How to buy a Pressure Washer
The ultimate guide to help you purchase the right pressure washer.
With the hundreds, even thousands, of pressure washers on the market today, we know it can be difficult to select the unit that best meets your need. For this reason, Alkota put together a Buyer's Guide to help you answer your questions about pressure washers. If you need any additional answers, be sure to contact Beco Equipment so we can help you find the right piece of equipment!
Beco Equipment is an authorized dealer of Alkota Cleaning Systems
What's most important: HP, PSI, or GPM?
First of all, it's important to understand what each of these acronyms means. HP stands for horsepower, PSI for pounds per square inch and GPM for gallons per minute.
The HP of a pressure washer is divided up to produce both the pressure at which the water is released (PSI) and the number of gallons that are released (GPM). For example, a 2.3 HP motor can produce 2.1 GPM at 1600 PSI or it can produce 3.0 GPM at 11OO PSI. Cleaning power is a function of both volume and pressure.
Size does matter.
When selecting a pressure washer, first determine the minimum PSI you need to break the bond between the dirt and the surface you are cleaning. The chart below can help you, or you may wish to contact your dealer if you need help.
After selecting a pressure washer with at least that PSI level, look at the GPM rate. The higher the GPM, the faster your cleaning job will be. That's because once you have the necessary pressure to remove the dirt and grime, the only way to make your job faster is to increase the rate at which water is released.
You can lower the cleaning pressure capacity of a larger washer simply by changing spray nozzles or using a variable pressure wand. You can not make a smaller washer bigger. Horsepower is horsepower; a 2.3 HP motor can not pump over its capacity.
Always buy a unit big enough for your needs. Buying a unit that does not have adequate cleaning power wi ll cost you extra clean-up time and repairs in the future.
The measurement units of cleaning power is an easy way to rate pressure washers. To determine the units of cleaning power for a machine, multiply the PSI by the GPM (PSI x GPM). This calculation helps you compare different pressure washers, to determine which one is most powerful. The higher the number, the more powerful Units of Cleaning Power the pressure washer.
For example, let's say you are considering one washer with 2 GPM and 3000 PSI and another washer with 4 GPM and 2000 PSI. Which is better? The units of cleaning power on the first washer are 6,000, while the second unit has 8,000 cleaning units. The second machine is more powerful and will likely be the best choice for your needs.
Gas or Electric?
Gasoline engines are best when you need a portable unit. Since electric motors are quiet and emit no exhaust, they are ideal for indoor use. With the Alkota trailer mount you can conveniently carry water along with you.
Belt Drive vs. Direct Drive
The drive refers to how the pump is connected to the power source, such as a gasoline engine or an electric motor. Direct drive means that the pump is connected directly to that source, while a belt drive unit transfers energy from the power source to the pump along an intermediate belt.
Direct drive pumps are more compact and typically cost less than belt drive pumps. However, direct drive pumps are not as durable or as long-lasting as belt-driven ones. The connected power source and higher RPM generate heat, shortening the life of directly-driven pumps. Excessive vibration, a problem with the direct drive, can also cause a shorter life. And with direct drive, any damage or stress on the power source also damages the pump.
With belt drive, the pump is separated from the motor, protecting the pump from added stress and heat, extending the life of the unit. Belt drive pumps also generally operate at a lower RPM, causing less heat build-up which further protects the pump.
Hot Water or Cold Water?
It always depends on what you are cleaning and how fast you want to get the job done. If you need to clean grease or oil, hot water will do a better job of breaking down the grime. Hot water can decrease cleaning time and help detergents and chemical cleaners work better. They also sanitize in areas where bacteria is a problem.
Hot water power washers typically do cost more. Hot water units heat the water using a heating coil, and this component is complex. Make sure the coil on the unit has at least ½ inch inner diameter; a narrower coil could become lined with build-up, reducing the pressure of the machine. The coil should also be spiral wound with even spacing to prevent soot build up, which interferes with combustion.
On Alkota pressure washers, the coil actually forms the combustion chamber, so there is no troublesome insulation. The even coil spirals also allow adequate air flow, improving combustion and fuel efficiency.
Recommended Safety Features
A number of features will make your pressure washing equipment safer and easier to operate:
A safety relief valve on hot water units.
This valve should be mounted between the pump and the coil inlet, not on the coil outlet. Valves mounted on the outlet will spray dangerous hot water in an emergency.
Automatic shut-off switch.
This turns the heat source off if it receives an insufficient flow of water.
Float tank/anti-siphon device protects water sources from contamination.
Trigger gun increases operator safety.
Thermostat regulates heat.
Portable or Stationary Unit?
This depends on your needs. If your dirt is confined to one room, a stationary unit might be best. However, if your stationary unit is permanently installed, service and repairs can be more expensive since the technician will need to travel to your location. Beco Equipment offers this convenient service.
A portable unit is convenient, especially if you have multiple areas to clean. Pay close attention to the tires on a portable unit. Make sure they are well lubricated and roll easily. Also make certain the unit is not top heavy; a top heave unit can be dangerous for an operator to transport.
If you will be using your pressure washing equipment for vehicle washing you may want to install a water softener depending on water conditions. It may enhance the performance of your machine.
For any pressure washer, you may want to purchase other accessories or attachments to get the most productivity out of your machine. For example, different brushes, nozzles, wands or chemicals can help meet the demands of your specific cleaning job. Hose reels can also increase safety and extend the life of the hose.
Pressure Washer Maintenance
Like any equipment, your pressure washer will last longer and perform better if you take proper care of it. Your dealer can walk you through maintenance for the pressure washer you are considering. As with all equipment, make sure you purchase a machine for which parts are readily available.
The Beco Equipment Advantage
We have experienced and knowledgeable staff with over 20 years of experience. We service all brands of pressure cleaning equipment, both in-house and on-site. Our fully-equipped road service truck is ready to serve your needs. Located in Leola, PA, we service Lancaster and surrounding counties.
For the convenience of our customers, we also offer pick-up and delivery services, as well as rental services.
Hot and Cold Pressure Washers
Val6 Infrared Heaters