Tech Tips

Trust the experts at Alklean Industries for all your professional needs. For more than 30 years, we’ve been your trusted sales and service provider. Check out the following frequently asked questions.

How do I choose a pressure washer?

You need to ask yourself some questions to determine the best pressure washer for your needs. For example, where will you use your pressure washer? That may sound like a silly question, but whether you’re cleaning indoors or outdoors can make a huge difference when selecting a pressure washer.

Ask yourself these very important questions:

There are important advantages and disadvantages to both. In a nutshell, portable machines cost more to purchase and require much higher maintenance as long as you own the equipment. You gain portability, but it comes with a cost.

A stationary machine requires that you bring the dirty material to be cleaned to the pressure washer. A stationary wash requires that the necessary utilities are available and hooked up and in many cases, requires the exhaust to be vented. However, once it is installed, you can normally expect years of low operating cost and minimal maintenance.

Both stationary and portable washers have their purpose. Ask your Alklean sales consultant to explain the differences.

Electric driven pressure washers have many great advantages. Number one is the low operating and maintenance cost. An electric motor is much easier and less expensive to maintain. You have no fuel to add, no oil to change, no filters, and no batteries, as well as fewer maintenance concerns. The noise factor is an additional consideration.

One consideration is that with electrically operated equipment there are many control options that are not as practical as with gas or diesel engines. Examples include automatic shutdown timers and remote controls. These options in electrically driven equipment are much easier to install and maintain and much more dependable than controlling the same functions with a gasoline or diesel engine. However, the disadvantage is loss of portability and power availability.

A gas or diesel engine pressure washer does not need to be tied to an electrical power source. It can be taken just about anywhere that water is available and washing is needed. Many times, gasoline or diesel engine options are selected because the electrical power is not available in sufficient quantities (not enough volts and/or amps) to provide the power needed for a correctly sized pressure washer.

The following are established guidelines to consider:

  • There is a formula to determine how much horsepower is required to drive a pump at a given volume and pressure. Various manufacturers have slightly different versions, but generally volume is GPM x PSI/1456 = brake horsepower. Now that may be just enough information to be dangerous.
  • As a general rule, 130 volt service cannot offer more than 2 horsepower. That means 3 GPM at 1,000 PSI is tops for a 130 VAC.
  • Moving on up, the next general rule is that 10 horsepower is maximum horsepower for single phase. Roughly 4.5 GPM x 3,000 PSI is about maximum for a 10 horsepower.
  • Motors larger than 10 horsepower generally require three phase power.
  • While most pressure washers are typically fed by a garden hose from a spigot, some can also draw water from a large tank. This makes on-site cleaning easier because of the mobility factor. Learn more about hot water pressure washers and cold water pressure washers.

If you operate a pressure washer for less than five hours per week, you can probably get away with a less expensive model found in do-it-yourself stores. But beware—you certainly won't get the service, support or warranty coverage that so many people expect from Alklean Industries.

If you operate pressure washers for less than 20 hours per week, you can find some mid-range models that are typically identified by a direct-drive pump and a bare-bones design. However, these are usually mediocre options.

Trust the experts at Alklean to help you select the best models and solutions for all your applications.

We think you’ll find the following chart helpful when determining how best to select a pressure washer nozzle.

View Chart

At Alklean, we have experienced many problems with “off road” diesel. Because it’s so inconsistent, we simply are not confident it will work in pressure washer burners. Use of off-road fuel (red diesel) will result in additional charges to remove the off-road fuel, clean out the fuel system, refill the fuel, recalibrate the burner, repair the damage, loss of use, and other charges.

Compression combustion engines and oil-fired burners are very different. The pressure for atomization in internal combustion engines is many times higher than those in oil burners. Engines utilize compression to ignite fuel in a diesel engine whereas an oil burner utilizes an electrical arc. The only similarities are that both burn some of the same fuels. However, the compression combustion engine will tolerate fuels that simply will not burn at acceptable parameters for an oil burner.

Therefore, we recommend “road” fuel. We cannot dictate to a customer where you purchase your fuel and what grade you purchase. However, our experience shows the quality and consistency of road fuel meets the parameters required for pressure washer/steam cleaner burners to operate satisfactorily more than 99 percent of the time.

UL 1776 is a set of safety standards written by Underwriters Laboratories for the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA). CETA— and its predecessor Cleaning Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA)—paid Underwriters Laboratories to establish safety standards for the American Pressure Washer Industry by developing UL-1776.

Until the UL-1776 standards were established, each manufacturer determined their own safety standards and they could vary widely from one manufacturer to another. By developing UL-1776 standards, consumers are now assured of a safety standard that is generally accepted and adhered to by most American and foreign pressure washer manufacturers marketed in the USA.

Underwriters Laboratories is a well-known testing agency that is unbiased toward any pressure washer manufacturer in the industry. Their standards do not favor any specific brand or manufacturer.

Some of the most frequently asked questions include:

Q: Is one safety method better than the other?
A: No, there is only one set of standards. If the equipment meets UL-1776 standards, it can be certified. If it does not meet the standards, it cannot be certified. There is no lesser standard for Independent Testing Laboratories.

Q: Why chose an independent laboratory over Underwriters Laboratories?
A: Underwriters Laboratories is a global independent safety science company Each pressure washer model requires separate testing and certification. After a given model of pressure washer is certified to meet UL-1776 standards, no changes in design or components can be made without having that model re-tested and re-certified.

Q: Is it against the law for a company to not meet the UL-1776 standards?
A: No, it is not unlawful to build or operate a pressure washer without meeting UL-1776 standards. However, if there is an accident involving a pressure washer that is not certified, there is very little defense. Even though there are several agencies that certify to UL-1776 standards, UL-1776 is the only current safety standard generally recognized in the pressure washer industry.

Q: What is in the UL-1776 standards?
A: The complete text of the standards is available from Underwriters Laboratories for a fee. A short summation covers the electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic features, plus many other aspects of building a pressure washer to ensure that it is safe to operate.