Pressure washers have become an essential piece of equipment for many households and can be used for a wide range of applications. They vary considerably in price and, although there is often a correlation between price and quality, it is probably more important to ensure you only pay for what you need. Your first step should be to assess what you want to clean and whether it is within range of a power socket.
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Water pressure, measured in Bar, and water flow, measured in litres per hour, are the key measurements needed to determine performance. The harder the surface and the more ingrained the dirt, the higher pressure you will need for cleaning.
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For light cleaning, 90-100 bar will be fine, for cleaning patios you’ll need 110-130 bar, and for heavy duty cleaning 130+. Water flow rates affect the speed at which the dirt is rinsed away.
Types of Pressure Washer
Electric Pressure Washers
The majority of pressure washers, particularly for domestic use, are electric powered. If you opt for a budget model, you can expect something small and compact, but it will be low powered and have limited use. Mid-range models are ideal for cleaning cars, patios and decking and ideally suited to the average domestic user.
Premium models are very effective at cleaning due to their high power and water flow but must be used carefully to avoid surface damage. They also tend to be heavier and harder to move around.
Cordless Electric Pressure Washers
Currently, cordless machines are not competitive in terms of value for money, power output or battery life. This will undoubtedly improve over the coming years but, don’t forget that, you still have to have a hose attached so the benefits are far less than with cordless drills, mowers etc.
Petrol pressure washers
If you’re looking for serious power or need to work where there is no electrical supply, you will need to look at petrol powered washers. Options range from budget home models to high-powered commercial washers.
The downside of petrol washers is that they are noisy, dirty, heavy and bulky. You’ll need to safely store your petrol and visit the nearest filling station every time you run out.
Features and Accessories
Lances and Nozzles
Lances and nozzles control the water flow and can be used to increase or decrease pressure. There are many options for specific uses and one of the most useful is a rotary or turbo nozzle, which breaks down dirt quickly and reduces the time it takes to clean patios and paving.
Budget washers often come with a 3m hose but, for washing your car, you’ll need a minimum 5m hose length.
A circular patio cleaning head makes cleaning patios and driveways easier and less messy. Some are more effective than others so make sure you get one that is compatible with your machine.
Particularly effective for cleaning oil and grease, if you are likely to use detergents, make sure the washer you buy has either a detergent tank or a method of attaching detergent bottles.
Fitted onto the lance, these can be helpful when cleaning cars and bikes and are very good for cleaning conservatories.
This allows you to draw water from any standing water source such as a water butt.