When it comes to general household cleaning where water is
involved, it is hard to go past a pressure washer. They make
general cleaning jobs involving water use quick, simple and
effective. There are many cleaning tasks where high pressure
water flow simply outclasses your standard watering hose nozzles
and the pressure they supply.
Today we are looking at and
comparing three general household use models from Ryobi. We are
reviewing them together because, despite their individuals
differences in specifications (which we will certainly mention),
the mechanics and general use of each is very similar.
Note: These Ryobi
units are readily available in Australia and the UK but are not
currently available in the USA, as far as we are aware.
What can they do?
A pressure washer is a "machine" that converts your general
low pressure household water supply into a concentrated high
pressure supply who's primary purpose is to clean things. Simple
eh? The mechanics of it all are a little more detailed, but I
won't go into that here - you can find out about how it turns
low pressure water into high pressure water on various websites
online. Essentially, a powered pump does all the work.
All most people will need to know, or care about
knowing, is that these machines make life easier when it comes
to cleaning duties. So what can you clean with a pressure
washer? Most commonly, a pressure washer is used to clean things
like cars, boats, outdoor furniture, decks, siding, patios,
sidewalks, concrete areas etc. If you have an item that needs
some hard hand scrubbing to clean, a pressure washer may make
life easier. Naturally, small, lightweight objects will simply
be blasted away by the high pressure water stream, so we are
talking mostly larger, heavier objects here.
There are also pressure washers designed for home
use (as reviewed here) right up to commercial washers offering
even more pressure for heavier duty tasks, and you can buy
electric or gas driven models. In general, the larger they are,
the more they cost.
the basics out of the way, let's now take a closer look at the
models we are reviewing.
All three models reviewed here are electrically driven
units. This means they run on an electrical supply as opposed to
a fuel/gas supply (usually reserved for the larger units). Being
electrically powered means you do not have the issue of exhaust
gases or fumes, meaning these units can be used in confined and
poorly ventilated areas without any problem to user's health.
All three units are made in
Europe. The RHP4121 specifically lists Italy as its location of
manufacture. The other two models are probably made their also?
Spec-wise, all three units are
fairly similar, the RHP4121 and EHP1236 being slightly more
"powerful" than the EHP1037. The 1450 - 1740 pounds per square
inch (100 bar to 120 bar) pressure rating is more than enough blasting
power for general household cleaning duties, as mentioned above.
There are other differences too. The RHP4121 features a long
9.5m pressure hose and weighs 13kg, the EHP1037 has a 5.5m hose
and weighs 7.8kg while the EHP1236 features a 7.5m hose and
weighs 7.8kg also. There are also differences in supplied
accessories. The RHP4121 is fitted out with more quality
attachments, with most connections being brass as opposed to
hardened plastic fittings on the EHP models. The RHP4121 also
features an aluminum pump head with stainless steel pistons,
which probably accounts for its additional weight over the EHP
models - almost double. The price tag on the RHP4121 is also
higher as a result of its "better quality" build and components.
Despite these differences, during our tests, each machine
performed well and there were no apparent problems that could be
traced to type of components used (i.e. plastic vs metal).
These pressure washers are not toys. They can
emit a powerful blast
of water, so they should be respected as much as when using a
circular saw or a chainsaw. You could injure yourself or others
if not used properly. When used properly however, they are
extremely useful and handy. You should read through the entire
manual supplied with each product. This will not take long as
the manuals are only roughly 4-5 pages in length (in your chosen
language) , but have all
the information you need for using and maintaining the washers.
One key advantage of using a pressure washer is that it
provides a much more efficient way to clean using water than a
regular garden hose and spray nozzle. If you live in areas where
water conservation is important, or where water restrictions are
in place, the use of a pressure washer allows effective cleaning
to be realized. But before I go on, you might say that using
water to clean in water-restricted areas is not ethical. Well,
these machines can be readily fed by any clean water source,
including feeding water direct from a bucket (with hose fittings attached
to its base) if needed. Because the pressure washer cleans much
more rapidly than a regular standard hose, you can clean a car,
deck, siding or patio etc much quicker, hence often using less
total water. I have been able to clean the whole exterior of my car in
under 2 minutes using these pressure washers, which results in
about 10 liters of water being used (and that is at maximum
water output). In most cases, the total amount of water used when
utilizing a regular hose and nozzle in car cleaning tasks would be much
Out of the Box
For each unit we tested, there is some minor assembly to be
done before you use the tool. Each model is supplied with various
cleaning accessories (see photos) to use for various cleaning
tasks, from your basic high pressure spray wand/lance to brush
attachments and detergent (cleaning product) bottles. Each
model also comes supplied with an inline hose filter. You will need to
supply a standard garden hose and fittings to attach to the
pressure washer. You attach the inline water filter to your
garden hose by severing it close to the water source outlet and
attaching it inline. This filter helps keep large particle
contaminates in the water source from entering the pressure
washer where they could potentially cause damage to the internal
components. Using high pressure hose fittings to supply the
water to the washer is also useful as the washer restricts the
amount of water entering the unit (the water saving feature).
