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Types of Pressure Washers

Know Your Options when Selecting a Power Washer

Some questions we are always asked are what kind of power washers we have, and what kind of power washers the customer should be buying. Our answers are always the same.

  • There are two main types of pressure washers: hot water and cold water.
  • You should be buying the type best suited to your needs.

That’s where the conversation really starts. We find out what applications the customer intends to use their pressure washer for, where they intend to use it, and how often they intend to use it. From there, we can more accurately suggest the proper pressure washer for their purpose. The following is intended to help educate you to be able to make those decisions by yourself and let you choose what you want based on your needs and what you know is important to getting the job done well.

Cold Water Pressure Washers

Cold water (CW) pressure washers are the most popular since they are easier to manufacture and more convenient to use. Cold water power washers are typically made more for consumers than for contractors or professionals, but professional-grade models are available. Cold water pressure washers are available in gas-powered and electric models.

Gas Engine Units

Gasoline-powered power washers are louder than electric engine units and produce exhaust fumes and pollution. However, they are more portable and can be used away from electrical outlets. This feature makes them best suited for outdoors applications, where outlet availability, fumes, and noise are not major problems.

Gas engine power washers are also more powerful, as they are not limited by the amperage of the outlet.

Electric Engine Units

Electric power washers are quiet and fume-free, but their power is limited by the output available from the electrical outlet feeding them. Standard North American outlets deliver 120V at 15 or 20 amps, and most homes have lower electrical output than commercial or industrial buildings, disallowing horsepower equal to that of gas engine units.

Despite this limitation, electric-powered power washers are well-suited for many indoor and outdoor applications, particularly on damage-sensitive surfaces such as windows, vehicles, or painted surfaces.

Both gas- and electric-powered pressure washers are equally viable depending upon their specific application. For simple household use, most people will be satisfied with a low-capacity, low-maintenance electric model fit for small jobs; professional cleaning contractors are better served by having a range of power washer options available to them.

Hot Water Pressure Washers

Hot water (HW) pressure washers have a number of advantages over cold water pressure washers.

  • HW pressure washers can reach temperatures up to 311 °F, whereas CW pressure washers top out at 140 °F—about the same temperature as your tap. Having higher water temperatures allows HW units to clean much more efficiently.
  • Hot water is better at loosening grease and oils, helping the pressure of the water wash those materials away. This also means less detergent is needed to get a surface clean.
  • Drying times are significantly shorter with HW pressure washers. The water is already close to its boiling point, helping it evaporate much more quickly.
  • Hot water is more effective at killing germs, mold, and bacteria than cold water and soap alone.

The choice between hot and cold water pressure washers can be a tough one to make. As with the gas vs. electric motor power washers, there’s always a trade-off.

The environment in which you’ll be using the machine plays a huge factor in your choice, as does the specific application. Hot water pressure washers have a greater up-front cost and generally require more careful maintenance. Professional cleaners can mitigate those costs with tremendous savings in both man hours and chemical use based on the improved cleaning efficiency of HW units.

For indoor use or any jobs where the chance of being hit with the spray is high, a cold water pressure washer is often the preferred machine. Meanwhile, cleaning up grease and oil will almost always require a hot water pressure washer.

Professional Cleaning Contractor Advice and Service

Hot water pressure washers are beneficial when you need to clean up grease and oil from a surface, i.e. an engine or motor, or when you’re cleaning bathrooms or other spaces needing to be purged of germs. Cold water pressure washers are beneficial for houses, cars, boats, or other residential uses. Similarly, electric-engine CW pressure washers are better for residential use and uses which require less power than gallons per minute.

If you still have questions regarding the difference between HW and CW pressure washer units, give us a call, stop in at our store, or shoot us a contact form, and we’ll answer your questions to the best of our abilities. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll hunt it down and get it to you. We love to learn in order to help you better because we know that if you have a question, chances are likely someone else has been ruminating on the same topic.

Contact our customer service representatives to have your pressure washer questions answered today!