Hose Down: The 6 Best Pressure Washers

Aug 8, 2015

Category: Tech

Ever changed your oil in your driveway only to see spots later? Ever looked up to see spider webs under your eaves? Ever actually swabbed a deck? Then you know what it is like to want a pressure washer. The ease of simply spraying away your troubles with the best squirt gun ever is a power that everyone longs to possess. Well, it is time to do something about it rather than lamenting your lot in life.

These can make chores around the house and yard fun. But not if you are using an inferior product. Then your frustration is compounded by an under-powered, over-priced machine that couldn’t spray its way out of a paper bag. To avoid this, you need to select the right washer for you. Do you need the large-capacity, high-power of a gas-powered model or is a quaint, quiet electric enough? Perhaps you want one that mounts on your wall? Whichever it is, we’ve got it in our roundup of the 6 best pressure washers.

AR Blue Clean AR383

AR Blue Clean AR383

Pros: Quality and affordability.
Cons: Undersized detergent reservoir

Most for the Money: This is probably the A number 1, whiz-bang choice for most people who just want a quick way to spray down their house, clean off their deck, and get those little brats off the sidewalk. Sure, it’s an electric, but don’t be too biased. It puts out 1,900 PSI at 1.5 GPM that comes from a 3 axial position pump run by an 11 amp induction motor. Yet it costs a pittance. Easy to use by anyone in your family thanks to the quick-kill trigger mechanism that shuts it off whenever you aren’t pressing the trigger, making it both safer and able to last longer.

The numbers on the spray power are a little misleading. It pumps at a decent velocity, but you aren’t going to be rocking the boat. It’s a domestic cleaner that works best for basic cleaning, yard work, and scrubbing the side of the house. The one thing to know is the hose connector sometimes ends up leaking, probably because it’s plastic. You can get a better replacement for a couple of bucks, but everything else feels high-quality so it’s unclear why they scrimped. The detergent and foaming bottles work well, but expect to refill them a lot for bigger jobs. [Purchase: $157]

Karcher X-Series K5540

Karcher X-Series K5.540

Pros: Very long-lasting
Cons: Overpriced

Best Electric: The first thing to know is that while this is top-shelf, you’re going to pay for the shelf slightly above that. Much of the X-Series is great, but they all do blend together so be careful to get the K5.540 or K5.740 because some of the other models are very hit-or-miss. Part of the reason for the cost of this model is not the 2000 PSI at 1.4 GPM. What you are paying for instead is longevity. This has a water-cooled induction motor which promises to outlast nearly everything else in the price range.

The easy-wind hose storage is very nice when working around the yard and doesn’t bunch like many other options. The unit has a self-priming pump, which just means that you don’t have to prime the detergent yourself, it handles takes care of it when the water pressure drops. The entire unit feels like a premium vacuum in that it is easy to setup, easy to use, and you don’t have to have any technical know how. The motor is a drive axial pump which does deliver a surprising amount of power for an electric. This model and the K7.40 are both good for heavy work. If you want to go lighter (and save a bundle) go with the AR Blue Clean. [Purchase: $296]

Generac 6598 aka 6024

Generac 6598 (aka 6024)

Pros: Pumps out the power
Cons: Jet-engine loud

Best Gas-Powered: Generac has two models that are both great: The 6598 and 6596. Between them, it’s anybody’s game. We ran with the 6598 just because it offers more kick with 3100 PSI at 2.7 GPM, the hose was 30 feet rather than 25, and the engine is a full-throated 212cc OHV horizontal shaft. When you want really hard-core cleaning power that can deal with a driveway smeared with the gunk you’re dropping off from wrenching on your old 4-by, the 6598 can take it off like a pro. For a few oil slicks, grab the 6596.

You’ll get two detergent tanks that come in at 3/4 of a gallon each, which is more than enough for most bigger jobs, unless you’re giving your big rig a scrubdown. It comes loaded with 5 spray nozzles – soap 0 degree, 15 degree, 25 degree, and 40 degree – so you don’t have to worry about accidentally stripping the paint off of something by hitting it with the wrong spray level. While it is a 70 lbs machine, don’t let that intimidate you. The 10″ wheels make it easy to push and maneuver for anyone of any size. Oh, but it’s loud. The muffler is a joke. [Purchase: $359]

AR Blue Clean AR118

AR Blue Clean AR118

Pros: Portability
Cons: Plastic body

Best Hand-Held: The AR118 has both affordability and portability down to a science. As a hand-held option it weighs in at just a hair under 12 lbs. Despite its small stature it gives off 1,500 PSI though the hose is only 20 feet so expect to move the unit with you. As an electric it’s very quiet so you can spray down your boat or de-grease your grill without waking the baby. The automatic shut-off helps maintain longevity of the unit so you don’t have to worry about replacing it, though at the price you could buy it three times for the amount you’d spend elsewhere.

The spray nozzle adjusts from wide to stream nicely and the detergent tank does a great job of making sure you get an even distribution throughout a wash cycle. Though it does produce 1500 PSI, it feels under-powered when doing larger jobs. The design of the pump is a 3-axial piston, meaning it pushes a lot of power for a very inexpensive unit and has decent longevity; though not as much as a full induction would. The housing is plastic, which is generally fine but don’t be surprised if you find yourself tripping over it and cracking since it doesn’t have the larger upright body. [Purchase: $100]

Simpson Mini-Brute MB1223

Simpson Mini-Brute MB1223

Pros: Fast-acting burner
Cons: Small tank

Best Hot Water: The first thing to know about every other choice on this list is that they only run cold. The simple fact is that adding a heating component to your pressure washer is an expensive process. The Mini-Brute isn’t the best in the business but if your yard is so filthy that the hot water element matters to you, this is going to give you the most bang for your buck. It uses a diesel/kerosene burner to heat water 100 degrees before spraying and will give you as much as 1700 PSI. (though bank on 1200)

The hose is 25ft., so it’s pretty standard. All of the connections are quick-connect so you can swap out implements without wasting time unscrewing. The water tank for heating is a 4 gallon which works fine if you have a cold feed coming in but can feel a little on the small side if you need it for mobile work. If you’ve got a kennel, garage, or farm and need something basic that is easy to repair, reliable, and gives you hot water, this is the way to go. You can find a used one in good condition for $700. [Purchase: $1,800]

Cam Spray Professional

Cam Spray Professional

Pros: Easy to mount and remove
Cons: Low power

Best Wall-Mount: This obviously isn’t for the average consumer but intended for the small shop owner who wants something that does an effective job and is discreet. It mounts easily and can be removed quickly so it doesn’t need to stay anywhere permanently. Runs quietly and is very easy to repair by yourself or a professional so the cost up front can quickly be saved over other wall-mount models that need specialized care. You’ll get 1500 PSI out of it in a consistent stream and it works with hot (160 degrees) as well as cold water inputs so you can hook it directly to a water heater line. [Purchase: $1,900]

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