Finding the Best Electric Pressure Washer

When it comes to tackling heavy-duty outdoor cleaning tasks, nothing performs like a pressure washer. These small-but-mighty machines can remove dirt, mildew, algae, loose paint and more while demanding minimal elbow grease from you. If you’re considering investing in a pressure washer for household use, read on for more information to help you select the best model for your needs and get the most bang for your buck.

How Do Pressure Washers Work?

Pressure washers have two connection points: the low-pressure input connection is designed to accept a standard garden hose, while the outbound high-pressure connection uses a special pressure washer hose that connects to a hand-held pressure washer wand. The pressure washer uses a pump to deliver an intense spray of water and/or detergent for cleaning surfaces like driveways, decks and vinyl siding.

Electric vs. Gas-Powered Washers

Pressure washers come in two basic varieties: electric and gas-powered. But which one is right for you?

Electric pressure washers

Electric pressure washers are powered by electricity, using a cord plugged into a standard household outlet. They tend to be lighter and more portable than their gasoline-fueled cousins, making them easy to move around the house and yard. They tend to exert slightly less power than gas-powered washers, which makes them well-suited for washing delicate items like vehicles and outdoor furniture; however, that also means that they may not be able to handle the toughest cleaning tasks. Their range is limited to the length of their power cord, but they’re also more affordable than gas models and eliminate the mess and inconvenience of buying and purchasing fuel.

Gas pressure washers

Gas pressure washers use a gasoline-powered motor, requiring intermittent refueling. These models tend to be more powerful than electric models, making them ideal for intensive tasks or commercial use. They are typically heavier than electric pressure washers, so they’re more challenging to move, but they also provide the freedom of a cordless operation. Gas pressure washers have a higher price tag and can also incur additional maintenance costs down the road.

What to Look for in the best Electric Pressure Washer

With their portability, affordability and convenience, electric pressure washers are the most popular choice for general household use. Here are some important factors to consider when comparing various models.

  • Power level: Cleaning power is measured by PSI (pounds per square inch) and GPM (gallons per minute), which can be multiplied together to calculate a model’s true cleaning power. However, be sure the washer’s power level is appropriate for your needs. Buying a machine with more power than you need raises your risk of damaging the surfaces you’re trying to get clean. A pressure washer that delivers 1,500-2,000 PSI is easily sufficient for most household tasks.
  • Adjustable spray options: Adjustable spray nozzles and tips allow you to change the shape and intensity of the spray based on the job. A fan-shaped spray may work best for delicate surfaces, while a concentrated spray is better for blasting off dirt and mildew.
  • Mobility: Lightweight units should have a comfortable carrying handle, while heavier models should include large, sturdy wheels to make it easy to transport the washer (these also add stability during use to prevent the machine from tipping over). Storage hooks and compartments for the hose, spare tips and cord are also handy features.
  • Pump protection: High-quality pressure washers include a mechanism to stop the pump once the trigger is released to keep the pump from overheating and shutting down.
  • Warranty: Most pressure washers only last a few years, no matter how high the quality or well-known the brand. Make sure your pick has a minimum one-year warranty coverage.
  • Safety: Look for a pressure washer with a ground fault interrupter within the cord.

Electric Pressure Washers – Five Top Picks

Karcher K5 Premium ($359)

The compact, lightweight design of the Karcher K5 Premium 2000 PSI Electric Pressure Washer delivers enough power for nearly any household task. The convenient pressurized hose reel keeps the hose stored and protected when not in use, and the water-cooled induction motor offers extended life. Included with the machine are an onboard detergent tank and two nozzles to allow you to adjust the spray based on the job at hand.

Features of the Karcher K5 Premium

  • 2,000 PSI/1.4 GPM
  • Water-cooled induction motor
  • Includes Vario and Dirtblaster nozzles, onboard detergent tank and 25-foot high-pressure hose
  • Water-cooled induction motor
  • Integrated hose reel for easy storage
  • N-COR pump
  • 77″ high-impact wheels
  • 35-foot GFCI power cord
  • Two-year Rapid Exchange Program manufacturer’s warranty

Pros of the Karcher K5 Premium

  • Water-cooled motor promises extended life
  • “Plug-and-clean” design allows for one-step detergent refills
  • Vario and Dirtblaster wands allow for customized spray levels and are easy to change
  • The unit’s light weight and sturdy wheels make it extremely portable

Cons of the Karcher K5 Premium

  • Unit’s stability could be improved—watch for tipping
  • Price is significantly higher than other brands

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Sun Joe SPX3000 ($149)

The Sun Joe SPX3000 is the company’s best-selling power washer for a reason: it’s versatile and delivers a consistently powerful performance use after use. The 1800-watt motor generates 2,030 PSI of water pressure for removing dirt, mildew and other grime from homes, vehicles, concrete, lawn furniture and more. The 34-inch spray wand provides access to hard-to-reach areas such as vehicle undercarriages and two-story structures. The five Quick-Connect spray nozzles, including a soap nozzle for enhanced cleaning power, can be easily changed for different tasks.

Features of the Sun Joe SPX3000

  • 2,030 PSI/1.76 GPM
  • Five included Quick-Connect spray tips (0º, 15º, 25º, 40º and soap)
  • TSS (Total Stop System) automatically shuts off the pump when the trigger is not engaged to save energy and prolong pump life
  • Dual on-board detergent tanks
  • 34-inch extension wand
  • 20-foot high pressure hose
  • 35-foot GFCI power cord
  • Needle clean-out tool
  • Two-year warranty

Pros of the Sun Joe SPX3000

  • Five included spray tips let you customize pressure for light- and heavy-duty tasks.
  • Two detergent tanks let you tackle multiple cleaning jobs without stopping.
  • Unit is lightweight and quiet, with a relatively small footprint.
  • Modest price.

