The Best Pressure Washers of 2016

Different Types of Pressure Washers

Electric pressure washers

Electric pressure washers have become more popular in recent years, partly because they are more affordable than gas-powered ones. They also don’t require any fuel, so that’s another expensive that’s eliminated. They are quiet, clean, and able to handle most home chores like washing decks, patios, and cars. Some disadvantages include lower power, which makes them not ideal for bigger, commercial cleaning tasks, and a limited washing radius because of the power cord.

Gas-powered pressure washers

Gas-powered pressure washers can be significantly more powerful than electric washers, and you have a lot more mobility. Without a power cord, you can roll a pressure washer pretty much anywhere. Most difficult cleaning tasks will require the kind of power only a gas pressure washer can offer. However, these pressure washers can be very expensive initially, and then add expenses with oil, gas, and maintenance. Gas pressure washers can also be a louder and produce fumes, which is not good for the environment and requires that you work in a relatively well-ventilated area for safety.

Pressure Washer Features To Look For

Reliable motor power

Gas and electric motors use different measurements for power. Electric engines use typically use amps. Induction and universal motors are both good choices, because they are durable and offer 10-15 amps. Electric motors are known for being lightweight. For gas motors, OHC or OHV (overhead cam or overhead valve) engines are reliable and very efficient. They come in either 2-stroke or 4-stroke, with 4-stroke being the better choice. Gas motors are measured by the size of the engine – cubic centimeters – so any engine close to 200cc’s or higher provides good power. Features like low-oil shutdown help keep a gas engine running smoothly.

Enough PSI/GPM

With pressure washers, it is very important to look at the PSI and GPM specs. PSI stands for “pounds per square inch,” and measures the water pressure coming out of the washer. For comparison, a normal garden hose has 30-40 PSI, while a lower-powered pressure washer gives at least 1700 PSI. GPM stands for “gallons per minute,” which gives you an idea about the amount of water your pressure washer uses. Usually, the higher the PSI, the higher the GPM. If your washing chores include patios, decks, cars, and other non-commercial jobs, you don’t need an extremely high PSI or GPM. 1700-1900 PSI with around 1.5 GPM should be more than sufficient. Really difficult chores found at commercial spaces like industrial kitchens, construction sites, or livestock stables need at least 3000 PSI with 2 GPM. Don’t be tempted to get a really powerful pressure washer for home use, because the water pressure can actually damage your cars or house siding.

Durable pump

Having a durable pump is very important for the effectiveness and lifespan of your pressure washer. Triplex 3 axial-piston wobble plate pumps are some of the best because of their tempered stainless steel plungers, ability to handle very high water pressure, and convenient location on the pressure washer. Other good materials include brass and non-corrosive polymer. PowerBoost technology is another great feature because it provides extra high pressure right at the pressure washer’s nozzle, ensuring a powerful stream of water that speeds up your cleaning tasks. To protect your pump from overheating, safety features like thermal relief and instant start/stop can keep your pump performing at its best for a long time.

Versatile hose tips

Pressure washer hoses come with multiple hose tips so you can clean different objects and spaces effectively. At minimum, nearly all pressure washers include adjustable spray lances, so you can switch up the power of the water stream. Hose tips can include a variety of stream degrees, like 25, 40, 15, and 0-degree. For cleaning smaller areas, the smaller degree tips are best (0-degree is the most narrow tip), while tips like the 40-degree send out a fan of water. Quick-connect tips are the most convenient hose tip you could get, because they easily switch out and can usually be stored right on the pressure washer. For the actual hose, swivel adaptors allow you to fit the hose right unto the garden hose for a water source, while hoses that don’t kink up allow you to work faster.

Flexible mobility

Pressure washers can be heavy and are often used in areas with uneven or rough terrain, like stables or construction sites. Having wheels and even a trolley is very important for your pressure washer’s stability. Large wheels are best, because they provide better balance. 10-inches is ideal, and pneumatic and agricultural wheels are able to handle nearly every type of terrain. Rear wheels are also very convenient, because they roll very smoothly. There is only one pressure washer available with four wheels: Karcher’s Follow Me pressure washer.

