The Best Electric Pressure Washers of 2020 – Our Reviews, Ratings & Tips for Buying
You have three choices when it comes to pressure washing your grimy outdoor surfaces: hire a professional, rent a unit, or buy one. Purchasing your own top-performing electric pressure washer can save you money down the road, especially if you’ll use it more than once or twice a year. Gas pressure washers are another option, but for most homeowners, a top-rated electric power washer will perform just as well as an average gas model.
Why Electric over Gas*? Here are the PROS:
- Smaller and lighter
- Easier storage
- Can be used indoors (depends on cleaning surface)
* Like all pressure washers, they can be dangerous if not used correctly. We’ll talk about safety tips that will prevent surface damage as well as injury to you, your family, pets and plants.
In general, you want to pay attention to the following characteristics so you’ll know which pressure washer will be right for the cleaning jobs at your home. We will touch on some of these in our reviews:
- PSI / GPM / CU (cleaning power)
- Extra nozzles (on board storage is a big plus)
- Plastic or stainless wand
- Wheels – larger and pneumatic wheels provide the best stability and maneuverability
- Plastic or brass couplings for hose attachment
- Cord and hose length – minimum 20-foot hose and 30-foot cord
- Hose and cord storage
Besides those criteria, we’ll mention noise levels, which surfaces benefit most from each model, and feedback from real customer experiences. Top models include brands such as Sun Joe, Greenworks, AR Blue Clean, Karcher & Ivation.More
Our 2020 Ratings & Reviews – The Best Electric Power Washers
Ah the joys of owning your own pressure washer. For most homeowners, electric models like the ones we listed here are plenty powerful enough for your average cleaning tasks. If you need something that will tackle really heavy-duty tasks like paint stripping, deep stain removal, etc. you should probably consider a gas pressure washer. We have a few suggestions for those too.
What are the PROS/CONS of Gas vs. Electric
- Cheaper (average $150 – $250)
- Easy storage
- Can use indoors
Electric pressure washer PROS:
- Cord limits reach
- Less power
Electric pressure washer CONS:
- More power
- Can be used anywhere outdoors, no power outlet needed
Gas pressure washer PROS:
- More expensive (average $300 – $500)
- Cannot be used indoors
Gas pressure washer CONS:
Play it safe with pressure washers
Safety is a big concern with any pressure washer. Some people don’t understand that pressure washers can be dangerous. The very high pressure produced from the water stream can seriously injure people and some surfaces like car paint or glass. We’re talking skin lacerations, even amputations, plus kickback forces that can easily knock a person off a ladder.
Pressure washers are a godsend for exterior cleaning, but you have to respect them. To stay safe, be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to using pressure washers safely.
Here are some basic safety tips for electric pressure washers:
- Read and follow the manual!
- Wear protective clothing – long pants, goggles, work boots or other sturdy closed-toed footwear
- Start spraying surfaces about 2 feet away and gradually move closer, no closer than 6 inches
- Stay off ladders!
- Never EVER point the nozzle at any part of you, other people, pets, or plants
- Do NOT use extension cords for electric pressure washers
- Always plug into a GFCI outlet
Nozzles and other attachments
Most pressure washers come with interchangeable nozzles that allow varying widths of water streams.
The typical types are:
- red (0 degree)
- yellow (15 degree)
- green (25 degree)
- white (40 degree)
- black (soap)
There are other attachments and accessories you may find helpful for your pressure washer. Some of these you have to buy from the washer’s manufacturer, while some are universal. Here are a few:
- Surface cleanerSpinning bar that delivers water stream over a big surface area. Good for large areas like a driveway.
- Rotary nozzleSometimes called a turbo nozzle, sometimes included as a bonus nozzle in the box. Produces a spinning narrow water spray. Good for stubborn stains and grime buildup.
- Pressure washing broomLike the surface cleaner, splits single jet into two or three for cleaning large areas. Good for car or boat washing.
- Wand extensionHelps you reach high areas so you don’t need a ladder.
- Hose extensionFor cleaners with shorter (20 ft or less) hoses, you may want a hose extension. Though this could lessen the pressure somewhat, it’s better than putting yourself in a dangerous position to reach an area for cleaning.
Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks
During our research, we came across customer and manufacturer suggestions for fixing various issues that may arise with a pressure washer. With electric models, the most common complaints involve the motor not starting and pressure loss. If you’re not confident with your fix-it skills, take your machine to a local repairman or call the manufacturer to see about a replacement. But for those fix-it folks among you, try these tricks.
For motors that no longer start:
- Check the reset button on the plug. It’s possible to trip it while plugging it into the power outlet outside.
- Try a pump protector lubricant after each use, like this one from Briggs & Stratton. Leftover water in the unit can seize up the pump’s internal gaskets. You screw the plastic threads on the lubricant bottle into the threaded garden hose inlet on the pressure washer and squeeze the trigger on the bottle. It’s especially good for use before extended storage (winter, for instance) and before first startup the next season.
- There could be an electrical issue within the GFCI plug of the power washer itself, especially if it’s left out in the rain or where there’s lots of humidity. With the unit unplugged, use a screwdriver to take the cover off of the cleaner’s GFCI plug. If you see lots of moisture trapped in the plug, that can prevent it from running. You can buy a replacement plug at the hardware store or one like this Leviton brand online. Just reconnect the wires to the new GFCI plug (black wire to gold connector, white to silver) and turn the screws to secure the wires. Screw down the “U” shaped stress clamps that come with the new plug. Then attach the new cover, and try starting up the machine.
For pressure loss:
- The nozzle may have a blockage. Turn the pressure washer off, and bleed air out of the system. Remove the nozzle. Hold the nozzle by the sides with the front of the nozzle facing you. Using the spray tip cleaning tool or a straightened paper clip, try pushing the clog back the way it came. Rinse the nozzle thoroughly front and back. Replace the nozzle and try washing with it again. If the nozzle remains clogged, remove it and repeat the process. If still clogged, try soaking the nozzle in hot water and then try washing again.
- Try a different nozzle – you might not be using the right one.
- Look to see if the hoses are kinked and straighten them out.
- Check the inlet and un-loader valves. If clogged, clean them or replace with new valves.
- For pulsating pressure, turn off the machine and try bleeding air from the hose by squeezing the trigger.