user to keep the pressure washer in one spot.
X in 1 Nozzles
These are just like the garden hose version, allowing the user to easily adjust the spray angle/type.
Rotary wash brush
A popular attachment for cleaning cars.
Works in a similar way to the rotary wash brush, but for patios, decks and walkways.
A curved accessory that is great for concentrating power on one specific area such as the gutters.
Creates a thick foam that covers hard to remove stains, making them easier to deal with.
The motor is usually well protected, making durability fairly good. The hose and power cord are perhaps the least durable elements although they now tend to be reinforced, particularly in higher end models. The other key piece that may get damaged is the wand. As a rule, well-known brands and more expensive models will have better longevity, repair options and spare parts availability.
You can usually choose between single or dual detergent tanks. Models with removable tanks are easier to clean. Dual tanks are undoubtedly better if you expect to be pressure washing multiple items or using different solutions for different stages. They may cost more but can save time.
With electric pressure washers, all of the information about the electrical rating and power consumption will be on the label near the start of the mains lead. All electric pressure washers will work on standard mains outlets that are rated for 240 volts or above. More expensive washers will tend to be more economical in terms of energy consumption. Always observe safety precautions in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
With a petrol pressure washer, the easiest way to establish the fuel usage is to look at the consumption level per hour at maximum usage. Most high-end pressure washers will last a couple of hours and the better brands tend to be more fuel-efficient.
Different brands will offer different length of warranties. Professional pressure washer models may come with more comprehensive warranties than domestic ones, reflecting their price and complexity.
Pressure washers are extremely useful in tacking tough cleaning challenges at home or at work. The principal choice will be that of power source (petrol or electric) and the power output, balanced with price and brand reputation.