Every weekend I would hose down the car, grab a bucket and a sponge… yeah, that’s right, a sponge and wash the car. Throughout the week, it would get covered in mud and bird poop, the windscreen would be covered in bug guts. I just needed a clean car and to be able to see through my windscreen.
Well, one day, one of my friends caught me washing the car that way. It wasn’t long before “What the f*ck are you doing? Get a pressure washer, you dumbass”. I was skeptical at first, but I went over to his place and saw how quickly he sorted out his car and how I didn’t need to clean the car so thoroughly each weekend. Instead, just blasting the car with some high-pressure water would be enough to remove most of the grime.
I immediately went home, hopped onto Amazon, and bought myself my first pressure washer, too many weekends had been wasted washing the car by hand. Within 24 hours, it arrived. I plugged it in, connected it to my garden hose, and pulled the trigger. Within minutes the job was done, a job that would take me an hour or so.
It’s been a long time since that day, and I can say with certainty that there is no better way to clean your vehicles, garden tools, lawn equipment, your deck, and your patio furniture than by using an entry level pressure washer, something small, a portable pressure washer. These things are relatively cheap, but still, when getting your first one, you want to ensure that you get the best entry level pressure washer; you want your first experience to be the best version it can be.
With that in mind, here are my top 5 choices.
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What jobs can you do with a light duty power washer?
I’ve mentioned some already but…
- Clean your patio furniture so grime and mildew don’t build-up
- Clean your BBQ so it doesn’t get greasy, and yes, this includes the racks.
- Keep your paths and front steps clean.
- Blast away the dirt and grime on your lawnmower and any other outdoor equipment, so they look like new for longer.
- Remove any surface debris from your driveway after a storm or a winter, and even years of neglect.
When shouldn’t you get an entry level pressure washer?
When you put an entry level machine, you are going to face some downsides. If you are washing a lot of concrete every year or washing large areas over extended periods, then you’ll want to look at getting a medium duty pressure washer.
Look, these small portable pressure washers are great, but they do come with downsides, their parts are commercial quality, they aren’t designed to be used for hours at a time. For things like washing your car once a week, they’ll work fine, but when you put them under the sorts of stress from commercial use or even repeated long hours of stress, well, it won’t be long before your entry level power washer grinds to a halt.
If you are going to be doing larger, longer jobs or even contemplating running your own pressure washing business, then you’ll save money in the long run by investing in a unit that’s designed to take that sort of daily beating.
Pressure washer buying guide
When buying your first pressure washer, you want to make sure that it has certain features. As someone who may never have bought something like this, it can be a challenging task. How do you know what it is you need? What you should be looking for, well, I’ll show you exactly what you need in this section.
With any pressure washer, you’ll want a range of nozzle tips, now depending on the brand or model, these could be quick-connect nozzles, or they could be some form or vario or turbo wand. Both work well.
If you are cleaning a car or applying detergent, you’ll want a foam/detergent cannon or a soap/black nozzle tip.
Having a range of nozzles is how you control the pressure of the water. A 0-degree nozzle will provide pinpoint pressure. It isn’t the best for cleaning wide areas, more for a direct assault on a tough patch of grime.
25 degrees is the sweet spot for most cleaning tasks, though 45 degrees may be best for cleaning garden furniture.
I’ve got an excellent article on spray nozzle tips. You can also look at whether or not you also get a surface cleaner included. These can help clean large surfaces, such as a patio, yard, driveway way, etc. I’ve got an excellent article on finding the best surface cleaner.
Size and pressure
The size and pressure are somewhat related; a 1400 Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI) machine will be smaller than a 3000 PSI, and again, that will be smaller than a 4000 PSI machine.
For an entry level machine, I suggest going for something small ~1000-2000 PSI, but you will need to look at your needs. If you are cleaning large concrete areas, you’ll want something bigger, but that means quite an investment.
Your machine will have two figures PSI and GPM. PSI is about how much pressure it can produce, GPM is about how much water, the combination of this PSI x GPM becomes cleaning power, cleaning power or CP can be used to make comparing two pressure washers very easy, but do bear in mind that CP isn’t the be-all and end-all, you just need a unit that is powerful enough when combined with the right spray tips.
You need to be sure that the water flow rate of your water source can match the GPM range of your pressure washer. For example, a 2 GPM model needs a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute. The easy way to test this is with a stopwatch and a 5-gallon bucket. Place an empty bucket under your faucet, turn it on full, and at the same time, time how long it takes to fill the number of gallons you need. For example, if you fill the 5-gallon bucket within 60 seconds, you can feed a 5 GPM machine.
I’ve suggested 5 different models below that are perfect entry-level machines, which will ensure that you can get the job done.
There are 3 pump types, which I’ve detailed in my post on pressure washer pumps. Long story short, there is a wobble plate, axial cam pump, and triplex pump.
