Considerations When Purchasing Power Washers

Written by John Simmons
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There are power washers available for virtually every application and budget. As such, it is very important to understand all of the options available before purchasing a machine. The first consideration prospective customers must evaluate is their application for the power washers. Machines ideal for home users are often cold water models with performance and durability than is necessary for less demanding home applications.

Consider the actual performance of power washers in determining the most suitable machine. The level of performance is a direct result of the power washers’ pressure level, flow rate, and maximum temperature. Pressure is expressed in pounds per square inch, or psi. There are three main ranges for pressure levels. Low-range pressure levels vary from 750 to 1500 psi. These power washing machines are ideal for lighter applications where a risk of scratching delicate surfaces must be considered. Mid-range pressure levels reach from 1500 to 3000 psi. This pressure level is ideal for commercial and moderately-demanding applications. Lastly, high-range pressure levels exceed 3000 psi. These high pressure power washers are ideal for industrial applications where the removal of stubborn grease and other substances from brick, concrete, industrial equipment, industrial flooring, and more is required. As buyers progress towards higher pressure models, they should expect a higher price tag.

Water usage, as related to power washers, is the flow rate, articulated by gallons per minute or GPM. The higher the GPM, the more water a machine uses. Low-flow power washers generally use between .25 GPM and 2.5 GPM, while high-flow models range from 2.5 GPM to well over 5 GPM. Each of which has their pros and cons. Units with low flow rates are much more efficient in their use of water and have a lower risk of damaging surfaces. However, these machines also lack the cleaning power and speed afforded by higher flow rates.

Temperature levels have an immense impact on the power, speed, and performance of power washers. Cold water power washers are much less expensive than heated models, yet they lack the additional cleaning power afforded by higher temperatures. Therefore, for users who require power that surpasses that of cold water machines, hot water and steam models are ideal. Hot water power washers can reach up to 210 ºF

For every ten degrees Fahrenheit that the temperature is increased, the cleaning power is improved tremendously. Hot water power washers can reach up to 210 ºF. However, steam power washer can reach temperatures up to 330ºF. Models using the power of wet steam offer the most effective power washing capabilities, as they disinfect and sanitize while thoroughly cleaning and degreasing. Users looking for the best of all worlds would be best suited with a triple-function or tri-mode machine, that can operate independently as a cold water, hot water, or steam power washer.

Varying power and heating methods allow users to find power washers that suit their needs and budgets. Electric, gasoline, and propane motors are all options for powering power washers. Electric powered machines are beneficial for use indoors, as they are much quieter and do not generate any exhaust. However, these machines limit the mobility of users, as they must be used in close proximity to an electrical supply. Gasoline and propane powered units afford users greater mobility for exterior applications.

For hot water or wet steam power washers, consumers can choose among an assortment of heating options, including electric, no. 1 or no. 2 heating oil, kerosene, diesel, propane, or natural gas. These heating options are generally left up to the preference of the user. However, the quality of the heating coils must be considered. Stainless steel or heavy duty schedule 80 heating coils are less prone to failure than less-expensive aluminum coils.

Mobility is another essential consideration. Power washers can be configured as mobile units with wheels, trailer mountable units, wall mountable units, or stationary units. Power washers built with wheeled configurations are ideal for the most mobile users. For added portability, consumers can choose gasoline or propane powered mobile units, for use where an electrical supply is not available. Stationary units are ideal for industrial users who require a permanent power washing addition to their facilities.

Many manufacturers offer additional features on their power washers. The addition of an automatic shutoff feature will provide users of electric power washers decreases the chance of overheating in certain types of power washers. This feature controls the start and stop of the motor during periods of inactivity to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the pump and motor. For larger applications, many power washers can be configured with two-gun or multi-gun operation, allowing more than one user to operate a single machine.

In addition, power washers can be customized for specific applications. Wet sandblaster power washers are designed to blast high-pressured water and sand or other media across surfaces to remove corrosion, paint layers, rust, heavy deposits, or more. Phosphatizing power washers are constructed with metal surface pre-treatment applications in mind. These machines prevent corrosion and rust on metal surfaces, while preparing these surfaces for subsequent applications of powder coating or paint primer.

With the multitude of options and features available on pressure washers, research and evaluation are integral tasks in finding the right power washing equipment to suit your needs.


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