Pressure washers are great tools for cleaning patios, siding, garage floors and driveways. Pressure washers use a pump driven by a gasoline engine or an electric motor. Which one is right for you? We’ll look at the pros and cons of each type to help you decide which offers the most powerful benefits.
Two metrics are important for measuring pressure washer power and performance — water pressure and flow rate. The water pressure generated by the pump is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). High pressure with low flow provides a fine jet, whereas high pressure and flow can give you powerful cleaning over a large area.
The performance measures you choose depend on what you need the pressure washer for. Lighter duty models (up to 2,800 PSI) are suitable for cleaning patios, fences and vehicles. Heavy-duty models (2,800 PSI or higher) are better for driveways and siding, where they can reach upper floors.
Gas pressure washers can offer slightly more power, with pressure ranges of about 2,000 PSI to 4,400 PSI and flow rates as high as 4.5 GPM. Electric models generally max out at about 4,000 PSI, and flow rates run between 1.0 and 3 .0GPM.
The benefits of going electric
While gas models can give you more power, electric models are available to cover most household uses. Plus, electric pressure washers come with several advantages over gas models.
- Easier to start. Starting an electric pressure washer is plugging it in and pulling the trigger. Gas models typically require a pull cord, similar to a lawnmower.
- Quieter operation. Pressure washers produce plenty of noise, but electric models run quieter (78-80 dB vs. 85-100 dB for gas). This reduces the risk of harming your ears and annoying your neighbors.
- Less maintenance. Gas models require regular oil and filter changes and occasional spark plug replacement. Electric pressure washers have fewer moving parts and require little maintenance.
- No emissions. Gas pressure washers burn fossil fuels and produce potentially harmful emissions. Electric models have no onsite emissions. This is better for the environment and is a big benefit if you’re working in a partially enclosed space, like a garage.
One potential drawback of electric pressure washers is the need to plug in. The cord can get in the way and limit your range. Outdoor-rated extension cords can extend your range to cover most uses. Battery-powered cordless units are also available. These light-duty models can be used effectively for cleaning vehicles or outdoor furniture.
While each type has its advantages, electric pressure washers offer plenty of benefits that make them the right choice for your household and planet.