Wide washing radius

For gas-powered pressure washers, you are not limited by a cord, but the length of the hose factors into how wide your cleaning radius is. Hoses are typically at least 20 feet long, though the really long ones can reach 30 feet. This gives you a lot of range where you do not have to move the pressure washer at all. For electric pressure washers, long power cords make up for the fact the washer needs to be connected to both a water and power source. 30-feet is a good length, and then long hoses (20-30 feet) also help extend your range.

On-board detergent

Adding soap to the powerful stream of water from the pressure washer is an extremely effective way to clean. Most pressure washers include some kind of on-board detergent tank, or at least an attachable foamer/soap bottle. The tanks can hold between 1.5 liters to ¾ gallon. Some even have two soap tanks so you can switch between cleaners using a detergent selection dial. When choosing a soap solution, make sure that it was intended for use with high-pressure water. Many brands include detergent recommendations with their pressure washers, so you can be sure about which soaps are best.

Durable construction

Pressure washers usually have a welded steel frame construction. The rest of the machine parts (pistons, plungers, etc) should be made of very durable materials like brass or stainless steel, because exposure to such high water pressure can quickly wear down crucial pieces of the machine. In terms of weight, lighter pressure washers range from 15-20 pounds, while the heavier-duty ones intended for big cleaning chores can reach 30-70 pounds. With trolleys, pressure washers can weigh even more.

Best Pressure Washer Brands

Campbell Hausfeld

For over 175 years, Campbell Hausfeld has been a leader in manufacturing agricultural equipment. Began by the three Campbell brothers in 1838, the company was originally a blacksmith workshop that manufactured plows, wagons, and other farm equipment. In 1920, the Campbells merged with a crucible furnace owned by Joseph Hausfeld, and the company became Campbell Hausfeld. In 1981, the company produced the first consumer high-pressure pressure washer. Their products over the years have included furnaces, pesticide sprayers, nailers, paint sprayers, and pressure washers. They sell equipment for both homeowners and commercial business owners, so you can choose essentially any kind of power you want.

Generac

Generac (full name Generac Power Systems) made its name in home generators. Founded in 1959, they were the first company to offer homeowners generators, and later, the first to introduce homeowners to pressure washers. Their pressure washers include machines ideal for lighter jobs as well as very difficult, large cleaning tasks. Their gas-powered pressure washers are equipped with features like low-oil protection, easy-access pumps, and overhead valve engines. They also sell replacements parts such as washer guns, hoses, and anything else that might break down over the course of pressure washer ownership.

Simpson

In the 1960’s, company founder Jack Simpson began making pressure washers for paint contractors who needed a lot of power to strip paint. As one of the hardest cleaning jobs you could undertake, the paint-striping power of Simpson pressure washers continues to this day. Simpson also sells pressure washers better suited to lighter tasks, like washing decks and patios. They make both gas-powered and electric pressure washers. They also sell a variety of accessories to enhance your cleaning experience, like armored hoses that can withstand temperatures up to 250-degrees Fahrenheit, high-pressure chemical injectors, and winterizing kits.

AR Blue Clean

The Italian AR (Annovi Reverberi) is the largest privately-owned company of Triplex Plunger pumps, which many pressure washers are equipped with. The North American branch of AR was founded in 1989, and began releasing pressure washers for all sorts of cleaning jobs like washing cars, sewers, and so on. The AR Blue Clean cleaners represent AR’s move towards electric-powered equipment and reducing their carbon footprint.

Features of Professional & Commercial Pressure Washers

Hot water cleaning

More expensive pressure washers intended for commercial use are sometimes equipped for hot water. When combined with soap, hot water is the most effective way to clean grease and oil-based stains like ones you would find in an industrial kitchen. These types of pressure washers can also use cold water, so you can decide which temperature is best for your particular cleaning job.

Water filters

Water is often full of ingredients that can create carbon build-up in your pressure washer. After a while, this can lead to reduced effectiveness and worn-out parts. To protect your pressure washer and ensure a long life, many pressure washers come with water filters that ensure the water going through the washer’s pump isn’t going to leave behind residue.

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