What Size Generator Do I Need To Run A Pressure Washer?

Last Updated on May 25, 2023 by Rod Olivares

a mobile detailer washing car using pressure washer and generator

For detailers, a pressure washer is vital. Yet, consistent, reliable power is even more crucial. But what’s the ideal generator size for running your pressure washer efficiently?

You must take the power needs of the pressure washer when choosing the right size generator to operate. Typically, a generator that can support a pressure washer’s starting and running watts will be between 1,200 and 3,000 watts (or higher).

Read on to learn about the essential factors to consider and the reliable generator size to run a pressure washer in mobile detailing.

What Are The Power Requirements Of Pressure Washers

One of the most important things to consider is the pressure washer’s power requirements. It shows how much power the pressure washer needs to function well. Not all generators can support all models of pressure washers. Different models vary in how much power they need to operate.

The power requirements are typically in watts (W) or horsepower (HP). Using the conversion factor of 1 HP = 746 watts, you may convert a power rating specified in HP to watts.

Startup Power Requirements

A pressure washer often demands a more significant power surge during starting than during regular operation. This surge is a must to speed up the engine and pump.

Considering this beginning power ensures the generator can manage the first load. Look for specs that include the beginning power, often known as the “peak voltage” or “maximum” power.

Safety Margin

A safety margin helps prevent generator overload and account for any power fluctuations. Choose a generator more extensive than what the pressure washer needs regarding power. This margin offers an additional buffer for reliable operation and guarantees that the generator can meet unforeseen power needs.

Continuous Power Output

Generators may provide a variety of continuous power output ratings, which describe how much power they can continuously deliver over time. Ensure that the generator’s running watts meet or exceed your pressure washer’s power needs.

Factors To Consider When Determining Generator Size To Run Pressure Washers

Choose a generator with enough power and reliable energy to operate your electric pressure washer in your detailing business. To choose the right generator size for your particular washer, take these things into account:

A young car detailer using a pressure washer to clean a car on sunny afternoon

Pressure Washer Power Ratings

A pressure washer’s PSI indicates its force or maximum pressure. Consider purchasing a mobile pressure washer with a 1,800 Watt power rating. This figure indicates how much electricity the appliance uses while operating at total capacity.

Some manufacturers specify the current input rather than the watts of their pressure washers on the box. It may be in ‘X’ Amps, providing information on the device’s current needs.

How many watts, for instance, does a pressure washer with a 2000 PSI need? For several manufacturers, a 2,000 PSI pressure washer will consume between 1,400 and 1,500 watts per hour. So, before deciding which kind is ideal for your pressure washer, we advise double-checking its power rating.

Length Of Use

You must estimate how long the cleaning operation will take you to complete. If you do it this way, you will have a better idea of the run duration and how long the generator will take to burn through the fuel in its tank. Pick a model that is long-lasting and fuel efficient.

Quality Construction – Longevity

You must get a generator type with a robust protective framework to ensure long-lasting use. Choosing generators of sturdy materials, secure framing, and a dependable brand name is the way to go.

For better purchase, look for additional safety features like circuit breakers, a fuel gauge, and low oil shutdown switches.

Additional Power Needs

Consider any additional power requirements that you might connect to the generator simultaneously. Consider the power needs of all the equipment you want to use in addition to the pressure washer, for instance, polishers, a vacuum cleaner, and air compressors.

Select a generator that can effectively manage the whole load after calculating the cumulative power required.

Future Expansion or Upgrade

Choosing a generator with a bigger capacity is advisable if you want to extend your pressure washing system in the future or upgrade to a more powerful pressure washer. Doing this lets you update your equipment without buying a new generator.

The Best Generator Size To Run A Pressure Washer

As previously mentioned, it is best to consider the power needs of the pressure washer before choosing the right size generator. Calculating the specific size and choosing the best generator for mobile detailing involves three steps.

  1. Make a list of every appliance that will need powering.
  2. Determine the starting and finishing watts for every piece of equipment on the list.
  3. Add up the total watts you will need.

After determining the starting power needs and power rating, you may choose a generator with an output capacity equal to or higher than these figures.

Power ratings for a pressure washer used in homes or small businesses typically range from 1,200 watts (1.2 kW) to 3,000 watts (3 kW). These electric pressure washers are appropriate for cleaning jobs like washing automobiles, driveways, decks, or small outside surfaces.

A generator with an output of at least 3,000 watts or more should be enough for these pressure washers. This generator permits the starting spike and offers a margin of safety. A generator with a little more wattage rating is preferable to guarantee the best performance.

The power needs for heavy-duty or industrial pressure washers may be much more significant. These versions may be as powerful as 10,000 watts (10 kW) or more, ranging from 3,000 watts (3 kW). A generator with a larger wattage capacity is required if you’re utilizing a full professional-grade pressure washer.

Finding a dependable generator that meets your unique demands is crucial, given the range of alternatives on the market, including an inverter generator, portable, and conventional generators.

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are becoming increasingly common because of their silent operation, high fuel economy, and clean power production. The best inverter generators use cutting-edge technology to provide reliable energy, which makes them perfect for delicate power tools. When using an inverter generator to power a pressure washer, ensure the energy output is at least as high as what the pressure washer needs in watts.

