Best Electric Pressure Washer
There are a number of great reasons why electric pressure washers are becoming very popular among consumers. For a long time, electric appliances like these were generally outperformed by more powerful gas powered ones, and simply did not measure up to industry standards. In terms of pressure washers, this meant that they were not able to provide the kind of high pressures and flow rates that gas pressure washers could, and therefore were not nearly as efficient at removing tough stains, which made them less convenient and versatile overall. But in the last several years, the design of electric pressure washers has really improved. And these days there are plenty of models that are able to offer the same kind of power and performance that gas pressure washers can.
And that is good news for a number of reasons. Once you have an electric pressure washer that can provide the same kind of PSI and flow rates that gas powered pressure washers can, you are able to enjoy the same cleaning power as you could with a gas model, but eliminate a lot of the problems associated with gas powered machines.
Electric pressure washers do not produce any emissions at the point of use. This means that you no longer have to be concerned about inhaling harmful fumes if you are using them in an enclosed space, which greatly increases the variety of areas and jobs you can use your pressure washer on. The lack of emissions is also much better for the environment as well – and in these times of high levels of pollution and risks of global warming due to our use of fossil fuels, these kinds of concerns are becoming more and more relevant.
By switching over to electric, you can significantly reduce the overall carbon footprint your household is producing. Because of emissions concerns, more and more states are enforcing the small engine carbon emissions standards of the California Air Resources Board – and these emissions rule out the use of quite a few gas powered machines, pressure washers being one of them. With an electric pressure washer, you do not have to worry about being compliant with any emissions regulations.
Then there are the savings that switching to electric power offers. Gas prices have only been going up in the last ten or fifteen years, whereas electricity prices remain more or less constant, especially with the proliferation of more and more alternative energy sources. Running and maintaining an electric pressure washer is going to be much less expensive than a gas powered one.
So, you are probably convinced that an electric pressure washer is the way to go – especially if you are looking for a machine to use around the house and yard. But the hard part is figuring out which electric pressure washer is the best. There are myriad designs, sizes, and prices for electric pressure washers, and finding the best is difficult. But there are a few characteristics that separate the best from just average ones. Here they are.
1. Best Electric Pressure Washer Characteristics
1a. Serious Cleaning Power
The first thing you should always be looking at in your search for the best pressure washer, whether it is an electric model or otherwise, is the cleaning power rating of the machine as defined by its pressure and flow rate. These two criteria will above all others determine whether or not it has what it takes to tackle big, tough jobs quickly and efficiently. After the pressure and flow rate, all other considerations are almost incidental. That is because the pressure and flow rate are going to influence not only how well the pressure washer’s spray can cut through serious stains and thick layers of dirt and grime. And the machine’s flow rate will determine how quickly you can tackle a big job.
The pressure is measured in Pounds per Square Inch – the PSI. On electric pressure washers it generally starts at around 1300 PSI and can go as high as 2200 on heavy duty models. For most residential jobs, a PSI of 1800 is usually more than enough; this is some really serious cleaning power. But you never know when you are going to be dealing with a really stubborn stain, and so you may want to find a model that has a higher PSI just in case.
But the PSI does not exist in a vacuum – the flow rate is very important as well. The flow rate is, measured in Gallons per Minute – the GPM. The flow rate is very important because it determines how wide that high pressure spray is going to be. Sure, a PSI of 2000 is very impressive – but if it has the diameter of a ball point pen, you are going to be spending a lot of time cutting through dirt on any surface that is bigger than a square foot. So you want not only a high PSI but a high GPM as well. On electric pressure washers, the flow rate ranges from about 1.2 to 1.4 GPM.
To find the best electric pressure washers, you should determine the cleaning power of each unit. This is obtained by multiplying the PSI by the GPM. The machine with the highest cleaning power rating is going to be the best one, hands down. That is because it will be able to provide a high pressure spray that is wide enough to efficiently and quickly clean big areas. And when you have a lot of work to do, that is very important.
1b. Outstanding Materials
You also want to make sure that your electric pressure washer is made of only the very best in materials. In the vast majority of electric pressure washers, the body as well as many other components is made of plastic – and this is fine, to a point. The body can be made of plastic, so long as it is fairly heavy-duty and durable plastic that will not crack easily if the machine accidentally tips over.
Electric pressure washers can often be a bit top-heavy, and if you are not careful, it is very easy to accidentally yank too hard on the hose and tip them over. When you are washing your car on a concrete driveway, you want to be sure that if this accidentally happens (and it almost certainly will), you want to be able to rely on your electric pressure washer not to break. If you can find an electric pressure washer in your price range that is made of stamped steel or some other durable metal, that is even better: steel may get dinged if it falls over, but it will not crack.
But a lot of the time, the connectors on electric pressure washers are also made of plastic, and this is more or less unacceptable as far as I am concerned. Plastic connections leak – there are no two ways around it. And on a machine that has its whole purpose in providing high pressure, leaks are the worst possible thing you could have. So if you can, try to find an electric pressure washer that has the kind of solid brass fittings that will not leak. If you cannot find one with brass fittings that is in your price range, you can always replace plastic fittings with brass ones, but you really should not have to do that.
