What is PSI?
The PSI of a power washer is a unit that measures pressure. This abbreviation comes from ‘Pounds Per Square Inch’ and it indicates how much pressure, in pounds, is applied to a surface measuring 1 square inch. The PSI is used to describe how powerful a pressure washer is or to indicate how much pressure a power washer part, such as a high-pressure hose, can withstand.
The PSI value that manufacturers use to describe a power washer is the maximum pressure rate of the unit. This means that if a unit is described to have 3200 PSI, for example, it can usually generate pressure levels below that value. Many power washers come with adjustable pressure settings, which means that the operator can change the PSI according to their needs.
The Tasks that the Pressure Washer Is Used For
Not all cleaning tasks are the same and the pressure needed for power washing cars, for example, is not the same as the one needed to pressure wash concrete driveways. An operator might be needing a power washer for various types of cleaning jobs which could include all categories below. In this case, the maximum PSI of the unit should be considered because most units allow pressure control, and the maximum rate can be diminished according to the job.
Pressure washer cleaning jobs are categorized as follows:
Light-Duty Pressure Washing Tasks
Performing light-duty cleaning tasks using a pressure washer requires a maxim pressure rate of around 1500-1900 PSI. These tasks include easy cleanings around the house, such as pressure washing fences, outdoor furniture, sidewalks, or cars.
Medium-Duty Pressure Washing Tasks
Medium-duty pressure washing tasks include cleaning fences, decks, patios, stairs, walkways, and garage floors. The maximum pressure rate needed for these cleaning jobs is between 2000 PSI and 2800 PSI. for residential cleaning, a unit that can offer as much as 2800 PSI is ideal because, most of the time, residential use involves medium-duty cleaning tasks.
Heavy-Duty Pressure Washing Tasks
Heavy-duty power washing tasks require maximum pressure rates between 2900 PSI and 3300 PSI. These tasks are usually performed by professionals, but residential users can also perform them with caution and while paying attention to the required safety measures. Heavy-duty cleaning jobs include paint preparation, driveway cleaning, or pressure washing the second floor of a building’s walls. Everything above 3300 PSI is considered extra heavy-duty and involves pressure washing grease stains, farms, and industrial sites.
Commercial Pressure Washing Tasks
The commercial power washing tasks include the categories mentioned above with the exception that these tasks are performed on a daily basis and for prolonged periods. This type of task requires the use of power washers that are more solid than the ones designed for residential use. The maximum PSI needed for performing commercial pressure washing is higher because such a unit is used for multiple types of jobs. The maximum PSI of a commercial pressure washer is usually above 3000 PSI.
Pressure Washer Types and Their PSI Ratings
The pressure washer type makes a difference when determining the ideal PSI for a cleaning unit. Gas pressure washers are unusually more powerful but might not be suited for certain types of cleaning tasks. The pressure washer types and their maximum pressure rates are detailed below.
Electric Pressure Washer PSI
Electric pressure washers come with different maximum pressure rates but don’t go above 3000-3300 PSI. The power washer electric motors are not designed to generate more power, this is why electric pressure washers are usually used for residential cleaning jobs and not for commercial or industrial cleaning tasks. The prices of such power washers are usually lower than for other types because of this.
Gas Pressure Washer PSI
Gas power washers are equipped with engines that can easily deliver above 3300 PSI and can go up to 10,000 PSI. Gas-powered engines are more powerful than electric motors but there are gas pressure washers that deliver maximum pressure rates below 3300 PSI, depending on their construction and purpose. These types of engines are used for residential, commercial, and industrial cleaning units.
Gas pressure washers are not recommended for light-duty cleaning jobs because most of them have a minimum pressure rate of around 2000 PSI, which is too high for this cleaning category.
Hot Water Pressure Washer PSI
Hot water pressure washers are designed to combine high pressure and high water temperatures in order to provide deep cleaning. These units are designed for industrial use, grease cleaning, and farm cleaning, among others because they also sanitize the area. The maximum pressure rates of hot water pressure washers start from 1100 PSI go up to 7000 PSI. The ones in the first category are suited for tasks such as power washing vinyl siding.
Battery Pressure Washer PSI
The maximum pressure rates of battery-powered pressure washers are around 1500 PSI. These portable power washers are not designed for heavy-duty cleaning and their batteries can only handle a certain amount of power when it comes to the pressure washer motors. These types of units are ideal for pressure washing areas that do not have an electric power source in close proximity and do not require high PSI rates.
How Often is the Pressure Washer Used?
The best pressure rate for a power washer is also determined by how often the operator intends to use the cleaning machine. This is more related to the fact that commercial pressure washers are more often used every day and for prolonged periods, and most of them are equipped with gas-powered engines rather than electric motors. As a result, their minimum PSI rates are usually higher than the ones of electric models. So if a cleaning unit is used every day for a medium-duty task, for example, that requires a maximum pressure rate of 2200 PSI, a power washer for professional use is highly recommended.