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Are petrol pressure washers better than electric?

Are petrol pressure washers better than electric?

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by my customers is ‘Are petrol pressure washers better than electric?’
I really don’t like to disappoint people, and I really wish I could give them, and you, a simple straight answer to this question. However, this just isn’t possible as both types have their own pros and cons.

There are also two types of electric pressure washer, corded and cordless, and both offer different experiences to the user, as well as being quite different to petrol models. So, intending to be as completely clear as possible, I have decided that in this article I will take each type of pressure washer and go over their attributes, and their flaws, in detail and also compare them to each other.

The final goal is that, after reading this article, you will have a much better-informed view of all three, and then you can decide for yourself if petrol washers are better than electric.

Petrol pressure washers

Petrol pressure washers are powerful, I mean really powerful, and you have to be careful when using them at home so as not to damage the thing you are trying to clean. They are best suited for large industrial cleaning jobs and the most powerful can be considered more than a little overkill for most homeowners.

Having said that, some smaller engine petrol pressure washers are designed for tougher tasks around the home and garden. These are still incredibly powerful, but at the same time are more forgiving than the industrial type. They will allow you to get even the grimiest looking garden paths and patios looking brand new again, and make light work of your grease ridden BBQ. In this video you can see someone doing exactly that but with an electric machine, so just imagine how much faster it would be using a petrol pressure washer-

As there is no power cord, petrol pressure washers are quite mobile and can be used away from the home, but they are also heavier, so a good set of wheels to move around on is essential.
As well as the extra weight, petrol pressure washers need fuel to run, so there is an extra expense there. They also need maintaining just like any other petrol-powered tool, be it a leaf blower, hedge trimmer, or even a water pump. This maintenance isn’t difficult to manage yourself though and can be performed using only minimal tools.

Corded electric pressure washers

Although not quite as powerful as petrol models, electric pressure washers still give you more than enough psi, and a high enough water flow rate, to handle all but the most difficult cleaning jobs. In fact, the most powerful electric pressure washers like the Wilks products are not very far behind their petrol counterparts at all.

Cheaper to buy, and easier to maintain, electric pressure washers are probably the most user-friendly type, requiring you to simply plug in a hose, connect to an outdoor tap and electric mains, and press start. If yu’re outdoor tap is looking a little worse for wear, you can read our article on how to replace it.

There are no fumes with electric pressure washers, and they run relatively quietly when compared to some petrol machines. They also tend to be lightweight in comparison, yet still have all the same attachments and accessories available for cleaning your patio, or wooden garden furniture, that petrol pressure washers have.

The biggest drawback with corded electric pressure washers is their reliance on your mains electric supply. Basically, their range is limited by the length of their power cord, which affects their mobility. Yes, you can use an extension lead, but it has to be a high-quality waterproof one or you’re risking your life.

Please don’t underestimate the power of these machines, and try to keep your kids away from them-

Cordless pressure washers

Unlike their corded counterparts that get their power via your mains sockets, cordless pressure washers are powered by lithium-ion batteries, making them highly mobile and perfect for certain cleaning tasks. Of course, you have to keep those batteries charged between uses, and you will only get about half an hour of continuous use per charge.

Cordless pressure washers are very lightweight compared to both corded variants and petrol machines, which only adds to their already excellent manoeuvrability. Like corded electric models, they are quite easy to maintain, quiet, and emit no fumes. They are sometimes mistaken for portable pressure washers but they are not the same thing.

One of the biggest advantages of this type of pressure washer is that they don’t need to be attached to the mains water supply. All you need to do is fill up a bucket, either from a river, lake, or other water sources, and the machine will feed off that. This can come in really handy on camping trips for washing down the BBQ (although you’ll still need a good BBQ brush) or cleaning dirt off mountain bikes before they go back in the car to be brought home. This clip shows an example of a cordless pressure washer being fed from a bucket-

The main flaw with cordless pressure washers is that they don’t produce anywhere near the same power that corded or petrol pressure washers do, and this might put some people off. That being said, even the least powerful cordless model is much more powerful than a garden hose with a spray gun, and the most powerful cordless pressure washers can perform well enough to get most jobs around the garden done successfully.

In summary

For the absolute best pressure washing performance, you should go with a petrol-powered model. They are more expensive, a little noisier and smellier, but they can’t be beaten for cleaning prowess. Definitely, the type to go for if you have large scale cleaning jobs, or industrial type work to tackle, just make sure you use brass hose connectors to handle the extra pressure.

For the majority of people, a corded electric pressure washer is all you need. They offer fantastic cleaning power but without a petrol machine’s fumes and maintenance needs, and are easy to use. They are limited in range and mobility by their power cords, but most modern pressure washers have more than long enough cords for the average garden.

Cordless pressure washers are the most mobile type, due to their lightweight nature and the fact they don’t rely on the mains of your house for either electricity or water. Although they lack power when compared to the other two types of pressure washer, cordless models still give you more power than an expandable garden hose or standard automatic hose reel with house water pressure, and are perfect for cleaning bikes off on the go, as you can see here-

Which is the best type? As I said, there is no straight answer and at the end of the day it comes down to what you need the tool for.