Small Pressure Washers
This article's a little long, but don't give up 'til you get to the end, because opinions and needs vary

Lubos and Irene Palounek <> wrote:

Which small pressure washer is best? We plan to use for cleaning the deck etc. We have our own well and relatively low water pressure.

Our local Builders Square sells Karcher K460M (1300 PSI, 1.64 GPM) for $185; Northern Hydraulics sell North Star 1200 (1200 PSI, 1.75 GPM) for $149.99.

I am not sure what accessories come with them.

How does the design, quality, and reliability of North Star and Karcher compare? We will appreciate any help and advice.

That was the original post that stimulated the following replies. Note the post did not ask for a comparison of gas vs electric models, but . . .  :-) wrote:

I'm assuming from the price that both are electric models. I have used two different electric models, and found them to be lousy! Not powerful enough, and if it wasn't bad enough dragging around a hose, I had to fool with extension cords too. And had to be a grounded outlet cord (no adapters) because of the high risk of shock hazard.

I'd only purchase one that had a gas/kerosene/diesel engine in it. Usually those types are the really powerful ones! The electric models I used, could not even blast gnats caught in spider webs on the second story of the house. (Kirk Kerekes) wrote:

I would be careful about getting to powerful (high gpm) a unit if you have marginal water supply. Before we got our new well, our low-end NorthStart 1250 could easily outstrip the capacity of the old (2gpm) well to _continuously_ deliver water at adequate pressure. We upgraded the well (16gpm) and now the pressure washer works very well. (Ralph Stewart) wrote:

Been there, done that, learned my lesson. THey'll do if all you want to do is wash your car or harrass your cat. If you want to clean your house or driveway, forget it.

jim evans < wrote:

That hasn't been my experience.

I bought mine at Sam's (Ex-Cell $190) about 4 years ago and have used it for a lot of hours, including 3 hours yesterday. If it broke I rebuy one immediately. I'm sure it's more tedious than the gas powered types because the 'beam' of water is relatively small, but it gets the job done with little danger of damage the more powerful ones can do. (Danny ) wrote:

Depends on what your doing w/it. Apparently your jobs around the house are not requiring at lot of pressure/water. For versatility, you need more pressure/gpm. These little rigs just don't cut it for me.

With a bigger unit all you do is switch to a broader spray pattern tip or back away from the work so as not to do any damage to softer materials(i.e.,wood).

jim evans < wrote:

I agree with that completely. The gasoline units are clearly more powerful if you need it for your job or, if you're are in a hurry. For sure, the guy who was trying to wash cobwebs off his second story eaves while standing on the ground was doomed to be very disappointed with the little electric model.

I'm just saying they have their place, and work well for a number of odd jobs around the house. They certainly do a lot more than what you can do with a garden hose as has been suggested here.

Charlie (Cbress1) wrote:

I have a Karcher. A different model, that was given to me by a guy who has a bigger gasoline powered one.

It is no a heavy duty machine. However, foe light use it is acceptable. I have a driveway that will accommodate 4 cars. I clean it with the Karcher a couple of times a year, No oil stains to contend with. It also is used for the patio and will take mildew of the side of the house.

It all depends on what you want to do. I have seen the big jobs strip the paint of the side of a stucco house, But I don't need to do that. Weigh the cost versus the capability and then see what your needs are. You may need more, you may not.

Bob van der Poel < wrote:

I've been following this thread for a bit and am wondering if this is the Tim (The Tool Man) Taylor Fan Club or a serious discussion....

I've wanted a small washer for a while myself and picked up one at Walmart a few weeks ago. They sell a Campbell-Hausfild (sorry, if the spelling is wrong, but the unit is outside) for about $110.00. It is 1.6 GPM @ 1300 PSI.

I've done the driveway, some sidewalks, cement patio, and my truck and car with it. In my opinion, it works fine for these tasks. I'm sure that a 4000 PSI would do better...maybe even blow the paint right off the truck if I held it close enough.

But for my small tasks around the house, this unit works just fine. I haven't used it yet to do the lawnmover, and some other tools. But I don't have any doubt that it'll work fine.


So, my opinion: Unless you are a Tim Taylor fan or have large jobs to do, you'll probably be happy with a small unit. And if you find that it isn't, well for a hundred bucks, what did you expect? (Clinton Stoner) wrote:

I bought an electric model. It took 6 hours to do 1/3 of my deck. I returned it for a gasoline model and finished the deck in 2 hours. Sure you can do it with a very narrow stream at lower pressure if time is of no consequence. To me the electric model is like painting a barn with a 2 inch brush. Not quite, but almost useless. (Kirk Kerekes) wrote:

How often do you clean your deck? How much space does it take to store the gas pressure washer (and its fuel supply) as opposed to the small electric? How much does that storage space cost you (in terms of the dollars/square foot of your residence or storage structure).

"Mark S. Stiegel" <> wrote:

It just depends upon how much time you have and how much money you want to spend.

I had a 1300 PSI electric unit that worked fine...and still wife loves it. But I just bought another house, this one with a large pool took me two days to pressure wash this cover with the little 1300 PSI unit, and time is something I don't have.

I purchased a Devilbiss 3200 PSI @ 4.2 gpm unit with three different tips (15, 25, 40 degree spray) I can do the job in about 2-3 hours....and if you need less pressure, there is an adjustment on the unit and on the wand. I wouldn't give it up for anything. Hope this's just my experience.

Lubos and Irene Palounek < wrote:

You write, Jim: ...and thus slow going ...

will you please give me some idea how slow is "slow"? For example, how long does it take to clean a square yard - nine square feet of a wooden deck?

jim evans < wrote:

I'd guess it takes me about an hour to do my 10' x 30' deck so, that's about 2 minutes per square yard.

FYI, last night, when I was at Home Depot, I saw a gas powered model. I wouldn't have paid any attention to it if it hadn't been blocking the isle, and we weren't having this discussion. :)

I make me very conscious of the storage problem the gas models present. I store my electric on one shelf of a 7 shelf metal storage shelving and have room on the shelf to store other stuff.

I later asked Lubos what he did and was he satisfied. He replied:

I bought the Karcher K520M Plus, from Builder Square. Same price as the regular K520M but with couple more "free" accessories.

Used it for the first time this weekend. We are very happy with it.

Cheers, Lubos

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