Whether the siding of your house is covered in green mildew or your deck needs to be refinished, a pressure washer is a great tool to have on hand. This tool pressurises the water that comes out of your hose, turning it into a powerful force that can remove that green mildew from your siding, peel off paint or varnish, clean grease off of a driveway and do a number of other things.
While a pressure washer is certainly an excellent tool to have, finding the best one for your specific needs can be a bit challenging. There are so many different pressure washers on the market that offer different features that finding the right one can seem like a daunting task. To help make your quest for finding the best pressure washer an easier one, we have assembled this handy buyer’s guide, which is full of valuable information and considerations that will make finding the best pressure washer a less daunting experience.
Types of Pressure Washers
All pressure washers offer similar functionality; water enters into the tool at low pressure and that water is pressurized and pushed through a hose and a spray tip or a nozzle at a higher pressure. The end result is enhanced cleaning power which allows you to clean a variety of surfaces more efficiently.
While the functionality of all pressure washers is essentially the same, the manner in which the water is pressurized varies, which brings us to the two different types of pressure washers:
- Electric pressure washers
- Gas pressure washers
Electric Pressure Washers
Electric pressure washers are powered by mains power, which means that they have to be plugged into an outlet in order to be used. Once plugged in, the electric motor starts up, turning the water the stream of low pressure water that is fed into the machine into a stream of high pressure. Electric pressure washers are ideal for small projects that don’t require an exceptional amount of power, such as cleaning off your patio furniture or washing off you tires. Electric pressure washers are also quieter and lighter than gas models, which makes them more convenient to use in a residential setting, as they don’t make as much noise, and they are easier to transport. The motor starts with a flip of a switch and the machine runs cleaner than gas models. On the downside, they don’t offer as much power, and you have to make sure that all electrical components are kept dry and that the cord remains on the ground while the machine is in use.
Gas Pressure Washers
If you have a job that requires more cleaning power, than a gas pressure washer is going to be a better option for you. Gas pressure washers provide much more power, which makes them a better option for cleaning heavy duty dirt and grime, such as removing the mildew that builds up on the side of a house or removing the paint from a deck. Because they don’t have to be plugged in, gas pressure washers also offer mobility. To get this type of pressure washer started, it must first be filled with gas and manual start has to be pulled; however, some models do feature an electric starter. The downside of a gas powered pressure washer is that you have to make sure you have the right type of fuel to use it, and if the gas runs out in the middle of a job, you have to refill it to complete your job. Plus, they also are a lot louder when they are in use.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Pressure Washer
There are several factors that should be taken into consideration before you purchase a pressure washer. After we conducted our extensive research, we concluded that considering the following factors that we are going to mention will help you choose the best pressure washer for your specific needs.
While gas and electric are the two main types of pressure washers, there are also different models that vary based on their capabilities, or the pressure that they put out. The pressure output of a pressure washer is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI, and this is an important factor that needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a pressure washer. Different capabilities include:
- Light duty – These pressure washers have a PSI that is below 2000. They are best suited for cleaning patio furniture, siding, cars, boats, sidewalks, driveways, patios, fences and decks.
- Medium duty – These pressure washers create between 2000 and 2800 PSI. They can take on the same jobs as light duty washers, but they offer more power, which means that they are best to use with siding, fences, decks and patios.
- Heavy duty – A heavy duty pressure washer puts out between 2900 and 3300 PSI. The increased power makes these pressure washers ideal for cleaning heavy duty cleaning jobs, such as caked on dirt on a driveway or a patio, or for reaching the siding of a second story house.
- Extra heavy duty – Also known as professional pressure washers, these machines put out 3300 PSI or more. They are ideal for stripping paint from a surface and other jobs that require more power.
In addition to considering the PSI that the pressure washer offers, you should also consider the water volume that it delivers. Measured in gallons per minute (GPM,) a higher GPM generally means better cleaning and rinsing of hard to reach surfaces. Consider both PSI and GPM ratings to determine the cleaning power that a pressure washer will offer. The higher the combination of the two numbers, the more area you will be able to efficiently clean.
As you can see by the past two factors, your intended use of the pressure washer is a very important factor to consider before you purchase a machine. Consider what you will be cleaning, as this will help you choose the right power to meet your needs.
Care and Maintenance
All pressure washers need to be properly cared for and maintained to ensure their efficient operation and a long life span. All types of pressure washers will need to have general inspections performed at least once or twice a year, and will need to have their pumps cared for. However, do keep in mind that gas pressure washers require more maintenance than electric models.
You should also consider how much you want to spend before you decide what type of pressure washer you want to buy. These machines can vary significantly in price, with basic, light duty models hovering around the $100 range, and extra heavy duty models can cost upwards of $400 or more. The more powerful the pressure washer and the more features it offers, the more expensive it will tend to be.
Pressure Washer Features
There are several features available for pressure washers. These features are intended to make these machines easier to use and more efficient; however, they can also make the price tag go up. Understanding the different types of features and their uses will allow you to determine whether or not you need a pressure washer that is outfitted with them.
Interchangeable Nozzle Tips
If you want to chance the pressure and the flow of the water, you are going to want to look for a pressure washer that comes with interchangeable nozzle tips. Tips that create a narrow spray provide more pressure and less coverage, while wider sprays provide more coverage, but less pressure.
If you want to change the spray pattern from high pressure to low pressure, and back again, without having to worry about changing the nozzle tips, then look for a pressure washer that comes with wands that you can adjust, as this will allow you to chance the spray pattern without having to remove the nozzle tips.
A pressure washer that features a rotating nozzle brings together a powerful spray with a circular motion, which creates a truly powerful cleaning force.
Cleaning Detergent Injector
If you want to add a cleaning detergent to your pressure washer to get a better clean, look for a machine that offers a detergent injection feature. This feature will allow you to add cleaners and other chemicals to your pressure washer, either via an onboard tank or a siphoning tube.
Added Tools and Accessories
Some pressure washers also come with added tools and accessories, which can include various types of brushes, extension wands, surface cleaners and an array of other accessories. These added tools and accessories are intended to make cleaning with your power washer easier and more efficient.
Best Pressure Washer Brands
There are companies that manufacture pressure washers, which can make it a bit challenging to choose the best manufacturer to meet your needs. We weeded through all of the different manufacturers and tested out several models ourselves. After conducting our extensive research and testing, we have concluded that the following pressure washer brands are the best of the best.
Karcher is a well respected name in the pressure washer industry. This company utilizes the most cutting edge technologies to device power pressure washers that range from light duty to super heavy duty. They also create both electric and gas powered pressure washers, and the make models that come with an array of accessories.
If you are looking for a heavy duty or professional pressure washer, Generac won’t disappoint. This company manufactures some of the most power pressure washers on the market. We particularly like how easy their machines are to operate and how much power they offer. We also like that they are very easy to maintain.
Sun Joe is another top contender in the pressure washer industry. This company utilizes the most state of the art technologies to manufacture some of the highest quality, most powerful pressure washers. Their machines are very easy to operate, they come in a wide range of models and price ranges and each one of the Sun Joe models that we tested provided a highly effective clean that we were impressed with.