Electric Pressure Washer vs Gas: A Comparison
So you’re thinking of getting a pressure washer, are you? Good for you! They’re great for doing some outdoor cleaning like lifting oil spills off your driveway and pushing leaves into the gutter.
However, before you go out and get the first pressure washer you see, there are some things you need to pay attention to; one of the most important of which is its source of fuel.
There are two options to choose from: corded-electric pressure washers and gas-powered pressure washers. Though they are both used for delivering high-pressure jets of water for cleaning, some significant differences need to be addressed.
1. PSI (pounds per square inch)
The power of a pressure washer is measured in PSI. Basically, a higher PSI rating means that the machine can produce more powerful jets of water.
Electric pressure washers usually have engines that produce between 800 and 1,800 PSI. This is great for everyday, outdoor cleaning. You can even wash your home’s windows and car with a 1,800-PSI model provided that you have the right quick-connect nozzle attached or twisted the wand to adjust the spray angle.
Gas-powered pressure washers, on the other hand, are the more powerful option. They mostly come with PSI ratings of between 2,000 and 2,800 PSI. Some can even go beyond 3,000 PSI! The weakest gas-powered pressure washer is much stronger than the most powerful electric pressure washer, and it becomes increasingly more important that you check the spray angle before pulling on the trigger.
That being said, gas-powered models are preferable for heavy-duty cleaning jobs, such as lifting dirt and caked-on messes off of brick walls, concrete, and paved walkways.
If you’re cleaning a large surface that requires a lot of movement, portability is something that you need to consider.
Corded-electric pressure washers are not naturally portable. Sure, they’re lightweight, compact, easy to move, but they rely on you being near a power outlet in order for the machine’s engine to begin pressurizing water. Of course, you can increase your range of movement if you unplug and plug the machine into different outlets nearer to where you want to work, or you can employ the use of outdoor-safe extension cords. If you need to wash something out in obscure areas without electricity, you’re basically out of luck unless you can get an extension cord that’s long and thick enough to supply power.
Portability is another aspect where gas-powered pressure washers reign supreme. Since they use combustion engines to pressurize water, all you need to do is fill the tank up with gasoline and tug the recoil cord to get it started. There’s no hassle of dealing with power cord, extension cords, and any other cord other than the recoil cord to kick-start the machine to life. If you want to do some washing out in the middle of the forest (for whatever reason), a gas-powered pressure washer is what you need.
3. Long-term accumulated costs
There are several costs associated with owning and using a pressure washer. These include detergent, fuel, lubricant, and any other maintenance-related costs that might occur as the machine ages.
The best thing about electric pressure washers is that they aren’t high-maintenance. They don’t require you regularly checking a fuel tank to ensure that you don’t run dry while getting into your groove. The engines don’t need to be thoroughly lubricated to ensure all the inner components don’t heat up and break down. The depreciation costs of an electric pressure washer over time are rather low since maintaining the machine basically involves emptying out the machine of any stagnant water and preventing kinks in the pressure hose.
In the opinions of many owners, the largest downside of owning a gas-powered pressure washer is the accumulated maintenance costs over time. Basically, everything that you don’t need to worry about in an electric pressure washer will become a burden on your soul.
In many places, gasoline is costlier than electricity. A gas-powered pressure washer’s engine needs to be lubricated regularly and topped off whenever necessary. Many engine-related problems as the machine ages will not be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty past a certain time, so you’ll need to pay for repairs out of pocket. Add the costs of detergent on top of that, and you have yourself enough money to invest in an electric pressure washer every 12 months (roughly, depending on where you live).
So which is better: electric or gas?
Most people who own gas-powered pressure washers will tell you that they use their machines at seemingly random times. It’s not exactly something they use on a regular basis; only for heavy-duty cleaning of paved walkways, driveways, and sometimes for washing their vehicles. Electric pressure washer owners, on the other hand, talk about using their machines on a more regular basis for cleaning their cars, pushing away any fallen leaves, and washing their patios.
The frequency of use might actually be related to the associated costs of owning and operating the machines, though that’s just speculation.
In the end, if we were to recommend one over the other, we’d say that an electric pressure washer is the better option. How often will you need to wash things in remote areas without electricity? If you answered, “Not very often,” or “Not at all,” then you can see our point: portability isn’t that big of a deal if you don’t actually need it.
When looking at their respective average PSI ranges, we still believe that electric pressure washers are the way to go. Their maximum power delivery can still be quite dangerous, and that’s only at 1,800 PSI – imagine accidentally spraying another person at 2,800 or even 4,000 PSI. It’s a scary thought.
Besides, even with 800 PSI, you’re still beating the power of traditional garden hoses by a lot (40 to 60 PSI). That’s more enough to spray-clean dirt off of bricks and paved pathways.
This is just our 2 cents. There might be another fellow who would recommend a gas-powered pressure washer over electric for whatever reason. In the end, it depends on what you need it for and where you plan to use it. If heavy-duty cleaning is your thing, a gas-powered model might be your only choice. If you need a machine to help keep the outside of your home spotless, electric models are the safer choice.