What is the right power for a pressure washer?

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This is a fundamental question that we ask ourselves when we want to acquire a high-pressure cleaner: what power to choose?

Indeed, there are several types of high-pressure cleaners, and power is often an essential criterion to differentiate them.

Too little power may not be enough, while too much force may not suit what you want to clean.

Moreover, when we talk about general power, we must not only look at the power of the engine: other factors, such as flow or pressure, also come into play.

Here are some pointers to help you find your way around.

Engine power

To understand what engine power means, you must first have in mind how a pressure washer works.

First, the water comes into the device via a connection (usually a garden hose).

Then the motor of the device drives a piston pump which compresses the liquid before projecting it.

Thus, a more powerful motor will throw the water at a higher speed.

The power of the motorization can be indicated in amperes (A), but most of the time, it is expressed in watts.

Below 1400 W

This power range can be found in entry-level pressure washers.

These models are to be reserved for the lightest cleaning work.

From 1400 to 1800 W

In this power range, the high-pressure cleaner will be intended for occasional use, for work requiring little power, such as cleaning a small area (a balcony, for example), garden furniture , or small objects like a bicycle.

From 1800 to 2100 W

This is the most common category, intended for regular use.

This power range makes it possible in particular to clean your car and your terrace.

Beyond 2100W

We reach a level of intensive or professional, even industrial use.

It is this power that you will need in particular to clean tougher exterior surfaces, such as a facade or a roof for example.

The most high-end models can even go up to 4000 W.


Close up Outdoor floor cleaning with high pressure water jet

The pressure of the water supplied by the device is inseparable from the power of the motor.

It is most commonly quoted in bars, and sometimes in PSI.

This criterion indicates the force of the jet, and its ability to remove dirt.

Under 120 bars

High pressure cleaners are rarely found that offer a pressure below 120 bars.

It must be said, if the models below this pressure can clean, we cannot really speak of “high pressure”.

This is still higher than the pressure provided by a garden hose, but a pressure under 120 bars is to be reserved for the least demanding tasks, or for cleaning lightly soiled places or objects.

From 120 to 140 bars

This pressure is suitable for occasional use.

It will be suitable for most cleaning tasks and provides an effective result by removing stubborn dirt.

It is the right pressure to clean your car or your garden furniture, or even traces in the tile joints.

More than 140 bars

We arrive there in the big works.

A pressure of more than 140 bars coupled with a high power motor is really strong: it is not suitable for all surfaces.

The maximum pressure can reach 250 bars on the most efficient models.

Water flow

woman cleaning dirty waill with high pressure water jet

This criterion indicates how much water is projected during spraying, and is expressed in liters per hour.

Here, we are more in the field of efficiency in terms of cleanliness.

Indeed, a higher flow rate will better remove stains, but also better rinse.

Less than 400 l/h

This flow rate is suitable for small objects or small surfaces, such as a motorcycle for example.

400 to 600 l/h

This is a range well suited to most cleanings.

It will therefore be an ideal flow rate for cleaning a car, but also the roof, the garden path, the terrace, etc.

More than 600 l/h

This flow rate is reserved for work that requires large quantities of water for the result to be effective, such as cleaning a wall, for example.

Power is not everything

The combination of all the above criteria gives you a good idea of ​​the performance of the device, which is a major criterion when you want to compare different models of pressure washers.

However, work efficiency is not due to power alone.

The products used

If, instead of simply filling your tank with cold water, you use a cleaning product such as a detergent, or even sand (via a sandblasting kit), the performance will be much better.

The type of pressure washer

The type of a pressure washer plays a significant role in its effectiveness.

For example, a hot water cleaner will tend to clean better than one using cold water.

Accessories The accessories

should not be neglected either.

For example, using a rotating nozzle (also called a rotary nozzle) can greatly increase the pressure, for the most aggressive jobs.

Conversely, if you are using a rotating brush, the jet will only be used to spin the bristles of the brush, and in this case the power is secondary.


With pressure washers, it’s not always “who can do more can do less”!

Although most models offer adjustable power, the question is whether the loudest setting and the weakest setting suit your needs.

It would still be a shame to end up with an expensive and ultra-powerful device if you can’t adjust its power when you want to use it for less demanding jobs.

Thus, the adaptability of the device is an important criterion to consider: a versatile device, which offers many intensity settings, will be much more useful to you if you want to accomplish a wide variety of tasks.

The consequences of high performance

Man spraying water from high pressure washer to wash a car at car care shop

What is the ideal model of pressure washer?

This is not necessarily the most efficient, but the one that will best meet your needs.

Indeed, the performance of a pressure washer has an impact on several other characteristics, which must be taken into account when purchasing:

The price

Unsurprisingly, a high-performance pressure washer will often be more expensive.

If you want a powerful model, be prepared to adjust your budget accordingly.

Energy consumption

We note that thermal pressure washers are usually more efficient than electric high-pressure cleaners.

So, if you opt for a model of this type, you will need to plan for its fuel supply.

On the other hand, in raw data, the more powerful a pressure washer is, the more energy it consumes.

That said, this last statement is to be moderated, as a more efficient pressure washer will get the job done faster… and therefore may, in some cases, be more cost effective!

Ease of use

You should know that handling a high-powered high-pressure cleaner can be a bit tricky.

It is therefore also necessary to ensure that if you choose a powerful model, it also offers good handling, for your comfort, but also for your safety.


Generally, the more powerful a pressure washer is, the bulkier it is.

If the lack of space is a concern for you, then it is not only the power but the size/power ratio that you will have to consider.

For example, a device like the Bosch Easy Aquatak 1700 by offering a relatively modest power but by being much more compact than other models of equivalent performance.

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