What Type of Pressure Washer Should I Go For?

There is a huge range of pressure washers and machinery available out there!

The question is, which type do you go for?

Here is a simple guide to each type of pressure washer to help you determine which machine is right for you.

240v Electric Pressure Washers

240v Electric Pressure Washer

House mains powered pressure washers are by far the most common type of jet wash machine, they are normally the cheapest too. You have probably seen these in DIY shops and supermarkets across the country.

Names like Karcher, Kranzle and Nilfisk have dominated the home-use market for many years, making themselves a staple item in many homes. No matter one which brand you go for, at 240v (UK Mains power supply) they will all have near enough the same output.

So what are they good for?

Electric Pressure Washers are quiet, very quiet in fact, compared to their fuel powered brethren anyway. 240v units also have a nice steady output, the pressure might not be the highest around but it’s enough to clean a car, small patio, light stonework and fences.

240v Electric Pressure Washers are hugely popular with car detailers, their lightweight design and small footprint make them a great option for mobile car valeting. There are hot-water versions but we will cover them bad boys in a future post.


  • Great price point
  • Quiet compared to other types of pressure washer
  • Lightweight
  • ‘Plug and play’ systems, allowing you to use the machine with little to no setup.


  • Lowest output of all types of pressure washer
  • Not easily repairable
  • Cheaper components such as hoses may not last as long as other types
  • Most manufacturers have a recommended run-time of around 2 hours, going over this may overheat the machine.

Petrol Pressure Washers

Petrol Pressure Washer

The most popular petrol pressure washers run on a single cylinder engine. There are many engine makes out there, the market leaders being Honda, Loncin and Briggs & Stratton.

A little more thought is needed to run a petrol pressure washer, the higher LPM (litre per minute) units have a high output but they cannot draw their water from a mains tap (it’s simply too fast!), instead they draw their water from a source such as a tank, bucket or bin. Although the higher LPM does affect the way you get water to your machine, the difference in cleaning effectiveness is night and day compared to an electric pressure washer, meaning you can complete jobs much quicker, after all, time is money!

Petrol pressure washers are generally much more sturdier than their home-use electric counterparts, and they don’t have an issue being run all day, making them a good starting point for commercial use, such as patios, driveways, streets, car parks, and brick work.

Paired with a Turbo Nozzle, petrol pressure washers are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Petrol pressure washers are also available in a twin-cylinder arrangement, which we will cover in a future post!


  • Faster cleaning at a higher pressure than the electric counterparts
  • Robust designs for commercial work
  • Can run all day
  • Easily repaired and serviced


  • Much louder than electric pressure washers
  • Can be quite heavy to manoeuvre
  • Higher LPM units can’t pull from a house mains tap
  • Can devour petrol when running at full speed

Diesel Pressure Washers

Diesel Pressure Washer

Diesel pressure washers aren’t a far cry from their petrol equivalents. Diesel engines, compared to a similar sized petrol engine, do have a smaller output in terms of horsepower, this in turn affects the pressure and LPM of the machine.

Smaller, mobile diesel machines are frugal on fuel compared to petrol pressure washers and the most popular engines (Yanmar, Kohler, Lombardini and Kubota) are solid work horses. The good thing is, with diesel engines, the sky is the limit in terms of output when the right engine is chosen.

Larger twin cylinder diesel engines can easily achieve 27lpm at 300 Bar without straining.

So what does that mean for the job at hand?

They can do any pressure washing task needed, and they can do it all day, rain or shine. The larger diesel pressure washers (2 to 4 cylinders) are truly a commercial and industrial pressure washer, capable of cleaning all of the above along with weed removal, carbon deposits, warehouse and factory cleaning.


  • Can be built to achieve super high outputs
  • Very low fuel consumption
  • Hugely reliable
  • Can be fitted with an alternator to power a remote boiler


  • Much louder than a petrol pressure washer
  • Very heavy
  • More expensive than petrol engines of the same output
  • Large units

So there we have it!

For car valeting, house maintenance and light work, go for a 240v hobbyist machine.

If you are setting up a new pressure washing company, or you want something mobile that can clean effectively, head for a petrol pressure washer.

And if you are looking for a vehicle, dedicated to industrial, commercial AND residential cleaning, a diesel pressure washer is the way to go!

Good Luck!

Conrad @ AC

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