Which Is Best . . . a Hot Water Washer OR a Steam Cleaner?
Myth: Steam cleaners are outdated.
Reality: There are many applications where a steam cleaner may be better than a hot water washer.
At Sioux, we have been building both types of machines for many years. There are some advantages to using hot water washers and some advantages to using steam cleaners. Each cleans in a different way. Determining which machine is best depends on the application.
- With pressure washers, dirt and grime is blasted away, under pressure. Heat will improve the result if melting is required, and use of the proper detergent will enhance cleaning.
- Steam cleaners are best when the substance to be removed turns from a solid to a liquid, or dissolves, with the application of heat. This is the case with grease, oil, tar, many petrochemicals, ice, wax, food products and similar materials. The substance is melted or dissolved, rather than pushed off of the surface. Use of proper detergent will enhance steam cleaning.
With a Dakota™ Series steam cleaner, when heated, water at a temperature of 320°F and a pressure of 250 PSI flashes into vapor as it passes through the steam nozzle. There is tremendous expansion producing about the same impact as a 1,000 PSI pressure washer, with 86% more heat transferred for cleaning.
If heat is what is really needed for cleaning, a steam cleaner is the better choice. In addition, a steam cleaner (versus a hot water washer) offers the following benefits:
- Operates with less power consumption, reducing your electric bill.
- Requires a smaller electric circuit for installation, and therefore may be used in more locations in your facility.
- Uses less water during operation, reducing your water and sewer bills, and reducing the volume of wastewater to be processed.
- Produces less splattering and splash-back onto the operator and in your facility.
All steam cleaners are not the same. At comparable flow rates, a 320°F steam cleaner produces approximately 40% more steam and will transfer approximately 13% more heat to the surface than the 290°F steam cleaner. The increased heat and steam also significantly increase the cleaning impact, as illustrated in the chart below.
What is more important, pressure or flow?
For a given cleaning application there are many flow/pressure combinations from which to choose. Here are some criteria you can use to select the best flow and pressure combination for your application.
1. Consider the capacity of your water source. If you have a limited water supply then you should probably choose more pressure than flow.
2. Consider how important heat is in your cleaning application. If heat is critical to your cleaning application, then higher flow is better. The more hot water you can move across the surface, the faster you can heat it and clean it. If additional heat would help, a steam cleaner should be considered.
3. For a given horsepower there may be several flow and pressure combinations available. Higher flow and lower pressure for a given horsepower will result in more impact and more work. The example below compares two different 7.5 hp machines. You can see that the higher flow rate option results in 29% more work and 40% more cleaning force.
4. It is commonly believed that lower flow and higher pressure will produce less runoff, and less wastewater to process. This may be true in some applications. But if a higher flow machine can perform the same job faster, then the total amount of water used may be less. Temperature should also be considered to reduce water consumption. It may be better to use a higher temperature rather than increase flow or pressure in order to minimize your wastewater.
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