Triplex is the most expensive. For the most part, you’ll most likely have a wobble plate pump. These can’t be serviced or cost more than the pump to service. When it comes to pumps, you don’t typically get to choose between them, you get whatever is packaged with the machine, and the cheaper machines use cheaper pumps.
Wobble pumps aren’t great, but for residential use, they are perfect.
Gas vs. Electric
Choosing whether to purchase a gas or one of the electric pressure washers comes down to access to an electrical outlet, and then the type of cleaning. If you are cleaning outdoors, specifically cleaning concrete, then high-pressure gas pressure washers are perfect. These are designed for heavy-duty cleaning and also have much higher gallons per minute (GPM). I suggest using high psi gas pressure washer, something using a honda engine, perhaps something from Briggs Stratton. A gas-powered pressure washer is quite an investment over an electric-powered version.
But for the most part, choosing to use electric pressure washers is going to be perfect for your needs. Go for a light electric pressure washer if you are cleaning your deck, garden furniture, and your car. Move up to medium-duty electric pressure washer for dealing with your steps, yard, etc.
The budget is a hugely important factor in any decision to buy something. You don’t want to pay over the odds for something, but you also shouldn’t go for the cheapest option, in my opinion.
You should do some research to find the typical price point of the item and have a budget in mind, then purchase the product that fits into your budget and other criteria.
Hopefully, the previous points have given you an idea of what features you should be looking for. However, your personal needs will dictate those features somewhat. The biggest contributor to how much you’re going to spend is whether you need a gas or an electric version. For most people, I suggest electric is enough.
Once you know which one, you can then work out which features you need, and your budget may help you decide whether or not you need that feature.
Entry level pressure washer reviews
- 1,500 PSI/1.50 GPM
- Automatic safety valve with pressure shut-off at pump head
- Three axial-piston wobble-plate pump
This has to be one of the best pressure washers if you are looking for something truly portable and also powerful.
This electric power unit uses a three axial wobble plate pump, which produces 1500 PSI outputting 1.58 GPM, giving you a total cleaning power of 2370. When you factor in how small this is, that’s an insane number.
You don’t get any quick connect tips but when you do get is an adjustable spray head, which features various spray patterns. Plus, you get a snow foam soap dispenser.
This comes with wall storage brackets, so when it’s not in use, it can be stored on a wall in your garage. It also comes with a 20-foot long high-pressure hose, which is a decent hose length.
You also get a spray lance, and all the accessories can be stored onboard. This is an incredible entry level and portable unit.
- 20-foot long hose
- Massive 2370 CP from a compact device
- All accessories can be stored onboard
- No wheels to move it about. It must be carried.
- VERSATILE: Ideal for light to medium duty cleaning jobs including auto, deck, concrete, pavers, dock, boat, cabin, porch, patio, windows, siding, driveway and more!
- ADJUSTABLE PRESSURE: Adjustable spray wand with twist nozzle easily controls water pressure to handle the task at hand
- POWERFUL MOTOR: Powerful 11. 5-amp motor generates 1450 PSI of maximum water pressure and a maximum flow rate of 1. 45 GPM
So what can I say about this electric pressure washer? This is a perfect entry level option. It’s small, it’s powerful, and it’s handy. This thing produces 1450 PSI and outputs 1.45 GPM. Producing a CP of 2102, that’s a respectable number.
This is a handheld unit, but it’s bursting with power; for smaller unit’s you expect to be able to do light cleaning, but this thing punches above its weight; it’s capable of handling some medium duty tasks, so dirty surfaces truly are a thing of the past.
This pressure washer is perfect for cleaning dirt away from your porch. It comes with a 35-foot long power cord and only weighs 11.7 pounds.
It features Sun Joe’s total stop system (TSS). The trigger also features a safety lock, so your small child won’t accidentally turn it on and hurt themselves or others. This is a very reasonably priced pressure washer, which comes with a 33-inch spray wand and a 2-year warranty.
- Adjustable spray nozzle, 33-inch spray wand, you’ll reach all surfaces you want with this thing
- Reasonably priced
- 2-year warranty
- While this is a handy little unit, you need to assemble it yourself, so bring your favorite screwdrivers
- The hose is made from light plastic, and if it’s not stored correctly, it could start to leak, so follow the instruction manual
- The o-rings are low quality and can fail; simply pick up some spares, and you’ll be fine
- Convenient Design: Designed for convenience, our electric power washer requires no tools to assemble and includes 3 quick-connect nozzles: turbo nozzle, 15-degree all-purpose nozzle, and detergent nozzle
- On/Off Foot Switch: Equipped with an on/off foot switch, our pressure washer surface cleaner is exceptionally easy to operate and delivers 1700 PSI of TruPressure cleaning power
- Integrated Storage Bin: Our power washer surface cleaner features a built-in removable storage bin designed to neatly store all your pressure washer accessories
Karcher is a brand that most people know, so it’s not surprising to find them on this list. The K1700 is a fantastic offering. It produces 1700 PSI and uses only 1.2 GPM, giving us a CP of 2040.
