How to run a pressure washer for mobile detailing

Discussion in 'Car Detailing Product Discussion' started by dschia, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. dschia

    dschia Jedi Nuba

    Sorry if it is a noob question for some. What are the things i got to look out if i need to get a pressure washer for mobile detailing? Is it actually as simple as getting a diesel or petrol powered pressure washer and a water tank or is there some kit i need to take note to connect them together?
  2. HPIA4v2

    HPIA4v2 Birth of a Detailer

    For mobile operation 2 options for you:

    1) small generator(2000watts maybe) plus an electric pressure washer
    2) gas powered pressure washer

    Option 1 has the advantage that you can run your polisher/vacuum etc of it.

    In most cases get the pressure washer in the country you operate it so the garden hose connection is standard to local (no adapter requires).
    Most pressure washer don't like to operate sucking water from a tank. For optimal operation any pressure washer needs GPM/pressure from the source like good garden hose.
    I think it has to be 4-5GPM with about 50-75 PSI for the source in the US (I could be wrong)
  3. eShine

    eShine Guest

    If you want to run off a tank you need a belt driven model which are usually in the $1500 range to start. All direct drive pressure washers require pressure feed. If you will be using the customers water then you could use a direct drive pressure washer.
  4. dschia

    dschia Jedi Nuba

    I own a 2000watts generator and it is already struggling with my 1300w makita(trip occasionally), i don't think it can run even the lowest end 1300w karcher pressure washer considering it need a surge at the start.

    Came across this self powered washer, does it has the 'sucking' capability or is it direct drive? Currently, I am low in budget . :waiting2: Karcher 3,000 PSI 187 cc Gas-Powered Pressure Washer #G 3025 OH: Home Improvement
  5. dschia

    dschia Jedi Nuba

    O ya, one more thing, is there any water tank that has the capability to to release enough GPM or PSI for direct drive to work?
  6. eShine

    eShine Guest

    That is a direct drive and will not work with a tank. Belt drive units are usually larger and as mentioned start at $1500. Karcher used to make good pressure washers but it seems they have slacked on quality and their pumps suck. Don’t be lured into the whole Honda motor= good pressure washer, the motor is NOT the important factor. I have never had any brand name gas motor live shorter than 10 years. Heck Briggs and Stratton motors will go forever without changing the oil. The PUMP is what you want to look at. Stay away from pressure washers that do not spec out either an AR (Annovi Reverberi), CAT, GENERAL, or COMET pump. I just yesterday replaced my Briggs Pressure washer due to the pump failing. It had a FAIP pump in it which is a poor pump that most pressure washers use under $500. I replaced it with this pressure washer which uses a COMET pump. I used this washer today for three hours and it works great BE Power Washer - BE 3600 PSI Pressure Washer - BEEX-3613HWCOMZ - Home Depot Canada It is usually not economical to replace the pump so the briggs motor will end up in one of my kids go-carts.

    Many manufacturers are now using Honda engines but they are cheapo Honda GC engines that really do not represent the traditional Honda quality. If possible get a GX series Honda Motor.

    If you want to save money simply have a small electric low pressure pump on the tank that will pump at least 5GPM to the inlet of the pressure washer and you can avoid buying a belt driven unit.
  7. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    You have a couple of choices regarding your pressure washer. First off, what is your budget? If you don't have alot of cash, an electric Karcher or Honda powered gas unit from Home Depot etc will work fine. I have used both in my mobile unit without problems. The most important thing is to look for is the gallons per minute(GPM),not psi. The water is what does the cleaning so the more water you can move , the better. The psi just moves the water along. Most lower end units will run 2.0 - 2.5 gpm which is ok for doing cars. My current setup moves 4.0 gpm which I need because I do alot of SUVs. As far as water tanks vs hooking up at a clients. I would prefer to hook up so you have an unlimited amount of water available, but I work at golf courses sometimes where there is no water available and it freezes here in the winter so alot of clients turn their water off in the winter. I have a 100, soon to be 150 gallon water tank. You can run either the gas or electric off of the tank(the gas doesn't have to be a belt driven model) as long as the water tank outlet is minimum 6-8 inches above the inlet on your pressure washer. Without that 6-8 inches,your pump could prematurely fail becuse of starvation. Make sure you have a filter where the water comes out of the tank, you wouldn't believe the crap that comes out of your hose. As far as the generator goes, I have a Coleman Powermate 1850 and it runs my Vacuum(6amp) no problem. I haven't run my Makita (10amp) off of it. I have run my Makita off a Honda EU2000 without issue. The size of your water tank will be determined by what is carrying it more than anything. Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon.Hope this helps.
  8. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Chris has some very good points regarding the Honda motors vs pumps. I should have been more specific in my post for suggesting the Gas unit from Home Depot. I do disagree however with the statement that direct drive units will not work with a tank without a water pump on the tank. I have been using direct drives with a water tank for 12 years without issue. Just make sure the tank outlet is 6-8 inches above the p/washer inlet.
  9. eShine

    eShine Guest

    Most direct drive pumps require a min inlet PSI (usually around 20PSI). 6-8 inches even including a full tank pressure would barely give 5psi. Will it work without 20PSI, likely but you are at serious risk of cavitating the pump.
    Most manufacturers will have a maximum inlet temperature and minumum inlet pressure. I used to run a mobile siding cleaning business and we had very short lived pumps when using a direct drive unit on a gravity feed tank. This is when we switched to belt drive. Again, it will work but for how long is the unknown. We had some pressure washers that worked like a machine gun off a gravity feed, it would get worse and worse the emptier the tank would get.

