Commercial pressure washer engines come in both gas or electric. Gas engines offer a lot more power than electric engines, and also have the benefit of not needing a cord. For those who are energy-conscious and thoe who do not want to spend a lot of money, OHV engines (overhead valve engines) are smaller and require less gas, so they are efficient. Features like an automatic Idle Down also help reduce gas consumption. There are also CARB-compliant pressure washers, which adhere to California’s standards about energy-efficiency and emissions. If you want a zero-emission commercial pressure washer, electric engines use no gas and weigh less.
When looking at a commercial pressure washer’s power, there are two things to look out for: PSI (pounds per square inch), horsepower (for gas), or volts (for electric engines). Gas engines are frequently measured by size, which is abbreviated as “cc,” which stands for cubic centimeters. In recent years, engines have forgone the horsepower measurement and just show the engine size. A powerful gas engine will have over 10 horsepower (or 200+ cc) and a PSI of 3,000 or over.The PSI determines the power of the water pressure, so a higher PSI means your pressure washer can handle really tough jobs, like stripping paint or cleaning construction equipment. Those really hard jobs require a PSI of 3000-5000.
One of the most important parts of a commercial pressure washer is the pump. It has to handle a large amount of very high-pressure water, so durability is a big issue. Pumps essentially look like several small pipes stuck to a cylinder, and contain plungers, rods, pistons, and ball-bearings. Ceramic pistons allow the pump to work at cooler temperature, so the heat doesn’t wear down the pump. CAT brand pumps, such as the Pro-Grade Triplex pump, can last up to four times longer than other brands. These types of pumps are designed to muffle vibrations and distribute heat so the overall pump stays cooler.
Commercial pressure washers use a hose and hose tip where the high-pressure washer comes out. Tips allow for more versatility and flexibility with different cleaning jobs. Common hose tips include 0-degree, 15-degree, 40-degree, and Soap. 0-degree tips are very narrow, so all of the high-pressure washer comes out in a very small area. The water area expands as the degrees go up, so 40-degree tips disperse as a fan. This tip is ideal for washing cars and other pieces of equipment that need a more delicate clean. Quick-Connect tips in particular are useful because they are stored on the pressure washer itself and are easy to take on and off the hose. Some hose tips include 5-in-1 functions and pivots, so you can swivel the hose around.
The biggest concern with commercial pressure washer usability is weight. They can be very heavy and weigh in the 80-100 pound range. Gas-powered pressure washers tend to be the heaviest, because of the engine. This is why sturdy tires are important. Carts are also useful for support and transport. For a wide cleaning radius, look for long hoses. Many hoses are 50-feet long, which is important because of how heavy pressure washers often are. Some other signs of a good hose include a steel-braided design, so all the high-pressure water doesn’t break the hose’s structure down.
Depending on where you use a commercial pressure washer, the ground might be uneven or rough. A good set of tires will keep the pressure washer stable and balanced. Look for large, pneumatic tires (13-16 inches) or tires with agricultural tread. Never-Flat design helps tires stay strong against a pressure washer’s weight. Tires with shock absorbers are also beneficial because pressure washers tend to vibrate. Shock absorbers reduce the noise level of the washer, as well.