Induction or Universal Pressure Washer Motors? Which Is Better For Your Home?

updated: March 18, 2021

Induction and Universal motors both provide enough power to pressure wash simple surfaces, but critical differences between the two may influence which is the right choice for you. Subtle differences in the design of these two motors impact which pressure washer suits your specific needs.

Rendered 3D image of an induction motor.
The motor dictates what maintenance your pressure washer requires and how reliable it will be.

For businesses, an induction motor may be the best option for intensive cleaning, but this motor’s size and weight restrict its mobility. Universal motors are more compact and portable, but they lack the power efficiency you get in induction motors.

Deciding which motor is best for you boils down to how you plan to use it and how much you’re willing to pay for the pressure washer. Keep reading for a detailed comparison of the two.

Common Features

Normally, an induction motor features:

  • A higher quality of power-efficiency which can cut down on the power bill
  • Heavier design to increase stability
  • A longer lifespan
  • Standardized by NEMA

Induction motor, disassembled.

With a longer lifespan, this motor is excellent for commercial users that need to get the most bang out of their buck. The average lifespan of these motors can reach 15 years or more. Induction motors have seen much more standardization from NEMA and can be more easily replaced if needed.

The heavier design gives induction motors more excellent stability, and the design provides the machine with a much more smooth and quiet operation.

In a universal motor, you will see:

  • A lightweight and compact design perfect for mobility
  • A faster motor with higher torque
  • A decent lifespan with proper care
  • Lower costs at initial purchase

Universal motors on a Karcher pressure washer manufacturing factory

The lightweight design of a universal motor gives your pressure washer a greater range of mobility. This could be perfect for the household user who needs to pressure wash the garage and back deck in the same afternoon.

The torque of this machine surpasses that of the induction motor. A universal motor will have the same torque and power at the beginning of use as later in the washing process. Having to stop and restart the machine suddenly will not affect this type of pressure washer’s utility and longevity. An induction motor needs more time to reach a high torque and should not be suddenly stopped and restarted.

This machine definitely wins out on the cost of the initial purchase. A pressure washer with a universal motor often costs less than $150. In contrast, a pressure washer using induction motors may cost upwards of $500.

Does Size Matter?

Motors of different size and power illustrated.

With an induction motor, size is most likely going to be a significant factor in your decision. Traditionally, an induction motor is the perfect tool for stationary use.

This motor’s weight and size are much larger, reducing rattling and improving the pressure washer’s performance. The cons of this larger-sized machinery would be that it restricts the mobility you might need for household use.

Universal motors have a more compact design that cuts down on weight. This motor would be ideal for the washer on the move. The smaller size makes the pressure washer more mobile, but you might notice a less steady control of the machinery.

Let’s Talk Noise

The dog, tired of a loud noise.

Overall, induction motors are far quieter than any universal motor.The heavy design of an induction motor cuts down on the movement and rattling of the pressure washer. A universal motor is much more lightweight and mobile, but the noise made by this machine is much more intense. In fact, some residential areas have placed bans on their usage during certain times of day.

Wearing hearing protective equipment is recommended with either machine, so the choice boils down to the environments in which you need to use the pressure washer. A universal motor can be a nuisance to customers and/or neighbors, but you can always solve that by limiting what times of day the machine will be in use.

Final Thoughts

Overall, induction motors are the best option for a commercial user looking for a long-lasting machine with high power efficiency. However, this comes with the compromise of limited mobility and higher initial costs. A universal motor is much more mobile and affordable but comes with a shorter lifespan.

Buying or upgrading to a new pressure washer can seem like a daunting task, but with a little working knowledge of the key differences, the choice can be simple. Are you looking to invest in the best pressure washer to suit your needs? Check out our editor’s choice selection of some of the best pressure washers for your home and business.

Alex owns a home improvement and restoration company in Vancouver. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Saskatchewan Polytechnic and is a NARI Certified Remodeler. His team does a wide range of home restoration products, both interior and exterior.
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