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Types of Pressure Car Washers

Pressure cleaning machines are classified in many ways. Based on the temperature of their output, they can be either a cold water pressure washer, hot water pressure washer, or steam pressure washer. Similarly, based on the nature of the cleaning job, they are classified into commercial pressure washing machines and industrial pressure cleaning machines. Industrial systems offer higher pressure levels and flow rates for more demanding applications. The power method is yet another dividing factor for pressure cleaners. Today’s systems can be powered by gasoline, propane, diesel, or electricity.

It is not easy to select the best pressure washing machine. Each system is suitable for different applications. The following are a few tips about the specifications that could help select the best machines for various kinds of cleaning jobs.

There are three key specifications defining the power of a pressure cleaning machine: output pressure, output temperature, and flow rate.

Output Pressure

Output pressure level is the force at which water exits the machine. It is expressed in pounds per square inches (psi). Pressure level is perhaps the most important specification as it determines the overall power of the machine. The pressure level varies from model to model, normally between 500 psi and 8000 psi.

Higher pressure levels are suitable for demanding applications, like degreasing or cleaning of heavy machinery, while lighter commercial applications do not need such high levels. Pressure washing machines used for auto detailing also do not need very high pressure levels. The output pressure of such machines should be 1500 psi or less.

Output Temperature

One can classify pressure washing machines into three types based on the output temperature: cold water, hot water, and steam.

Cold water machines eject water at room temperature, that is, without heating the water. Cold water output is ideal for cleaning soft surfaces, namely surfaces that cannot withstand high temperatures, and lighter applications that do not require the additional power afforded by heat. Cold water is not effective for degreasing applications without the addition of a degreasing chemical or green degreaser.

Hot water machines can provide an output temperature of 210•°F. Hot water output has improved cleaning efficiency for difficult cleaning tasks, due to the increase in temperature. However, steam output offers the greatest cleaning power. High steam temperatures up to 330•°F enable the dissolving and rapid removal of the most stubborn residues and grease. Most industrial pressure washer machines utilize steam output.

The best systems on the market today provide all three types of outputs in a single machine. Pressure washing machines that provide all three outputs are called tri-mode machines.

Flow Rate

Flow rate indicates the amount of water that flows through the nozzle in a certain timeframe. It is expressed in gallons per minute (GPM). Flow rate varies from model to model. Flow rates as low as 0.5 GPM are ideal for mobile car wash and auto detailing and applications where drainage is limited, while higher flow rate of 8 GPM are ideal for heavy industrial degreasing applications. Higher flow rates do increase cleaning power, since larger amounts of water are being exerted onto a surface.