What Are the Different Types of Pressure Washers?

Is house cleaning one of the chores you dread?

From mildew on the siding to flaking paint on the porch, every time you turn around there seems like there’s something around the house that needs to be cleaned.

Bigger jobs like siding, driveways, and decks can be made easier by using a pressure washer. It makes short work of tough jobs thanks to the high pressure of the water. The average garden hose only gets up to 40 psi at best, while a pressure washer shoots it out at 1,000-3,000 psi to remove dirt and grime.

These are versatile tools for any homeowner to have on hand. Choosing from the various sizes and types of pressure washers starts with knowing how you intend to use them.

Let’s take a look at the different types of pressure washers you might consider for your home projects.

Types of Pressure Washers By Duty Performance Level

When you start looking at your various pressure washer options, the first difference you’ll notice is the duty level. Your choice will depend on what you plan to clean since different items call for different power levels.

You’ll find choices from home use to professional running a range of powers and costs.

Light-Duty Washers

These lower-powered versions are a good option for home use with about 25 times the cleaning power of a garden hose. They offer compact sizing and lower prices, especially if you aren’t interested in a ton of features.

Look for one that has a flexible hose and a variety of nozzles. An onboard detergent tank and storage for the spray gun will add to the convenience.

These are good for small to medium jobs like cleaning decks, patios, grills, and outdoor furniture.

Medium-Duty Washers

A mid-level washer gives you a wider range of options for home or shop use. You can find a range of power from 1,700-3,000 psi that can deliver two gallons or more per minute.

Extra features to consider might include a heavy-duty frame and large wheels as well as a steel-braided high-pressure hose. Look for a variety of spray tips as well.

These are best for bigger jobs like driveways, siding, fences, and boats.

Heavy-Duty Washers

This power level is more commonly used for professional jobs where you need the power to cover a lot of ground quickly. They’ll provide you with as much as 4,200 psi and up to four gallons per minute.

These are best for removing paint chips and grime when paint prepping and hard-to-reach places like second stories. They can also prove useful in construction-site cleaning and for fleet maintenance.

Because these have a lot of power, you need to use appropriate caution to ensure you don’t injure yourself or break something.

Consider models that include a triplex pump and steel spray wands with quick-connect coupling. If you’re using it for business and need to work in places where water isn’t easily accessible, look for a trailer mounted pressure washer that allows you to bring as much as 540 gallons of water along with you to a job.

Types of Pressure Washers by Power Source

Another key difference in the kinds of pressure washers is how they are powered — electricity or gasoline. The power source has the largest impact on the effectiveness of the washer for your particular jobs.

Electric-Powered Washers

Electric washers have many benefits that make them perfect for jobs around the house. They’re convenient, lightweight, and quieter than gas versions.

Most are lighter-duty with smaller engines that run at fewer RPMs. The lower water force makes them good for surfaces that can be easily damaged like glass and vehicles.

The need to plug in the washer does limit your range of movement. The lower cost makes them the most common type for non-professional use.

Gas-Powered Washers

Gas-power washers are more powerful than electric, which makes them more effective when you take on bigger jobs. They power medium-to-heavy-duty models which can wash things faster.

They are more portable since they aren’t tied to an outlet. This makes them great for outdoor use where electricity isn’t easily accessible.

There are a few downsides, though, including noise and fumes. Also, you do have to have a good plan for storing fuel safely.

Types of Pressure Washers by Water Type

One last difference in pressure washer types is the water temperature the washer uses. How hot the water gets relates directly to the power of the machine, which in turn relates to what you can and can’t clean with them.

Cold Water

Because cold water washers tend to be light-duty, they’re the more popular options for homeowners. The water never gets warmer than 140 degrees, which is close to what comes out of your faucet. This makes them safer because the water isn’t hot enough to damage you.

While they are more common for home use, you can find professional-grade models that use colder water. They’re convenient to use and come in gas or electric models.

Hot Water

When you need to clean efficiently, a hot-water model might be the best choice. The water can get to temperatures hotter than 300 degrees, which makes this a great option when you need to kill germs along with cleaning.

Hot water types are the way to go if you need to clean oils and grease from a surface like in an auto shop. The hot water allows you to clean with fewer chemicals and still kill mold, mildew, and germs. Because of the high temperature, the water evaporates more quickly so your surface dries faster.

Select Your Pressure Washers

If you’re trying to choose between types of pressure washers for home projects, you have several options based on the power source and water type. You might also look at basing your choice on features like automatic shut-off, interchangeable nozzles, or dual tanks.

Be sure to check back in with our blogs for tips on how to use a pressure washer and more on equipment for home improvement projects.