Portable Generators

Portable generators provide flexibility and simplicity for on-the-go or mobile detailing applications. A portable generator converts the chemical energy in the fuel you put in its engine into mechanical energy to operate your pressure washer. Consider features like runtime and portability when searching for a portable generator with a wattage rating that matches or surpasses the power needs of your pressure washer.

Conventional Generators

A dependable and affordable alternative for powering your pressure washer is conventional generators, commonly called a traditional generator. Conventional generators are suited for heavy-duty applications, even though they may be more prominent and louder. There are many electric pressure washers that can operate well on a standard generator.

Diesel Generators

These generators are a viable option if you want a generator that burns diesel fuel. These generators are suited for long-duration operations because of their extended lifespan and high fuel economy. They are available in various sizes, so you may select the one that best suits your pressure washer’s needs.

Can You Run A Pressure Washer On An Inverter?

First and foremost, a pressure washer often needs a sizable quantity of electricity to function correctly. They often feature high-wattage motors that need a lot of electrical energy to run, particularly when starting. It is crucial to check that the inverter can provide power to the pressure washer.

The maximum energy output of a power inverter should be more than the maximum power consumption of a pressure washer. So long as no other devices are using electricity, a 2000-watt inverter may power a machine requiring 1,800 watts.

On the other hand, you must consider the inverter’s capacity carefully. Different power ratings for inverters are available, commonly represented in watts. Compare the inverter’s capacity to the pressure washer’s power needs to see if it can operate the pressure washer.

For powering delicate electrical gadgets, pure sine wave inverters are often advisable. These inverters provide a constant, clean electric output that is comparable to the energy provided by the grid.

Consider the battery’s capacity and ability to withstand the power demand if you want to power a pressure washer with an inverter and a battery. The high current requirements may rapidly deplete the battery of a pressure washer. Ensure that the battery has enough capacity to handle the needed power and the anticipated operating time.

Consider safety concerns while using a pressure washer on an inverter. Utilize cables and connections of the proper size to reduce voltage drop and guarantee a steady power supply. Likewise, be mindful of any limits or limitations put forward by the pressure washer’s producer regarding the use of inverters.

Safety Precautions When Operating Generators and Pressure Washers

These powerful devices may speed up and simplify your job, but if misused can present a significant danger to you and others around you. If you’re at a customer’s house, make sure you let them know not to let kids or their pets outside while you work and run the pressure washer and generator.

Read the manuals

Read and comprehend the manufacturer’s handbook before using any generator or pressure washer. These guides provide essential guidance on safe operation, upkeep, and troubleshooting. Learn the individual features and controls and advise safety procedures described in the manuals.

Placement and ventilation

Keep the generator or pressure washer away from flammable objects like gasoline or other fuels and in a well-ventilated place. Ensure enough ventilation to avoid the accumulation of hazardous exhaust gases. Furthermore, keep washers away from moist surfaces, a water tank, and electrical risks.

Follow correct start-up and shutdown procedures

For starting and shutting down the generator or pressure washer, do it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Start the engine, adjust the choke and throttle, and give the machine time to warm up or cool down as needed. These stages should be timely as they may result in mechanical problems or accidents.

Proper fuel handling

Use caution while handling fuel to avoid mishaps and fires. Before refilling, turn off the generator or pressure washer and let it cool. Refrain from overfilling the gasoline tank since this may result in leaks or spills due to fuel expansion. Always adhere to appropriate fuel handling and storage regulations—store gasoline in certified containers far from potential ignition sources.

Always practice electrical safety

Ensure the generator or pressure washer is off before attaching or removing electrical cables. Utilize electrical connections that are adequately grounded and extension cables designed for outdoor usage. Check the cables for wear or damage, and replace them if required.

Wear personal protective equipment

Wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety goggles and gloves, while using a pressure washer. PPE offers protection from possible dangers such as chemicals and hazardous materials.

Never point pressure wand at anyone

Always direct the wand downward. The force from a pressure washer may harm the skin (even tissues). Refrain from playing with a pressure washer like a squirt gun.

Do regular maintenance

Replace worn-out components as necessary, clean the filters, and check the fuel and oil levels—schedule maintenance following the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid failures and maximize performance.

Secure all your tools

In winter, remove all fuel from the engine before storing it inside or in a cellar. If you plan to store your pressure washer for over three months in cold conditions, protect your water pumps using a pump saver.

Keep kids and pets away

Keep kids and pets a safe distance away from a pressure washer and generators that are in use. These devices may seriously injure users because of their moving elements, high-pressure water streams, and scorching surfaces.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the proper generator size to power a pressure washer is essential for optimum performance and efficiency.

If you’re a mobile detailer considering buying a generator, consider the generator’s quality, mobility, and ease. Consider popular generator manufacturers that are well-known for their dependability, toughness, and customer service.

Always choose the correct generator size to guarantee that your pressure washer performs at its best and produces good cleaning results.

Take the time to evaluate your power requirements, consider the above mentioned factors, and then come to a well-informed selection that will enable you to confidently handle any mobile detailing work.

GeneratorGrid.com is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me purchase more generators for testing. - Scott Krager

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