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Pressure Washer Buying Guide

If your outdoor surfaces are in need of a thorough clean, a pressure washer could be just what you need. However, with several different pressure washers on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. In this guide, we explain how a pressure washer works, what you can use one for, and how you can determine which one is right for your requirements. We’ll also cover key features, accessories, and other essential factors to consider when you’re looking to purchase a pressure washer.

What is a Pressure Washer?

Pressure washers, also known as power washers or jet washers, are machines that use a high-pressure stream of water to clean dirt and other residue from surfaces. 

A pressure washer is often used for cleaning exterior surfaces that have caked-on dirt, grease, mould or other residue, such as pavements, patios, decking, fences and cars. Other use cases include roofs and gutters, small boats, pools, motorcycles and bicycles, and the exterior of buildings (walls, gates, garage doors). 

How Does a Pressure Washer Work? 

Pressure washers contain a motor or engine that powers a pump, which pressurises the water to produce a powerful stream. Water is fed into the water valve through a hose, then the water pump draws in the water and increases the pressure, pushing it out at a high-speed through the hose and cleaning attachment.

Types of Pressure Washer

1. Electric

Electric pressure washers are the most common types of pressure washers. They are powered through the mains, and are often cheaper and quieter to run than a petrol washer. Although you don’t need to be worried about buying more fuel as you would with a petrol pressure washer, you are limited by the length of the cable and the need for constant power.

2. Petrol

Petrol pressure washers are fuel-powered models that are more durable and powerful than electric pressure washers. You don’t need to worry about being limited by the length of a cable (or tripping on trailing cables!) as petrol power washers can be used without power. However, in comparison to electric pressure washers, petrol washers are much more expensive to run; routine maintenance and fuel top-ups are essential with petrol models.

In order to ensure the maintenance of your petrol pressure washer, you shouldn’t use fuel that is more than 30 days old, nor should you leave fuel in the tank if the product is to be stored for 30 days or more. Learn more about E10 fuel here.

3. Diesel

Diesel pressure washers are designed for heavy-duty, continuous use, in industrial spaces, such as factories or farms. A diesel pressure washer is more powerful than electric or petrol models and doesn’t require power to run. However, similar to petrol washers, it has its drawbacks. Diesel pressure washers are noisier to run than electric and petrol washers, and require a constant supply of diesel to run, which requires more maintenance. Due to the fumes, you also can’t operate a diesel pressure washer in an enclosed space unless you have the right ventilation system.

Domestic vs. Commercial Power Washers

Domestic pressure washers are designed for infrequent cleaning jobs, whereas commercial power washers are designed for frequent and often heavy-duty cleaning jobs. A commercial power washer tends to have a bigger motor, higher water pressure and flow rate, a longer hose, and a longer power cable than a domestic one.

Cordless Power Washers

There is a range of cordless pressure washers that operate on battery power. Although these often have lower water pressure and flow rates, they are great for domestic tasks or in areas where there is no power source.

What Pressure Do I Need?

To choose the right type of pressure washer, you need to consider what you want to clean and how dirty it is. In general, the dirtier or harder a surface is, the more pressure is required. For example, a patio would require a higher pressure clean than a car or a fence.

Once you have determined what you want to clean, there are three ways to measure the power of a pressure washer:

  1. The pressure the water will be pushed out at, measured in Bar. The higher the Bar, the more powerful the pressure washer.
  2. The rate of water flow, measured in litres per hour.
  3. The power of the pressure washer, measured in watts (W) if electric or Horsepower (Hp) if petrol or diesel.

To help you get started, here’s a helpful chart to show what kind of pressure washer you’d need for the most common use cases.

Use Case Light Duty (up to 100 Bar) Medium Duty (110 – 130 Bar) Heavy Duty (130+ Bar)
Low Flow Rate Medium Flow Rate High Flow Rate
Cars
Bicycles
Driveways
Patio & Deck
Fences
Exterior Walls
Pavements
Garden Furniture
Swimming Pools
Industrial Machines (Such as construction tools, mining equipment and food processing machines).
Agriculture Equipment (Such as ploughs, tractors and spreaders).

That said, most pressure washers will allow you to alter the pressure and flow rate of the water, so it can often be adjusted depending on the cleaning task. This means that a higher-pressure machine could be used for a task requiring a lower pressure. However, by this same logic, a lower pressure power washer won’t always be able to be used for a task that requires a high pressure washer.

