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Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control Home review: Are you ready for the smart pressure washer?

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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
399
inc VAT

An impressively powerful and versatile pressure washer, whether the smart features are practical or not

Pros 
Powerful cleaning
Incredibly versatile multi-jet lance
Simple and effective controls
Cons 
Smart features aren’t always practical
Heavy and expensive
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Kärcher has spent the last few years elevating the humble pressure washer into a more sophisticated outdoor cleaning tool. We’ve had compact washers, premium washers, washers with more sophisticated spraying lances and more complex and flexible controls.

We’ve had washers bundled with a range of specialist accessories, designed to clean your car or brush the debris from your driveway like never before. But now Kärcher has taken this one stage further. The latest K5 isn’t simply a high-tech washer. Nope. The K5 Premium Smart Control is, like the name says, smart.

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Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control review: What do you get for the money?

Basically, you’re getting the latest generation of Kärcher’s larger high-performance pressure washer, with a super-powered 2,100W water-cooled motor capable of pumping out 500 litres per hour of water at a maximum pressure of 145 bar. It’s expensive at £399 but this is even more jet-washing beef than you’ll get from Kärcher’s K4 Power Control.

So where does the smart bit come in? Well, it comes in with the new Smart Control gun and 3-in-1 multi jet lance. The trigger gun has an LCD screen and chunky yellow plus and minus buttons, enabling you to set the pressure to one of six levels and engage a temporary boost when you need more cleaning power.

The lance has a selection of spray patterns, ranging from a softer spray to a fearsome high-pressure jet that moves in a rotary pattern – something that usually involves Kärcher’s separate Dirt Blaster lance. That’s a lot of flexibility right there.

But then Kärcher takes things further. You can connect the gun via Bluetooth to an iOS or Android app, then use the app to control the pressure settings. Better still, you can tell the app what you’re trying to clean, and it’ll set the pressure settings and tell you how to adjust the lance, then take you through the ideal cleaning process, step by step. If you’ve ever found yourself pondering what pressure to use on your car or your driveway, then this pressure washer has all the answers.

Our K5 Premium Smart came with the Premium Smart Home kit, including the T5 Patio Cleaner, and there doesn’t seem to be a Smart version available with just the pressure washer and 3-in-1 lance. That said, you can buy the K5 Full Control, which sells with the same trigger gun but without the Bluetooth connectivity. If you like the sound of the pressure washer but not the app or accessories, this is well worth looking out for.

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Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control review: How easy is it to use?

Between the new Smart Control gun and multi-jet-lance, this is one of the most convenient and versatile of all Kärcher’s pressure washers, because you can do nearly everything you need to do with just the one attachment.

It’s not that Kärcher’s twist and click system for attaching and removing lances is tricky to operate but with the multi-jet there’s no need to carry anything else around on the job. Thanks to Kärcher’s plug-and-clean system you don’t even have to attach the usual spray lance attachment to use detergents or car shampoos – you can plug the bottle upside down into the reservoir and get to work. Of course, this only works with Kärcher’s own detergent and shampoo bottles, as other bottles won’t have the right shape or outlet.

This, and the intuitive controls make the Premium Smart Control a joy to use. I know we’re not really meant to admit that pressure washing is, well, kind of fun, but this one makes some dull and dirty jobs surprisingly appealing.

I’m also a big fan of the T5 Surface Cleaner attachment, as it gives you a little extra scrubbing power for tackling decking, tiles, slabs and other hard, flat surfaces while simultaneously protecting you from the usual grotty splashback. Just check it on a small area first of all, as there’s a chance that the brush could leave a mark on softer surfaces.

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Kärcher also scores extra brownie points for the built-in hose reel, which does a great job of keeping the high-pressure hose under control. The size and construction of these pipes naturally makes them a bit inflexible and oddly prone to kinking if you don’t look after them, so having a way to reel the pipe in and store it securely makes a bigger difference than you might think.

As for the app bit, I’m not 100% convinced. It’s not that it doesn’t give you control of the washer (it does) or that its step-by-step recipes aren’t useful (they are) but switching between your smartphone and a fairly heavy-duty pressure washer to check the steps or change a setting isn’t very practical.

However, it’s one of those things where opinions will differ, and if you’re new to pressure washers and a bit nervous about them, then you might find it helpful.

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Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control review: How well does it clean?

In terms of cleaning, the K5 Premium Smart Control is one of the best pressure washers I’ve tested. It has a little more welly than the already fantastic K4 Power Control but you never have to switch lances to get the more powerful jet or switch to a wider spray pattern.

I found it tackled concrete steps, areas of decking and parts of a retaining wall and tarmac driveway fantastically well, cleaning off some horrific areas of grime. It also did sterling (if horrifically messy) service on a neglected barbecue grille, and worked well cleaning around the wheels and bodywork of my car, where the app provided some genuinely useful guidance on which settings to use to get the best effect.

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Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control review: What could be improved?

Not much. Kärcher could do some work on its assembly instructions as there’s a fair bit of work to do in getting the K5 unboxed and put together with everything screwed in, while some clearer usage instructions wouldn’t hurt.

However, the app covers both areas in enough detail, so we can’t even grumble about this too much.

Kärcher K5 Premium Smart Control review: Should I buy it?

Let’s be clear: this is a fantastic pressure washer. It’s powerful, easy-to-use, convenient and versatile, even if it is, at 13.9kg without accessories, a bit on the heavy side.

However, it’s also very expensive, and you have to ask yourself whether the smart features justify the premium over the K5 Full Control or the brilliant K4 Power Control.

If you’re happy to pay extra, then this is arguably the best pressure washer out there right now, but for most people the K4 Power Control will do everything they need, and at a more affordable price.

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