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Belt vs Direct Drive Pressure Washers – A Complete Guide

As a contractor a pressure washer is an important tool in helping you properly prepare surfaces to be repainted. In general, there are commercial grade and consumer grade pressure washers that are available. One of the primary differences between commercial grade models and consumer grade models include optional belt or direct drive designs. This guide will provide you an understanding of the difference between belt and direct drive pressure washers so you can determine which will be best for your pressure washing needs.

Belt Drive Pressure Washers

Belt drive pressure washers operate using a gear reduction pulley system. The gear reduction system allows for a few unique advantages to a belt drive pressure washer compared to a direct drive pressure washer. First, a belt drive pressure washer runs at lower revolutions per minute (rpm’s). Lower operating RPM’s allow the unit to run more efficiently and at lower temperatures relative to a direct drive pressure washer. Lower RPMs and lower temperatures translate into a longer useful life and better tolerance of heavy workloads. In addition to having a potentially longer useful life and being better suited for heavy workloads, a belt drive pressure washer is required to feed water from a holding tank. A direct drive pressure washer will not work if you plan on having a trailer system or something similar for your pressure washer. The main downside to a belt drive pressure washer is the initial cost, which can easily be a few hundred dollars more than a direct drive pressure washer.

Direct Drive Pressure Washers

Direct drive pressure washer motors attach directly to the pressure washer’s pump. Generally, this makes the unit a bit more compact and lower cost compared to a belt drive pressure washer. However, a direct drive pressure washer will operate at higher rpm’s which means it may not hold up to heavy use for as long or as well as a belt drive pressure washer. Pressure washers that are purchased at standard box stores are typically direct drive pressure washers.

Which is best for you?

If you will rely on your pressure washer daily as a tool and plan on frequent use and have the budget, a belt drive pressure washer will usually provide a longer working life and withstand heavy use best. For others who a belt drive is to expensive or will only need a pressure washer occasionally and will not need to pick up water from a stand alone container (they will have a city water connection) a direct drive pressure washer can be the perfect option.

Belt Drive Models

Mi-T-M Models like the Job Pro Series that end in 1MGH and 1MAH

Graco BD Series

Direct Drive Models

Mi-T-M  1 MAK models , 2 and 3 MUH models, 1 and 3 MMH models,2 and 3 ME1 models, 3 MSB, 3 MHB

Graco DD Units

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