The Kärcher K 4 Premium Full Control Pressure washer is from its K4 ‘the little one’ series for use around the average home. It cleaned 10-years of baked-on gunk in seconds – impressive.
Of course, you could look at the more expensive K 5 or K 7 series, but these are for really in-grained dirty homes, and you don’t want to admit that – do you? I fact, I own an older K 5 already, so I have a great benchmark.
The ‘Premium Full Control’ identifies the accessories that come with it. In this case, it includes an onboard pressure hose reel, 9m hose, Vario Power Jet, Dirt blaster, wheels and telescopic carry handle, and a High-Pressure gun with an LED display showing pressure. All you need is to add an HPM Electresafe Power Centre (earth leakage detector) and a decent outdoor-rated extension power cable.
Optional accessories include
Tip: You may benefit from the .4m single lance extension or the 1.2-3.7m telescopic spray lance to do ceilings and high walls.
Kärcher Yellow – and relatively compact. It is a very tidy unit with onboard pressure hose and spray lance storage. It also has an accessory compartment. All this in a 13.3kg device on wheels with a telescopic handle (that is a little too short for me).
This may be the baby, but it is 2100 psi and seven litres per minute (more later on its eco-friendly credentials). It is IP X5 rated – water is not an issue but don’t pressure wash it.
Idiot proof. Connect to a garden tap (or an unpressurised water tank reservoir), plug in power, choose the right lance, and pull the handle trigger.
The right lance depends on cutting power versus cleaning power. The Vario head is best for most work – cleaning paths, cars, bikes etc. The dirt blaster can remove ground-in dirt and even paint. It is a lot more precise.
Plus, you can adjust the pressure on the handle from full (stone, paving), medium (cars and bikes), soft (wood and rattan) and mix (detergent). It has 2 x AAA batteries to run the indicator that will last years.
You will find the 9-metre water hose great, but it is fairly rigid, and you need to look after it to avoid twisting. Carefully roll it back on the storage wheel.
It uses 1900W under full load, so it should not be on a circuit with any other heavy load device. At typical electricity rates, it will cost 60-70 cents per hour.
Dangerous – no, but we do recommend an earth leakage device and a proper outdoor power cable.
While the dirt blaster water jet is enough to remove paint, if you spray your foot (and you should not have bare feet anyway), at worst, there is a mild stinging sensation. It is safe around kids with supervision.
The maximum water flow is 7 litres per minute. Sydney water provides a minimum of 18 litres per minute, with some suburbs at double that rate. So, while it provides cleaning pressure, it uses water sparingly.
It is also a detergent miser at 300ml a minute (diluted) – make sure you use that setting sparingly.
We tested with both the Karcher K 5 that has 2300psi and 8 litres per minute versus the K 4 at 2100psi/7 litres per minute. In either case, the clean was identical removing mould and in-grained dirt. We timed a 10m2 wall area, and the K5 was slightly faster at 15 minutes versus 20 minutes.
There are no user-replaceable parts other than the 9m hose and accessories. It has a 7-year warranty with registration so Karcher must be sure of its quality.
Pressure washers are all about the right tool for the job. In my sexagenarian lifetime, I have owned a ‘baby’ Kärcher and the K 5. For me there was, then and now, no choice of brands – Kärcher is to pressure cleaners as Kleenex is to facial tissue.
In the 90s and noughties, I cleaned two huge homes inside and out with the baby. It did it without complaint. I gave that one to my son, and it is still going strong (one replacement pressure hose in that time).
The K 5 is a little faster (2300 psi, 8 litre-per-minute, 2100W, 15kg) but not really more effective for general household use. This Kärcher K 4 is the right size for most.