Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter
I want to clean...
Minimum pressure, power and flow rate
Agricultural and/or industrial and/or construction equipment
210 bar – 4,000 W – 600 l/h
Straight jet nozzle, rotary nozzle, detergent, floor brush and/or hand brush
Petrol for regular use, electric for occasional use
Cold or hot water
160 bar – 3,000 W – 600 l/h
Long hose, telescopic lance, straight jet nozzle, rotary nozzle, detergent
120 bar – 1,600 W – 400 l/h
Straight jet nozzle, rotary nozzle, hand brush, detergent
Roofs and gutters
Electric for occasional use
140 bar – 2,000 W – 500 l/h
Gutter cleaning accessories, long hose, straight jet nozzle, rotary nozzle, fan spray nozzle, detergent
Bike, garden furniture
110 bar – 1,400 W – 360 l/h
Straight jet nozzle and fan spray nozzle
140 bar – 2,000 W – 500 l/h
Extension lance, patio/decking brush, straight jet nozzle, fan spray nozzle, detergent
Pressure is the force with which the water is expelled and is expressed in bars. The higher the pressure, the easier it will be to remove dirt. Rated bar is the average pressure a pressure washer will reach while in use.
Flow rate tells you the number of litres expelled within a given time. For pressure washers, the flow rate is usually expressed as a number of litres or gallons per hour. The higher the flow rate, the less time you'll spend going over the same surface, and the quicker you'll get the job done!
The power rating, given in Watts (W), is linked to the flow rate and the pressure. You won't ever find a pressure washer with a specification of 1,200 W, 600 l/h and 160 bars – that's just down to the laws of mechanics and hydraulics!
Note: for the same flow rate, the pressure will vary depending on the diameter of the hose (i.e. the size of the nozzle). Additionally, the longer the hose between the nozzle and the pressure washer, the more pressure loss there will be.
Petrol pressure washers offer higher pressure, flow rates and power ratings. They can be used for long periods of time and do not depend on an electricity supply to operate. Some models can operate using hot water, making quick work of even the most challenging cleaning tasks. The power rating of petrol pressure washers is indicated in horsepower (1 hp = 0.736 W). The engine capacity (cm3 or cc) is indicated as part of the engine specifications. The higher the engine capacity the better as the engine will not have to run at full speed as often.
However, all of these advantages don't come for free. Petrol pressure washers have an engine that consumes oil and fuel and therefore require maintenance (spark plugs, filter cleaning, draining, etc.). They are also louder and heavier than other models and emit greenhouse gases via combustion. In summary, all of this means that petrol pressure washers are best suited to professional users working for councils or in agriculture, construction or other industries.
Electric pressure washers, on the other hand, are suited to most jobs and are ideal for home users. They offer less pressure and lower flow rates, but the highest powered models are exceptionally comfortable to use.
These machines require very little maintenance (cleaning the filter and storing in the winter) and are lightweight and easy to handle. The power rating of electric pressure washers is given in Watts (W) and is related to the other characteristics (pressure and flow rate). Depending on the model, the power rating is usually between 1,100 and 4,000 W.
You should choose the type of pump according to how you intend to use your pressure washer.
For occasional use, i.e. three or four hours per month at different times, a composite pump will do the job very nicely.
If you plan to use your pressure washer more regularly or for longer periods, look for one with an aluminium pump. The price will be higher, but the equipment will last longer.
At the very top of the market, you'll find brass pumps, which are designed for intensive use.
As far as accessories go, 'standard' items are becoming something of an endangered species. If you want a wide range of pressure washer accessories, you will have to choose one of the bigger brands as accessories from competing manufacturers are generally not interchangeable.
Various accessories are available to help you make the most of your pressure washer and improve user comfort. Let's take a look at the most common ones:
How easy it is to obtain replacement parts, O-rings and other caps and connectors will depend on the services offered by the manufacturer which in turn depends on the quality and reputation of the brand.
More often than not, only the best-known brands offer a high-quality after-sales care which allows users to make their purchase a long-lasting one. At the other end of the scale, the cost of having an entry-level pressure washer repaired by a professional is sometimes more than the model is worth.
If you can see yourself using your pressure washer regularly, for example for several hours per week for six months, it's worth looking at a higher quality model than you might initially have considered. Entry-level models are not designed for regular use. The result? The pump will soon break and you'll find yourself engaged in a battle with customer services and regretting your purchase...
In order to be sure you're making the right choice, think about how your cleaning requirements will evolve in the future as well as about your current needs. If you are unsure, opt for a more powerful model with a higher flow rate and more pressure. Like any tool, the quality of a pressure washer is proportional to its price, but this is what will determine whether or not your purchase will prove to be sustainable in the long-term. It can be reassuring to know you are entitled to after-sales support from a well-known brand (standard exchange vs. a repair that takes several months, without any loan of temporary equipment). However, if you're only going to use your pressure washer once a year to clean your garden furniture or car, then an entry-level model will do just fine and will last – providing that you don't use it for long periods and/or at full speed.
Entry-level – occasional use
Mid-range – regular use
High-end – very frequent use
Pressure washer brands
Cleaner Wash - Einhell - Ribimex - Silverline
Hyundai - Bosch - Black & Decker -Karcher Skil
Campeon - Karcher - Kranzle - Lavor - Makita - Nilfisk - Honda
Guide written by:
Sebastian, self-taught DIY-er, Exeter, 221 guides
Redo a roof with wooden beams? Check.Advise Mister everybody in the DIY shop? Check.Redo the bathroom plumbing? Check.Fit together, build the walls, paint a partition, throw my hammer in a rage thinking that it will fix the problem? Check. The DIY motto ? Learning is better than delegating… well, it's also a question about your wallet! The satisfaction? The beer at the end of the job! What do the best have in common? The influence of Gyro Gearloose, Mac Gyver and Carol Smiley depending on your generation, a good dose of curiosity, a average hand-eye coordination and a taste for risks… and if it doesn't work, try again! Advise you? I'll do my best!