The hose on your electric pressure washer should be made of durable material such as PVC plastic. When you are running a high pressure stream through your hose, you want to make sure it is not going to develop hairline cracks along the seams and start to leak – again, leaks are the enemy of pressure washers. Even better than PVC plastic are hoses made of woven carbon. Finally, make sure it has big, heavy duty wheels. The best will be pneumatic rubber tires, but plastic wheels are fine so long as they are made of durable composite material.
1c. A Small Footprint
It is also important to make sure that your electric pressure washer is not overly big or bulky. There are a few reasons why this is an important consideration. First of all, if you are like me, then your garage is probably full enough as it is with other yard and garden appliances, tools, and the like. Adding another machine with a needlessly large footprint can wind up making your garage so full of tools that you can’t even fit your car in there anymore. There is no reason this has to be the case. There are plenty of electric pressure washers that have compact enough footprints that you can easily fit them under a tool shed or on a shelf.
But lifting that pressure washer onto a shelf is going to be a very difficult job indeed if it weighs too much. For some reason there are a lot of electric pressure washers out there that weigh a lot more than I think they need to – they provide the same PSI and flow rate as other electric pressure washers that weigh a lot less and have a much more compact footprint. In my opinion, you should never have to buy an electric pressure washer that weighs more than twenty pounds at the very most. Anything else is not worth the effort it will take not only to get it down from a high shelf but also to maneuver it around the yard.
This brings us to the other reason why big, bulky electric pressure washers are a bad product. If there are so many electric pressure washers out there that are able to provide high PSI and flow rates in compact, lightweight footprints, then any machine that provides that in a big, bulky footprint is simply not designed well. An overly big footprint on a machine that needlessly weighs far too much is a red flag that points to poor design in other areas as well.
So it is always a good idea to take a careful look at the overall dimensions and weights of the electric pressure washers you are considering purchasing. If there is one on the list that seems a lot bigger and heavier than the others, it is probably designed with a lot less thoughtfulness, and it will undoubtedly be inferior to the others in a number of different areas as well. Find the compact, lightweight model.
1d. An Efficient Pump
There are a couple of different pump designs that makers of electric pressure washers – as well as pressure washers in general – tend to stick to, and if you are looking for the best electric pressure washer, you want one that has the best pump design as well.
For many years the only style of pump available to electric pressure washers was the axial pump. In this design, a series of pistons is arranged in a circular setup around a central valve. The pistons work in concert with one another to produce the high pressure spray of water. This design is just fine, to be sure – and if you find an electric pressure washer that meets all of your other buying criteria, you should by no means write it off just because it is designed with an axial pump.
But newer, better designed models have a different kind of pump, called the parallel or triplex pump. In this design, three pistons are arrayed perpendicular to one another. Like in the axial pump, the three pistons work together to provide the high pressure spray. And while an electric pressure washer with an axial pump has more pistons working together to provide power, a triplex pump is going to provide the very same amount of pressure that an axial pump can, every time.
The key difference between the axial and triplex pump is the amount of space it takes up. Triplex pumps, because their pistons are arranged perpendicular to one another, are much smaller and sleeker than axial pumps, which take up considerably more space. So an electric pressure washer with a triplex pump is not only going to have a smaller overall footprint, it will also probably weigh a bit less and be more efficient overall than one with an axial pump.
So the pump design gets back to the same issue that the overall size and weight of the pressure washer addresses – this is just a slightly more technical explanation of a similar characteristic. Those electric pressure washers that have triplex pumps are going to be considerably better designed overall for the simple fact that the engineers thought it was better to go with the state of the art pump design rather than the traditional one. To reiterate, the pumps are going to produce the same pressurized spray; the triplex pump is just going to be able to do it more efficiently.
1e. Great Accessories
Once you have the big issues out of the way, and found a few electric pressure washers that all provide high PSI and flow rates, have the best materials, the most efficient pumps and compact footprints, you will probably be looking at a very short list indeed. These are definitely going to be some of the most powerful and best designed electric pressure washers on the market today. But while a number of electric pressure washers can provide general features like high PSI and durable parts, the overall experience of using them is going to come down to the small details.
What I mean by that are the accessories that each pressure washer offers. Anyone can design a high powered water cannon – but will the pressure washer that truly makes it into the top spot and can be considered the best be convenient and easy to use? Whether or not it is will be determined by aspects like the design of the wand and nozzles, the options for including soap in the spray, and other important features.
You do not just want an electric pressure washer with a very high max PSI. You are also going to want several options for lower PSIs as well. You will not always be using your electric pressure washer to blast tough stains and dirt off of brick surfaces. Occasionally you will want to wash your car with it, and you don’t want to risk taking the finish off along with mud. So you will want a more gentle spray. And you will also want several options in between the lowest and highest PSI. The best electric pressure washers will provide several nozzles that can produce a range of pressures.
Occasionally, you will be cleaning a stain that is not water soluble. When this is the case, you should have the option to hit it with a tough detergent. In order to best facilitate this, the pressure washer should have an onboard reservoir for holding soap and adding it to the water spray – and you should have the option to change the level of soap in the spray. The best electric pressure washers will provide this.
The hose on the pressure washer, as well as the power cord, should both be at least 20-25 feet long, and each should have a convenient place to wind it up on the pressure washer. Features like this make all the difference.
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