Pressure Washer vs Power Washer: Key Differences Explained

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Both the pressure washer and power washer do the same job. That is washing a surface to clean it up by removing some stubborn dirt, grime, oil, grease, etc.

When your garden hose is not enough to clean the dirt, you need either a pressure washer or a power washer.

That?s why pressure washer vs power washer is a bit hard to resolve kinda debate.

With that said, it won?t remain that hard once you complete reading this article because I?m not going to sit on the fence here.

In this article, I will describe the differences between a pressure washer and a power washer: the uses, benefits, and pitfalls of these tools.

Finally, I will help you to decide on any one of the tools based on your needs.

Let?s dive in.

Pressure Washer vs Power Washer

Preview
Best Pressure Washer
Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda GC190, 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM, black
Best Budget
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios
Title
Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda GC190, 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM, black
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios
Editor's Rating
5/5
5/5
Prime Status
Best Pressure Washer
Preview
Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda GC190, 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM, black
Title
Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda GC190, 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM, black
Editor's Rating
5/5
Prime Status
Best Budget
Preview
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios
Title
Sun Joe SPX3000 2030 Max PSI 1.76 GPM 14.5-Amp Electric High Pressure Washer, Cleans Cars/Fences/Patios
Editor's Rating
5/5
Prime Status

Pressure Washer Uses, Pros, and Cons

Pressure Washer Uses

A pressure washer is a portable unit to pressure wash your walkway, patio, garden furniture, lawn, fence, concrete, brick, masonry, etc.

It?s something you must want to get one during the start of the summer to clean up everything around you in a quick time.

A pressure washer can be an electric or gas-powered unit that generally uses cold water to do the job.

Any quality pressure washer has an onboard detergent tank, multiple nozzles, pressure wash gun, long hose, etc.

Typically an electric pressure washer is a lightweight unit and convenient to transport and store.

To use an electric unit, there must be an outlet near your working place.

While most of the quality electric pressure washers offer substantially long cord, at the same time, you might want to go for a gas pressure washer if you’re going to get rid of the restriction of having an outlet nearby.

Both the electric unit and the gas unit have wheels to transport it easily.

However, the gas-powered units are more powerful than their electric counterparts.

Let?s see some of the major highs and lows of a pressure washer.

Pressure Washer

Pros

  • It?s lightweight, easy to carry, and store.
  • Operating it is a cakewalk.
  • A pressure washer uses cold water to do the job that makes it more friendly to the bricks, concrete, fence, furniture, etc.
  • It?s available in two types – electric, gas-powered.
  • A pressure washer offers different nozzles of different angles that let you control the flow of water stream based on the application.
  • Pressure washing units are quite affordable for what they offer.

Cons

  • A pressure washer fails to dissolve stubborn oil and grease as it uses cold water.

Our Recommended Best Pressure Washer on Amazon:?

Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 MegaShot Gas Pressure Washer Powered by Honda GC190, 3200 PSI at 2.5 GPM, black
  • HONDA GC190 premium residential engine
  • Maintenance-free OEM Technologies axial cam pump
  • Note : Keep Maximum Fuel level 1/2 Inch(12.7 mm) below bottom of filler neck to avoid fuel spillage
  • Welded steel construction frame.Pump/Hose Connection:Threaded M22 connection
  • 10'' Premium pneumatic wheels
Sale
Greenworks 1500 PSI 13 Amp 1.2 GPM Pressure Washer GPW1501
  • 1500 PSI with 1.3 GPM ideal for driveways, patios and washing vehicles
  • 13 Amp Universal Motor for reliability and high performance
  • 35 feet Electric Cable with normal GFCI for portable use
  • Adjustable Wand allows for flexibility
  • 1 year warranty
Ryobi 1,600-PSI 1.2-GPM Electric Pressure Washer (Model RY141612)
  • Brand New in box. The product ships with all relevant accessories

Power Washer Uses, Benefits, and Pitfalls

Power Washer Uses

A power washer is also known as a hot water pressure washer.

It?s because the objective of a power washer and a pressure washer is the same.

One of the core differences is that a power washer uses hot water to deal with the dirt, grime, oil, grease, etc.

Whereas, a pressure washer uses cold water.

Typically, you will want to use a power washer to clean oil and grease because a cold water pressure washer fails most of the time in this case.

A power washer is a bulky unit, but the good thing is it also has wheels to move it effortlessly.

It heats up the water and delivers a powerful water stream that makes the oils and grease go away in a quick time. In conjunction with the detergent, the heat stream of water dissolves the oil and grease.

So, yes, delivering heat water is one of the significant characteristics of this unit that you should consider for keeping it on your buying list.

Obviously, you will be able to control the amount of heat from the unit. A thermostat will give you the heat reading, and you can start working once the desired heat level is reached.

