The Definitive Guide to Buying Pressure Washers

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The Definitive Guide to Buying Pressure Washers

Pressure washers can pound away years of built-up dirt and grime in a few seconds due to their immense cleaning power. What would take hours of scrubbing by hand, can be done in only a few minutes using the blasting power of a pressure washer. These backyard workhorses are beneficial for anyone who owns a home or a cleaning business, but not all models are suitable for all types of work.

A homeowner can get away with an electric version, while a professional needs to stick with a high powered gas model instead. All types of pressure washers that work at different power levels are sold in home improvement stores and online at websites like eBay, but many consumers find picking the right one to be quite a chore. The best way to select a pressure washer is to first think about what kinds of jobs need doing and how often, and then purchase a model that fits these specifications.

How Pressure Washers Work

The best way to get a sense of how pressure washers are able to clean so quickly, and how to measure their power is to start by going into the backyard and turning on the hose. The average house hose uses 10 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water pressure to emit 8 gallons of water a minute. Now, attach a spray gun onto the end of the hose. This increases the water pressure to 40 PSI, using 4 gallons of water a minute. The water comes out of the hose faster and stronger.

Even the least expensive pressure washer starts at around 1000 PSI. Professional models go much higher with ratings of 4000 PSI. The water emerges so fast that it literally blasts everything out of its path. For this very reason, operators must use pressure washers carefully. Always wear safety gloves and hard-topped shoes, as the pressure washer is strong enough to cut through a toe.

Gas or Electric

Besides the PSI levels, the second thing a consumer should watch out for is the engine of the pressure washer. There are two types: gas or electric. Both have their benefits and disadvantages depending on the type of work that needs to be done.


Electric pressure washers get their power from an electric cord that is plugged into the wall. They are quieter and smaller than other models, and there are even handheld versions that supply up to 1600 PSI. Because they are not emitting gas fumes, or rumbling like a waiting jet engine, they can be used inside the home as well. Their lighter PSI rating makes it okay to even use them for cleaning interior walls, whereas a gas powered model operating at 4000 PSI would strip the paint and damage the drywall in the process.


Pound for pound, even the most expensive electric pressure washer cannot match the power of the cheapest gas model. Gas pressure washers use small gas engines to create extremely high pressure levels. They work best outdoors where they can blast away grime from very hard surfaces. Professional models can reach extreme PSI levels, but there are more consumer-friendly gas models that use less power. Gas models also carry the extra cost of having to purchase gas and oil to use them.

Pressure Washer Levels

Perhaps the best way of measuring pressure washer effectiveness is by comparing different models for different buyers. There are three main groups of people who buy pressure washers: the consumer who uses it occasionally, the professional consumer, or prosumer, who uses it a little more often, and the professional who depends on it every day.


PSI Range

Indoor/ Outdoor





Car, spot cleaning




Deck, siding





The PSI level affects the pressure washer's strength, and is far less in consumer models than it is in professional ones. Not everyone needs extremely high PSI pressure levels, and in fact, many homeowners can do more harm than good trying to clean the outside of their house with one.

Consumer Models

There is no official definition for a casual consumer pressure washer, but there are ways to measure which models are best. An ideal consumer model should be one that is only used occasionally for light outdoor and indoor cleaning. Many electric pressure washers, for example, fit into the consumer mould. They are smaller than their gas-powered relatives, less expensive, and easier to carry. Plus, their ability to be used indoors is a highly desirable trait.

Consumer model pressure washers can be divided into four categories based on how much PSI they handle. Handheld models that use between 1350 to 1600 PSI are the smallest and least expensive. As their name suggests, they can be held while being used. Medium pressure washers have 1600 to 1700 PSI, and are considerably larger. They have to be pushed around, but they are far more lightweight than the large and extra-large models. Large pressure washers use between 1700 to 1900 PSI, and start to approach the levels of gas-powered motors. Extra-large models use up to 2000 PSI, and are the most powerful in the consumer range.

Prosumer Models

The average prosumer, a professional customer, is someone who spends a good deal of time taking care of their home, or perhaps even an enterprising businessman who just started a pressure washing company. What sets prosumer models apart from consumer ones is that they are made out of stronger stuff, and are used more often than a consumer model. Many of them approach professional levels of PSI pressure without the high price tag.

When it comes to choosing a prosumer model, both electric and gas fit into this range. Electric models that use up to 2000 PSI can be defined as prosumer-friendly. Buyers who select an electric model should choose them based on their ability to work indoors. Those who rarely use pressure washers indoors are better off with gas, as these models have enhanced durability features.

Gas Prosumer Models

The first thing most customers notice about gas models is their heavy metallic frame. Electric models usually have a plastic one, but gas models have to account for all of that extra power. Choose a gas model for doing big cleaning jobs outdoors, and complete the task in minutes. Even a small gas prosumer-range model starts at 2300 PSI, and goes all the way up to 2800. The medium range provides additional backup at between 2900 to 3300 PSI. Finally, for those who really need the industrial power of a professional pressure washer, but cannot afford the high price tag, look into the large prosumer range that with up to 4000 PSI.

Professional Models

Professional pressure washers are meant to handle the big jobs that others simply cannot. There are several features that set these models apart from the rest. First of all, almost all professional models use gas simply because they use greater PSI levels than electric powered pressure washers. They come with heavy engines, and because of this, feature a very sturdy frame and large bulky wheels. Professional washers also have the option of using hot water for especially filthy sites. Customers can expect to pay top dollar for a professional model, but for those who make their living pressure washing, they would not settle for anything less.

The low end range for most professional models starts around 2000 PSI. Most are higher with levels approaching 7000 PSI. An additional option at the professional level is the mounted pressure washer. It attaches to the back of a vehicle, and allows the operator to work wherever he or she can take the truck. The only downside to mounted pressure washers is their enormously high price tag, but serious business professionals prefer this type above all else.

How to Buy Pressure Washers on eBay

There is such a wide variety of pressure washers out there that a customer should not feel restricted to searching for just a few different models. Take the time to visit eBay and see the wide selection of pressure washers currently available. You can find a lightweight handheld electric model, or a big and bad mounted gas-powered professional washer, all from the same place. Best of all, due to multiple vendors on eBay, it is possible to get a new or used pressure washer at a fantastic price.

Start off by doing a search for 'pressure washers' through the search engine box. This brings up all different types of washers, many of which you may not find useful. One way to make these results more manageable is to narrow them down even further by PSI level. For example, if you want a pressure washer that uses 1500 PSI, then search for '1500 PSI pressure washer'. You can also search by brand name by typing 'Karcher pressure washers', or whatever variety you like into the search box.


Pressure washers are the heavyweights of the cleaning world when it comes to blasting away dirt, mould, and other residue. Using only the power of water pressurised to extreme levels, pressure washers are capable of cleaning almost anything under the sun. When it comes to buying a model either from a local store, or through the extensive collection offered on eBay, buyers need to purchase one that fits their needs.

Pressure washers use either electricity, or a gas-driven motor, to do their job and both of these types have their limitations and their benefits. Electric is less powerful but can be used indoors, while the stronger gas version is best left outside when operating. Power is determined by measuring the PSI rating, and the most expensive models also have the highest PSI. However, this does not mean that everyone should dream of someday purchasing a 7000 PSI pressure washer. Customers who pick a model that best suits their needs are typically the ones who are happiest in the end.

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