Pressure Washers vs Power Washers: Comparing Uses & Prices

Researched & Written by Craig

A pressure washer offers you powerful jets of water that deep clean effectively.

But wait… is that a pressure washer or a power washer?

Is there even a difference?

Don’t worry, the answers you’ve been looking for are all in this article.

A pressure washer vs a power washer is a similar comparison, so it’s easy to get confused. They both use high-pressure water, but a power washer uses hot water and a pressure washer doesn’t.

The table below shows where you should consider using either of these washers:

Pressure WasherPower Washer
Best for household cleaningGreat for commercial use
Can be gentler on softer surfacesThe heat can harm soft surfaces
The cooler water takes longer for tough stainsWorks great for extremely tough stains
A fantastic choice for surfaces at homes like patios, walkways, and decksWell suited for cleaning greasy grills and driveways

While those are the main differences, there’s a lot more to it.

Read on for full details about power vs pressure washer differences, costs, and best uses.

I mention power and pressure washers a lot in this article. I find the easiest way to tell the difference is to think of ‘Power’ meaning ‘Heating Power’. ‘Pressure’ is just your standard pressure washer.

Differences Between Pressure & Power Washers

Heat makes a big difference when it comes to cleaning stains. If you’ve ever been stuck trying to clean dishes with cold water, you know exactly what I mean. Heat works well at stripping oil and grime away, and that’s what makes a power washer so effective.

While power washers have tanks to store the hot water, they all operate the same. If you know how to use one, you’ll have no trouble using others.

What Tasks Are Pressure & Power Washers Best At?

It might seem like the hot water should make power washers a clear winner. After all, that hot water makes cleaning so much easier. However, while it comes with plenty of advantages, there are some things that heat stops a washer from being able to do.

Some of the tasks where a power washer falls short:

  • Cleaning furniture or items that are relatively soft. This includes plastic in children’s toys or outdoor chairs and tables. The heat from a power washer can deform plastic.
  • Cleaning glass in colder months. Glass is generally fragile so you want to be careful with the pressure applied from the nozzle. One thing to avoid is using heat to clean glass when it’s cold out. It might seem like the perfect way to clean off snow and ice, but the temperature difference can shatter your windscreen!
  • Certain painted surfaces are best cleaned with a pressure washer. They may peel or crack away under the assault of a power washer.

Here are some of the ways that a power washer is worth the money:

  • It works great for cleaning greasy kitchen appliances such as grills. Driveways with oil stains and greasy car parts will also be easy to clean with hot water.
  • Walkways, decks, and other surfaces with mildew, algae, or mold. These are all living organisms that stain surfaces. By washing with hot water jets, you not only remove their stains, but you kill them too. This makes it less likely for these stains to grow back.
  • It can clean dried gum off better than cold water can.
  • It works very well for industrial or commercial settings. This is because the hot water will clean faster than cold water. That’s less time spent in such large settings.

What Are The Costs for Pressure Washers vs Power Washers?

Thanks to the heating element in power washers, they tend to cost more than pressure washers on average. It’s not surprising, with the water tank and extra parts that a power washer requires. It’s also built to withstand the hot water that will flow through it.

Power washers typically cost most than pressure washers

All of this results in a higher price tag. A power washer will typically cost hundreds and sometimes even thousands more than a similar cold-water model. This is another reason why commercial use is best for power washers. The price tag is tough to justify for residential use in many cases.

Pressure Washer vs Power Washer for Different Tasks

These two machines each have their strong points. Here are some tasks you’re likely going to use either of these for, and which one is best for each.

Grills and Kitchen Appliances

Oil and grease are the main villains here. Cold water pressure washers give you the chance to mix in detergent with your water jet. This gives some advantage when tackling oil. Power washers will cut through thick grease much easier. If the appliance is covered in grease and grime, choose a power washer.

Power wash heat is fantastic for cleaning greasy surfaces

Car Engines

After years of driving, your engine may be very dirty. To make cleaning it as easy as possible, a power washer is the best choice here. Don’t worry, an engine can handle the heat just fine.

Windshields

Windshields are unlikely to get dirty enough to warrant a power wash. A normal pressure wash will suffice, and is much safer when it gets cold outside.

Car Body

A pressure wash is the cost-effective option for the body of a car. A power wash will work fine too, but that extra cleaning force is typically not needed.

Tires and Rims

When cleaning tires, you want to be very careful with the pressure you use. Your tires can be damaged if you don’t take care! A pressure washer is best for this. When it comes to rims, you should be careful. Painted rims can have their paint peeled with too much pressure, and more likely with a power washer.

Walkways and Driveways

You can clean the regular surfaces outside your home with a pressure washer. The force is enough to get rid of anything that might stain these. Only in certain cases would a power washer provide an advantage. For instance, with grease-stained driveways, or when you want to blast algae off and kill it in the process.

Conclusion

Defeating tough stains is much easier with a pressure washer. This is why pressure washers and power washers can be such helpful tools.

If you’ve found yourself stuck not knowing which option you might need, hopefully this has answered all your questions. The major difference between them is the heat that a power washer has. This allows for better cleaning of oils and algae, but it comes with a higher price.

Thank you for taking your time to read through this article! If you learned something, then take a look through the related articles below!