I am sure that most consumers have, at the very least, heard about pressure washers. If you haven’t used one, you have probably seen them in commercials or on television shows and movies. Pressure washers are nifty pieces of equipment that can make a tough cleaning job easier. They give the consumer the ability to professionally clean a wide array of items at a do-it-yourself cost. If, however, you’re new to the wonderful world of pressure washing, you probably don’t know what benefits they provide or how to choose which one to buy. Thankfully, the following information will provide you with everything you every wanted to know about pressure washers, such as the difference between hot water and cold water pressure washers, and even show you how to choose the perfect hot water pressure washer for your needs.
Benefits of Pressure Washers
Pressure washers can really come in handy, especially when you’re serious about cleaning. Pressure washers pack a punch and can clean everything from auto and get engines to your home’s gutters. They are versatile and used for both consumer and commercial jobs. In fact, pressure washers provide the user with a slew of benefits including:
- Saves Time: The pressurized water can clean up to 5 times faster than traditional cleaning methods, such as a garden hose.
- Reduces Labor: Since it takes less time to clean the item or area, which means you spend less labor time.
- Reduction in Water Usage: Most people assume that using a pressure washer uses more water than other cleaning methods. The truth is that, surprisingly, pressure washers uses less water. A garden hose typically puts out 6 to 10 gallons of water per minute, while a typical pressure washer only uses 2 to 5 gallons of water per minute. That’s up to a 70-percent reduction in water usage.
- Maintain Items/Equipment: Keeping your items and equipment properly clean is necessary to maintain and prolong the life of the item. And using a pressure washer will help protect your investment in automobiles, machinery and various other equipment.
Pressure washers, when used as preventive home maintenance, can also help protect your home from mold, mildew and other contaminants that can eat away at your home, improve the curb appeal of your home and even increase the overall value of your property.
Choosing a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are typically separated in two different categories: cold water or hot water. Cold water pressure washers are the most common type purchased by consumers. They are often used for blasting away mud and soil, and stripping away paint. Hot water pressure washers are typically more expensive but can handle tougher jobs, such as cleaning grease and oil off automotive parts, engines and various other surfaces. They can also tackle the same jobs as their cold water counterparts.
The following list will give you an idea of the basic differences between consumer, semi-pro and commercial models:
Consumer Pressure Washers
- PSI: 1,350 to 4,900
- GPM: 1.0 to 4.9
- Cleaning Units (CU): 1,560 to 16,000
- Water Temperature: Cold
Semi-Pro Pressure Washers
- PSI: 1,000 to 4,900
- GPM: 1.0 to 4.9
- Cleaning Units (CU): 2,400 to 16,800
- Water Temperature: Cold
Commercial Pressure Washers
- PSI: 1,000 to 5,000
- GPM: 1.0 to 7.0
- Cleaning Units (CU): 3,600 to 16,800
- Water Temperature: Cold/Warm/Hot
As you can see, hot water pressure washers are usually considered a commercial model. But that doesn’t mean you have to use it for commercial purposes or own a business in order to purchase one. Commercial hot water pressure washers are generally thought of as more powerful and all around better than the consumer or semi-pro models. Their main drawback, however, is that commercial pressure washers are generally much more expensive.
Now that you know a little about the difference between hot and cold water pressure washers, you will need to narrow down your choices even more by looking at the quality of the product. Regardless of brand, type and price, pressure washers generally have similar, if not the same, components. They will have a motor or engine that turns the pump. Hot water pressure washers will also have a burner, which heats up the water. The burner is powered by electric, diesel, fuel oil, propane natural gas or gas. The most popular models utilize gas, diesel or electric to heat up the water because they are typically consider the more economical choice. The heating coils can bring the water temperature up to 200 degrees, while steam hot water pressure washers can see water temperature rise up to 280 degrees. There are even a few models that feature an adjustable thermostat so you decide what temperature you want the water to be. For those individuals who want to clean in an area where exhaust fumes cannot be properly vented, consider purchasing a hot washer pressure washer that is listed as fume/exhaust-free.
