- 1 Why Do I Need A Power Washer?
- 2 Features Of The Top Pressure Washers
- 3 Best Power Washer Reviews
- 4 Other Good Choices
Stubborn oil slick on the driveway? Or maybe the birds congregating around the feeder have made a mess of your deck? You need a good cleaning solution, and you’ll want the best power washer that you can get.
But what defines the best power washer? Is it simply the one that produces the strongest spray? Do you need an electric one or a gas one? Is there one that’s good for truly everything? And is there such a thing as too powerful of a pressure washer?
Let’s delve deep into the wonderful world of power washers and find out the right way to clean your property up right!
Top Electric Power Washers
- Very Light-Duty Electric: YardForce 1600 PSI All-in-1 Electric Pressure Washer
- Light-Duty Electric: AR Blue Clean AR383SS 1,900 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
- Medium-Duty Electric: Sun Joe SPX4000 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer
- Heavy-Duty Electric: PowRyte Elite 2400 PSI 2.0 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
Top Gas Power Washers
- Medium-Duty Gas: Clean Machine by Simpson 60972 2400 PSI 2.0 GPM Pressure Washer
- Heavy-Duty Gas: Generac 7019 OneWash 3,100 PSI 2.4 GPM Gas Powered Pressure Washer
- Extra Heavy-Duty Gas: Simpson Cleaning 60843 Powershot 4400PSI 4.0 GPM Gas Pressure Washer
Other Good Choices:
- Greenworks 1600 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer GPW1602
- Stanley SLP2050 2050 PSI 2-in-1 Electric Pressure Washer
Why Do I Need A Power Washer?
If you’re a homeowner, a power washer is an incredibly helpful tool for home maintenance.
Simply put, these devices allow you to clean dirt and grime off the walls, balconies, driveway, sidewalk, or deck. In limited uses, they may also be good indoors, such as cleaning your greenhouse or getting stubborn soap scum off of a shower stall.
But power washers aren’t limited to just these things. Do you have dirty patio furniture? You can quickly clean it with a power washer. Only have a few minutes to wash the car? It’s incredibly easy with one of these.
You might be ready to point out that you can do all of that with a simple garden hose. Unfortunately, even with a fireman’s nozzle on that hose, it just doesn’t have enough power behind the spray to do every task. You’ll still need to put some muscle power into cleaning with that.
Let me give you an example: it’s time to repaint your house, but years of road dust have built up on it. A pressure washer will blast that crud off of the walls, leaving them clean. Simply let them dry and you’re ready to paint.
Better yet, if there’s patches where paint is starting to peel, using the right nozzle will allow you to strip that old paint from the wall’s surface. No need to get on a ladder with scrapers or brushes, just point the nozzle and let the water do the hard work.
The best power washer will be adaptable to your individual needs with its variety of attachments and power. No matter if you’re trying to get rid of the oil stain on the driveway or just rinsing away the remnants of the ice melt you used over the winter months, you’ll want one!
Features Of The Top Pressure Washers
There’s a whole lot to cover about power washers, because there’s a lot of varying information on them out there. Here’s the basics that you really need to know.
Electric Vs. Gas
Both electric and gas models are useful, but the question is which would be right for you.
For most homeowners, an electric power washer is just fine. These less-expensive models tend to be quieter, have minimal maintenance requirements, produce no fumes, and have an electric motor.
There’s drawbacks to electric models, though. They are typically less powerful than their gas counterparts, and usually have cheaper plastic components. And of course, you need access to a power source, or else your electric pressure washer won’t work.
Gas models have much higher power capabilities, and are often used commercially. There’s no external power source needed, and they have more solid metal components.
Drawbacks to these include that the gas engine produces smelly fumes, and they tend to be louder because of their engine. They also weigh much more than the electric models. Gas power washers require regular maintenance, and of course, they cost more.
If you are looking for something for residential use, chances are that you won’t need anything stronger than an electric power washer most of the time. But a gas pressure washer is virtually required for commercial use.
About Engines And Motors
Let’s talk about the actual power behind these washers for a few moments, too.
In a gas engine, your power is determined by the size of the compression chamber. A larger compression chamber or cc (cubic centimeter) rating means you’re going to be able to build up more pressure, which gives you a stronger pressurized blast. Lower cc ratings are lighter-duty models.
Electric motors are determined by wattage or amperage. The higher the wattage or amps required, the stronger its motor is. However, there’s three different variations on electric power washer motors.
Universal motors are lightweight, low-cost, and portable. They tend to be the noisiest of the three types of electric motors, but for the price, they’re decent.
An induction motor is higher-performance than a universal motor. It will typically have more power behind it, and comes with a midrange price to match.
