Sun Joe SPX3000 High Pressure Cleaner: Pros and Cons From an Owner
Why the Sun Joe SPX3000 Electric Pressure Washer?
Through my business I've owned probably a dozen high pressure washers over the years. Way back we had Karcher electric washers which 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. Great Honda engines that have have been utterly reliable. 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).
So, 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 $149 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 Are Many High Pressure Cleaners to Choose From Out There
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.
Understanding Water Pressure (PSI) and Water Flow (GPM)
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 $149. 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.
Problems I've had with the Sun Joe SPX3000
- The SPX3000 does come with a fairly decent-sized motor at 1800 watts, and they give you a 35 foot cord, but I did learn straight away that you can't put too long an extension cord on it or it will stop the motor, as it's just not drawing enough current. So about 20 extra feet (55 feet total reach) is all you get. But 35 feet of standard cord is probably long enough for most jobs anyway.
- When I was using a too-long extension cord, the Sun Joe just stopped dead. For you, it may just lose power and you'll think it's defective. It's not: it's actually a good safety feature where it slows the motor up so it doesn't overheat and burn out. Also make sure your extension cord is made from pretty thick wire.
- The Sun Joe comes with a plastic garden hose connector already supplied. It's cheap, nasty, leaks straight away, and blows right off the unit. You can buy one with an optional brass connector. Just do it. Or, even better, buy a Gardena quick connect coupling for about $3.50 from your local hardware store.
- One design flaw is that the garden hose connects to the front and the pressure hose to the back. So you really have to have it side-on to the work you're doing.
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.
Why I Recommend the Sun Joe SPX3000
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.
- I like the way that Sun Joe back themselves up with a two year warranty on just a $149 product, especially a product that could definitely suffer a lot of abuse.
- For this price it also has a longer high pressure hose than the others. Believe me, that's critical for us as we have a long driveway, but also we can reach to the other side of our RV to blow dirt off.
- It doesn't weigh much at 31 lbs, and with a couple of wheels, it is quite maneuverable.
- We've had it for six months now and it gets a lot of use. The boys are out on their bikes each weekend and it blows the mud off those bikes in under a few minutes.
- We also like the 4 changeable nozzle tips. The others all offer what they call a variable nozzle, which is actually one 25° nozzle that has a shield over the top within a case that you move with your fingers. In theory, it's a great idea, because you can adjust the degrees in seconds from 0° to 45°. However in practice, the pressure of the water just slowly builds behind it until what was a perfect 25° becomes a perfect 45°. It's just a lazy, cheap solution for them not to have to offer out 4 separate nozzles.
Only $149, delivered Free to your front door
- Price: $149
- 1.76 GPM
- Motor: 1800 Watt / 14.5amp
- 35 foot power cord
- 25 foot high pressure hose
- Twin detergent tanks (0.9 litres each tank)
- Total stop system (take your hand off the trigger and the unit completely shuts down until you press the trigger again).
- Five quick connect nozzles: 0° / 15° / 25° / 40° / and soap
- Weight: 31 lbs
- Two year full warranty
Let's Take a Look at the Competitors
Before deciding on the Sun Joe, we tested a number of competitors within the same price range.
The Powerhouse International
- Priced at $180, with 2000psi and 1.6gpm.
- Some nice features of this unit were that the power cord was adequate.
- It came like the Sun Joe with a total stop system, whereby the motor shuts down completely when you release the trigger.
- Also it comes with a spinning patio cleaner as standard.
- However, we didn't like the hose reel connected at the top of the unit. What seemed like a good idea when we first saw it turned into a something annoying as it repeatedly fell over if you pulled on the high pressure hose from a distance (never a good idea to do that anyway, but it beats walking back to the pressure cleaner all the time).
- We also found the turbo nozzle started okay but then would stop after about ten seconds of use. When you release the trigger and power it up again, the nozzle started again fine, then stopped. Might have been a faulty nozzle but drawing on past experiences with a Karcher that did the same thing, I'm guessing it's a fault with them across the board.
- We didn't think it had a great amount of pressure even though the specifications would tell you otherwise. But it does have a low gpm flow.
- Only a one year warranty.
We Also Tested the AR Blue Clean AR383
- The AR Blue Clean is offered at $120, has 1900psi and 1.5gpm.
- It comes with the same length power cord as the Sun Joe.
- But, like most of them, it only has a 20 foot high pressure hose (the Sun Joe's is five feet longer at 25 feet).
- It didn't compete on pressure, but that was likely due to its lower flow rate at 1.5 gpm.
- It also has a separate detergent bottle. That is, it's not attached to the trolley in any way and this was really annoying. In only a short time, it would fall over if the washer was moved in any way and you didn't isolate the bottle first. Plus it was just an extra thing to pick up and move all the time.
