OK. So you’re stuck with the job of washing your son’s Prius after the wedding. He and his beaming bride are off to Cancun, soaking up the sun and enjoying the kind of honeymoon you never had. And here you are, assigned with the grimy task of getting rid of all those trite and risqué sayings people write on the couple’s get-away car. That stuff’s supposed to come off easily… so you thought.
Whatever. But there is no way you’re going to drive that thing to the car wash and risk the embarrassment.
Time to plug in the electric power washer to get the job done.
We’re going to take a look at some electric power washers that any guy or girl would be proud to own and use. These portable, pluggable water cannons can clean in a few seconds what might otherwise take 10 minutes of scrubbing, re-scrubbing and so forth.
Don’t think you need one, or think you could just rent one once a year or so? Think again.
Electric Power Washer Uses
Here is a very short list of what all you can wash with an electric power washer:
- Cars, trucks, RVs, boats, trailers, farm implements
- Driveways and sidewalks
- Patios, porches and steps
- Windows and doors
- Garden tools
- Bicycles and motorcycles
- Golf cars
- Mowers, RTVs
- Fences and trellises
- Floor mats and welcome mats
- Anything that won’t rust
- Anything that will rust, but you plan to dry off quickly
We’re only going to be talking about electric power washers today. If you need more power, you can go with a gas-powered washer, but for 90 percent of the jobs around the house, an electric power washer will work just fine.
8 Best Electric Power Washers
Best Features: Twin Detergent Tanks; TSS (Total Stop System)
This unit has excellent power for the money, with a 14.5-amp, heavy duty motor that generates up to 2030 psi and 1.76 GPM (gallons per minute). That’s a wall of water right there.
But man does not clean with water alone, and for that purpose, the Sun Joe has two one-liter (or close to it) detergent tanks. This way, you can carry double the amount of the same detergent, or use two different detergents for different purposes.
The unit ships with five quick-connect spray nozzles for different spray patterns. The power cord is 35 feet long, so you might not ever need an extension cord with this, and the pressure hose is 20 feet long.
A very nice feature of this unit is the Total Stop System. When you’re not squeezing the trigger, the unit is essentially off, saving energy and saving the pump motor.
The warranty is exceptional – two years from the date of purchase, no questions asked.
Best Features: 25-Foot Pressure Hose; Rapid Exchange Program
While some electric power washers offer a multitude of nozzles to attach for different spray angles, the Karcher K5 lets users adjust the Vario Power nozzle while it’s still attached to the cleaning wand, which is politely named “The Dirt Blaster.”
The N-COR pump on this intimidating looking machine is water cooled, and product information claims that this extends the life of the pump by up to five times. The water output is 1.4 GPM, and the max pressure is 2000 PSI.
The pressure hose is 25 feet long – one of the longest in our group. It has a large detergent tank that will keep up with the demand of large jobs.
Karcher is a respected name in the field of power washers, wet vacs, and cleaning devices, and backs this unit with a policy called the Rapid Exchange Program that replaces the unit, rather than repair it, at any time during the two-year warranty period.
Best Feature: Light Weight
The Greenworks GPW1501 is a little brother to some of the electric power washers on the list, but if you don’t need quite so much blast for your cash, then this might suit you just fine. It weighs only 17 pounds and has a sure-grip handle to tote it with, so portability is this short unit’s long suit.
It generates 1500 PSI and 1.2 GPM, which, granted, is less than the others, but for small to medium sized jobs, it’s more than adequate. An interesting feature of the GPW1501 is that it works equally well in either horizontal or vertical orientation.
It includes 25-degree and 40-degree nozzle tips for a variety of cleaning operations and a 20-foot pressure hose. It doesn’t have an onboard detergent tank, but you can attach a soap applicator near the spray nozzle.
There are a number of other accessories you can buy for it, including additional spray tips, a rotary brush, and extra long pressure hose and a surface cleaner that helps reduce the common sidewalk scours you get from holding the cleaning wand too close.
Best Feature: Dual Pressure Settings
Dueling pressure settings on this plucky power washer give the consumer refined control over his or her cleaning options. You can go low (1450 psi) for everyday dirt and grime where all-out war isn’t called for, but if heavy artillery does become necessary, turn the control knob to high (2030 psi) and stand back!
This comes with five quick-connect spray tips to shape the spray field the way you want it and the 54-ounce detergent tank also has flow adjustments, so you can dial in just the right amount of soap suds for the job.
The 14.5-amp motor is among the biggest on our list, so be sure your power receptacle can handle the load. (A 20-amp dedicated line, is a must for this, and pretty much any electric power washer on our list. More information on that is listed below). A Total Stop System cuts the unit off anytime the trigger is off. This saves power, saves the pump and gives the user a break from the noise of a constantly-running motor.
It may not be something you would think of right away, but this model has smooth-rolling wheels for easy transport from one spot to the other. You’ll be glad to have them when you’re cleaning your silver Airstream!
As with the other Sun Joe model on our list, the SPX4000 is backed by a two-year, no questions asked warranty.
Best Features: Light Weight; Low Price
Ryobi makes everything from jig saws to lawn mowers and just about everything in between. The company’s reputation for putting power and quality into surprisingly small machines is hard to beat. And the RY141612 is indeed small, but it’s a whirling dervish when it comes to cleaning things.
First off, this is extremely affordable and would be a great way for power washer newbies to get their feet wet. Secondly, it’s one of the lightest models on our list.
