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Through my business, I've owned probably a dozen high-pressure washers over the years. Way back when, we had Karcher electric washers; they were good but had a maximum pressure of 2000psi, which for some of our jobs just wasn't powerful enough. About five years ago, we bought four gas-powered Simpson PS3228S washers and they've been fantastic. They have great Honda engines that have been utterly reliable. The only problems have been caused by our crew knocking things off or wrecking gas tanks (not that difficult when they're dropped off the back of a pick-up).
I've been using one from time to time around the house, but you have to think of your neighbors when operating a gas-powered pressure washer, as they are noisy. We recently bought an RV and take that away with a trailer-load of toys. My boys both have a motocross bike each, and man they get dirty. So, I went out onto the market for a small lightweight unit that we can easily take with us and that I can use to clean around the house too.
We tested most competitors to the Sun Joe SPX3000, and you can read more about them below. To be honest, the Sun Joe wasn't our first choice (the name, for a start, didn't offer a lot of confidence), but it was the only pressure washer to back themselves with a two-year warranty. Price was right at $139, and it was ahead of the others at 1.76gpm (head down further where I explain what GPM is and why it's so critical in your decision to buy a pressure cleaner).
There's quite a range of these little portable electric pressure washers out there now that weren't there 15 years ago. Those were the days that when, if a manufacturer like Karcher said they were made in Germany, they were. Now they're made in Mexico. Most of the others are made in China. No big deal about that, as they are now so cheap. Really cheap compared to where they were all those years back. But, I can tell you, units like the Karcher are now lacking a lot of quality compared to what they did. What used to be brass fittings are now breakable plastic. And the pressure? It used to be 2000psi on their top models, now it honestly feels like half of that.
Portable electric pressure washers down this end of the range sell from $79 to about $180.
I tested one, the Greenworks GPR1501, at a price of $78. It claimed to have 1500 psi (that's pounds per square inch by the way). Perhaps it did but quite honestly I know my garden hose has a better effect on cleaning.
I should explain here the benefit of a high-pressure water cleaner over your garden hose. Your garden hose will likely shoot water out at 60psi. These days, the lowest pressure a lightweight electric unit will shoot out is, like the above Greenworks, 1500psi. So straight away you'd be saying, wow, that's 25 times the pressure of my garden hose, I'll hardly be able to hold onto that.
Well, there's another equation to all of this. The Greenworks GPW1501, as quoted above, throws out 1.2 gallons per minute. So, that's your flow rate. Your garden hose will have water flowing at the rate of 24 gallons per minute.
So, what the Greenworks makes up in pressure it loses badly in flow rate, therefore that's why they can be (and generally are) a big disappointment when you take them out of the box.
The really great thing though about any pressure washer in comparison to a garden hose, is if, for example, you're cleaning your house, the pressure washer makes very little mess, whereas the garden hose will leave massive pools of water everywhere.
But if you get an underpowered one like the Greenworks, you're going to regret it because it's going to take you a few days to wash your house down.
Another popular brand we tested was the AR Blue Clean AR383. Nice price at $120, it has 1900psi but only 1.5gpm. Same with the new on the market, Briggs & Stratton (known more for gas than electric) at $150, but once again nice psi at 1800 but a fall down in gpm at only 1.2.
The only one I found quite impressive was a new model the PowRyte which came with 2100psi and 1.8gpm and only $160. But I just couldn't find enough material on the net about it, and that worried me about any servicing and warranty issues we may have.
So we settled on the Sun Joe SPX3000 about six months ago now. The price was great at $139. It has 2030psi at 1.76 gpm and a stack of good built-in features that I'll go into later. First let's go through the problems I've had with it.
Overall, I don't really think these issues rate as serious problems. They're fixable. It's just a bit of a shame that Sun Joe couldn't offer a brass coupling straight out of the box, but I guess at that price, these smaller lightweight high-pressure cleaners realistically can't do that.
I do find it odd that they've got the garden hose fitting at the front and the pressure hose at the back, but having a look around, most are like this. I guess I'm just used to our big gas-powered Simpson, but that's not comparing apples with apples.
We did give all the units a reasonable test, and the Sun Joe just came out head and shoulders above the others. To be honest, I wanted it to be the Greenworks because it's such a good-looking power washer, but it was a lot heavier and the pressure just wasn't there in comparison to the Sun Joe.
Before deciding on the Sun Joe, we tested a number of competitors within the same price range.
Q: How much assembly is required? It's a matter of screwing on a couple of attachments. 5-10 minutes tops.
Q: What sort of soap is best to run through the Sun Joe? For general cleaning, I've been using Simple Green. Works well and it's economical.
Q: Is the pressure sufficient for cleaning mildew off decking? It takes a while to do a large area, but with the 25° nozzle, you'll do in in 5" strips.
Q: What makes the Sun Joe SPX3000 better than the AR Blue Clean? My brother-in-law owned a Blue Clean. It overheated very easily and quit quickly. The Sun Joe is much quieter and feels more durable.
Q: Can I get an extension to the wand so I can reach higher without using a ladder? From Amazon, you can buy a telescopic wand, 6' to 24' in length. (General Pump - Model #DLTG24)
Q: Can you adjust the pressure? No. It's one speed, but you can change the nozzles which will change the pressure through the different sized nozzles.
Q: Is it top heavy? No, it's very stable.
Q: How long can you use the SPX3000 in a single stretch? I've got a long driveway. I use it for several hours with no problems at all.
Q: Do you have to use detergent? Not at all. It's a very efficient cleaner with or without detergent.
Q: Can you get a rotary cleaning tip? Not sure, but I've used rotary cleaning nozzles in the past and they're just a gimmick. No better than an ordinary nozzle.
Q: Can you use hot water through it? Up to 40°C - 100°F
Q: Is the high pressure hose rubber or plastic? Rubber.
Q: Can it be used to clean a car? Absolutely. That's one reason I bought it. Great if you've been near mud or sea salt as you can blow all that off underneath the car and fenders.
Q: Will it take weeds out in cracks on my driveway? Yes, but it may take a couple of passes.
Q: Do I need to buy a special garden hose for it? No, any ordinary garden hose is fine. Make sure though that you've got really good, tight fittings.
Q: Can you get an extension high pressure hose? Sun Joe make a 25' extension hose. Available on Amazon.
© 2017 Jerry Fisher
Jerry Fisher (author) from Wellington on March 25, 2018:
Hi John - You could use any branded extension hose with the correct thread and the stop system will still work.
John on March 25, 2018:
Do you have to use a Sun Joe branded extension hose (for the Total Stop system to work), or will other branded hoses with the right thread size work?
Jerry Fisher (author) from Wellington on September 20, 2017:
Good point Art.
Art on September 20, 2017:
Note: the max temperature spec you give, 40 , is in Centigrade, this is equal to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.