Electric vs. Gas Pressure Washer offer a full line of washers for home users and professionals alike, but which one is best for your needs?
A pressure washer is an essential tool for a variety of cleaning tasks, whether DIY or professional. Lightweight models are ideal for cleaning decks, fairings or vehicles. Heavy-duty models can remove stains from garage floors and driveways, and remove old paint from walls.
Many people wonder if an electric pressure washer or an air pressure washer is the best tool for their needs. With the variety of available models with different features and performance, the answer isn’t always easy.
Read on to find out the pros and cons between gas and electric pressure washers. These details can help pressure washer buyers make the right decision based on their needs.
Electric vs. Gas Pressure Washer
Pressure washers have an electric or gas motor that drives a pump. While specifications for the motor are provided, the key performance indicator is psi (pounds per square inch), which is the water pressure produced by the pump.
Also important is the flow rate, given in GPM (gallons per minute). High pressure at low flow produces only fine jets, while at high pressure and flow the machine can deliver powerful cleaning over a larger area. Cleaning Units (CU) are sometimes used, which are the product of psi and GPM. Those numbers sound impressive, but they’re not particularly good indicators of actual performance.
Most household electric pressure washers run between 1,500 and 3,000 psi at 1.5 to 2.5 GPM. Air pressure washers are rarely below 2,500 psi, and models over 4,000 psi are common. GPM runs between 2.5 and 4.0. Air pressure washers can be equipped with dedicated scrubbers for concrete and asphalt, further emphasizing their performance advantages.
The higher PSI of the gas model requires more user knowledge and safety precautions.
Security should always be considered. Although pressure washers are not inherently dangerous, high-pressure water jets can cause injury. Even small Electric vs. Gas Pressure Washer should not be pointed at people or pets. Also keep in mind that the engine can get hot and the gas pressurized water discharge can cause burns.
The combination of high psi and GPM offered by air pressure washers makes them more difficult to control than electric models. By comparison, fire hoses have a pressure range of 50 to 200 psi, which is far less than the power of a pressure washer. A fire hose is effective (and difficult to control) because it can deliver large volumes of water: up to 50 GPM.
The surface to be cleaned must also be considered. If an air pressure washer is powerful enough to remove old paint, it’s not a good idea to apply that pressure to finer surfaces like car paint. For example, 1,500 psi and a GPM of about 1.5 are enough to clean a car.
Electric pressure washers require less maintenance.
Electric pressure washers are popular for their ease of use and low maintenance. They are not completely maintenance free. They require pump lubrication and general cleaning to keep cooling filters from clogging, but they are still manageable.
Air pressure washers use motors that require regular maintenance just like any other motor. Correct oil level is important for cooling the motor and pump. Additionally, both the oil and gasoline filters need to be changed annually. Spark plugs may also need to be replaced. None of these things are particularly difficult, but following the manufacturer’s maintenance procedures is essential for longevity.
Electric pressure washers are easier to start and can be used indoors.
Starting an electric pressure washer is as simple as plugging in and pulling the trigger. They will work as long as there is a practical outlet. Extension cords can be used to increase range, but a maximum range of 100 feet is recommended.
Modern air pressure cleaners are not that easy to start, but they are relatively trouble-free. Some high-end models have electric start, but most have a lawnmower-like pull cord. No need to worry about wires, the air pressure washer can go anywhere. This makes them ideal for cleaning large areas.
However, all gas engines produce carbon monoxide, which is invisible and toxic. It dissolves quickly outdoors. In closed rooms, toxic air can build up and cause drowsiness and dizziness. In extreme cases, it can be fatal.
So never use an air pressure washer indoors – this also applies to a garage or barn, even with the door open. Electric models do not produce any emissions, so they can be safely used in these locations.
Gas pressure washers tend to be more expensive than electric pressure washers.
There are a variety of electric and air pressure washers to choose from, and costs vary widely. In general, even the best electric high-pressure cleaners are significantly cheaper than gasoline models.
There are a few exceptions. Premium brand electric models can be more expensive than cheaper gasoline models. However, this almost certainly comes at the expense of functionality and possibly reliability. While bargains are often attractive, choosing a cheap pressure washer can lead to disappointment. With a little research time, you should be able to find two or three machines that meet your criteria, so you can compare costs to find the best deal.