Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Pressure Washer Review

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Erin Lawrence

Pressure washers are the type of tool that you don’t think about a lot until you’ve tried them, and then you wonder how you ever got things done without one. They can help you make quick work out of a challenging task like cleaning your vinyl siding, washing concrete or decking, or even stripping paint off of something.  I recently got the chance to test out the Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Power Washer.

Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Pressure Washer 

Summary

I very much enjoyed my Karcher K5 experience. Since this is the first pressure washer I have ever used let alone owned, it’s hard for me to know how it might compare or stack up against others.

I can say on the pro side it was easy to assemble, easy to use and very effective. It’s very easy to adjust any of the settings right on the handle, or you can get fancy and use the app. It’s extremely customizable so you can go from gentle spray to violent jet all in one device. I also like the fact it has a very small footprint for storage, and with its wheels and luggage telescoping handle. It was easy to move around the yard too.

 

Pros

  • Cleans well
  • Lots of different settings & power levels
  • Gun is easy to use
  • Easy assembly
  • App works well for remote control
  • Small footprint
  • Easy to move with handles & wheels

Cons

  • Hose adapter seems leaky
  • Using app is more work than on-device controls

Karcher K5 Premium Smart Control Pressure Washer Review

In this post I’ll share what it’s like to set up and use, what you get, and what you can do with it. I’ll wrap things up by letting you know if I can recommend it to you.

Watch it in action: my hands-on video review

How does a pressure washer work? How do I choose a pressure washer?

Pressure washers force water through a small opening at high pressure, allowing the water to quickly and powerfully clean or remove dirt, paint, or other accumulated materials. They can be powered electrically or by a gas engine. Most units have wheels and can be connected to a garden hose as a water source. They’ll have a wand, often with swappable nozzles designed for different tasks and pressures. Some models also contain a reservoir allowing cleaners or soaps to be added to the pressure stream.

When it comes to choosing the right pressure washer, it helps if you have some idea of what you’d like to use it for. If it will mainly be used for small light duty tasks, you don’t need something as large and powerful. Conversely, if you’re going to be using it to clean, deep stains, such as oil from concrete, you might need something with more power.

Karcher K5 Pressure Washer: what you get

Karcher K5 smart control pressure washer wand spewing water.The K5 is a robust pressure washer, with a max PSI of 1950 (for comparison, that’s about 30 times stronger than a garden hose) and a flow rate of 350 litres per hour, which is expected for a washer at this price point ($650CAD MSRP). It can also drop that pressure down to more gently clean things like bikes and garden furniture without stripping the paint or fabric off of them.

The K5 is AC powered and comes with a long power cord.

What’s in the box?

The Karcher K5 comes with it’s base motor unit, a 3-in-1 cleaning wand with 10 meter/33-foot hose (with hose winder reel) and a garden hose adapter to connect the water supply.

Assembly

Important to note is that there is some assembly required before you can use your device: Things like handles, the stand, and some accessories including the wheels need to be added. The assembly is not hard, though to someone like myself who who’s never owned a power washer, the task was a bit unfamiliar and took me about 35 minutes to complete.

What to clean with a power washer/pressure washer

Eri washing windows using Karcher K5 smart control pressure washerAs someone who is very new to using this type of device, I wasn’t initially sure what to use it on. I put the question to my Instagram audience, and got some very creative responses for what to use a pressure washer on:

  • Decking – to remove staining and mildew
  • Driveways – to remove oil and fluid leaks
  • Fabric/cushions
  • Garage floors
  • Windows (outdoors)
  • BBQ grill grates
  • Cleaning Rugs
  • Siding
  • Wash the car
  • Plastic lawn furniture
  • Strip paint
  • Wash fencing
  • Eavestroughs
  • Recycle/trash bin
  • Underside of the lawn mower
  • Pool or hot tub

I’ll share what I cleaned with it and how it went in just a sec… but first to the features of the Karcher K5.

The Wand/Spray Modes

The 3-in-1 Spray Wand attaches to the included hose and has a number of settings, as well as an LED readout (a rare feature on pressure washers). The LED readout sits at the top of the handle section, and immediately below it are plus and minus buttons that you can use to adjust the PSI to precisely what you require. The beauty of the 3-in-1 wand is that you won’t need to change or keep track of a bunch of small nozzle ends. The wand switches between a flat spray, a powerful cylindrical spray and a mix mode if you add cleaning solution (I did also get a bottle of Karcher’s multipurpose cleaning solution). I addition to the 3 wand settings there are also those 6 intensity speeds which you can adjust on the handle.

One of the handy things the app does offer though is a recommendation about what settings will best clean certain things. For example, the app can automatically adjust the machine’s settings when you dial in precisely what you’re cleaning: A more gentle stream for bicycles for example, while it can offer more power on stone walls. Well, this is helpful, it wasn’t extremely deep or comprehensive; I was looking for just the right setting to remove bubbling paint from my fence; but unfortunately, there was no paint removal setting.

Karcher Home & garden app

Karcher K5 smart control pressure washer app.If, like me, you love your technology, you’ll appreciate the fact you can also connect your pressure washer to the Karcher home and garden. The app allows you to make adjustments to the pressure washer from your phone and otherwise see what’s going on at a glance. The set up and pairing process, for the app was quite quick and straightforward, with the only caveat being you need to make sure that the device is plugged in and turn on before you try to care. I have to say I didn’t get much use out of the app since all of the relevant controls are available right on the device and within some speech. To me, it just didn’t seem efficient to shut the device down in order to grab the app and set up with that. It was a match, easier to simply use the thumb controls on the fly.

