Kärcher is pretty much synonymous with pressure washers at this point, so heavily has it dominated the market. But its previous models all needed a power cable as well as a hose connection, which adds a level of hassle if you have a big garden, or inconvenient plug sockets.
The KHB 5 swaps that power cable for a removable battery, and totally gets rid of the big separate pump section, packing everything into a single ‘gun’ unit.
It’s bigger and heavier than the sprayer you get on a wired Kärcher, since it now includes the pump and battery, but it makes the KHB 5 a little easier to store in a space-starved house.
It launched with a recommended price of £249, but it can already be found for under £200, which puts it up against the higher-end wired models in terms of price.
Kärcher KHB 5 review: cleaning power
Let’s get the less good news out of the way first: this simply isn't as powerful as a regular wired Kärcher. It’s not a surprise given the smaller amount of space, but the fact remains.
I tested it against a slightly older model of the Kärcher K2 (the entry-level model, which goes for under £100) to clean a winter’s worth of gunk off my patio, and the lower power level meant that it was harder work and slower to use, while still not managing to blast as much off the stone.
As you can see above, it still makes a huge difference and gets a lot of the gunk off, but it was visibly not quite clean compared to what the wired one achieved – and, as we say, the wired one did it faster and more comfortably.
Kärcher doesn’t really intend it for this kind of use – the use examples given on Kärcher’s site include cleaning garden furniture, bikes and cars – so that’s fair enough. We won’t hold it against the KHB 5… but it does mean that if you need to do serious wall and floor cleaning, this can’t replace the purchase of a wired washer, so things could get expensive.
But for those other cleaning tasks, it does nail what it’s going for, which is convenience. Bike a bit dirty? Just stick it in the garden, grab the KHB 5, pop the hose on and spray, then shove it back in the shed. Easy.
Need to give the furniture and barbecue a quick clean before friends come round? Grab it, and wander around the garden (as far as your hose reaches) without fiddling with extension cables or tangling the power cord in plants.
The power level is perfectly good for getting road dirt off your bike or car, or gunk off the outside of plant pots.
It comes with two nozzle attachments – one is a general dirt blaster, while the other has five different settings (different spray sizes or strengths, including a rinser option that’s ideal for car washing), and you just rotate the end to switch between them.
Kärcher KHB 5 review: usability
One of the other things that makes the KHB 5 less suitable than a wired model for big cleaning jobs such as a patio or fence is the weight. It’s a little over 3kg, which is not a small amount of weight to be holding in an extended arm for any period of time.
Again, this is no problem at all for the jobs it’s intended for – spraying your bike over for a couple of minutes, or walking around your garden furniture spraying away bird droppings when needed – but a regular Kärcher in undeniably more ergonomic for an hour-long task.
The provided battery is rated to last 10 minutes, which squares with our experience. This sounds like nothing, but is perfectly fine for those small cleaning jobs around the house. You don’t really spend much time continuously spraying – a solid clean of a bike will include a minute of spraying at the maximum, usually.
We used the KHB 5 multiple times over the course of a week, getting ready for the good weather, and only needed to charge it at the end of all that (and it hadn’t actually reached empty yet anyway).
The battery slots onto the bottom, and has a little display with the current charge level. There’s a separate charging cradle for juicing up the power pack, and you could buy an extra unit for swapping in for longer jobs if needed.
The KHB 5 is pretty good for noise levels – no pressure washer is quiet, but it doesn’t make nearly as much racket as our older K2.
It also keeps its vibrations to a minimum impressively – you won’t feel like your bones are still rattling in your arms afterwards. It’s perfectly comfortable.
Kärcher KHB 5 review: verdict
We can definitely recommend the KHB 5, provided you know exactly what its limitations are.
Going portable means you don’t get the same raw cleaning power for tougher stuff, but gives you a flexibility and convenience for smaller jobs that’s really nice to have.
Being able to just wander around your property until you hit the hose’s limit, without worrying about cable length, can be incredibly useful, and it meant we were more likely to grab it for a quick cleaning job to stay on top of things.