Electric vs. Gas Pressure Washer – Which One is Better?


When buying my first pressure washer, I faced the dilemma between a gas and an electric model. I bet you are in that dilemma too. While both typically do the same job, they are different in their own way.

Electric vs. gas pressure washer? Here is a detailed discussion on both so you are clearer on which one would work best for your needs.

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Electric vs. Gas Pressure Washer – The Difference Explained

Man cleaning with pressure washer

Both types of washers do the same thing, but they are quite different in design, operation, and suitability. Here is the difference between gas and electric pressure washers.

Power

Water pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). This rating varies from one model to another and determines how effective the washer is.

Electric units have about 2000 PSI on the upper end. This is because you can only get so much from a 15-amp motor. You might find one with 1800 PSI, but that’s just the highest an electric pressure washer can offer.

Gas ones, on the other hand, can get 2000 to 2500 PSI at the lowest. Most gas models are around 2800 PSI, but some go as high as 4000 PSI. You can find some as high as 7000 PSI, but those are strictly commercial and industrial.

Looking for just that? We’ve got an article all about the best commercial pressure washers!

Water Flow

As the power rating, gas models take the day on this one. Generally, a gas pressure washer delivers more than 1.5 GPM. Most models churn out about 2.5 GPM or more. Remember, gas-powered pressure washers have heavy-duty pumps and run on stronger engines than electric ones.

The GPM in electric models ranges from 1.4 to 1.5. I found this shocking considering how much an electric pressure washer can do but understood that the manufacturers would have to use more expensive materials for a higher GPM, driving the cost even higher.

Functionality

Gas vs. electric pressure washer- which one is best for home use? If you want one for indoor cleaning, an electric model is the way to go. You might be drawn to a gas model, but these produce fumes polluting indoor air.

Electric models are lightweight, compact, easy to use, and maintain. They are a breeze to operate and can suit numerous applications. The only bummer is that they have to be hooked to a power source which might not always be accessible.

For indoor use, electric washers are clear winners considering how quiet they operate.

On the other hand, gas washers are more durable and can take on any job. They have high-quality components that you wouldn’t need to replace. Also, they are more stable and practical, making them the best for outdoor cleaning.

On the downside, they can be quite challenging to start as they have manual starters. You have to tug a rope to start the engine just like you would when starting a lawnmower. Also, they can be quite bulky and difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.

How to Use Each Type of Pressure Washer

How to Use an Electric Pressure Washer?

An electric pressure washer will come in handy to clean regularly. Think of your car, your dog’s kennel, your patio, lawnmower; anywhere you would like to clean. But, you have to know how to use it properly to maintain its quality and functionality.

The first step is putting on safety gear to avoid accidents and injuries. At least have some boots or slippers with a rubber sole to prevent slipping on the wet surface.

Plug in your electric pressure washer and ensure you have done it correctly. Also, ensure the connection is grounded for safety when using the pressure washer.

Connect your garden hose and turn on the tap for water flow. Do not connect the hose when the tap is running to prevent damaging the pump and avoid wasting water. At this stage, check your hose for leaks to ensure water flow is constant throughout the whole time the washer is in use.

Select your spray tip based on the suitability to the cleaning job at hand. Ensure it is secure before you start spraying.

Once you start cleaning, ensure the hose is about 2 feet away from the surface. Also, move it side to side for even cleaning. During this time, pay attention to the pressure and adjust if necessary.

After use, empty the washer of all liquid and rinse it down thoroughly. Leave it to dry in the open air and store it in a safe, dry place.

How to Use a Gas Pressure Washer?

A gas pressure washer is ideal for cleaning the outdoors and suits just about any area around your home. Think of your sidewalks, pavements, driveways, deck, lawnmower, etc. Like an electric washer, it is pretty easy to start and use.

First, make sure you have safety gear on; in this case, rubber shoes. These will prevent slipping when working on a slippery surface.

Next, ensure your gas pressure washer is on a flat surface before starting it. Check if the water strainer is in the right place and properly secured.

Connect one side of the garden hose to your washer and the other one to your water supply. Next, connect the high-pressure hose that comes with the unit into the water outlet on your washer.

Connect the other end of the high-pressure hose to the sprayer making sure it snaps into place. At this stage, select the nozzle that is most suitable for the type of job at hand. Ensure it snaps into place for security.

