Electric pressure washers aren't as strong as gas pressure washers, spraying from around 1,300 to 2,000 psi. This is still plenty of power for most home projects -- ideal for jobs like "cleaning cars, small boats and patio furniture," says Roy Berendsohn from Popular Mechanics. With lower water pressure, the spray wand is easier to control and less likely to damage wood or paint.
The motor doesn't require regular servicing (like a gas engine does), and electric pressure washers tend to be lighter, quieter and less expensive than their gas counterparts. The best models have a stop system that shuts off the pump and motor when the trigger is released. This protects the pump from overheating and silences the unit, allowing users to easily pause while cleaning to have a conversation.
In general, electric pressure washers only last a few seasons, so it's important to select one with a solid brand reputation and to properly service the pump. For a longer-lasting model, experts advise choosing a pressure washer with an induction motor over a noisier universal motor.
Reviews say the AR Blue Clean AR383 (Est. $190) is the best electric pressure washer. The high-grade triplex pump is durable and an unusual bonus at this price point. With 1,900 psi and 1.5 gpm, the AR383's cleaning power is excellent for light-duty tasks; some owners say it's even powerful enough for tougher grime if you take extra time.
The AR383 uses two spray nozzles: a high-powered turbo nozzle with "plenty of power" -- according to a user at Amazon.com -- and a nozzle that adjusts from a thin, blasting stream to a broader, fan-like spray. Some say the detergent applicator and hose reel are convenient, though other reviews say these can be cumbersome to use.
Karcher's K5.740 (Est. $300) is almost as powerful as the AR383, and is another reviewer favorite. At PressureWashersDirect.com, an owner calls it "powerful and impressive," and many users say it's strong enough to tackle most cleaning jobs around the house. According to reviews, the K5.740's best attributes are inside: The induction motor is water-cooled for extra durability, and the axial pump is built with corrosion-resistant material. This is the only pressure washer in our report with a self-priming pump, which lets owners use water from a pond.
The K5.740 includes a removable detergent tank, a pressurized hose reel and two spray wands (an adjustable nozzle and a high-pressure Dirtbuster) -- owners say these features all add to the K5.740's appeal. Karcher's one-year rapid exchange warranty lets users trade a defective unit for a new pressure washer without waiting for a warranty repair.