Finally, there are water-cooled induction motors. While these technically are still induction motors, they have added a water coolant system to reduce the heat on the motor. These typically are the most reliable, but they’re also the most costly.
For average residential usage, I recommend a good midrange induction motor. Professionals are likely going to want to stick to a gas engine, but will want a higher cc rating than the average residential user.
Any machinery that deals with water is going to need a pump, and that’s true with your power washer as well. There’s three basic types of pump used in most of the best pressure washer models, so let’s go over those now.
The most basic pump is a wobble pump. These are usually the least expensive option, as they typically have a lifespan of around three years of regular usage. Also, wobble pumps are usually non-repairable. Sometimes you can replace them, but it’s often not worth the hassle.
Next up is the axial pump. These mid-price pumps usually have an average lifespan of 6-9 years with regular use. They can be repaired, and if you ever have to replace one, that’s an option as well. These are relatively standard on mid-priced power washers.
Finally, there’s the triplex pump. These heavy-duty pumps are meant for industrial use and can be used every single day. You’ll need to do regular maintenance to ensure the pumps continue to work as intended. But these will last virtually forever.
The downfall of a triplex pump is that it’s usually extremely expensive. With pumps, you get what you pay for, and if you want a long-lasting pump, they definitely make you pay for it. I don’t recommend these for the average homeowner due to the price and maintenance needs.
The pressure rating of your specific power washer is dependent on its design.
Most light-duty power washers are rated between 1300-2000 PSI. These typically are used for small decks or patios, cleaning off the barbecue or patio furniture, or other lightweight tasks. Many electric models are light-duty machines.
A medium-duty power washer is usually 2000-2800 PSI. These can be higher-powered electrics or low-powered gas models. This range is probably where the average homeowner will look. Best for home and shop duty, these handle most homeowner tasks with ease.
Heavy-duty power washers are almost universally commercial models. With a PSI rating of 2900-3200 PSI, these are used for graffiti removal or stripping paint, power-washing the exterior of two to three story homes, and similar tasks.
There are extra heavy-duty power washers that clock in at 3300 PSI or even higher, but those are purely commercial. They have extremely high prices to go with that high power level.
Multi-duty pressure cleaners are adjustable. These all-in-one devices allow you to adjust your pressure flow to suit the task that’s at hand. They won’t be able to handle most extra heavy-duty tasks, but they should be able to take on most needs.
What pressure range do you need? That really depends on what you’re doing.
- Light-Duty: Cleaning patio furniture or barbecues, keeping areas clear of debris, rinsing off dirt or grime, washing the car. These also work great for blasting weeds out of cracks in pavement.
- Medium-Duty: Clearing ice melts or dirt from driveways, most cleaning duties, decks, light washing of walls or fences, shop duties. Most residential users should consider this range or a multi-duty model for best results.
- Heavy-Duty: Severe oil or grease-stained driveway cleaning, stripping paint, removing graffiti, major house washing, factory use. Commercial-grade.
The more water your unit can put out per minute, the higher its power and the more intense its spray. This is expressed in GPM or gallons per minute, sometimes referred to as the flow rate.
A light-duty power washer has an average flow rate of about 2 gallons per minute. That’s usually plenty for light tasks like cleaning the dust and bird droppings from the patio furniture.
Medium-duty power washers typically have a 2-3 GPM rating, giving them a stronger spray power.
A heavy-duty power washer will have a 3-4 GPM rate, and will have some serious force behind the spray because it’s expelling water much faster than the other models.
What’s A Cleaning Unit?
Cleaning units, or CU’s, are a calculation of the capability of your power washer. It’s simple math – take your PSI rating and multiply it by your GPM, and you have your CU.
If you have two machines, both with 2000 PSI, and one can do 1.8 GPM where the other does 2 GPM, the 2 GPM machine has a higher cleaning unit rating. It can put more water through the machine quickly, increasing its power slightly and improves cleaning ability.
Having the highest cleaning units doesn’t mean a particular machine is the best power washer for you. But it does mean that a machine with higher cleaning units has a lot more adaptability to different uses overall, and if the price is good, it’s worth getting a higher CU model.
For most cleaning purposes, we prefer hot water to cold, because hot water sterilizes better. The same is true with the best power washer models. And sometimes hot water is essential, especially if you’re fully sterilizing animal cages or something similar.
However, there’s very few residential models on the market which offer a heating coil inside the power washer to rapidly heat the water. The majority of hot pressure washers are meant for industrial or commercial use like cleaning factory floors.
If you have oil or grease stains in your automotive shop, you’ll want to consider a pressure washer that can give you hot-water cleaning capability, as the heat will lift oil or grease much easier. Residential users should probably just rent a hot water model if needed.
Most pressure washers have multiple nozzles that can be used. In fact, many come with a set of different nozzles. But what do they do?