The downside of this is that it builds up a little more pressure
in the supply hose itself (similar to if you were to kink a
running hose with your hands). With poor quality fittings, the
connection to the supply tap or water input connection on the
washer may simply pop off under pressure. Because the units use
very little water in comparison to how much a standard hose can
deliver, you can alleviate the issue in most cases by simply
turning down your supply feed a little.
All models tested are essentially the same in terms of
operation. First you hook up your supply hose to the input on
the front of the unit. The washers must be used in the upright
position. You cannot use them lying down without causing
possible damage or reduced service life. There is a handle on
the top of each unit as well as wheels at the rear to allow you
to either roll each unit around, or to pick it up and carry
around as needed. The large wheels make each unit readily
mobile. The RHP4121 unit is the tallest of the three and a
little more comfortable to drag around if you are of the 6 foot
(or taller - like me) variety of human being. However, in saying
that, the EHP models are light enough to pick up and carry
around anyway. The high pressure
outlet hose and the attachment you wish to use connect to the
outlet on the side of each washer (on the RHP4121 both IN and
OUT connections are on the front of the unit). The IN (for
garden hose supply) connection is labeled with a large "IN"
designation to avoid confusion on the EHP models. Water supply should not exceed
50 degrees Celsius or 145 PSI, otherwise the unit could be
There is a three step procedure
to operating the units so as to avoid damage to the systems.
Firstly, you attach the hose and then turn on the hose to supply
water to the pressure washer. With this done, you then pull on
the trigger of the washing wand/lance. This allows any air in
the water supply chain to the lance to be expelled and a little
water to flow. With this done, you can then turn on the pressure
washer via its operating switch and it will start to deliver a
pressurized water supply from the unit. You can now start
cleaning. The RHP4121 model has a simple ON/OFF, one pressure
setting push switch. The EHP1037 also has one pressure setting
but is a dial switch. The EHP1236 models feature the additional
option of setting the unit to deliver a HIGH or LOW pressure
feed. The switch on the EHP1236 unit can be rotated to either
the HIGH or LOW setting depending on whether your cleaning task
requires the higher pressure feed or not. The user should take
care not to block the various ventilation grills located around
each unit to ensure the motor and internal components do not
When is use, or
when about to power up, grip the lance fairly firmly. High
pressure water has a bit of a kickback effect (like when
shooting a gun) so you need to be prepared for it a little when
you push the trigger. Once water is flowing, it is not hard for
anyone of normal strength and stature to control and use the
lance and attachments effectively and safely, but maintain a
firm grip at all times.
Ryobi's Total Stop System
Each of the three units we tested here feature Ryobi's Total
Stop System (TSS). TSS is designed to prevent premature wear and
tear on internal components. When using the washers and
releasing the trigger on the lance (to stop high pressure flow),
the dynamic pressure increase detected in the system results in
an automatic cutting out of the motor. This saves the motor
trying to work against excessive pressure load. When the trigger
is again pressed and water flow is again initiated, this results
in a pressure drop which triggers the motor to automatically
kick in again and deliver a high pressure water supply. In use,
you don't really notice this taking place, i.e. it all happens
The TSS system is certainly a
nice inclusion on these models and will help prolong tool life
greatly, however, its implementation results in a few
precautions for use that must be followed to ensure correct
function and prolonged tool life. For example, if you release
the trigger to stop water flow, you must not re-engage the
trigger again for at least 4-5 seconds. No big deal here. 4
seconds is not a lot of time in general household use context.
