Here’s one definition of “pressure washer” that you might recognize: “A pressure washer is the piece of equipment you really wish you owned when you go outside, and then forget about until the next time you go outside.”
Everyone who owns a home recognizes the issue. Dirt and grime builds up on almost every outdoor surface over time, and it’s usually too time-consuming or difficult to clean many of those areas by hand. You know the ones we mean: cars, decks, windows, patio grouting, siding, pavement. When you’re living a busy life, you don’t have spare hours to get on your knees and scrub your deck, and even if you have the time, you can’t use a six- or ten-foot ladder to reach your second-or third-floor siding with a soapy rag.
The best pressure washer will make easy work of all of those problems. They let you save money by not paying outside contractors, they let you save a tremendous amount of time – and they let you save perhaps the most important commodity of all, elbow grease.
Our guide has two sections. First, we’ll examine the types of pressure washers you can purchase for home use, and then we’ll look at our top ten pressure washer reviews. Here goes.
Top 10 Best Pressure Washers Comparison Table
|Sun Joe SPX3000|
|Sun Joe |
|The Force |
The A-B-C’s of Pressure Washers
You’re probably not surprised that the key characteristic used to categorize and judge pressure washers is the amount of air pressure they apply to water being fed through the machine, since that’s what determines a unit’s effectiveness. Water delivered at high speed will blast a surface with high levels of kinetic energy, essentially knocking the dirt right off of the surface. That’s the principle, for example, behind automatic car washes.
The pressure is generated quite simply, with an electric motor powering a water pump; the pump speeds up delivery of the water through the washer’s hose or whatever else is attached to it. Even if you use a powered scrubbing attachment, the brushes are driven by the force of the water.
The amount of pressure delivered by a power washer (measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI) is one of the two things that are important to focus on when shopping for one of these machines. The other is whether the motor requires electricity or gasoline to operate. The two specs are interlinked in a way, as we’ll explain shortly.
Here are the three pressure categories.
- Below 2000 PSI: Considered light-duty pressure washers, these units will do a good job on small tasks around your property like cleaning patios or furniture. You can also use them for tougher jobs like scrubbing driveways, but expect it to take a while before a light-duty machine can get the work done. These washers are the smallest and easiest to maneuver.
- 2000-2800 PSI: These are medium-duty machines which are perfect for most jobs: cleaning and/or removing stains from cars, driveways, siding, fences and decks. A pressure washer at the higher end of the PSI range will take care of any possible needs a normal homeowner could have.
- Over 2800 PSI: Now we’re into the large, heavy-duty units which will easily handle the tasks we’ve already mentioned and can also be used for paint prep work. Washers with more than 3300 PSI are considered commercial units and are ideal for serious paint stripping as well as removing graffiti and use by landscaping companies or at construction sites.
The reason that gas and electric power are intertwined with pressure ratings is that almost all light-duty units run on electricity, while you need a gas engine to generate the power required to drive medium- or heavy-duty washers. By deciding the PSI level appropriate for your situation, you’ve pretty much decided whether you’re going to buy a gas or electric model. You’ve also pretty much decided on price range, because electric washers are less expensive than gas ones.
Of course, you may want to get more (or less) pressure washer than you really need if other considerations are important to you. There’s more portability when your machine doesn’t have to be tethered to an AC outlet, so you may want to buy a 2200 PSI gas power washer if you’ll be cleaning walks and patios some distance from an outlet. On the other hand, you may be willing to spend a little more time cleaning your driveway with an 1800 PSI model, if the power washer’s noise level and effect on the environment are important to you. Just remember that if you’re going to use an extension cord it will have to be rated for the same (or greater) amperage as the machine.
Here are the criteria to narrow down your choices
For electric power washers, consider their size and weight, the number of nozzles, tips or attachments they come with, the strength of their hose, the material used to manufacture their spray gun or wand (steel is best), and whether they have a detergent tank on board.
The best gas-powered pressure washers will have powerful overhead valves or cams, a pump head made from brass or aluminum (to stand up to the high pressure it will be handing), a steel or poly-braided high pressure hose, a heavy-duty frame (preferably made from steel) and tires, a steel wand with a quick-connect feature, a good choice of interchangeable tips or attachments, adjustable wands, thermal relief systems and an on-board detergent tank.
Naturally, the more wear-and-tear you’ll be subjecting the power washer to, the more durable it will need to be. In that case, commercial-grade machines with features like steel axles and hubs, pneumatic tires and triplex pumps may be your best bet.
The best thing about buying a pressure washer (other than finally being able to do the cleaning you’ve been putting off for months or years) is that there isn’t the same sticker shock you experience when purchasing home maintenance equipment like lawnmowers or snowblowers. You can get a good electric model for $100 or so, good gas units for $200-300, and a good heavy-duty unit for well under $1000.
Of course, you don’t want “good,” you want “best.” Here’s our look at the best pressure washers you can buy.
Top 10 Pressure Washer Reviews
1. Sun Joe SPX3000 Review
You may know this company better by the name they use for their snow machines, Snow Joe. But they make high quality equipment in a variety of areas, including pressure washers. This unit is one of the most powerful electric washers you’ll find at 2030 PSI and 1.76 gallons per minute (GPM) of water flow, thanks to its powerful 14.5 amp motor. There’s a lot more to like about the SPX3000, though, including its dual on-board detergent tanks with a selection dial that lets you switch effortlessly back and forth between two different cleaning solutions. The Sun Joe has a 34-inch extension wand with five nozzles. For a low-end priced product, you get all this, plus the quiet operation. Purchase the optional brass quick-connect fitting, and you’ll be in love.
