Choosing a Pressure Washer: Gas-powered vs Electric-powered

pressure or electric?

Gas-powered Pressure Washer vs Electric-powered Pressure Washer

If you like spending time outside during the warm time of the year and need an effective way to keep your deck and backyard clean from dirt such as mud, mildew and grass clippings, then a pressure washer is a device that you could use in your household.

A lot of homeowners are very familiar with appliances such as lawn mowers and are less familiar with pressure washers, even though once you learn about pressure washers, you may end up using one more often than you use many of the other appliances in your home.

Pressure washers make tough cleaning jobs easier by connecting to your garden hose and significantly increasing the pressure of water. High pressure lets you clean deck mildew and all kinds of stains painlessly.

How do pressure washers work?

All pressure washers function in a similar way. Water enters a pressure washer at low pressure. The washer has a gas or electric pump inside of it. The pump increases the pressure of the water and delivers it to a spray tip or nozzle.

A pressure washer typically consists of a pump and two water connection points. One connection point is a low-pressure connection with a thread that you can use with a standard garden hose. The second point is a high-pressure connection that you can use with a wand.

There are two most popular types of  pressure washers: electric-powered and gas-powered. As their names suggest, they use either electricity or gas to power the engine of the washer.

How much power do you need in your pressure washer?

There are two numbers that determine the cleaning power of a power washer, be it a gas washer or an electric washer. The first number shows the strength of water pressure. It is measured in pounds per square inch or psi. The higher the number, the higher the pressure. The second number shows the flow rate or volume of water that flows through the washer. It is measured in gpm or gallons per minute.

Pressure washers

Pressure washers with up to 2,000 PSI and up to 1.5 GPM are considered to be light-duty. They are great if you occasionally need a pressure washer here and there for tasks such as car washing, lawn furniture cleaning, and light mold removal.

home Pressure washers

Models with psi between 2,000 and 3,000 and gpm between 1.5 and 2.8 belong to the residential grade class. They work best for regular driveway and deck cleaning and harder stains.

Pressure washer models

Units with psi of more than 3,000 and gpm above 2.8 are commercial or professional grade. They are suited best for the toughest jobs such as industrial cleaning, graffiti and paint removal and most stubborn stains.

Gas pressure washers

Pros

More power compared to electric pressure washers

Gas-powered pressure washers typically have more power compared to electric pressure washers. Low-end gas-powered models come with around 2,000psi of power and cost around $250. High-end commercial grade models can have up to 4,000psi of power. They sell for between $1,000 and $1,500.

Mobility

Because gas-powered pressure washers use gas for power, as their name suggests, you are not limited by the length of a cord to an area that you can clean.

Cons

Noise

More power means more noise. A typical gas-powered pressure washer produces at least 80 decibels (dB) of noise. This is the threshold at which experts recommend considering hearing protection.

Here are some numbers for comparison: a quiet library emits sounds at 40dBs, a vacuum cleaner produces 70dBs of noise and a power mower creates 96dBs of noise.

Weight

More power means not only more noise but also more weight. The weight for gas-powered washers varies from about 50lbs for low-end models to 150lbs or more for models with 3,000 psi of water pressure and 4.0 gpm.

 

Maintenance

Gas-powered power pressure washers need more maintenance compared to their electric counterparts. A typical gas engine will need oil changes, new spark plugs from time to time and new air filters. You will also need to take care of the fuel system and follow manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to fuel and fuel additives.

In the winter you will need to store your washer properly. Before you can place a gas-powered pressure washer in the storage, you need to winterize it because gasoline goes stale in about a month and stale gas can damage the components of your washer. Also, 90% of gasoline in the US contains ethanol. Gasoline-ethanol blends start deteriorating almost immediately after getting into the fuel tank of your pressure washer’s engine. This can lead to rust and build-up of elements. In addition to this, you need to make sure that no water remains in the pump of your gas-powered pressure washer in the winter.

Price

Because of their size and power, gas-powered models are more expensive than electric ones.

Electric pressure washers

Pros

Less maintenance compared to gas-powered washers

When you invest in an electric pressure washer, you won’t have to deal with oil changes, air filter changes or spark plug changes. You also won’t have to worry about running out of fuel. All you have to do to power an electric power washer is plug it into an outlet.

Lightweight

While electric pressure washers typically have less power compared to their gas-powered counterparts, they are also much lighter. Portable electric washers weigh as little as 12 pounds, a whopping 40 lbs difference compared to the low-end gasoline-powered models! More expensive electric washers can weigh up to 30 or 40lbs, which is still much less than gas-powered washers.

Cheaper price

Electric pressure washers are not only smaller and less powerful but also much cheaper. You can get an entry-level model for as little as $80. More expensive models cost about $200, which is still cheaper than gas-powered washers. The affordable price of electric washers is one of the reasons why this appliance is becoming more and more popular and is migrating from tool rental centers to home improvement and appliance stores.

Absence of noise

Electric models create much less noise compared to gas washers.

Cons

Less power compared to gas-powered pressure washers

Electric pressure washers are smaller and cheaper than gas-powered pressure washers, but they are also less powerful. Entry-level models have only around 1,500psi and 1.5gpm of power and more expensive models can have around 2,000 psi and 1.8gpm of power.

Limited mobility

Because you need to keep your electric washer plugged into an outlet to get power, your mobility will be limited with an electric washer. However, many electric washers come with extension power cords and extension wands that expand their reach.

Gas-powered pressure washer vs an electric pressure washer: which is best?

If you are only going to be using your washer once a month or so and need it for light cleaning, then an electric washer would suffice. If you plan on using your pressure washer on a regular basis and need it for heavy-duty tasks, then go with a gas-powered washer. This being said, don’t forget that gas-powered pressure washers require a lot more maintenance and cost much more than electric washers.

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