Expensive if you just want to clean bikes but this versatile pressure washer is great for using around the home, and the Power Control gauge makes it easy to use safely
- Easy to use
- Power Control is a neat feature for checking pressure
- Compact and well-built
- Versatile — not just for cleaning bikes
- Relatively expensive
- No snow foam attachment included
- The companion app is mostly for show
The all-new Karcher K3 Power Control is a supremely versatile pressure washer that’s as good at cleaning your bike as it is your car or patio — it’s really versatile.
If you really must have a pressure washer that’s been created specifically for cleaning bikes, then you might be interested in the Muc-Off pressure washer we reviewed at the beginning of last year but it's not that much cheaper.
But we think the Karcher K3 Power Control is every bit as bike-friendly (it’s just not advertised so), plus it’s easier to use, it’s got more power than the Muc-Off pressure washer (120 bar max versus 70 bar max for the Muc-Off), so you can clean more than just your bike with it, and the looks are more appealing for most.
One of the best things about the new Karcher K3 is the addition of the Power Control system, which allows you to easily adjust the power of the K3 on the fly and see, in real-time via the display (LCD) built into the handle, which pressure setting is being used at all times.
Want the lowest power setting that’s specifically tailored to bikes? Just twist the nozzle and the LCD screen will light up level 1 on the gauge, so you know it’s safe to use. Need a bit more power? Then twist to a harder setting and the gauge will go up to two more levels of power.
Alternatively, a very handy ultra-low power ‘Mixer’ setting enables you to fill up your shampoo bucket without getting water spray everywhere.
Unlike the Muc-Off pressure washer, there’s no need to muck around (ahem) with connecting and disconnecting different lances when you want to adjust the settings.
Design and aesthetics
The K3 is built well (as all Karcher pressure washers are, in our experience) and it’s also quite compact, so it’s easy to store when not in use. The built-in handle and wheels allow you to easily move it around, although at just 4.4kg, it’s easy enough to just use the regular handle and carry it to where you want to.
It’s also easy to set up the first time — just plug it into the mains, connect your garden hose for water, then plug the high-pressure hose into the K3 (easy enough once you figure out you need to release the locking mechanism!) and then into the gun.
Both the hose and the cable have plenty of length to allow you to reach wherever you’re working.
Included with the K3 is the adjustable Vario Power spray lance, and you also get a Dirt Blaster spray lance which is specifically for cleaning stubborn dirt on patios.
There’s an integrated water filter as well as a removable detergent tank, for when you want to give the patio or decking a clean. As with the Muc-Off pressure washer, there’s no snow foam attachment included.
We think this is pretty essential for helping to shift dirt before getting stuck in with the wash mitt. You can, of course, buy it separately for £32.99, with a litre bottle of foam shampoo included, which isn’t especially cheap.
As with the Muc-Off pressure washer, the K3 is a strictly home-only affair, due to the need for mains power and an external water supply. Bosch recently released the Fontus, a lithium battery-powered portable pressure washer with a built-in 15L water tank, which is much more suited to that task, if that’s what you’re after.
Performance and cleaning capabilities
At the bike-specific pressure setting, the lance puts out a stream of water that’s akin to a more powerful setting on a regular garden hose spray — that is, not especially powerful, so you can use it to rid your bike of muck without worrying about stripping grease from bearings.
If your bike is particularly dirty and has been stationary for some time, you might find the dirt a bit too stubborn for the lower pressure. Provided you’re careful about where you aim the lance, we found the higher (medium) setting was preferable for getting rid of mud that wouldn’t shift on the lowest setting.
Unless you’re after a completely touch-less wash, once you’ve completed the initial rinse, you can always go in with some shampoo/all-purpose cleaner afterwards to really get it properly clean (or a snow foam beforehand helps).
As you might expect, the K3 is just as effective at cleaning cars, as it is bikes, though again we found that it was possible to go up a couple of notches on the Power Control screen for a bit more cleaning power. You just need to make sure you don’t get too close to the object you’re spraying, or spend too long on one area.
The K3 also has a companion app which you can download onto your smartphone (for Android or iOS). Once you’ve inputted your model into the app, it tells you which power setting to use depending on the type of thing you’re cleaning.
There’s also a useful step-by-step guide to show you how to clean whatever it is — the bike-specific guide was admittedly quite handy, but it’s unlikely you’ll use the app again once you’ve got the hang of the settings.
The more expensive models come with Bluetooth, so you can actually change the settings of the pressure washer via the app, but we think that’s total overkill, especially when it’s easy enough to do so on the actual machine itself.
The K3’s £149.99 price tag puts in the higher end of the pressure washer price spectrum but there’s definitely a lot to like here, given that you can clean your bike, car, patio or whatever. There’s plenty of power for more stubborn applications, and due to the handy Power Control system, it’s easy to quickly tailor the pressure of the K3 to suit what you’re cleaning, so you know it’s perfectly safe to use.
The other advantage of the K3 is that there are loads of attachments available, so it really can be a one-stop cleaning solution around the home.
Tech Specs: Karcher K3 pressure washer
- Weight: 4.4kg
- Power source: Mains
- Price: £149.99
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