Experts say the quality of the pump on a pressure washer, as well as the length of the warranty, are key measures of quality. Reviewers praise the powerful Ridgid RD80701 on both counts; it's unusual to find a Cat triplex pump on a consumer-grade pressure washer. The Subaru OHV engine meets California's strict emissions requirements, another big plus. Pressure, rated at 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi) is powerful enough for removing tough stains or even stripping paint, and the flow rate of 2.6 gallons per minute (gpm) speeds cleaning jobs. If you don't need this much power and durability, however, consider the less expensive 2,600-psi Troy-Bilt 20415 (*Est. $340).
We found over 65 detailed owner-written reviews of the Ridgid RD80701 pressure washer at HomeDepot.com. Both an earlier 2008 version and the newer model (with the Cat pump) also get a thorough discussion at RidgidForum.com. Also helpful in evaluating the Ridgid RD80701 model are two buyer's guides by pressure-washer experts -- at The-Power-Washer-Advisor.com and at Tools of the Trade.
The Ridgid RD80701 is one of the top-rated pressure washers here, based on reviews from over 65 owners. They give it an average rating of 4.1 out of 5. Reviewers praise the quality of the pump and engine (which starts easily), though a few owners complain of leaks in the Cat pump or minor leaks in the soap tank or the switch between tanks. Other Ridgid pressure washers with Cat pumps also earn high marks.
Review: RIDGID 3000 PSI, 2.6 GPM, CAT Pump, Pressure Washer (Model RD80701), Contributors to HomeDepot.com
This long forum discussion reviews several Ridgid pressure washers and clears up confusion about whether or not the Ridgid RD80701 really does use a Cat pump. The 2008 version was built with an axial cam pump, and a few of these units may still be on the market, but the 2009 and newer units use a better-quality Cat triplex pump.
Review: Ridgid Pressure Washers, Contributors to RidgidForum.com, Feb. 2008 to July 2011
3. The Power Washer Advisor
This expert buyer's guide doesn't recommend any specific brands or models, but does advise that the manufacturer's warranty is a clue to overall quality. The article also says the quality of the pump is the main factor to consider, since a top-ranked pump (such as a Cat triplex) can pay for itself in the long run -- lasting several times longer than a cheaper one.
Review: Compare Pressure Washers Like a Pro, Editors of The-Power-Washer-Advisor.com
4. Tools of the Trade
This article for construction contractors reinforces the idea that a 3,000-psi pressure washer with a flow rate of 2.6 gpm will be capable of any homeowner task -- noting that anything bigger is overkill.
Review: Pressure Washers, Mark Clement, Jan. 31, 2006