    Taken from the holy grail of pressure washer info sites. Power Washer | Pressure Washer Advisor

    "Question: I want a pressure washer that will accept gravity flow from a large storage tank on my truck. All the pressure washers I have seen require about 20 psi at the inlet to operate. Is there a machine that will accept just gravity flow?

    Answer: Belt Drive vs Direct vs Gear Driven: The gasoline engines used for power washers all run at around 3450 RPM. In a
    Direct Drive power washer that pump is bolted to the engine shaft, so it spins at the same 3450 RPM. In a belt drive unit, the engine is tied to the pump through pulleys and a belt and the speed of the pump is reduced to either 1700 RPM or 1400 RPM. In a gear-driven machine, the engine delivers power to a transmission that in turn spins the pump at a reduced speed (1700 RPM).

    Direct drive power washers transfer the vibration of the engine directly to the pump as well.

    The faster pumps of direct-drive machines are spinning so fast that they cannot draw water from a tank or a lake very well. They tend to work fine when the water is forced into the machine (like when you hook it up to a hose from the house).

    The slower moving pumps (belt driven or gear driven) work less and wear less, so they tend to last many years longer. They will also pull water to the machine from a tank, so your power washer shouldn’t ever be starved for water (a problem that results in destroying the pump).

    Gear driven pumps still transmit the engine vibration to the pump because everything is hard-bolted together. However, the pump in a gear-driven model is running at a similar reduced speed to the belt- driven models. This kind of power washer has not become popular since it was introduced because there is obviously one more part to break in the system – the transmission.

  10. eShine

    eShine Guest

    Lastly PSI and GPM

    PSI: pounds per square inch.

    GPM: Gallons per minute

    When selecting a pump you want to look at both these specs. High PSI with Low GPM is useless and high GPM with low PSI is also useless. Picture this...

    High PSI/Low GPM: An extremely thin and small jet of water at high psi. Great for washing the tip of a thumbtack, may even tickle if you put your finger right over the jet but is useless.

    High GPM/Low PSI: Basically a garden hose...

    High GPM/High PSI: A shiatload of high pressure water.
  11. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Thanks so much for taking the time to post all the info, Chris. I do understand that the belt driven units, in the long run, for certain businesses are the way to go. They will last longer than a direct drive if for no other reason than the reduced wear due to lower operating rpm. I can only respond from my experiences and that for auto detailing, the combination of a quality motor and pump will give years of trouble free operation. I believe that the way that the equipment is installed also plays a big part in the longevity of the equipment, as does the competency of the operator. The company that builds my systems for me has a blank cheque when I buy new equipment and although we have discussed belt driven models, they have felt that for my application it wasn't necessary. I'm taking delivery of a new Kohler system as we speak because my old Honda/ General pump was done. It lasted just under 10 years. Not bad for a $1500 investment that I have run six days a week since new.
  12. eShine

    eShine Guest

    Let’s put it like this. If you decide to use a direct drive on a gravity feed first try the pressure washer on a garden hose so you are familiar with the performance in a proper environment. If the pressure washer is acting different when you swap to gravity feed make the necessary alterations to fix the problem. It can be as easy as a low buck low pressure pump between the tank and pressure washer inlet. Don't just cross your fingers and keep using it that way ;)
  13. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    Great advice. Where would you get the pump, how much and how is it powered?
  14. Denzil

    Denzil Guest

    Since we're on the topic of pressure washers and mobile detailing, how would you go about adding a CRSpotless to the equation?

    I think I remember the CR having a rather low GPM flow. Is it possible to run a pressure washer off of the CR or should I just be running a normal hose and nozzle off of the CR?

    I've actually been thinking of purchasing the Karcher and CR from Costco so that if anything should go wrong, I can always exchange it.
  15. Duratys

    Duratys Welcome to Detailing

    Run the CR between the tank and the washgun.
  16. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    My last as well as my next system will have a two filter(30 and 5 micron) system. The filters go inline BEFORE the tank. The only downside to this is that all your water will be filtered and you will be recharging your system all the time. I was thinking about two smaller tanks, one with filtered water for rinsing, one without.A simple in line on /off valve would let you feed the pwasher with the water you want. Just a thought.
  17. Denzil

    Denzil Guest

    I could do that if I was running on a tank but I'm currently running off of clients' water source. I guess my main concern was the GPM with my setup. It looks like it would work fine when it's attached to a water spigot AFAIK but I guess I just need some reassurance before I pull the trigger, hehe. :giggle:
  18. 911Fanatic

    911Fanatic DB Pro Supporter

    If you are running off the clients water source you should be fine. Wash the car with the hose hooked up to the pressure washer and when you are ready to do your final rinse, hook the hose up to to CR unit and your Pwasher to the other side of the CR unit. You will just need a short piece of hose to connect the CR unit to your Pwasher.
  19. dschia

    dschia Jedi Nuba

    Forgive my noobnest, but what is a CR?

    Thanks for all the constructive inputs!
  20. Duratys

    Duratys Welcome to Detailing

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