Pressure Washer Features

When choosing a pressure washer, make sure to consider the features you’d like it to include, such as: 

  • Hose Length: The average length of a pressure washer hose is 3 metres, but these can go up to more than 10 metres.
  • Lances: You can find lances in different lengths that are better suited for certain tasks, such as washing hard-to-reach areas.
  • Handles & Wheels: If you plan to use your pressure washer away from where it’s stored, a handle and wheels can make it easier to manoeuvre to and from a job, as well as mid-task. 
  • Adjustable Pressure: Some pressure washers allow users to adjust the pressure output for different cleaning tasks.
  • Detergent Tank: Built-in detergent tanks allow you to easily apply cleaning solutions to surfaces.
  • Automatic Shut-Off: Automatic shut-off features help conserve water by turning off the pressure washer when it is not in use. This can also save electricity and increase motor life. 
  • Quick-Connect Fittings: Quick-connect fittings make it easy to attach and detach hoses, nozzles, and accessories.
  • Cable Holder: A cable tidy helps to prevent the cable from getting in the way while you clean. 

Pressure washers tend to come with a standard nozzle for general cleaning jobs. But there are other specialist pressure washer accessories that might help with your specific needs, such as suction hoses, spray guns, drain and gutter kits, car cleaning brushes, patio cleaners, detergent and detergent tanks. 

Depending on your requirements, you might wish to choose a pressure washer that has certain features or accessories.

Choosing a Pressure Washer

To recap, here are the essential factors to consider when buying a pressure washer.

1. Is it for domestic or commercial use?

Domestic pressure washers are designed for infrequent use, whereas commercial power washers are designed for frequent use. If you’re buying a pressure washer for personal use at home, it’s likely that you won’t need a high powered one – a light or medium duty washer should do the job. However, if you want a pressure washer for commercial use, such as for frequent or large-scale jobs, you’ll need a higher powered, heavy-duty pressure washer.

2. What are you cleaning? What pressure do you need?

For small items and surfaces, such as small cars, bikes or garden furniture, you’ll need a light duty pressure washer. Decking, fences and other wooden surfaces will require a medium duty washer, and hard surfaces or industrial machines, such as pavements, patios, driveways and large vehicles, will require a heavy duty washer.

3. How often will you be using the pressure washer?

Any type of pressure washer is fine for occasional use. However, if you’re planning to use a pressure washer on a regular basis (daily or several times a week), then you’ll need a robust model that is designed for prolonged use.

4. Do you have access to water and power?

Electric pressure washers require electricity to run. If you don’t have power where you plan to use your pressure washer, you will need to invest in a petrol or cordless, battery-operated model. In terms of water, you’ll need to be near an outside tap or have a long hose. If you don’t have these, some pressure washers have a suction hose which can draw water from other containers, such as a large bucket.

5. Does it need to be easy to move?

Light duty pressure washers tend to come in the form of small, hand-carried or trolley-style units, which makes them easy to move. However, if you require a medium or heavy duty model, you need to pick one that is easy to move.

6. Do you require any particular features or additional accessories?

What are you planning to clean? Where are you planning to clean it? How easy is it to access? These questions will help you determine if you need particular features or accessories to use your pressure washer, such as a specific extension for drain and gutters, or a detergent tank so you can use a cleaning solution.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to tackle outdoor cleaning tasks or a professional in need of a reliable tool for commercial jobs, there’s a pressure washer available to meet your needs. Choosing the right pressure washer requires you to consider several different factors, including the intended use of your washer, the type and power you require, and any additional features and accessories that could make your job easier. Remember, proper maintenance is essential to ensure the long-term performance of your pressure washer. Make sure you check and clean the pressure washer on a regular basis, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for caring for and storing the washer.

Looking for a premium pressure washer? At Generators Direct, we offer a range of petrol, electric and diesel pressure washers for your specific needs from a range of top-rated brands. All of our products are manufactured, tested and certified to industry standards, and come with a price promise – you won’t find prices cheaper anywhere on the web, but if you do, we’ll match them. In addition to this, all orders come with free mainland UK shipping and after sales support from our experts.

If you require additional advice or have a question for our team, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us using this form or via phone at +441639849847.

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