Basic Styles of Hot Water Pressure Washers
The basic styles of hot water pressure washers can be separated into three categories: trailer, skid and portable. Trailer mounted pressure washers have a ball hitch and wheels, and can be easily attached to a vehicle of ATV and pulled wherever it is needed. Skid mounted washers don’t have wheels and are instead moved by hoisting the unit onto a trailer or forklifted. Portable units have a steel frame/cage built around them and feature wheels for easy moving.
Hot Water Pressure Washer Ratings
Another thing to look for in hot water pressure washers are the GPM (Gallons per Minute) and the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). The GPM informs you on how fast the water actually flows through the washer, while the PSI measures the force in water the pump can produce. A good general rule of thumb is the higher the GPM and PSI, the faster the pressure washer can clean. It is important to compare these ratings when trying to determine which pressure washer is best for your needs.
Hot Water Pressure Washer Drive Type
The high pressure pump found in hot water pressure washers don’t turn on their own. It requires an engine or motor. The pump is connected to the motor or engine with a belt or pulley system – known as a belt drive – or directly, which is known as a direct drive. Direct drive pumps are typically compact, which helps to keep cost and weight down. Direct drives, however, will wear out faster. Belt drives turn the pump at a slower rate, which helps prolong the life of the pump. Unfortunately, models with a belt drive are typically more bulky and cost more than those with a direct drive.
Hot Water Pressure Washer Pump Type
The pump, whether it’s axial or tri-plunger, is another aspect that you must consider when choosing a hot water pressure washer. Most higher quality washers will feature a tri-plunger pump. Alternatively, they may features a crankshaft pump that have ceramic plungers and connecting rods. The biggest benefit of a tri-plunger pump is that they include warranties of 5 to 7 years. Axial pumps are not has long-lasting as tri-plunger pumps and are usually rated for 800 hours at the most. However, axial pumps are generally chosen for their low cost aspect.
High Volume or High Pressure
As we discussed above in the Hot Water Pressure Washer Rating section, the GPMs and PSI are important when determining which unit to purchase. With that said, many people are unware that the washer’s volume (GPM rating) is where it’s cleaning power lays. Unfortunately, too many manufacturers try to upsell on the PSI rating when the GPM is where it matters the most for cleaning power. Because of this you should forgot what the advertisements say and instead make sure the washer will deliver the right balance between volume and pressure.
Motor or Engine Size
Just as mentioned in the section above, manufactures often try to sell units based on the pressure and not the water volume. Making sure the flow rate fits the motor or engine size will help ensure you get the right pressure washer for your needs. A good general rule of thumb is that a commercial unit with 4 GPM should have an engine that has, at least, an 11 Horse Power or 5 Horse Power for an electric motor.
Chassis or Frame Type
Most, if not all, commercial hot water pressure washers feature a steel frame. And while steel will hold up well, there are a few things you must consider before making that big purchase. Asking yourself the following questions will help you figure how if the chassis or frame is over high quality:
- Does the frame or chassis have a long-term warranty?
- Is it painted with an epoxy powder coat? This type of coating is known for its weather protecting capabilities.
- Is the steel made from 10-gauge?
- Is there reinforced seams at the weld?
- Is the frame or chassis protected with shock-absorbing feet?
For the highest quality chassis or frame type, you will want the answer to all the above questions to be yes.
Quality and Safety Certified
Quality and safety certified is a vital factor in the decision of which hot water pressure washer you should purchase. In fact, back in 1995, the regulation UL-1776 was specifically established to deal with the safety issues of high pressure cleaning equipment. This regulation is detailed in what features the washers must have in order to avoid injury. These features include, hose guard, warning labels, rupture disk, safety relief valve and ground fault circuit interrupter. Unfortunately, too many pressure washers are not certified with the proper safety standards. That is why it is important to choose a washer that is certified by the nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).
