The Best Electric Pressure Washers: Reviews and Tips for Buying
Once you use a pressure washer, you’ll know it’s a tool you can’t live without. We tested and provided 13 pressure washer reviews for readily available units. Here is what we discovered, including an explanation of the most important features. Use this guide to determine the best electric pressure washer for you.
Gas vs. Electric Pressure Washer Reviews
Electric models have all the other advantages. They’re much smaller and half the weight of a gas machine but check out electric pressure washer reviews to find the best electric power washer. They start up as soon as you squeeze the trigger and shut down as soon as you let go. So you won’t have any gas hassles or starting issues, and you’ll never have to worry about pump damage from extended idling. And since there’s no exhaust, you can use them indoors.
If you need maximum power and want to get the job done fast, go with gas. Otherwise, enjoy the convenience of an electric pressure washer.
Two Critical Ratings
Although higher pressure cleans faster, don’t allow small differences in psi to drive your decision on which machine to buy based on pressure washer reviews. You probably won’t notice much difference between 2,800 and 3,000 psi, for example. The gas models we tested range from 2,500 psi to 3,100 psi; for the electric power washer reviews from 1,700 to 1,800 psi.
What They Can and Can’t Do
With accessories, you can turn your gas-powered pressure washer into a wet sandblaster or use it to power a water broom or a mechanical sweeper. Add a telescoping extension wand and gutter cleaner (such as the General Pump Giraffe) and you can clean your second-story siding and gutters without climbing a ladder.
But pressure washers are also very good at destroying items around your home. The high pressure can break windows, gouge wood siding and decking, and force water behind siding and flashing, causing extensive damage. They work great for blasting mud off your car or truck but leave a fine film of dirt behind. A regular garden hose and wash mitt actually work better for normal car washing.
The Hose Matters? A Lot
Dial Nozzles are Great
Pressure washer nozzles come in two varieties: individual snap-in quick-change nozzles and a dial-type multi-spray pattern nozzle. We found no difference in performance. But for convenience, the dial nozzle wins the contest hands down.
The number of nozzles included with the machine varied by manufacturer. The Powerhorse unit came with just two nozzles, one for soap and one for spray. Other machines had three, four or five nozzles. Additional nozzles are available at most home centers.
All the gas machines we chose used a standard nozzle coupling. If the gas machine you like comes with individual nozzles, you can convert it to a dial style. However, some electric units use a proprietary hose, gun and nozzle fitting, making it much more difficult to find additional or replacement accessories and parts.
Variable Pressure vs. Fixed
Most pressure washers run at maximum pressure all the time, but some let you turn down the pressure for delicate surfaces. This is a nice feature, but you can get the same effect just by using a wider spray pattern and holding the nozzle farther away from the surface. Or buy an add-on pressure regulator like the Simpson Dial-N-Wash.
Pneumatic Tires Roll Better
The machines with pneumatic tires were the easiest to move around, especially on steps and gravel. But they need occasional reinflation. Plastic or molded rubber wheels get stuck much more readily.
Higher Hose Connections Are Easier
The pumps and hose connections on vertical-shaft gasoline engines are mounted at the bottom of the unit, near the ground. The pumps on horizontal-shaft engines sit about 8 in. higher. The designs work equally well. It’s just a matter of convenience when attaching the garden and high-pressure hoses. If you have bum knees or trouble bending over, that slight height advantage makes it easier to connect hoses.
Soap Tanks Are More Work
Pressure washers provide the best results when you pretreat with pressure washer soap. Some machines include an onboard soap tank. We initially thought that was a great idea. But we found it to be a nuisance overall. We had to constantly refill the tank on large jobs. And afterward, the tank needed to be cleaned out (dried soap can damage the pump).
Instead, we prefer the siphon tube approach. Just shove the end of the tube into a gallon of cleaner and start soaping. When you’re done, rinse the siphon tube, cap the jug and call it done. You can convert a machine with an onboard tank by disconnecting the tank tube and installing a siphon tube/filter accessory to the soap port on the pump.
Best Ways to Kill Your Pressure Washer
Don’t ever do these things to your pressure washer.
- Leave water in the pump and hose over the winter
- Let it idle for long periods (gas models)
- Kink the garden hose while washing
- Fail to clean the pump inlet screen
Choosing a Pressure Washer
RYOBI NO. RY14122
This unit is an all-around winner, not only our favorite machine but also the most affordable. This small compact unit comes with a high-quality flexible hose and a very attractive price. It also has the best warranty of all the electric machines.
