Pressure washers make a lot of outdoor cleaning tasks so much easier and more time-efficient and they are quickly becoming a staple piece of equipment that everyone should have in their home.
When buying a pressure washer, however, it can seem as though the options have no end and this can make it a daunting decision. One of these options is the choice between an electric and a petrol/diesel pressure washer.
Each variety of pressure washer has its own strengths and weaknesses and the kind you buy will depend on your specific needs. Generally, electric pressure washers are more suited to home use and will be suitable for most regular cleaning tasks. Petrol/diesel washers tend to be more heavy duty and will be able to perform those regular tasks as well as tackle more serious cleaning jobs.
Electric Pressure Washers: Pros & Cons
Electric pressure washers are useful for the cleaning of smaller areas or items, such as decking, patios, furniture and cars. There are a variety of perks that make them suited to these tasks.
First and foremost, electric pressure washers are simply cheaper than petrol washers. This also doesn’t necessarily mean a lower quality product either. You may not get the same pressure output as a petrol washer, but chances are for most domestic use, you won’t need it.
They are often much lighter than the petrol counterparts, meaning that mobility whilst using them is a bit easier (though in another way they actually have reduced mobility, which I’ll get onto later). This also means that cleaning tight spaces is much easier. The lightweight also reduces strain on your back and joints whilst using the washer which is always a great bonus.
Due to the electric engine, these are a lot quieter than petrol washers as well. This can be great in residential areas where you want to stay friends with your neighbours!
The lack of petrol and/or diesel means that there are no fumes exhausted from the engine of an electric washer so you could use these in an enclosed space which would not be a safe option with a petrol washer.
Maintenance-wise, electric washers are very low maintenance. There are very few components that are likely to fail and you don’t need any kind of extra equipment to help keep it in good working order.
For most cleaning purposes an electric washer will meet your needs.
As you might have already guessed, the fact that this washer runs off electricity means that you need to have it connected to a power supply in order to use it. This can actually severely hamper its mobility as you essentially need to be vaguely near a power socket. This will mean that these washers may not be suitable if you happen to have a large outdoor space.
These washers, like a lot of electronic equipment, have a lower lifetime than petrol washers (though this is perhaps offset by the cheaper price tag).
An electric washer is unlikely to be able to deal with tougher cleaning like deep-set stain removal, rust removal or paint stripping. This is due to their typically lower maximum pressure output (usually tops out close to 2000 psi).
Electric washers are usually only compatible with cold water, making some cleaning jobs take much longer than they need.
Electric washers tend to be designed more for occasional use rather than daily cleaning. Weekly cleaning of certain areas may even be too much to handle for some lower quality washers. If you use an electric washer really regularly, then expect to have to replace it much sooner.
Petrol/Diesel Pressure Washers: Pros & Cons
Petrol pressure washers are designed for robust and heavy-duty cleaning and, as such, are often seen in the more professional settings for industrial cleaning processes. They are also usually the kind of washers that you would be able to hire for a one-off cleaning job.
Petrol washers can reach much higher pressure outputs than the electric washers. Going over 2000 psi will not be an issue for most petrol models.
Unlike the electric counterparts, a petrol washer doesn’t need to be near a power supply to be used. This lack of power cord means you can use the washer anywhere, as long as you have a canister of petrol nearby.
Due to the higher psi available, a petrol pressure washer will often be able to clean larger areas in very quick times, where an electric washer would take maybe 2 or 3 times as long.
This higher pressure output allows petrol washers to be able to tackle heavy cleaning jobs such as rust removal or paint stripping. Tough stains and grime removal are much easier with these washers than an electric one.
Petrol washers are able to use either hot or cold water, allowing you to use hot water to really get the job done quicker.
A petrol washer (when maintained correctly, which I’ll get onto) will generally have a much longer life than an electric washer.
It may seem from these points that a petrol washer is simply better in every way. But there are definitely some drawbacks to consider before you make your decision.
For one, a petrol washer can be much more expensive than an electric washer. This may be offset by the longer life, as you may be able to buy once and simply maintain the gear without ever buying a replacement. These washers are also usually available for hire, so if it’s a one-off cleaning job you need to do, that is a cheap option.
Petrol washers are much heavier than electric ones. This can cause a great deal of strain when using them. The weight is added to by the need to carry petrol around with you as well. This sort of counters the mobility advantage you get from not requiring a power cord. Though an argument could be made that because you probably won’t need to spend as long on the cleaning, this isn’t a huge problem.
Although the long life may seem appealing, it does mean regular maintenance (as with any petrol-based equipment). This can be quite time-consuming and maybe even expensive if you need to pay for the washer to be serviced.
The petrol washers are able to give you much higher water flow, but this may be too much for your water supply, leading you to need an extra water source to act as a buffer.
The best value for money will come from a mid-range petrol washer as it is possible to buy a petrol washer of the same maximum pressure output as an electric washer.
There you have it! There are many differences between each kind of washer that make them suited to different purposes. For home use, an electric washer will most likely be all you need and if you find you need something more powerful, you could always hire a petrol one for the day without breaking the bank.
Hopefully this comparison makes it easier to make your purchase knowing the best and worst of each kind of washer. Happy shopping!