The highest quality pressure washers will have a solid warranty. A good general rule of thumb is to choose a washer that has a pump at least a one year warranty, a gasoline engine with at least a two year warranty and a frame warranty of at least a year. You should also consider how trained and how many warranty service centers are in your area. If there are no centers close to you, you may be stuck with a useless warranty.
Despite their relatively similar design, not all hot water pressure washers are created equally. Taking the time to properly research your options will help ensure you’re making the right choice when it comes to which pressure washer to buy. Remember to ask the right questions and shop around a bit before making this important investment.
Top 5 Hot Water Pressure Washers
- Simpson Mini-Brute MB1223 1,200 PSI 120 Volt Electric/Diesel Powered Hot Water Heavy Duty Pressure Washer
The Simpson Mini-Brute features a diesel-fired burner that can rise the water temperature by up to 100-degrees. It has a heavy-duty steel construction with powder coated finish, two-wheeled design and four quick-connect nozzles. This heavy-duty hot water pressure washer has a 120-volt induction motor and a triplex pump. Its commercial design was designed with job shop, detail specialists and farm work in mind. It boosts 1700 PSI at 1.8 GPM, and has an on-board storage for the wand, spray gun, electric cord, nozzles and high pressure hose.
- Pressure-Pro Hot Shot Series 4000 PSI Hot Water Pressure Washer
This heavy duty pressure washer features a maximum washing distance of 20 feet, 4000 PSI and a rugged powder coated steel roll cage that protects the washer for years to come. It is powered by a 13 Horse Power Honda GX engine with an electric start, and has a battery operated electric started to make operating this bad boy a breeze. The water heater is fueled by diesel and can rise the temperature to 120 degrees. The gun/wand assembly features five quick connect nozzles.
- NorthStar Electric Wet Steam & Hot Water Pressure Washer – 2000 PSI, 1.5 GPM, 120 Volt
The NorthStar 2000 PSI unit is a high performance electric hot water/ wet steam pressure washer. The combination of those two features makes this unit a time and money saver. It quickly and easily blasts through grease and dirt. This NorthStar unit is designed for easy service, reliability and safety. It boosts a water temperature of up to 250-degrees and features ceramic plungers and a CAT 4DX pump. The coil assembly is encased in ceramic fiber with thermal shock resistance and low thermal conductivity. The rear hose entry spray gun is attached to a 50-foot hose to give you the distance you need to clean just about any area.
- Pressure-Pro Professional 4000 PSI (Gas-Hot Water) Belt-Drive Skid Pressure Washer w/ Generator
This pressure washer is the cream of the crop. It is a fully self-contained unit with an on-board 20 AMP generator that doesn’t require external power. The Pressure-Pro Professional washer is a skid mounted unit that features 5.5 GPM that allows you to get even the toughest jobs done more efficiently. The 24 Horse Power Honda GX engine has an electric turn-key start for easy operation. The long last pump has a V-Belt drive and allows the user to adjust the pressure. It also features a schedule 80 coil, adjustable thermostat, dual on-board fuel tanks that hold 15 gallons, professional quality wand and gun assembly and 50 feet of high pressure hose with a steel reinforcement. This well-engineered is the all-in-one choice for professional pressure washers. The only thing you need to add is the water. While this is a great piece of equipment, it does need to be vented properly if used indoors and is on the pricier end of the scale. Because of this, the Pressure-Pro Professional 4000 PSI (Gas-Hot Water) Belt-Drive Skid Pressure Washer w/ Generator may not be the right choice for consumers.
- Shark SGP-353037 3,000 PSI 3.5 GPM Honda Gas Powered Hot Water Commercial Series Pressure Washer
Don’t let its compact size fool you, this hardworking pressure washer packs a lot of punch. This portable, self-contained unit features a compact frame design built with a rugged steel chassis and heavy duty components. This makes the unit perfect for just about any rigorous condition. The tubed pneumatic wheels gives the Shark SGP-353037 easy maneuvering throughout a wide array of terrain. The schedule 80 leak-free heating coil is protected by stainless steel wrap. The direct drive pump is 3000 PSI with 3.5 GPM and the Honda engine features 11 Horse Power.