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Industrial Pressure Washer Buyers Guide

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Industrial Pressure Washer Guide

With the hundreds, even thousands, of pressure washers on the market today, we know it can be difficult to select the unit that best meets your needs. That’s why we at Alkota have put together this Buyer’s Guide.


This guide answers the questions about pressure washers that we most often field from our customers. If you have any additional questions about pressure washers or a specific unit, be sure to get in touch.



First of all, it’s important to understand what each of these acronyms means;

HP stands for horsepower

PSI for pounds per square inch

GPM for gallons per minute.


The HP of a pressure washer is divided up to produce both the pressure at which the water is released (PSI) and the number of gallons that are released (GPM). For example, a 2.3 HP motor can produce 2.1 GPM at 1600 PSI or it can produce 3.0 GPM at 1100 PSI. Cleaning power is a function of both volume and pressure.

When selecting a pressure, first determine the minimum PSI you need to break the bond between the dirt and surface you are cleaning. The examples below can help you.

Cars & vans - 1500+ PSI

Industrial applications - 1500+ PSI

Trucks, trailers, tractors, plant - 1800+ PSI

Decks, fences, siding - 2000+ PSI

Livestock shelters / sheds - 3000 PSI

Large surfaces such as driveways, patios - 3000 PSI

After selecting a pressure washer with at least that PSI level, look at the GPM rate. The higher the GPM, the faster your cleaning job will be. That’s because once you have the necessary pressure to remove the dirt and grime, the only way to make your job faster is to increase the rate at which water is released. 

You can lower the cleaning pressure capacity of a larger power washer simply by changing spray nozzles or using a variable pressure wand. You can not make a smaller washer bigger. Horsepower is horsepower; a 2.3 HP motor can not pump over its capacity. 

Always buy a unit big enough for your needs. Buying a unit that does not have adequate cleaning power will cost you extra clean up time and repairs in the future.

Hot vs Cold

Whether you should buy a hot or cold pressure washer depends on what you are cleaning and how fast you want to get the job done. Alkota pressure washer distributors and dealers can provide information on hot vs cold pressure washer systems and help decide which is right for your company.

Cold water pressure washers are a versatile and cost effective way to clean dirt and debris. Sand, mud, and paint stripping can all be done effectively with cold water pressure washers. At Alkota we build dependable electric and gas-powered cold water units in many sizes and configurations to meet your needs.

Hot water pressure washers are the answer if you need to clean grease, oil, and manure. Hot water will do a better job of breaking down the grime. Imagine cleaning your own hands or washing dishes when they are dirty – hot water is the answer. Also, whatever you might clean with cold water, hot water will do it faster.

Hot water units heat the water using a heat exchanger, and this component is complex. The heating coil should also be spiral wound with even spacing to prevent soot build up, which interferes with combustion. On Alkota pressure washers, the coil actually forms the combustion chamber so there is no troublesome insulation. The even coil spirals also allow adequate airflow, improving combustion and fuel efficiency.

Belt Drive or Direct Drive

The drive refers to how the pump is connected to the power source, such as a gasoline engine or an electric motor. Direct drive means that the pump is connected directly to that source, while a belt drive unit transfers energy from the power source to the pump along an intermediate belt.


Direct drive pumps are more compact and typically cost less than belt drive pumps. However, direct drive pumps are not as durable or as long-lasting as belt-driven ones. The connected power source and higher RPM generate heat, shortening the life of directly-driven pumps.


Excessive vibration, a problem with the direct drive, can also cause a shorter life. And with direct drive, any damage or stress on the power source also damages the pump. With belt drive, the pump is separated from the motor, protecting the pump from added stress and heat, extending the life of the unit. Belt drive pumps also generally operate at a lower RPM, causing less heat build-up which further protects the pump.



We all have budgets to work to but it's important to not compromise on safety. 


A number of features will make your pressure washing equipment safer and easier to operate:


A safety relief valve on hot water units. This valve should be mounted between the pump and the coil inlet, not on the coil outlet. Valves mounted on the outlet will spray dangerous hot water in an emergency.


Automatic shut-off switch turns the heat source off if it receives an insufficient flow of water.


Float tank/anti-siphon device protects water sources from contamination.


Trigger gun increases operator safety.


Thermostat regulates heat.

Portable or Stationary

This depends on your needs. If your dirt is confined to one room, a stationary unit might be best. However, if your stationary unit is permanently installed, service and repairs can be more expensive since the technician will need to travel to your location.


A portable unit is convenient, especially if you have multiple areas to clean. Pay close attention to the tires on a portable unit. Make sure they are well lubricated and roll easily. Also make certain the unit is not top heavy; a top heavy unit can be dangerous for an operator to transport

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If you will be using your pressure washing equipment for vehicle washing you may want to install a water softener depending on water conditions. It may enhance the performance of your machine.


For any pressure washer, you may want to purchase other accessories to get the most productivity out of your machine. For example, different brushes, nozzles, wands or chemicals can help meet the demands of your specific cleaning job.


Hose reels can also increase safety and extend the life of the hose.

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