The second item of note is that you should not release the
trigger and then leave the unit on (in automatic cutoff status)
for more than 10 minutes, i.e. if you plan to leave the cleaning
task for more than 10 minutes, you should turn the washer off at
the main power switch on the washer itself. Just simple things
to remember during use which will help provide a longer service
Both the EHP1037 and EHP1236 models feature the same set of
attachments as follows:
The RHP4121 has a slightly
different set of attachments, as follows:
High/Low Pressure Lance
High Pressure Hose
Rotating Cleaning Brush
Each attachment serves specific
tasks depending on how wide or narrow a spray pattern you wish
to use. Some attachments are adjustable to provide varied spray
patterns and the brush attachments are very handy where you need
to also manually brush away stubborn dirt or grime. The rotating
cleaning brush packaged with the RHP4121 is worthy of note as
its rotating brushes do a lot of the hard scrubbing work for you.
The detergent bottle allows you to add a stream
of detergent agent to your water flow as you wash. This is handy
to use where a specific agent is required to perform a job,
although you should check the manuals for a guide of appropriate
agents that can be used. Obviously, you don't want to use
anything that could be corrosive or damaging to the pressure
washer parts themselves. It is a handy addition for car washing
and for many other tasks. It is good to see that Ryobi has
included a range of attachments and accessories in these
products. Some other brands provide the pressure washer, a
lance, a high-pressure hose, and nothing else, so you need to go out and buy
all the specialized attachments individually, which adds to the
overall total price.
In short, all three models performed equally well. There is
a small but noticeable difference in the pressure between the
EHP1236 and RHP4121 opposed to the EHP1037. You can feel it in
use, although even the EHP1037 performed very well in most
household tasks I tested it with. While these units may not
blast your concrete driveway perfectly clean like some of the
3000PSI or higher units might be able to achieve, for deck,
patio, car, boat, siding or other general household cleaning
involving water, they performed very well for me.
If we look at prices now (in Australian Dollars),
the current recommended retail price for each unit (as of April
2006) is as follows:
- RHP4121 - $399.00
- EHP1037 - $199.00
- EHP1236 - $249.00
At AUD$399.00, the RHP4121 is the most expensive. This is
understandable given its better build quality and use of more
metal components which should see it outlast the other models in
the range. The EHP1037 and EHP1236 are priced well for the
performance and features they offer, in my opinion. Again, you
are getting pretty much a complete package out of the box with
probably no need to purchase any additional accessories (apart
from the garden hose to feed them) - they
are all-inclusive packages. Is the EHP1236 worth the extra $50
though? Well, you do get an extra 20% boost in pressure with the
EHP1236, and that can be useful in some instances, particularly
with hard surface cleaning (concrete etc), but if all you are
planning to clean with these units are the car, boat and maybe
the wooden deck, then the smaller, cheaper EHP1037 will suit
that task well. If you want to do more, go for the EHP1236 with
its higher pressure, and if you want to do more and want the
best quality unit of the bunch, the RHP4121 is the way to go.
Were there any problems during our tests? No, not really.
Everything worked as advertised and the results we obtained are
pretty much what you would expect from pressure washers of this
size and specification. The wheels on the RHP4121 did seem to be
a little out of line or warped slightly as when dragging it
around it rumbles a little rather than being a smooth ride as it
was with the EHP models, but that may have just been a once off,
and perhaps something that could be fixed. I just didn't get to
It's nothing major, I'm just being picky for the
sake of trying to find something to fault. Apart
from that everything else worked well. I think I may have
mentioned above that you also might need good quality fittings
as, on occasion, my garden hose connection to the pressure
washer would blast off when too much pressure was in the hose.
When I replaced with better quality fittings, this issue was a
non-issue, and not something you can pin on the washers
themselves as a fault.
Overall, each of these Ryobi units represents a useful option
for water-based cleaning around the home. Worth a look next time
you are at the hardware store or hardware/auto/tool section of
your favorite retailer. If you cannot find a supplier nearby,
contact Ryobi direct. Their website is
All photos copyright
net-reviews.com. Use without prior written permission
The three washers side by side.
The inlet for connection to a garden hose f\or water supply.
Large wheels on each washer aid in mobility. Note also the
water outlet for connection to the high pressure hose and lance
on the side of the EHP models.
Simple ON/OFF dial switch on the EHP1037.
Dual pressure setting dial switch on the EHP1236.
Handle makes it easy to carry to cart the washers around.
Basic ON/OFF push button switch on the RHP4121.
The water inlet and outlet are both located on the front of
Each unit ships with a high pressure hose...
...as well as an inline water filter to ensure a 'clean' supply
of water reaches the pressure washer.
The standard set of
attachments/accessories for the EHP1037 and EHP1236.
The accessories provided with the RHP4121. Note the higher
quality brass fittings.
The EHP1236 in action cleaning a paved area.
These washers are great for cleaning cars
quickly and easily.