If you rely on a pressure washer to make a living you will want a commercial pressure washer. Why? Because they are designed to help you make profit by not breaking down during heavy use. A residential pressure washer is designed for weekend use.
What defines a commercial pressure washer?
A commercial pressure washer is designed with daily use in mind. They have better engines, better pumps and better components everywhere. They avoid plastic. They come with high-grade hoses, stainless lances and brass connections.
Cleaning power is not a factor in whether a pressure washer is residential or commercial. There are residential machines with 3500 PSI and 3 GPM. And there are commercial ones with less cleaning power (2000 PSI and 2 GPM) that cost 3x more because they have better components.
Let’s take a look at the options you have with commercial pressure washers.
Direct Drive Pump
A direct drive pump is connected with a hollow shaft to the engine drive shaft. This means the pump runs at the same speed as the engine. It also means the pump sites very close to the hot engine. Both these factors cause the pump to run hotter, decreasing life span of the bearings and other parts.
However, due to the simplicity of the connection between pump and motor a direct drive pressure washer is less expensive and more compact compared to belt drive.
- A direct drive is for you if: Pressure washing is part of your job but not the only part. Your pressure washer is a secondary tool not the main tool you use to earn money.
- The good: Lower purchase cost, take up less space, more efficient.
- The bad: Shorter pump life and prone to overheating and vibration. Also pump runs too fast to suction water from a tank reliably.
Belt Drive Pump
A belt drive pump is connected via a belt(s) and pulleys to the engine drive shaft. This system allows for the pump to turn at 1/3 the speed as the direct drive pump. It also allows the pump to sit further away from the hot engine. Both these factors allow the pump to run cooler, increasing the lifespan.
However, because of the added friction of the belt and pulleys it is not as efficient. And the added parts increase the maintenance requirement.
- A belt drive is for you if: You’re a full-time pressure washer and spend most of most days pressure cleaning.
- The good: Longer life (pump runs cooler because lower rpm), belt absorbs vibration instead of the pump shaft.
- The bad: More maintenance and less efficient (added belt friction).
Gas or Electric Powered?
- Electric. If you will always be pressure washing near an electric outlet (like at a warehouse or factory) get electric. It requires less maintenance, is quieter and you can safely use it indoors. You also won’t have to worry about refuelling. The downside is that it will have a higher acquisition cost for the cleaning power.
- Gas. If you want the most portability get gas. So if you’re a mobile contract cleaner then gas will be more practical because you won’t have to go inside the customers house/establishment looking for electrical outlets. Gas also offers more power for less cost.
Hot Water or Cold Water?
Hot water definitely cleans faster because it “excites” the dirt and grime particles to get off the surface. Soap “pulls” the dirt and grime off the surface. The combination of exciting the dirt particles and pulling the dirt particles allows for the fastest most thorough clean.
However, sometimes dealing with the burner and burner fuel is a hassle. The hot water generating aspect of a pressure washer will also cost $1000 more (compared to the same cold water machine) because of the schedule 80 heating coil and other components.
Quick Look at the 5 Best
|Picture||Model||Style||Cleaning Power (GPM x PSI)|
|Simpson PS4240H||Direct Drive Gas||16,800|
|Mi-T-M CW-3004-4MGH||Belt Drive Gas||10,500|
|Pressure Pro EE3530G||Direct Drive Electric||10,500|
|Pressure Pro Eagle Series||Belt Drive Electric||12,000|
|Easy-Kleen Oil Fired Burner w/ Kohler Engine||Hot Water||14,000|
Best DIRECT DRIVE GAS Commercial Pressure Washer
The best direct drive gas powered commercial pressure washer is the Simpson Powershot with the Honda GX390 commercial series engine and the AAA by Comet industrial triplex plunger pump with forged brass head and ceramic pistons. (See graphic of engine and pump details here).
As you can see from the image the unit has a wheelbarrow stance to make it easy to push or pull. It also has never flat pneumatic tires to make moving over uneven surfaces and around a job site a cinch.
The price hover around the high $900 mark and comes with free shipping for that cost. For the quality, cleaning power and price you will not find a better value direct drive gas commercial power washer.
BELT DRIVE GAS Commercial Pressure Washer
Mi-T-M is an abbreviation for “mighty 1000” in reference to the first pressure washer they made in 1971 being 1000 PSI (M = 1000 in roman numerals). Now they sell all types of different pressure washers, generators, air compressors, industrial vacuums, heaters and pumps.
Their belt drive gas commercial pressure washer is best in class and comes with the same GX390 engine as the direct drive Simpson above. It has a belt drive General Pump with a 10-year warranty attached to it.
You can add-on a roll cage to the machine that acts as protection (and a secure chain up point) as well as a lifting frame to lift it to height. If you pressure wash all day every day or run a pressure washer rental company then this is a great option to buy.
Best DIRECT DRIVE ELECTRIC Commercial Pressure Washer
This heavy-duty Pressure Pro is great value for the money. It is constructed on a lifetime warranty aluminium frame, and the whole machine only weights 150 pounds.
It has a 7.5 horsepower induction motor that draws 35A at 230V. If you’re working indoors and sound and fumes are the buying criteria this is your best option.
BELT DRIVE ELECTRIC Commercial Pressure Washer
Out of all the commercial pressure washers, finding a belt drive electric is the hardest. They are basically only made by Pressure Pro in their Eagle Series. I guess the demand isn’t high?
The Pressure Pro belt drive electric has 3000 PSI and 4 GPM at max. This is huge for an electric. It has a Baldor 7.5 hp motor and General Pump. Both are what you want in a commercial electric machine!
If you’re in the market for this machine then look to pay upwards of $5000.
Best HOT WATER Commercial Pressure Washer
If you want a hot water power washer this one by Easy-Kleen should be the first one you look at. Why? Because it hits all the sweet spots: It has a direct drive General Pump with 5 year warranty, a 14 HP Kohler engine with 3 year warranty and a diesel burner for the schedule 80 coils with stainless shell for the hot water “tank”.
When you add hot water to this kind of cleaning power you get a machine that clean anything. Graffiti is now easy to remove, caked on grease at restaurants now easy and tough to clean semi-trucks now easy to clean.
You can see the pressure washer comes on a 4-wheel frame to make moving its 400-pound-self around not too hard. All this comes at a cost though. It varies in price between the high $3000s to the mid $4000s.
- A detailed explanation of direct drive and belt drive difference was found at the Hotsy.com page for belt vs direct. Also, check out 10 Little Known Hotsy Facts.
- The image of the commercial pressure washer in the intro section was sourced from Karcher International Projects’ page for their Chungju Dam project.