Electric Pressure Washer Buying Guide
For many years, the only option available to consumers who needed a pressure washer for tackling big, tough cleanup jobs were heavy-duty gas powered units. These certainly got the job done well, but they also were noisy, produced harmful emissions, and cost quite a bit of money to acquire, maintain and operate. But in the last couple of decades, electric pressure washers have become more and more common. And these days, they are the primary choice for most residential and even some commercial applications.
This is due to a number of reasons – for one, consumers are becoming more and more sensitive about the effects their household purchases are having on the environment, and alternatives to gas powered machines are getting more popular every year. This is evident in all kinds of areas, including the popularity of hybrid cars, energy efficient appliances, electric yard machines and the proliferation of alternative energy sources.
But it is also because electric pressure washers tend to be a bit cheaper than other models, which is of course attractive to any homeowner on a budget. They are less expensive to buy and cost less to run.
Sure, there are some limits on the amount of PSI and flow rate that electric pressure washers can provide – especially when you compare them to commercial-grade gas washers – but for any application you could think to use them for around the house, they will be more than adequate. The same is true if you are a subcontractor or own a landscaping business and need a small, inexpensive pressure washer to help make light cleanup jobs go by more quickly.
But it is important to understand what you should be looking for in an electric pressure washer. There are a lot of different models out there, and they all offer a slightly different package to the consumer. Buying an electric pressure washer is not a huge investment, but it is still a considerable amount of money to come out of your household budget. Because of that you want to make absolutely certain that you are getting the very best model for your needs.
Fortunately, electric pressure washers have a number of basic buying specifications that are fairly easy to understand. When you are familiar with these criteria, you will be able to quickly determine whether a particular model has what it takes to get the job done quickly and efficiently. And you will have no trouble determining at a glance whether a particular model is high quality or just average.
Then it is just a question of narrowing down the field by the price range your budget can support, and determining which pressure washers meet the specifications that make them excellent products. Once you have it narrowed down to three or four units of comparable quality, all that is left is making a decision based on which one has the design and features that are most appealing to you. Before you know it you will be the proud owner of an excellent cleaning machine.
1. Electric Pressure Washer is a Good Buyer’s Choice
So why purchase an electric pressure washer, as opposed to any of the other types of models that are out there? What makes one of these machines superior to a gas powered residential pressure washer? Well, there are a number of reasons why an electric pressure washer is a good buyer’s choice. First of all, there is almost no limit to the number of different cleaning jobs you can get done quickly and efficiently with an electric pressure washer.
Around the home, you can use an electric pressure washer for a wide variety of different jobs. Electric pressure washers are a great tool for cleaning winter dirt and grime from your windows – especially second story windows that you would need a ladder to reach with any other tool. With an electric pressure washer you can spray dirt off of second story windows from the ground.
Not only will this save you a lot of time because each window will be cleaned much more quickly with an electric pressure washer than it could be by hand, but you also do not have to climb up and down a ladder to clean each individual window. You can finish cleaning an entire suburban house’s windows with an electric pressure washer in less than half the time it would take to do it by hand.
In addition to windows, you can also clean off window screens quickly and easily with an electric pressure washer. With one of these tools, you practically do not even need to use soap to rinse off screens – although you can always include detergent if you want to. Simply line up your screens and spray them down one at a time: the whole job will take only a matter of minutes.
And once you have finished cleaning windows, you can use an electric pressure washer to clean off brick facades or vinyl siding as well. A higher pressure spray will be able to blast dirt, grit and mold off of the walls of your house so quickly that you will be eagerly looking for more to clean with your electric pressure washer.
Around the yard, there are plenty of uses for an electric pressure washer as well. You can clean grass clippings and stains off the cutting deck of your lawn mower, and keep other garden tools free of dirt and mud as well. Lawn furniture is easy to keep looking great with an electric pressure washer, and cleaning your grill was never easier than with one of these great machines.
You can clean out garbage cans with a quick spray, especially if you use the electric pressure washer’s soap intake to leave them smelling great. Your garbage cans will be left smelling so fresh and so clean you would think you never put garbage in them in the first place!
In the garage an electric pressure washer has plenty of uses as well. You can wash your car or SUV with one of these, and get the same kind of professional looking finish that you would if you took it to a car wash. After just a couple summers of using an electric pressure washer for car washes and nothing else, the savings it will have provided you will have practically paid for itself! And you can clean oil stains and other grime off the floor of your garage as well.
That brings us to one of the other major reasons an electric pressure washer is a good buyer’s choice. You can use them in enclosed spaces like your garage without having to worry about breathing in hazardous fumes or exhaust. With a gas powered pressure washer, you do not have this option. So not only can you use your electric pressure washer in a garage, you can even bring it indoors to blast mold off of your shower tiles, clean tile floors in your basement, or even strip loose paint off of walls.
These are not the only advantage an electric pressure washer has over a gas powered one. Because these machines do not produce any emissions at the point of use, they are much better for the environment than a gas powered pressure washer. Unlike gas powered pressure washers, you never have to worry about whether an electric pressure washer is CARB-compliant; you can use them in every one of the fifty states with no problems.
And electric pressure washers are much quieter than gas powered pressure washers as well. You won’t be struggling to hear yourself think over the roar of a combustion engine when you use one of these machines. Furthermore, because electricity is so much less expensive than gasoline these days, you will be saving a great deal of money on powering an electric pressure washer as compared to a gas powered one.