Once all the connections are secure, turn on the water and wait for the pressure hose to fill with water. Let the water run for a few seconds to clear any air in the hoses.

Before you start the unit, check the oil and fuel levels. If everything is okay, you are now ready to start the pressure washer.

Make sure the fuel lever is in an open position. Move the throttle to the right position and turn the engine switch to the on position. Hold the water gun in a safe direction and hold the trigger to release the pressure.

With your hand still on the trigger, hold the recoil on the engine and move the choke lever to open position. You are ready to use the gas pressure washer to clean.

After cleaning, turn the engine switch to the off position. Squeeze the trigger gun to release the pressure that must have built up inside. Turn off the water supply, remove the nozzle, and return it to the holder.

Disconnect the high-pressure hose from the washer and the gun. Next, disconnect the garden hose and remove as much water as possible from the hoses.

Roll them and store them appropriately. Make sure your washer is dry and wheel it away to storage.

The Pros and Cons of Electric vs. Gas Pressure Washers

Electric Pressure Washers

Pros

  • Quiet operation.
  • Ideal for cleaning small items and areas.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Low-maintenance.

Cons

  • Cheaper hence lower in quality compared to gas ones.
  • The power cord can limit where you are able to use the pressure washer.

Gas Pressure Washers

Pros

  • Practical to take anywhere, thanks to the wheels.
  • Produce more power than electric ones.
  • Heavier and much more stable.
  • Ideal for any job – home, commercial, etc.

Cons

  • Can be bulky.
  • Require regular maintenance.
  • Higher in price.

Factors to Consider when Buying an Electric and Gas Pressure Washer

Man washing car with pressure washer

The Type

As discussed above, gas and electric pressure washers are different in how they look and how they function. The first step into deciding the type you want is considering your needs in general. If you are looking for light cleaning jobs like washing your lawnmower, then an electric pressure washer is your best bet.

If you are looking for one to suit driveway maintenance, then a gas one might come in handy. The idea is to ensure you check all the features and ascertain their functionality.

Cold Water or Hot Water

Both hot and cold water pressure washers are effective, but you need to evaluate your cleaning needs before selecting one. If you need one to remove dirt and mud in outdoor areas, a cold power washer will work just fine.

If you need to clean areas with grease and oil, it is best to choose a hot water power washer. Also, hot water power washers clean fast and use less water than cold water washers.

Portability

If you plan to use your washer for your car, patio, outdoor furniture, a small, portable model will work best. However, keep in mind that the heavier a power washer is, the longer it will last, usually because of heavy-duty components.

If you intend to get one for large outdoor areas, a larger unit will work better. Remember, the larger ones usually come with high power to clean effectively.

FAQs

How to store a pressure washer for the winter?

First, turn it off and unplug it from the socket. Cut off the water source and squeeze the trigger a few times to release water pressure. Remove the garden hose, roll it and hang it appropriately.

Remove the detergent tank from the washer and rinse it thoroughly. Detach the high-pressure hose and unscrew the gun from the hose. Disconnect the components, including nozzles and guns. Rinse them with plenty of water and lay them down to dry.

Store everything in a warm area where freezing is less likely to occur. This could be in your garage, store, extra room, etc.

Can you leave a pressure washer outside?

It is not advisable to leave your pressure washer outside. You want to protect it from extreme sun, snow, etc. The best way to store your washer is by packing it nicely in your garage, store, or an extra room in the house.

Can an electric power washer get wet?

Yes, your electric washer can get wet, resulting in damage to the components or electrocution. Therefore, it is not advisable to use your electric washer when it is raining.

Can gas pressure washers get wet?

Although water comes from your pressure washer, operating it under the rain might damage the engine.

Will rain hurt a pressure washer?

Yes, operating your pressure water in the rain can damage the parts, including the engine for gas pressure washers. In the case of electric ones, using it in the rain might cause electrocution, which can be dangerous.

Can you damage concrete by power washing?

It is possible to damage concrete using a power washer, especially if using the wrong nozzle at a higher pressure. Therefore, you should adjust the pressure and use the right nozzle on the concrete surface.

Summary

Electric vs. gas pressure washer? I bet you now understand the difference in terms of size, effectiveness, and application. Both are viable options, but you have to evaluate the type of jobs you intend to use a pressure washer on.

The bottom line is finding one that matches the needs at hand and at a budget you can afford.

Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.

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