BRIGGS & STRATTON POWERFLOW+ No. 020559
In addition to the extra-high flow rates and the high-quality dial nozzle, this model includes a hose reel. However, the hose is larger to carry the extra flow, and that bulk makes it harder to wind onto the reel.
CRAFTSMAN NO. 020561
This handy pressure washer also includes a built-in steam cleaner. For really tough dirt, apply soap, then steam, and finish the job with a blast from the pressure wand. We didn’t like the proprietary soap bottles and found the hose reel difficult to operate.
KARCHER K3 FOLLOW ME
We liked the portability of this unit so much that we had to create a special award. It’s not only small and easy to store but is less than half the weight of most electrics. Karcher had portability in mind when it designed this machine. Instead of being mounted on a cart, the unit has four wheels, so it follows you around as you wash (you have to uncoil the garden hose so it doesn’t kink). Or just pick it up and carry it with you—it weighs only 15 lbs.
SIMPSON NO. MSH3125-S
This unit shares our Best Overall award with the Ryobi. The beauty of this machine is its simplicity. The pump connections are higher off the ground and out in the open, making this machine the easiest and fastest to set up, especially if you have knee issues or have trouble bending over. The pneumatic tires give the smoothest ride of all the machines. The hose is very flexible and includes double O-rings for a better seal. Powered by a Honda horizontal-shaft engine with a manual choke.
RYOBI NO. RY80940B
Like the Simpson, this machine impressed us enough to win our Best Overall award. Its hose is our favorite by far. It’s the easiest to unroll, lies flat and rolls up easily for storage. The fold-down handle is brilliant in its simplicity—just pull the spring-loaded pin and fold. The large wheels make the machine easy to move. It’s powered by a Honda vertical-shaft engine. Our only beef is that the pump connections are right at ground level.
TROY-BILT NO. 020568
This unit doesn’t have any bells or whistles. It’s just a solid machine with enough pressure and nozzles and flow rate to handle just about any job you’ll encounter. Powered by a Briggs & Stratton vertical-shaft engine with an automatic choke, it does the job, and at a great price.
GENERAC OneWASH NO. 6602
Generac tried to do it all with this machine and succeeded in many ways. Its best feature is the variable idle speed that lets you adjust the pressure from 2,000 to 3,100 psi. The folding handle stores the hose and gun components. That’s something other machines don’t provide. However, the hose has a strong coil memory and the wheels are hard plastic, giving it a very rough ride. Powered by a Generac horizontal-shaft engine.
BRIGGS & STRATTON POWERflow+
The single best feature on this machine is its high flow rate. Just turn the 7-in-1 dial nozzle to either the 25?+ or 40?+ setting and the pump shifts into high gear. Use the higher volume spray to sweep soap and debris off your siding or driveway. This machine is powered by a Briggs & Stratton vertical-shaft engine with an automatic choke. Due to the higher flow rates, this unit uses an extra-thick hose. We found that hose difficult to unroll and store, and its coil memory was a problem.
POWERHORSE* NO. 1577110
Built in-house by Northern Tool, this machine has a proprietary horizontal-shaft engine. The pump connections are out in the open, making it easy to connect hoses. The pump also has a built-in variable-pressure regulator so you can adjust pressure to fit the job. Plus, the pump isn’t sealed for life like on all the other machines. So you can actually change the oil and possibly extend the pump life. We were disappointed with the stiff hose and coil memory, and the fact that it came with only two nozzles.
*exclusively from Northern Tool
PACIFIC HYDROSTAR* NO. 69734
This machine comes with all the nozzles you’ll need, along with a high flow rate, and a built-in pressure regulator. However, the 3-gpm flow rate comes at the expense of pressure. At 2,500 psi, it’s the lowest of the group. Powered by a proprietary horizontal-shaft engine, it’s also the heaviest of all the gas models, weighing in at 95 lbs. We were disappointed with the 90-day warranty. But the machine frequently goes on sale.
*exclusively from Harbor Freight
CRAFTSMAN GRIP & GO NO. 020573
This is the machine to buy if you or your family members can’t deal with pull starting. Just flip the switch and squeeze the trigger. The auto start-up and shutdown feature also eliminates pump damage caused by extended idling. We didn’t like the soap injection system because it uses proprietary soap bottles that are available only at Sears. But you can retrofit the unit with a standard siphon tube/filter. Because the battery must be plugged in year-round, you’ll need an AC outlet in your storage area. It’s powered by a Briggs & Stratton vertical-shaft engine with an automatic choke.
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