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How to Choose a Pressure Washer

Pressure washers are among the most useful tools to have around the house. They're great for removing tough stains and dirt from patios, driveways, and decks, as well as cleaning vehicles and siding. But with a vast array of options on the market, it can be hard to sift through the mud and find those golden nuggets of truth. Never fear, gentle reader - here you'll find the information you need to make an informed purchase of a machine that will make your cleaning easier for years to come. And no matter what you need, WEN has a pressure washer for you.


When starting your journey, here are some of the important terms you need to know to compare your options. 

Pressure washers vs. power washers

One of the most important distinctions. Pressure washers simply use a pump to pressurize cold or lukewarm water and spray it out. Power washers use a heating element to heat the water up, which provides extra cleaning power. Got it? Good.

Never use hot water with a pressure washer. Check the water temperature rating listed in your machine's manual.


Pressure washers are primarily described by their pressure ratings, which is the amount of pressure (usually measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI) that they can deliver to the water. Often, pressure washers include a maximum pressure and a rated pressure rating. The maximum pressure is the highest pressure the pressure washer can achieve at any given instant. The rated pressure is the pressure consistently delivered during operation.

Flow rate

Flow rate refers to the amount of water a pressure washer can handle in a certain amount of time. Usually, this is measured in gallons per minute, or GPM. Similar to the pressure ratings, your unit may have a maximum flow rate and a rated flow rate. 

The amount of cleaning power you get is a function of both pressure and flow rate. High pressure and high flow rate equals more cleaning power.

Gas, electric, or battery?

Most pressure washers are either gas-powered or electric. Electric pressure washers are often AC-powered, with a power cord, though some are powered by batteries, making them cordless. A comparison is below. 

  • Gas: the heavyweights. Many of the most powerful pressure washers use a gasoline engine as their power source. They're large and loud, but are generally much more powerful than electric models, making heavy-duty cleaning tasks much faster and easier. However, they do require more maintenance than electric models (because of the gas engine), and are sometimes more expensive.
  • Electric: the middleweights. You'll find electric pressure washers in many pressure ranges. They use a power cord to connect to an outlet, and are often much smaller and quieter than gas models. On the other hand, they often don't boast as much cleaning power as their gas-powered counterparts, so are better suited for medium-or light-duty tasks. They're generally less expensive than gas models.
  • Battery: the lightweights. Many battery-powered pressure washers can be hooked up to buckets of water, rather than garden hoses like electric or gas models, and don't have a cord. They're extremely portable, and great for light-duty rinsing of boats, cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles. However, they may not have the juice to remove most stubborn dirt. Depending on the battery used or included, they may be around the same price as electric models. 

What do you need to clean?

This is perhaps the most important question to address when looking to choose a pressure washer. If you're cleaning concrete or swabbing decks, opt for a high-pressure model. If you're just rinsing off your car or RV, or removing light grime from your siding, a lower-pressure model may be able to handle all you need it to.

Most models come with nozzle attachments, or have an adjustable wand, to regulate the pressure that comes out of the spray gun. You can always dial down the pressure that comes out, but if your washer simply isn't big enough to handle the task you give it, there's no way to increase the pressure, so you may want to err on the side of having more power at your disposal.

Choosing a pressure washer

Once you've decided what you need to clean, decide on your power source - gas, electric, or battery. Depending on the pressure you need, there may only be one power source available (for example, a gas pressure washer is generally overkill for low-pressure cleaning, so most models in the low-pressure range are electric or cordless). Keep in mind each type's portability, maintenance requirements, and costs. 


We hope this has been a helpful starting point in your journey to choosing a pressure washer. If you have any questions about which WEN pressure washer is right for you, or need more information, please give us a call at 1-847-429-9263 (M – F, 8 – 5 CST), or drop us a message here to talk to our friendly and knowledgeable technical support team.

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