Clean with water, or add soap

The K5 has a compartment that a Karcher detergent bottle can fit into. Using the handle ‘mix’ setting, you can introduce detergent or cleanser into the pressure stream in a controlled amount. Karcher RN 626 Universal Cleaner is an all-purpose cleaner that removes oil, grease, and dirt with the cold water from the pressure washer. You can also purchase other Karcher cleaning solutions from their website.

The bottle is inserted into the top of the pressure washer into what looks like a giant cup holder. The machine controls the amount of the mix for you, so you don’t need to worry. I will say that it seems to go through cleanser quite quickly; I used it on two sets of windows, and was down by half a bottle.

How well does Karcher K5 work?

Speaking of those windows, that was one of the first tasks I used the Karcher K5 on.

Set up

To get it set up and ready to clean, you first attach the hose to the front of the device; screw the included hose adapter onto your hose, then use the quick release on the other end of the adapter to connect it to the K5. Plug it in to nearby power and flip the switch to on.

The nozzle adjusts by twisting it which is really easy. Then just pull and hold the trigger to activate it.

I cleaned two very large corner windows on the front of our house, which are hard to access and quite large. The power washer did an excellent job of cleaning them efficiently and leaving them streak free thanks to the addition of that Karcher cleanser. Definitely a 10/10 on cleanliness, ease and over all satisfaction.

I did notice the hose adaptor seems to leak; not from the power washer side, but from my hose side. Figuring I just didn’t connect it tightly enough. I tightened it up, but it was still pretty leaky. Hard to know if this is an ill fitted adapter, or my hose.

Next up I tried it on my deck. Are use the pressure washer on a small section of deck and then let everything dry to see the difference. Perhaps my deck wasn’t extremely dirty or mildewed, because it didn’t really make that much of a stark before-after difference to my untrained eye. Nonetheless, it cleaned up the dusty surface quickly.

How to strip paint with a pressure washer

Stripping paint with a high pressure water jet using Karcher K5 smart control pressure washerHaving tried it on a few simpler tasks, I decided to put a Karcher K5 to the test by helping me strip bubbling, flaking paint off my fence. Here the device really excelled. Every five years or so I need to spend hours scraping and sanding this same section of fence, but by using a Karcher K5 I had 95% of the paint off in about 25 minutes.

Again, despite taking additional panes to ensure the hose connection was tight, it was still leaking on the hose side (and a different hose this time); not where the quick release side attaches to the K5. I think perhaps some plumbing tape on my hose ends would go a long way to cutting the leaks down. During my testing, I just got along with wet feet.

No knock on Karcher here, but as a warning for others, who might entertain using a power washer to strip paint: the power washer blasts paint off of the wood and pulverizes it into tiny flecks (make sure to wear eye protection!). By the end of my task, I was covered in paint chips, and they were all over the house and siding, not to mention caught up in the grass. While it’s not lead paint, it’s probably still not ideal to have that stuff floating around the yard. Next time I tackle this task, I will set up some drop cloths, but I’ll blame my inexperience for the mess.

Nonetheless it did an amazing job at what’s previously been a tedious chore.

Storage

One downside to pressure washers is that they can be a handful to store, as there are all kinds of hoses and cords to deal with, and they’re all soaking wet by the time you’re done using them.

The K5 has a telescoping handle that will allow you to store it more efficiently, and the hose is be coiled up on a winding reel at the rear of the unit. That, combined with the wheels and suitcase-style handle, makes moving the K5 around and getting where it needs to be a snap. The entire unit checks in at about 32 pounds and stands 16x12x23 inches.

Overall review: Karcher K5

Overall, I have to say, I very much enjoyed my Karcher K5 experience. Since this is the first pressure washer I have ever used let alone owned, it’s hard for me to know how it might compare or stack up against others.

Cleaning cushions with the Karcher K5 smart control pressure washerI can say on the pro side it was easy to assemble, easy to use and very effective. It’s very easy to adjust any of the settings right on the handle, or you can get fancy and use the app. It’s extremely customizable so you can go from gentle spray to violent jet all in one device. I also like the fact it has a very small footprint for storage, and with its wheels and luggage telescoping handle. It was easy to move around the yard too.

Downsides? I guess I could complain about the leaky connection from my hose; but I feel that more about my hoses and needing some plumbing tape, more than a knock on Karcher. I also went through cleanser quite quickly, and could not see any way to better measure out the amount of cleanser used. That would be a nice feature in my opinion.

In short I’m super happy with the Karcher K5. I think it’s easy, versatile and powerful and I can recommend it to you.

Karcher K5 sells for about $650CAD and you can get it from most home improvement stores or from Amazon.

Promo Code: ERINLK520 will give you 20% off the K5 Smart Control when you buy at www.karcher.ca . That’s $130 off the regular price! Code is valid for the full month of June.

2 Comments

  1. David French on February 20, 2024 at 3:49 am

    I have used two older Karcher models over many years and have been very satisfied with their performance. Having read the glowing reviews, I decided to upgrade to a Karcher K5. Apart from a few minor niggles, most people seem to be very happy with theirs but my experience has been very different. When I used it for the first time it refused to run smoothly, sputtering from full power to nothing and back again.. I was therefore very offended when I returned my purchase to the store and explained the problem to be told to read the manual! After explaining that I was well aware of the need to expel all the air from the system before use, I was eventually given a replacement which was no better. It would appear that this model employs a cut-out safety feature triggered by air in the system which is obviously much too sensitive. I have spent many frustrating hours trying to make it work by ensuring that all hose connections are tight without any success and have therefore been forced to come to the conclusion that the Karcher K5 is not fit for purpose.

    • Erin L on March 10, 2024 at 4:23 pm

      Very interesting! And you obviously have a lot more background knowledge on this product category than I do. Thanks so much for posting your thoughts here.

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