Cons of the Sun Joe SPX3000

  • Some users have said the hose quality seems “cheap.”

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Greenworks 1500 PSI, $89

This entry-level power washer is lighter than many of its competitors, which is essential given the unit doesn’t include wheels—just an ergonomic carrying handle for moving it from place to place. At 1,500 PSI and 1.2 GPM, the Greenworks model is best suited for lighter-duty tasks like washing cars, patios and small surface areas. If your needs demand extended use or extreme power, this may not be the model for you.

Features of the Greenworks 1500 PSI

  • 1,500 PSI/1.2 GPM
  • 20-foot high-pressure hose
  • 35-foot GFCI power cord
  • Two spray tips (25º, 40º)
  • One-year warranty

Pros of the Greenworks 1500 PSI

  • Portable, lightweight design
  • Low price

Cons of the Greenworks 1500 PSI

  • Offers less power than other models
  • Warranty falls short of its competitors’
  • Not suitable for large or heavy-duty jobs

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Ivation Electric Pressure Washer, $90

Ivation’s innovative and versatile power washing system is designed to handle a wide range of cleaning tasks for your home, vehicle, patio, lawn equipment and more. Muscle through the toughest mold, mud and grime with 2,200 PSI and 1.8 GPM generated by a 14.5-amp. Best of all, this easy-to-use unit is gentle on your wallet at less than $100.

Features of the Ivation Electric Pressure Washer

  • 2,200 PSI/1.8 GPM
  • Five interchangeable high- and low-pressure nozzles (0º, 15º, 25º, 40º and soap)
  • Bonus Turbo Wand
  • TSS (Total Stop System) enhances safety and extends pump life
  • Optional self-suction
  • Soap dispenser
  • One-year warranty

Pros of the Ivation Electric Pressure Washer

  • Multiple quick-change nozzles adjust spray for various tasks
  • Unit offers high power for heavy-duty jobs
  • Affordable price

Cons of the Ivation Electric Pressure Washer

  • Warranty is shorter than some competitors’

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Briggs & Stratton 20667, $229

The Briggs & Stratton 20667 allows users to adjust both pressure and flow, providing customized settings to attack any job, whether it’s cleaning a delicate surface or eradicating a stubborn stain. It offers a maximum pressure of 2,000 PSI at 1.1 gallons per minute and a maximum flow of 3.5 GPM at 80 PSI. The 7-in-1 nozzle lets you click seamlessly through the settings, while the unique foldaway design and integrated hose reel make the unit convenient to store when not in use.

Features of the Briggs & Stratton 20667

  • 2,000 max PSI/3.5 max GPM
  • Durable brushless induction motor
  • 7-in-1 Nozzle
  • Integrated detergent tank
  • 25-foot high-pressure hose
  • Two-year warranty

Pros of the Briggs & Stratton 20667

  • Unique POWERflow+ Technology expands options for pressure and flow
  • Foldaway design saves space in your garage, shop or shed

Cons of the Briggs & Stratton 20667

  • One-year warranty may not be sufficient, as some users have reported issues shortly after the warranty expired.
  • Somewhat pricey compared to other units

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Frequently Asked Questions

What factors influence the effectiveness of a pressure washer?

It’s important to consider more than just the PSI when it comes to choosing the right washer for a job. Be sure to weigh these factors when comparing machines:

  • Pressure: The force of water hitting a surface, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI)
  • Flow rate: The volume of water coming out of the nozzle, measured in gallons per minute (GPM)
  • Cleaning units: Calculated by multiplying the pressure by the flow rate
  • Chemicals: Soap, detergent and other cleaning agents used to remove dirt and stains from some surfaces
  • Nozzle spray pattern: Spray patterns concentrate the flow of water in different shapes and sizes, each designed for specific tasks

How do I know what pressure level is right for my job?

These are good guidelines for common household tasks:

  • Light duty (1,500 – 1,900 PSI): Patio furniture, sidewalks, stairs
  • Medium duty (2,000 – 2,800 PSI): Fencing, decks, patios, driveways
  • Heavy duty (2,900 – 3,200 PSI): Siding, major stain removal
  • Extra heavy duty (3,300+ PSI): Paint prep
  • Multi-duty (500 – 3,000 PSI): Cars and trucks, power soaping, second-story jobs

How loud is an electric pressure washer?

Exact measurements vary by unit, but most electric pressure washers with induction motors generate about 85 decibels, which is comparable to a lawn mower. Consider using ear protection to prevent hearing damage.

What’s the difference between an induction motor and a universal motor?

Induction motors are typically used in more expensive commercial-duty pressure washers, while light- and medium-duty residential washers often use universal motors. Induction motors increase the weight and price of the unit, but they are also quieter and tend to last longer than universal motors.

Final Thoughts

An electric pressure washer is an affordable, indispensable household tool that makes quick work of tough cleaning jobs. Whether it’s cleaning mildew off your siding, stains off your driveway or grime off your patio furniture, a pressure washer makes it cheap and convenient to keep your property in tip-top shape. While a pressure washer isn’t truly an essential item to have in your garage, once you buy one, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

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