The various types of nozzles are designed to allow different degrees of spray size to emerge. A higher number on the degree means that it’ll be a wider spray, but it also means that it’ll be a less powerful spray. As more water can escape faster with a wider spray size, it loses some oomph.
Helpfully, most manufacturers use a standardized system of color-coding for their nozzles.
- Black: 60 degree distribution spread, good for wetting down or soaping surfaces
- White: 40 degree distribution spread, which is good to rinse off cleaners/soaps on cars or hosing down large surfaces
- Green: 25 degree distribution spread, good for cleaning stuck-on muck off wheel wells or decks/driveways
- Yellow: 15 degree distribution spread, high pressure spray, can remove paint or get dirt out of cracks and crevices in concrete
- Red: Pinpoint (0 degree) spread, extremely high pressure spray, used for cleaning stains off concrete, too narrow for most uses and potentially dangerous
It’s important to note that red is legitimately risky for inexperienced power washer users. Since it’s an extremely fine spray, it comes out of the nozzle with the most force, and it can actually cut through soft materials and even through skin at a high GPM and PSI rate.
Red, 0-degree nozzles also tend to leave very real damage on surfaces. Wood decks are especially susceptible, but it can occasionally cause pitting in concrete. Debris hit by a red nozzle flies away as if it’d been shot out of a gun.
Unless you’re accustomed to using a pressure washer, I don’t recommend any nozzle radius lower than 15 degrees for personal safety. Besides, it’s literally a pinpoint spray, and thus takes a lot longer to clean a surface even if you know how to use it.
Hose Diameters and Materials
Most residential-model units are going to come with 1/4″ plastic hoses. This is actually good for average home maintenance use, and it’s the cheapest option.
Commercial hoses are typically a 3/8″ diameter. This is primarily because they have to handle a higher GPM rate, and so they need a larger hose to maintain steady water flow.
Higher-quality polyurethane hoses are available, and often come with commercial-grade units. These hoses are lighter and more flexible, but they often cost more than necessary for light use. If you’re not planning on using your power washer regularly, you won’t need these.
Attachments And Add-Ons
Last but not least, there are many attachments available for power washers. Let’s go over some of the different types.
Rotary tips, sometimes called turbo tips, cause the spray to spin in a circular or irregular pattern that can more readily remove grime from textured surfaces. If you have a brick pathway or a rough driveway to clean, a tip like this is a good choice.
A surface cleaner pairs a variable spray with a round housing that prevents flying debris. If you’re cleaning on a deck or other area where a rock flying at high speed might cause damage, these are really useful.
Brushes or brooms are available. Brushes are typically soft-bristle attachments which help you clean off your car easily. A power washer broom attachment will help you scrub stubborn stains off the sidewalk or concrete.
Foamer attachments will add a soap solution to your spray, enabling you to spread cleaner easily onto the surface you’re cleaning. This tends to work best with a wide-distribution nozzle like a 60-degree nozzle.
There’s also different shapes like wands, lances, or spray guns. A wand gives you a tapered tip that can fit into narrow crevices. Lances enable you to get the spray up higher, which is great when washing walls. And a spray gun gives you an easy-to-hold trigger grip.
All of these attachments are great, but there’s two other things which should be considered when picking up the best power washer: cords and filters.
If you’re using an electric power washer, you’ll need an extension cord rated for its power needs. You may want to use some electrical tape to waterproof the joint between the washer and the extension cord, just to be on the safe side.
Filters are necessary when using well water or hard water that causes mineral deposits to form in the pipes. Having one of these at the faucet joint ensures particulate matter gets filtered out instead of ending up inside your pressure washer and causing mechanical problems.
Best Power Washer Reviews
Very Light-Duty Electric
Best Power Washer: YardForce 1600 PSI All-in-1 Electric Pressure Washer
For people who just want to do basic cleaning without hauling around a behemoth of a machine, the YardForce pressure washer will be a dream come true. Lightweight, but strong, it features an axial pump and a 13-amp motor capable of getting stuff done.
If your biggest concern is keeping the car clean, or just rinsing off the deck and driveway and spraying down the lawn furniture, you want this machine. Those who live in apartments may also find the small size works well for their walkway-cleaning needs.
This model comes with a reasonable 2-year warranty on both the pump and motor, which makes it an incredibly good value as well.
Best Power Washer: AR Blue Clean AR383SS 1,900 PSI Electric Pressure Washer
Need a little more power? This Blue Clean power washer may be your best bet. Including a pressure wand, a pressure gun, and a detergent tank, as well as quick-change pressure nozzles, it’s already primed with an assortment of attachments.
1900 PSI is enough power for average homeowner duties. The GPM is a bit lower than ideal at 1.3, but for folks in California like I am, you’ll appreciate the water conservation that it provides. And it includes a one-year warranty on anything included in the box.