It ships with three nozzles – including a “turbo” nozzle – for different spray configurations, and you can use it to clean everything from the underside of the riding lawn mower to the driveway, where that stain of spilled automatic transmission fluid has sat for years. Its 1600 psi output is plenty strong enough to handle a wide range of challenges.
Other small power washers have soap detergent “bottles” that attach to the spray arm, but the Ryobi has an onboard detergent tank. But be careful, though. The Ryobi’s light weight may not provide enough ballast to overcome the weight of the detergent if the unit is set down on uneven ground.
And talk about warranties! This gem has a three-year limited warranty.
Best Features: Power; Top-Mounted Hose Reel
Whatever it is, if a 3000 psi power washer can’t get it clean, then get rid of it!
The Schafter ST5 is a true beast when it comes to cleaning things, with an 1800 watt electric pump motor that delivers 1.76 GPM at a maximum pressure of 3000 psi. Five nozzle attachments connect easily, yet hold on for dear life when the pressure is on.
A super-handy feature of this model is the top-mounted reel for the pressure hose. If you’ve ever been in a self-serve car wash bay and let the spray wand get away from you, then you’ll appreciate the way this reel holds the hose out of the way while you work.
Construction is solid, and the threaded hose fittings are easy to work with.
Like some of the other models on the list, the Schafter ST5 has the Total Stop System that cuts power to the pump when the trigger is not being deployed.
A little bit of assembly is required after the unit arrives, but it’s not a major project. You can be up and running 10 minutes out of the box.
Best Feature: Excellent Pump Motor
Ryobi makes its second appearance on our list with this handsome, dependable 2000 psi power washer. Its pump motor only draws 13 amps, but tight factory tolerances allows this little dynamo to excel in its task.
This would have to be classified as a middle-of-the road unit, in terms of price and power. What that means for consumers is that you get the best of both worlds without even thinking about it.
It rolls easily for large scale projects and it has a hose reel behind the detergent tank that keeps the hose from getting in its own way, a feature that many consumers might not consider pre-purchase but wish that they had later, when they’re actually using it.
Its roll cage design has a low center of gravity to combat tip-overs. Since the detergent tank holds nearly a gallon of suds, tip-overs would be something you’d want to avoid at all costs.
It comes with three easy-to-connect nozzles that deliver the water at different angles to meet your cleaning needs. There is an onboard compartment that will hold these and a few other accessories.
Best Feature: Single, Adjustable Spray Head Tip
Like a few of the other models, this is equipped with a handy hose reel, mounted right at the top, with a handle to reel in the pressure hose at quitting time, which will come pretty quickly, given this unit’s power and flexibility.
But unlike most of the other models, the Paxcess doesn’t have detachable (and therefore “loseable”) nozzles but a single, adjustable nozzle that can go from high, low and soap foam patterns with a couple of quick turns. The pressure hose is nice and long at 26 feet but if there is an Achilles heel with this model, it would be the hose. Watch for kinks.
The water flow is quite impressive – 1.85 gallons per minute at 2150 psi. The unit comes with a removable soap tank that you fill up away from the power washer (no squatting, except for the few seconds it takes to remove/replace the tank).
When the power spray head is not being deployed, the motor is off. This saves energy and unnecessary wear on the pump motor.
Paxcess may be an unfamiliar name to many homeowners, but the company has come on the scene with a number of high-rated products, like robot vacuums, generators, power transformers, power washers and even toys.
More About Electric Power Washers
Dedicated 20-Amp Service: A Must-Have
One caveat applies to all power washers, regardless of brand, amperage or maximum pressure – is their tendency to blow circuit breakers if plugged in to a line that’s not rated high enough. Most of the power washers on our list draw around 13 amps of power, but don’t plug one in to a 15-amp circuit thinking that will be enough. A 20-amp dedicated circuit is recommended, but you should consider that a commandment.
It’s common in modern garages to have a 20-amp dedicated circuit already available, but if you have an older home, it might not be equipped with one. If you don’t have what you need, hire an electrician to run one for you. ou’ll need one sooner or later anyway, regardless of whether you buy a power washer.
Electric Power Washer Accessories
You can add a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) as standard protection for any future use of the receptacle, but you won’t need it for the electric power washer, because it has one in its power cord (usually).
If not, you can get one here:
If the power cord that comes with the power washer isn’t long enough, you can use an extension cord, but it must be 12 gauge or larger. Otherwise, you’re going to make a lot of trips to the breaker box.
Here’s a nice 50-foot cord (also comes in 100-foot) that’ll get the job done:
This 12-gauge extension cord is Made in the USA, has high visibility and has a lighted end to let you know when it is plugged in a ready to juice up your electric power washer. It also has a vinyl jacket to protect against the sun, moisture and abrasion. It’s also non-marking so you don’t have to worry about getting your floors all marked up. It also comes in several other colors (including green, pink, and blue) if you’d rather have another color cord.
Power Washers – Feel the Power!
Power washers deliver no small degree of satisfaction when you’re blasting away years or even decades worth of grit and grime from surfaces.
There is plenty to feel smug about when you own a power washer. The name itself – power washer – just has a ring to it that oozes satisfaction. Power washers provoke neighbor envy quicker than just about any tool you can drag out of the garage.
But don’t let your neighbor borrows yours. Tell him to get his own.
By saving time, power washers create time – for you and for doing the things you want to do. Maybe you can play 18 today instead of nine.