A power washer is mostly used for industrial and commercial purposes. That means primarily for large projects.

Let?s point out some of the pros and cons of a power washer.

Power Washer

Pros

  • It?s a highly powerful unit that generates a hot water stream to clean the surface.
  • A perfect tool for dissolving oil and grease.
  • It can clean up large areas like industrial areas in a quick time.
  • You can adjust the heat effortlessly.

Cons

  • Only worthy of industrial and commercial uses.
  • A bulky option.
  • It?s expensive.
  • Not a good option for soft surfaces.

Pressure Washer Vs Power Washer – Which One is Better?

If you?ve gone through my discussion above, I believe it?s a straightforward question to answer now.

Whether you need to use a pressure washer or power washer depends on the application.

If you want to dissolve materials like oil or grease from the surface, a power washer is undoubtedly the one you should go for.

Yes, a pressure washer can remove oil and grease too, but it can?t resolve them as it uses cold water and detergent combination.

For residential uses, a pressure washer is the best bet considering several factors like – price, the capability of cleaning all the residential surfaces, including fence, garden furniture, etc.

You can store and transport the pressure washer more conveniently than the power washer.

On the other hand, for industrial and commercial spaces, or you can say for large projects, a power washer is the best tool without any doubt.

To deal with softer surfaces, a pressure washer is better than a power washer. It?s because the hot water stream produced by the power washer can damage the soft surface.

To use for cleaning your vehicle surfaces like car bodies, you will definitely want to use a pressure washer instead of a power washer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question #1. What is a good PSI for a pressure washer?

Answer: It depends on the application and the strength of the dirt you are dealing with.

For extra heavy-duty jobs, 3300+ PSI is recommended. For heavy-duty jobs 2900-3200 PSI, for medium-duty jobs 2000-2800 PSI, for light-duty jobs 1500-1900 PSI.

These are recommended by industry experts.

Now, in layman?s terms, for cleaning sidewalk, stairs, fencing, deck/patio, garage floor, driveway, siding, stain removal, you can go for any of the PSI between 1500-3300.

The good thing is most of the quality pressure washers feature adjustable PSI systems.

Question #2. How much is a pressure washer?

Answer: Like any other power tool, the price of a pressure washer varies from brand to brand, capacity to capacity.

While buying a quality pressure washer doesn?t hurt your pocket, you can also rent one from different online and offline vendors.

Generally, if you don?t use a pressure washer too often, you might want to rent one.

If you want to buy one, you can afford a high-quality pressure washer within the range of $150-$500 depending on the power of the unit and type of the power source (electrical or gas-powered).

On the other hand, the rental cost depends on the vendor and plan (hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly).

Question #3. What kind of soap can I use in my pressure washer?

Answer: You will find soap and detergent specifically made for use in the pressure washer. So, don?t use any regular soap or detergent to get the best result.

Particularly, if you are washing your car, never use ordinary soap and detergent.

Several brands like Chemical guys, Karcher, Sun Joe, Simple Green, Krud Kutter manufacture quality soap, and liquid detergent to use in pressure washers.

Question #4. How to clean a deck without a power washer?

Answer: While using a pressure washer or a power washer is a beautiful way to clean a deck efficiently in a quick time, it?s not the only way to do it.

You can clean a deck without a power washer following several ways and using a combination of different tools like – a broom, garden hose, vinegar, oxygen bleach, regular cleaning detergent, wood deck cleaning solution, etc.

You can use several solutions like – detergent and bleach mix, potassium salts of fatty acids, soda and bleach paste, etc.

Question #5. How much is a power washer?

Answer: If you are talking about industrial hot water power washers, the price starts from $2000, and you can afford a quality power washer spending within the range of $2000 – $4500.

Some high-end ones cost around $7000 too.

Question #6. What is the best pressure washer?

Answer: You have the liberty to select a perfect pressure washer from several high-quality brands and models.

Brands like Ryobi, Sun Joe, Simpson, Generac, NorthStar, Karcher, Greenworks have been producing both electric and gas-powered pressure washers for years now.

Out of many other high-quality units, I like the Sun Joe SPX3000 electric pressure washer most.

For a gas-powered pressure washer, I will vote for the Ryobi RY803001 3000 PSI Honda Gas Pressure Washer.

Final Words

I believe I?ve been able to resolve all the confusion you might have had regarding pressure washer vs. power washer.

In a nutshell, for residential uses, a cold water pressure washer is more than enough. Just watch out the cleaning unit (CU) before purchasing one. CU is the multiplication of PSI and GPM.

On the other hand, for industrial uses where you need to deal with large spaces, go for the power washers. These are the best units to dissolve oil and grease.

What do you think is the best option for you?

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