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, making them a better choice for those who might only use their pressure washer on occasion.
In addition, the motor on an electric unit 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. Judging from user reviews, electric pressure washers don't seem as rugged as their gas counterparts, so it's important to select one with a solid brand reputation and to follow the manufacturer's directions for proper pump maintenance.
Among electric models, the AR Blue Clean AR383 (Est. $200) looks like a good choice. 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 and stains.
The AR383 features two spray nozzles: a high-powered turbo nozzle and one that adjusts from a thin, blasting stream to a broader, fan-like spray. It also has a hose reel, which some find convenient and others say is cumbersome, and plenty of onboard storage. There's also a soap dispenser and wheels for easy moving. It comes with a one-year warranty.
The AR383 has accumulated roughly 2,300 user reviews at Amazon.com and earns a rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. Most report great results on dirt and a range of stains. There are some complaints that water tends to leak where the hose meets the water source, but this is a common complaint with electric models that some fix with pipe tape or washers.
Reviews elsewhere largely fall in line, though with results based on far less feedback. For example, the AR 383 earns a 4.4-star score at HomeDepot.com, based on just over 35 reviews.
Users at PressureWasherDirect.com like the AR383 as well, but they and site expert Mike Aletich like the step-up AR Blue Clean AR390SS (Est. $220) just a touch more. It's more expensive than the AR383, and lacks the broad track record of that machine, so we are keeping it out of the top spot for now, but the AR390SS seems to be worth considering as well. Cleaning power is similar to the AR383, and the AR390SS is rated at 2,000 PSI and 1.4 GPM.
What feedback there is looks solid. Aletich gives it his recommendation and says that the AR390SS "goes above and beyond the standard Blue Clean models with metal inlet and quick connects." User reviews at the site are good, with 90 percent of the 70 owners who post here saying that they would recommend it to a friend. Feedback at Amazon.com is also good, with a 4.4-star rating -- but that's based on fewer than 65 reviews, which is just a fraction of the feedback that that AR383 receives.
The Sun Joe SPX3000 (Est. $200) is another good electric power washer in this price range. It delivers up to 2,030 PSI and 1.76 GPM of cleaning power. There are some minuses -- such as the use of a cheaper wobble plate pump -- but also some pluses, including twin tanks for carrying two different types of detergent simultaneously, a 20-foot hose, 34-inch extension wand and five quick connect spray tips. The warranty is for two years.
There's no expert feedback, but user reviews are pretty solid compared to many electric pressure washers. At Amazon.com, we saw nearly 775 reviews and a 4.3-star rating. Most users are pleased, but we noted several reports of leaks, premature failure or of less pressure than was expected. User reviews follow a similar pattern at HomeDepot.com, where the Sun Joe SPX3000 earns a 4.3-star rating after more than 100 reviews. Though some owners are less than pleased, most are happy and 87 percent give this electric pressure washer their recommendation.
Homeowners don't have to empty their wallets to find a basic pressure washer with good ratings. The best cheap electric pressure washers are powerful enough for most light-duty jobs, but might not be as durable as more expensive models. Experts say that by carefully following operating and maintenance instructions, users can get the most from their pressure washers.
At 19 pounds, the electric AR Blue Clean AR118 (Est. $100) is among the lightest power washers on the market. A handheld model, it takes up little storage space -- yet at 1,500 PSI and 1.58 GPM, it has enough power to clean cars and patio furniture thoroughly. It can also tackle some grimier tasks but takes more time to do so than larger units. It comes with an adjustable spray head, an attachable soap dispenser and onboard accessory storage. It also features a stop system that cuts the motor when the trigger is released to reduce noise and help protect the pump. It has a one-year warranty.
PressureWashersDirect.com's Aletich recommends this power washer in large part because of its high-grade Triplex plunger pump. He calls this feature "a step above" what's commonly found in units at this price. Users at this site agree, with around 91 percent of the nearly 110 that weigh in saying that they would recommend the AR118 to a friend. In addition, the AR118 earns a rating of 4 out of 5 stars from users posting to Amazon.com, based on nearly 560 reviews, and a rating of 4 out of 5 stars at HomeDepot.com, based on the feedback from 65 owners. Most owners like that that the AR118 is portable, easy to use and effective at cleaning, although some find the water pressure too low.