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What to Look for in a Good Power Washer

Power washers are also called pressure washers—and for good reason. These gas- or electric-powered devices boost your water pressure from 10 pounds per square inch (PSI) to anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 PSI. That’s a lot of pressure to direct at tough dirt and grime. And power washers use water much more efficiently. You typical garden hose pours out water at a rate of about 8 gallons per minute (GPM) but won’t clean much. A typical power washer uses 1 to 5 GPM and will blast road grime off your car fenders in seconds. But not all power washers are created equal. Here’s some info to help you pick the best power washer for your needs.

Electric Power Washers
If you typically clean small areas such as your car, boat or grill, electric power washers will meet most of your needs. Electric units typically work at 1,350-2,000 PSI and use between 1 and 2 GPM. They are quiet, portable, inexpensive, and require little maintenance.
The units are sold in various sizes including hand held, medium, and large. Obviously, the bigger the job the bigger the power washer you’ll need. Hand held units are easy to store on the garage shelf. Medium units have wheels which make them more convenient to roll around to clean small patios, decks, and so on. Large power washers provide better performance and more features such as detergent tanks, hose reels, and longer-lasting pumps.

Gas Power Washers
Gas power washers are about twice as powerful as their electric cousins. They deliver 2,000-4,900 PSI, use up to 5 GPM, and can clean large surfaces like decks, driveways, and homes. And as you would expect, gas power washers cost more.
Like electric power washers, gas units are sold in small, medium, and large sizes. The smallest gas power washer costs as much as the most expensive electric unit but provides much more power which allows you to wash large areas faster. There are few limits to what you can wash with a medium gas unit. With up to 3,000 PSI you can strip paint from wood. Large gas power washers are beasts which require some skills to operate. At 4,000 PSI you can rip the paint off your car or boat.

Semi-Pro and Professional Power Washers
If you take your power washing seriously, you might want to check semi-pro and professional power washers. Semi-pro washers are built to handle regular use while professional units are designed to last many more hours than consumer units. These are the big guns that you can use to blast away every day. And they run for hours at a time. Don’t try that with consumer units, which will burn up from heavy use.

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