- After questioning the sales rep, we found that any fittings such as the hose had to be AR Blue Clean. Most other units these days have universal fittings (so, for example, you can fit a Karcher high pressure hose to your Sun Joe, which is appealing as not all high pressure hoses were born equal).
- Also only a one year warranty, which we consider too short these days.
The Greenworks GPW1950
- A nice-looking machine and ergonomically well-thought-out, as the trolley holds everything.
- It was in our price range at $194 and pressure is 1950psi.
- But, like all of them, it has inadequate flow. This was especially evident at only 1.2gpm. And you could feel it, too. It would be fine for cleaning your car but it would take an eternity to clean a drive or pathway.
- It was up there with the Sun Joe in having a 25 foot high pressure hose and pulled one better at having dual soap tanks. Nice feature this, as you can run two different detergents without messing around changing them if you've only got one.
- It's a heavy unit at 44 lbs but has dual wheels so it's okay if you just want to park it up.
- We did find it quite noisy, which is strange for an electric unit, but the chassis does have a lot of plastic pieces wrapped around it so may have had extensive rattling.
- Only a one year warranty, but Greenworks does have an excellent reputation.
The Karcher K3 Follow Me
- The Karcher K3 Follow Me is a unique pressure cleaner as it is on a trolley of four wheels so you can pull it along.
- It retails for $145, has 1800psi and 1.3gpm water flow.
- In comparison to all the others, it falls down badly. Not only does it have low water flow but it comes with just a 20 foot power cord and a truly ridiculously short 15 foot high pressure hose.
- Not even the four wheels could carry it up our tiled pathway. First, one front wheel came off, and as soon as that was put back on, the other one popped off.
- Ten to fifteen years ago, Karcher, a German company, was head-and-shoulders above anyone else in quality and power. But these units are no longer made in Germany but in Mexico, although I don't think you can blame the quality control on Mexico, as surely they're still designed in Germany.
- Only a one year warranty too, which to me kind of says that Karcher no longer takes pride in their engineering.
If you've owned a pressure washer in the past, was it?
Questions and Answers About the Sun Joe SPX3000
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°.
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.
Things You Can Do With a Pressure Washer
- If you haven't owned a pressure washer before, you'll find they're actually great fun to use. A little like the reverse of 'coloring in.' If you think your house or fence is clean, wait until you take to them with a pressure washer. Right in front of your eyes, long strips of green stuff will be washed off as you tackle it with your wand.
- Be careful with older paint, though, unless you deliberately want to strip it off. If you're washing your house and you get too close and you've got scaly paint, a good pressure washer will just blow it off. Best to use a light cleaning soapy chemical on it like you were washing your car and then use a 40° nozzle to wash the chemical off.
- All pressure washers operate by drawing the detergent up with the flow of water (called venturi). So detergent is laid on the surface of what you're cleaning at about the same pressure as your garden hose. Do a side of your house with detergent and that will give it time to have its reaction, then spray clean and move onto the next side.
- Clean vehicles, RVs, bikes, caravans, trailers, jetskis the same way.
- With engines, it's best to apply a degreaser to them first then apply the high pressure spray.
Care and Maintenance of a High Pressure Cleaner
- The greatest of care to be taken is with the hose. If it gets a twist or a knot in it, you'll get a weak point, and before you know it, you'll have a high pressure leak. At that point it's cheaper to replace the entire hose. But make no mistake about it: Manufacturers have chuckled away in their boardrooms about exactly this, knowing that naive owner is going to bust a hose, so they price them out at about half the price you actually forked out for the entire unit in the first place.
- So to treat these high pressure hoses with care, religiously roll them out straight before starting a job, and once finished, turn your main water feed off, then keep your cleaner running while emptying the water left in the high pressure hose by keeping the trigger on. Once there's no water present, disconnect the hose, carefully roll it up, and store.
- Keep an eye on the oil gauge. The oil is to lubricate the pump. A good unit won't require a top-up in the time you have with the machine, but if the pump wears, you will start to go through oil and like a car, if you use all the oil up, you'll have a seized pump (and make that a throw-away pressure cleaner).
- Watch what chemicals you use for cleaning. For your house and paths, something like 30 Seconds is good because it's a good strong chemical for removing mildew but safe enough around lawns and gardens. For best results, apply straight and not through the high pressure cleaner. Leave for half an hour and clean it off.
- If you're removing the paint from your house, fence, or shed, make sure that it's not old lead based paint. This old paint chips off and flies everywhere. A friend of mine lost his dog when the dog was eating something on the ground and ingested a little piece of old lead paint that my friend had blasted off his house.