The Casual User
If you think you’ll be using your pressure washer less than 5 hours a week then you’ll probably get away with a less expensive home store model. These models are engineered to work well for 30 hours or so before they need to be serviced and that may be enough usage to offset the relatively low purchase price of these entry-level models.
If you use it even less, like washing your car for half an hour on the weekends then you’d get up to 60 washes out of the unit before it poops out (in theory). For many people, that could be a few years’ worth of light service.
At that slow rate of usage, though, your pressure washer is more likely to wear out from inactivity than over-use. Rotten hoses, corroded nozzles and leaky fittings are common in machines that use water and then sit around for awhile. Rust, rot and corrosion are slow, but they always eventually win. If you’re using a pressure washer that little, you should just rent one when you really need it.
Working Man’s Pressure Washers
If you’re a serious pressure washer user, like someone operating a business and cleaning more than 20 hours per week then you’ll need something more substantial.
Commercial-grade pressure washers are designed for heavy usage and in some cases, are designed to operate 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
Commercial-grade pressure washers come in configurations ranging from hand held models to hefty units on wheels all the way up to permanently installed units like you might find at a car wash or manufacturing facility.
Another important factor is water temperature. Home store models almost exclusively use cold water from the tap. Some have nozzles that pulsate, which improves cleaning, but they rely primarily on force to clean and that can really tear up your possessions quickly if you’re not careful. Blasting the trim off of cars, digging ruts in deck planks, blowing the paint off your house and other accidents are all too common. Force works, but there are better alternatives.
Commercial-grade pressure washers have many more cleaning options. The 3 most notable are that most use hot water, many can dispense cleaning chemicals and they frequently offer flow control so that you don’t tear up everything you spray.
Hot water is important because it decreases the surface tension of the water and that loosens dirt naturally. It also dissolves chemicals more thoroughly, which makes them more effective in lower quantities.
Most commercial machines also have flow control so that you can use only as much power as you need. The combination of heat and detergents coupled with finer control is absolutely the most effective combination for cleaning.
If you’re doing any serious cleaning, you should check out a hot water pressure washer.
Built to Last
Commercial-grade pressure washers are also much more rugged, designed to be serviced at regular intervals and have replacement parts and local service available after the sale.
Hotsy pressure washers, for example, are ETL certified, come with a 7 year warranty on their pumps, 5 year warranty on heating coils and you can buy replacement parts from them for years after you buy one of their machines. Home store models offer few, if any, of these benefits.
The choice between home store and commercial pressure washers isn’t really that complicated once you know what you’re trying to accomplish. If you need further help to solve your particular cleaning needs, contact DSG Equipment & Supplies and they’ll be glad to help you out.