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Best Advise for Choosing the Right Pressure Washer

Updated on July 19, 2017
Sidewalk cleaning with gas powered pressure washer.
Sidewalk cleaning with gas powered pressure washer.

The Basics on Pressure Washers

There are two types of pressure washers; gas powered and electric. Depending on your cleaning needs, you may want to ensure your investment is worth the time and money spent on your pressure washer.

Pressure washers power a pump that forces water through a nozzle or wand tip. Using the right nozzle or wand tip will depend on the cleaning you may require.

Power and Efficiency

The power output is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch. Most cleaning jobs around the home or property do not require over 3,500 PSI. Residential cleaning typically does not require over 2,000 PSI. Industrial pressure washers may have an output of over 5,000 PSI and also measure power in GPM, or gallons per minute. The higher GPM, the faster the pressure washer will perform the cleaning desired.

Combining the values of PSI and GPM are measured in cleaning units (CU). To obtain the CU of a pressure washer, multiply the PSI by GPM. A pressure washer with 3,000 PSI and a 3 GPM will have a CU of 9,000. A washer with 3,500 PSI and a 2 GPM will only have a CU of 7,000. Understanding what CU you might need for your cleaning job could save you money on the more expensive pressure washers if you do not require a higher rated CU.


Nozzles give the option of more angles that wand tips provide, and are interchangeable, from 65 degrees to 0 degrees. The smaller the range of spray, the more powerful stream produced by the pressure washer. It is not recommended to use the 0 degree nozzle as the pressure produced is highly dangerous and can lead to visits to the emergency room.

It is recommended to use a nozzle of 15 degrees or more for safety. Wide spray nozzles are great for general cleaning purposes, particularly clearing debris like leaves, twigs, and grass clippings.

Wand Tips

Wand tips are more convenient than nozzles as they are adjustable rather than having to remove one nozzle to replace it with another.

Gas Powered Pressure Washers

Gas powered pressure washers are more powerful than electric motor pressure washers but they are also more expensive, heavier, and louder. They are recommended for cleaning harder surfaces, such as concrete or stubborn stains. It is recommended that if you choose to purchase a gas powered pressure washer that you ensure they are equipped with wheels for ease of mobility.

The price range for a gas powered pressure washer intended for residential purposes is between about $250 to $500 and can produce between 2,500 PSI to 3,500 PSI. The convenience of mobility of a gas powered pressure washer may outweigh the undesired noise of the motor and the carbon monoxide but must never be stored in the home.

Electric Powered Pressure Washers

Electric powered pressures washers are lighter than gas powered pressures, less expensive, can be stored indoors, and can handle most jobs around the house. Most electric pressure washers are priced between $90 and $180. They are capable of handling most of the cleaning abilities of the gas powered pressure washers, they just take more time to finish the same job. The frugal spender will want to consider this before choosing the electric powered pressure washer as the time and effort of cleaning more difficult tasks may not be worth the savings.

Cord storage for an electric pressure washer is highly recommended. For safety purposes, never use an extension cord with an electric pressure washer. This may limit you to cleaning within 50 feet of the power source and should be considered when deciding between gas or electric pressure washers.

Which Pressure Washer Is Best For You

This, of course, depends on your needs for cleaning. If you do not have adequate outdoor storage, an electric pressure washer should be your only consideration. For those that are considering commercial applications, a gas powered pressure washer is a must and should be over 4,000 PSI and over 3 GPM for most efficient cleaning.

Gas vs Electric

Which type of pressure washer do you believe would be best for you?

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      I bought my husband a gas pressure washer years ago so he could clean the side of the house, the concrete, the deck, etc. without hiring someone. It's still working like a charm. Very noisy but it's earned back its cost and more by ensuring I don't have to hire someone to do a chore he can do.