2. Ivation Electric Pressure Washer 2200 PSI Review
You don’t know this company, because Ivation is just a brand name for a Chinese-made electric pressure washer. It has a little more power than the Sun Joe we just reviewed (2200/1.8 GPM to 2040 PSI/1.76 GPM), it has a few extra features, with both a gun hose and a turbo spray wand, a copper coupler, and a “self-suction” mode that lets you use standing water from a pond or other body of water. There are also a few lesser ones (for example, only one detergent tank instead of two). However, it’s a little more expensive than the Sun Joe and those who’ve tried to get replacement parts or customer support have had major issues. The Ivation works great, but we’d go with the known commodity instead.
3. Simpson MSH3125-S MegaShot Review
OK, stand back – this thing is a beast. It is a gas unit powered by a 187cc Honda GC190 engine with overhead cam and valve design, an axial cam brass head pump with PowerBoost, a welded steel frame, a MorFlex high-pressure hose and ten-inch pneumatic tires. That all adds up to a full 3100 PSI of pressure to blast away any dirt, stains or paint you need to remove. The pro-style steel wand has five quick-connect tips; about all that’s missing is a detergent tank, but there is a detergent injection system for use with your own bucket or tank. The Simpson works very well; be aware, though, that a number of people have had issues with missing or incorrect parts on initial delivery.
4. Campbell Hausfelt PW182501AV Review
This is a nice little compact electric unit, not as powerful as the two washers we’ve looked at so far, but smaller and lighter. You’re looking at a 14-amp motor and axial cam pump that push 1900 PSI/1.65 GPM flow from the Campbell Hausfelt, enough to take care of your steps and patio and wash your outdoor furniture or screens with ease. You won’t find a number of tips or attachments, just an adjustable fan lance; you’ll also get just a 450ml detergent bottle instead of a tank. For it’s price, we expected a little more but it’s certainly a convenient light-duty power washer.
5. AR Blue Clean AR383 Review
There are several very strong aspects of the AR Blue Clean electric power washer: a triplex axial-piston pump (triplex pumps are unusual at this level) and two wands (one with adjustable tip, one with rotating tip). There’s one not-so-strong aspect: it has cheap plastic fittings which are apt to leak after a little usage. There’s an easy solution, though: running to the hardware store for replacement brass fittings. Once you’ve done that, the 1900 PSI/1.5 GPM is a decent buy, and if you’re the type who likes to look ahead, their customer service is top-notch.
6. Sun Joe SPX1000
For those who think that even an electric pressure washer on the higher end of the scale is more than they really need, we introduce the lightweight Sun Joe SPX 1000. It’s perfect for simple washing jobs (or for bigger ones, if you really want to spend quality time with your washer), with a 1400 PSI/1.45 GPM flow and an adjustable spray nozzle, along with the Sun Joe quality you’d expect. Don’t buy this looking for big-time spray, but you’ll find this handy vacuum cleaner-sized model a great buy for the small stuff.
7. Powerstroke PS80519 2200 PSI Gas Pressure Washer
We really like this unit in the lower medium-duty range, partially because it’s priced right (mid-range) and partially because it cleans “bigger” than you’d expect from a 140cc motor. The motor and the aluminum axial cam pump are in a frame that’s quite compact for a gas power washer; there are two high-pressure fan nozzles in addition to a low-pressure nozzle for use with detergent (sadly, there’s no on-board tank), along with the chrome-plated spray wand.
Unless you’re planning to strip paint with your washer, this is a great choice.
8. GreenWorks GW1501 1500 PSI Hand-Carry Electric Power Washer
This isn’t the most powerful model you can find, at 1500 PSI. But what would you expect from a unit you can literally carry with one hand? The two quick-connect 25- and 40 degree nozzles give you flexibility as you clean your outdoor furniture, car or patio, and this well-built pressure washer will do all of those jobs quickly and properly at an affordable price. A good buy.
9. The FORCE 2000
We’re not quite sure we’d call this a FORCE, but it’s a powerful pressure washer with PSI in the 1800-2000 PSI range. This model is fairly lightweight and well-built (even though there is a lot of plastic used in the construction), and the spray will take care of all of the assignments you’d expect a light-duty washer to perform. The main nozzle adjusts from zero to a fan of nearly 180 degrees, and there’s also a spinning “turbo nozzle” to scrub concrete, which is pretty cool.
10. Generac 6596 2800 PSI Gas Pressure Washer
Generac makes quality machines, and this is one of them. A terrific 196cc engine and an axial cam pump provide 2800 PSI power to wash almost anything you’ve got, a well-designed spray gun and four click-tip nozzle tips (including a soap nozzle to use with the ¾ gallon detergent tank) do the dirty work of cleaning. The Generac is reliable, powerful, and while it’s a bit noisier than other gas units, it’s also affordable for a high-end medium-duty pressure washer.
It’s difficult to find any sort of appliance that will last for years but costs less than you’d probably pay for a single professional visit. Pressure washers fit that description, though; you can get a high-quality electric unit, or even a very good gas one, for less than you might pay a home maintenance company or handyman to bring a commercial machine to give your property a good going-over. As we’ve mentioned, the other great thing about many of the electric pressure washers we’ve reviewed is that good light-duty machines can take care of chores which would be best suited to medium-duty machines, as long as you’re willing to put in a little more time and work.
When you’re ready to buy, first be sure to do an honest appraisal of how much washer you really require, and decide whether you’d rather deal with a machine connected by an electric power cord or one which requires the extra maintenance that comes with any gas-powered motor. With those decisions made, this list of the pressure washer reviews should give you the rest of the information you need to get the most for your money- and finally have a sparkling-clean property you’ll be proud to show off to neighbors or visitors.