Cold Water versus Hot Water: Which is right for me?
Choosing the correct pressure washer is often best determined by your intended application, or how you intend to use it. Cold water washers are an excellent choice for many light- to medium-duty, general cleaning applications like washing the siding on buildings, cleaning decks and sidewalks, and washing cars, boats, and RVs.
More specific applications may require you to choose one type over the other. For example, if your application is to clean bare wood, then cold water is less likely to cause swelling of the wood grain that could lead to damage. Conversely, if your application is to remove oily grime, then cold water would not be the best choice. Seasonal use is also a factor. Cold water washers are less effective and more prone to maintenance issues when used in cold weather.
Given that cold water washers are typically less expensive to purchase and that they require little maintenance, they are quite popular in consumer markets.
Hot water washers perform significantly better in breaking up oily grime and dirt on a variety of surfaces. For example, steel plate floors of drilling rigs can be easily maintained to reduce risk of injuries from slipping. Heavy equipment can be cleaned safely, and concrete and asphalt drive-through areas and parking lots can be cleaned to reduce liability and increase a brands value.
With a water source heated to ±180° and when used with the proper chemicals, hot water washers are also suitable for most sanitation purposes, including food service and food processing. Lastly, hot water washers can be used year-round efficiently and effectively.
Which drive is best for your application? Direct or Belt?
While often a matter of personal preference, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to selecting the drive type that best suits your business needs. How frequently is your washer going to be used? How will you transport it? What is your water source? All are questions to consider.
The term “drive” relates to how the actual pressure pump is operated, whether it is attached directly to the spindle of the motor, or whether it operates from a pulley setup that is driven from the motor using a V-belt.
A direct drive pump has a hollow shaft that slides onto the drive shaft of a motor or engine. A flange on the pump is mounted to the face of the engine or to the shaft end of an electric motor. This configuration creates a simple, compact design with fewer moving parts and, therefore, less cost.
Because the pump is connected directly to the engine shaft, the pump RPM is the same as the engine RPM. Electric motors typically will turn a pump at 1725 RPM or 3450 RPMs, while gasoline engines turn around 3450 RPM. This high speed and vibration caused by direct contact with the engine or motor means that the bearings, seals, and other parts of the pump are subject to substantial wear-and-tear, reducing the life span of the pump. In addition, high RPM pumps spin so fast that they cannot draw water from a tank efficiently, as opposed to forcing water into the pump as through a hose.
Lower acquisition cost
Reduced life span
Cannot draw from tank or standing source
A belt drive pump has a pulley mounted to its solid shaft and is driven by one or more belts that are attached to a pulley on the motor or engine. The pulley system allows these pumps to turn at a much lower RPM than a direct drive pump — typically 900-1400 RPM.
Belt drive pumps also have a larger oil capacity. Combined with the lower RPM of the belt drive pump, this allows the pump to run much cooler than a direct drive model. And because the pump is isolated from the heat and vibration of the engine or motor, they are subject to less fatigue and general wear-and-tear.
Belt drive configurations do suffer some loss of efficiency due to the additional friction created by the belts and pulleys, and maintenance is required to occasionally adjust the tension. However, with all other things being equal, a belt drive system typically provides for the longest pump life, which is why most heavy-use pressure washer applications will demand a belt drive pump.
Less fatigue, vibration
Lower Operating Temperature
Slightly higher maintenance
Understanding Specifications: PSI and GPM.
The Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) rating of your pressure washer matters more than you think. On the low end are pressure washers with a 1000-2000 PSI—good for typical residential jobs. At the mid-level up are power washers with a PSI of 2100-2900, also used for residential purposes and lighter commercial applications. Professional-grade models—power washers with 3000-3900 PSI is sufficient for most professional jobs, but for tougher jobs a pressure washer with 4000 PSI may be needed. Industrial pressure washers are generally considered to be at 5000 PSI or greater.
PSI isn’t the only rating to look for when deciding on a pressure washer. The Gallons Per Minute rating (GPM) is also important. The higher the GPM, the faster the pressure washer will work. For example, of two pressure washers with the same PSI, but different GPM, the washer with a higher GPM will perform faster, saving time, fuel and water.
The relationship between PSI and GPM is demonstrated through a measurement called Cleaning Units (CU). CU is determined by multiplying the PSI and GPM. For example, a pressure washer with 3000 PSI and 3 GPM will have a CU of 9000, whereas a pressure washer with 3,500 PSI and 2 GPM will have a CU of 7000. The pressure washer with the lower PSI will actually perform faster than the pressure washer with the higher PSI.
PSI is an important factor to look at when deciding on the right pressure washer for your needs. However, it is important to review all the specifications before making your purchase.
Spray Nozzles: Choosing the right tool for the job.
Red Cutting Nozzle
Delivers the most concentrated stream possible. Capable of cutting through some materials and cleaning stubborn stains on concrete and other hard surfaces. Can cause damage to home siding, wood, and other materials. Use with caution!
Yellow Chiseling Nozzle
Provides enough force to act as a scraper, stripping paint, grease, and other materials from hard surfaces.
Green Flushing Nozzle
Perfect for cleaning dirt and grime from home siding, sidewalks, and metal furniture.
White Wash Nozzle
Wide spray allows washing of larger areas quickly and efficiently. Safe for most surfaces including aluminum siding, windows, and vehicles.
Black Detergent Application Nozzle
When using detergents, degreasers, and other chemicals in your pressure washer, the Black nozzle will siphon it into the water stream for even application. The wide stream covers large areas quickly. Use only with low pressure.