It features a start/stop pedal, which you activate with your foot. Unlike the majority of electric models on this list, it features two large rear wheels to make moving this around a breeze.
You get three nozzle tips, a 15-degree, an all-purpose nozzle, and a turbo nozzle. These three combined will ensure that no matter the task, you’ll manage to clean anything.
It also features a removable 0.5-gallon tank for your detergent and soap, which can be paired with a wide range of Karcher accessories.
It also features a 3-year warranty, which is amazing.
- Featuring a 3-year warranty, you can be rest assured that you’ll get your money’s worth out of this machine.
- Incredibly lightweight at only 20.7 pounds.
- Includes all the accessories you need.
- The hose connection may leak. This is easily fixed with some teflon tape.
This is a small but mighty electric pressure washer, coming from a brand known for producing some of the best pressure washer models. You don’t expect pressure washers of this side to produce a staggering 1500 PSI of water pressure and 1.2 GPM; while this isn’t the most powerful on this list, it still produces a cleaning power of 1800.
weighing only 17 pounds, you’ll have no problems when you need to move around, it’s lightweight and easy to carry. It uses electric power and can be used either stood up or laying down.
This has to be one of the best pressure washers in this category, as it comes with a handy soap applicator which will produce a wonderful snow foam for cleaning your car. You also get two quick-connect nozzle tips, and this type of tip can be quickly and easily detached and changed.
The power cord is 35 feet long, and this pressure washer is certified by the Pressure Washers Manufacturers Association (PWMA).
- The power cord comes with safety mechanisms to reduce the chance of electrocution, which is a nice feature seeing as we have water and electric
- It’s easy to assemble, taking only a few minutes
- can easily handle light and some medium duty washing
- The hose connector is low-quality and can leak after wear and tear
- The motor is rather loud when started, but once warmed up, it calms down
- No wheels, so you have to carry this to move it about.
- Questions, Text 563563 to chat directly with a Sun Joe expert
- POWERFUL: 14.5-Amp/1800-watt motor generates up to 2030 PSI (at initial discharge per CSA internal pressure testing) and 1.76 GPM (with nozzle open at minimum pressure) of water flow
- VERSATILE: Tackle a variety of cleaning tasks: homes, buildings, RV’s, cars, trucks, boats, decks, driveways, patios, lawn equipment, and more. With two 0.9 L onboard detergent tanks, removable tanks carry and store different types of detergent to simultaneously tackle different cleaning projects.
If you’ve done some research, you won’t be surprised to see this pressure washer on this list. This is the perfect light-medium duty machine for residential use. Which is why it’s also the perfect entry level option.
This electric model can handle water temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Produces 2030 PSI and outputs 1.76 GPM giving you a CP of 3572, making this the most powerful option on this list.
You get 2 years of Sun Joes warranty, which is no questions asked, what more could you want? How about 5 quick connect tips, a 0.9 L onboard detergent tank, 34-inch extension wand, 35-foot power cord, and a 20-foot high-pressure hose!
If you want the best pressure washer, then this is the entry level model for you. It really does it all. It’s lightweight at 31lbs, you can store all of your accessories onboard. Plus, it’s very quiet, thanks to its induction motor. Like another model on this list, this features a GFCI plug to help prevent electrocution; this also features a total stop system and thermal safety switches. This is a machine that is quiet, powerful, and safe.
- Five quick-connect nozzles: 0° / 15° / 25° / 40° / and soap
- Twin detergent tanks (0.9 litres each tank)
- Weight: 31 lbs
- 20 foot hose
- 2 year warranty
- Huge CP number of 3572
- The plastic connections can leak, but that’s easily fixed with teflon tape
- Replace the plastic hose adapter with a durable brass fitting prevents leaks
How to use a pressure washer for paint stripping?
If you want to strip paint with a pressure washer, then you’ll want to get yourself a pressure washer sand blast kit. A pressure washer alone won’t be enough to remove paint, well unless you have a high powered gas pressure washer, even then it’ll be hit and miss. In contrast, a wet sandblast kit will strip paint with no problems.
Can you use a pressure washer as a paint sprayer?
This isn’t something I’ve done. But yeah, it’s certainly possible, I wouldn’t suggest it. But I guess you could attach a brass fitting to the paint container and then attach that to the inlet of your pressure washer. You could then use a compressor to pressurize the paint container.
I doubt you’ll get a good finish, and I’m not sure what will happen to your pressure washer pump, but it’ll be possible.
Is there a difference between pressure and power washing?
You’ll see these terms thrown around a lot. On the face of it, the terms pressure washer and power washers will be used interchangeably.
But there is a difference. It comes down to heat. Pressure washing is the act of washing with high pressures. Power washing is also introducing heat into the mix. Using hot water that hot water will help lift and remove dirt and grime, specifically hot water is really handy for dealing with grease and oils.
I hope I’ve helped you to find your entry level power washer and that it’ll change your life like it did mine, having those hours back on the weekend, well I can’t say I did anything useful with them, but I had them back! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API