And electric pressure washers do not need the kind of consistent maintenance and upkeep that gas powered machines do to keep them running well. They are easier to start and run – you simply plug electric pressure washers into the nearest outlet and start them right up. There is no struggling with priming the engine or yanking on heavy starter cords to get them running.
And in spite of the fact that they run on electric motors, these pressure washers still provide the kind of high PSI and flow rates that you need to clean big jobs easily. There is no real loss in terms of pressure, power or performance with an electric pressure washer as compared to gas powered residential pressure washers.
In fact, electric pressure washers have the kind of PSI and flow rates that you would need even if you wanted to use them for commercial applications as well. These pressure washers are great for small-scale subcontractors or landscaping crews who need a machine that can quickly and efficiently perform cleanup duties on the job site.
Finally, electric pressure washers are extremely affordable. There is no reason you have to spend big money to get the kind of cleaning power you need – it’s all right here.
2. Electric Pressure Washer Buying Specifications
2a. The PSI and Flow Rate
On any electric pressure washer, the first buying specification you should be looking carefully at is the machine’s cleaning power rating. This is sometimes referred to as CU – for cleaning units, but no matter what it is called, it is a function of the washer’s pressure and flow rate, and you can always figure it out yourself if it is not listed.
The pressure is measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI. For electric pressure washers this will typically fall somewhere between 1500 and 2500 PSI. While this by itself is a pretty good measure of how much cleaning power the pressure washer will be able to provide, you should avoid looking at just the PSI alone.
That is because the flow rate – in gallons per minute – is also very important. A machine that has a high PSI and low flow rate will be able to provide a very strong, but also very thin, spray of water. A machine with a high PSI and a high flow rate will provide a strong, broad spray of water, which will make cleaning jobs go by much more quickly.
To calculate cleaning power, multiply the PSI by the flow rate. Compare the cleaning power rather than just the PSI or just the flow rate.
2b. The Size and Weight of the Unit
One of the advantages electric pressure washers have over gas powered residential or commercial units is the fact that electric models tend to be more lightweight and compact than other classes. This means they will be a lot easier to find adequate storage space for them, as well as easier to use overall.
While having a high pressure and flow rate is certainly very important, you do not want to be getting a pressure washer that is designed in such a way that it needs to be bulky and heavy to support that kind of cleaning power.
That is because electric pressure washers that are overly bulky and heavy are not only going to be difficult to maneuver around your home or work site – although that is a concern as well. A pressure washer that is bigger and heavier than it should be probably has other design flaws as well. It may not have the most efficient pump or a well-designed motor.
Sometimes electric pressure washers can be overly lightweight, too – this is true when they are not made from durable parts and quality materials. So try to avoid getting a machine that is either too heavy or suspiciously light.
2c. The Quality of the Materials
Of course, a better way to determine if a particular electric pressure washer is in fact made from quality parts and materials is to simply check out those product specs and see for yourself. The vast majority of electric pressure washers have plastic bodies and PVC plastic hoses. This is fine for light cleaning jobs – and especially for residential use. But you should make sure the plastic used in the manufacturing of the electric pressure washer is high quality and durable.
The fittings are one of the most important parts of electric pressure washers, and a lot of the time, they are the components that manufacturers do not make out of the highest quality materials. A lot of electric pressure washers have plastic fittings for the hose intake and outflows.
Plastic fittings tend to leak. Even if it is a slow leak that does not negatively impact the PSI or flow rate of the pressure washer, it can still be a hassle to have water dripping in a spot where you do not want it to be.
Try to find a model that has brass fittings at connection points. Of course, you can always buy one with plastic fittings and replace them as well, but it is better to find one that already has the right ones on it.
2d. The Machine’s Motor and Pump
An electric pressure washer with a high PSI and flow rate is great, but if it is not backed up by the right kind of motor and pump, it will not last over the long term. So the next specifications you should be checking out are these. It is best to find a model that has a motor with 12 to 14 amps. Anything below this may not be able to support sufficiently high PSI, and anything above it runs the risk of overloading the circuit breaker and blowing a fuse.
The pump on the electric pressure washer is going to be one of two designs: axial or triplex pumps. Older models will generally tend to have axial pumps. The same is true for more inexpensive models: these pumps are the less efficient and bulkier of the two kinds, although they do provide plenty of pressure to water sprays.
Triplex pumps are designed with the pistons arrayed laterally to one another, so they can produce the same pressure in a smaller overall space. This makes for a smaller, more efficient machine. Electric pressure washers with triplex pumps are not considerably more expensive than axial ones, so if possible, try to find one with this design.
2e. Accessories and Other Important Specifications
After you have narrowed down your search for a new electric pressure washer based on general specifications such as PSI and flow rate, size and weight, durability and pump design, it is time to figure out which model has the most convenient accessories. These design details are going to make the difference between a practical pressure washer and one that’s convenient and even fun to use.
The PSI on most electric pressure washers is controlled by interchangeable nozzles. The more your machine has, the better: you want plenty of options for controlling the force of the spray.
An extra long hose and extension cord will make it easier to use an electric pressure washer because it will increase the overall range of motion you have with it. Make sure the hose and power cord are at least 20-25 feet long. And the machine should have a storage feature for both the hose and cord so they are easy to wind up and keep on the machine.
There should be a means of including detergent in the spray. This will either be an onboard reservoir or an intake hose for siphoning soap. If possible, you should be able to control the rate of soap intake as well.