For everything you get, it’s a very reasonable price, and should perform beautifully for you for a long time.
Best Power Washer: Sun Joe SPX4000 2030 PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric Pressure Washer
When I buy my next pressure washer, I’m probably going for this specific Sun Joe power washer. 2030 PSI and 1.76 GPM gives this enough power to do pretty much every necessary task in or around my house, including cleaning the exterior of the house itself!
I like the variability the most for this model. Sun Joe has developed a nice multi-duty option here. You can set your device at a lower 1450 PSI for cleaning the car or doing light-duty tasks, or you can power it up to its maximum to take on shop duties or serious cleaning.
This model includes five nozzle tips and an extension wand, a garden hose adapter, and a needle clean-out tool to deal with any particulates that might block up the machine. All in all, I think this is the best power washer for most homeowners, and I need to order mine!
Best Power Washer: PowRyte Elite 2400 PSI 2.0 GPM Electric Pressure Washer
Generally, electric models rarely go into the heavy-duty range. But PowRyte has designed a 2400 PSI model which can take on more serious tasks. It’s got a great induction motor with reasonable longevity, and a “total stop” system to shut off the pump when it’s not needed.
Would I recommend this to a contractor? Probably not, unless they want a lightweight unit that they can take along for small area tasks at a well-powered work site. But if you’re a heavy DIYer and want to be able to strip the paint off the fence to repaint it, this is for you.
Best Power Washer: Clean Machine by Simpson 60972 2400 PSI 2.0 GPM Pressure Washer
For a gas model, the Simpson Clean Machine power washer is surprisingly lightweight and portable. Designed in a dolly-style for ease of movement, the upper part of the handle folds down for storage and transport purposes.
Its 149cc engine, with an axial cam pump, provides 2400 PSI and a 2-gallon per minute flow speed. You should have ample power for the tasks you’re going to put it to.
This is a great gas option for homeowners, but it’s a bit underpowered for the industrial market. Still, if you want something that can be repaired in the shop rather than an electric model, this is a great introductory gas pressure washer.
Best Power Washer: Generac 7019 OneWash 3,100 PSI 2.4 GPM Gas Powered Pressure Washer
Planning on some serious work? Take a look at this Generac. Good enough to take stubborn, old stains off concrete and strip paint off of siding, this is a great option for the local handyman or light contactor.
An onboard detergent tank makes soaping up as easy as spraying down afterwards. Solidly constructed, it can easily be moved. It’s got some weight to it, but it’s not obscenely heavy, and can be loaded in the back of the truck for tasks on the go.
Is it perfect? No. There are a few design flaws, including a potentially-problematic hose connection on the muffler side. It’s not for the first-time user, and you’ll need to be careful as you familiarize yourself with the machine. But for the money, it’s a great buy.
Extra Heavy-Duty Gas
Best Power Washer: Simpson Cleaning 60843 Powershot 4400PSI 4.0 GPM Gas Pressure Washer
Look, I’m not saying that it’s overkill for everyone, but for the average residential use, this is overkill. Homeowners should look towards something in the light to medium range for the most part.
But for the serious professional, Simpson’s Powershot gas power washer is a great machine. It has an abundance of power paired with an extremely high GPM, making it truly a powerhouse.
I don’t recommend this model to novices, so if you’re interested, know how to handle your machines first. But if you’re going to be using your pressure washer day in and day out, this is a good model to consider.
Other Good Choices
Greenworks 1600 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer GPW1602
Are you looking for a tiny pressure washer that you can tuck into that tightly-crammed carport at your apartment, or pop in the trunk to take over to help Grandma clean off the patio? You’ll want this Greenworks power washer.
It’s in the very light duty category, so don’t plan on taking down graffiti with this. But honestly, if all you need is a tiny little thing, this is perfect… and the price is fantastic.
Stanley SLP2050 2050 PSI 2-in-1 Electric Pressure Washer
I both love and hate this machine. I love it because Stanley has had the foresight to realize that sometimes, you need something more portable… and so while it includes a solid dolly-style stand, it can be used with or without the stand. You can clean your metal roof with this.
It’s got a good PSI rate, but at 1.4 GPM, it’s a bit underpowered. It comes with a good wand, and there are other attachments available, but the biggest complaint I have is in pricing.
The machine itself tends to hover around $200, but every attachment is name-brand, and so you can easily rack up a couple hundred bucks more in components. And if you have a problem, you have to contact the company for resolution rather than repairing it yourself.
I think it’s worth mentioning because for the right person, this is a godsend. I’m just not the right person.
Time to obliterate the grime and gunk on your property? Now you know some of the top models available to get the job done! Do you have a power washer that you prefer to these? Let me know down below!
Last update on 2018-11-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API