Who is this product designed for?
Kärcher and high pressure washers go together like William and Kate. It's no wonder, then, that I have used the words interchangeably for years. The tools have cleaned every patio slab and wheel rim to date. The German cleaning technology company is not the market leader for nothing. Now, Kärcher has launched a mobile pressure washer designed for fast interim cleaning. «Mobile» und «fast» are words I like to hear. However, they're linked to certain expectations.
Even while still in the box, things were already looking positive for the KHB 5. I wasn't expecting it to be so small and light. The contents were clear and self-explanatory: the tool itself, a battery, two different nozzle attachments, a power cable and two sets of instructions. The battery has a small display, which shows either the residual battery life or charging time in real time. The KHB 5 can be used on bikes, garden furniture and tools, as it's a pressure washer rather than a high pressure washer. The KHB 5 is put together in just two steps: press the nozzle into the opening and turn it 180 degrees, then insert the battery. But then I had to remove it straight away and charge it. That's when my jaw dropped.
The battery was already three-quarters full, yet it still needed 139 more minutes until it was fully charged. Charging from empty to full takes 300 minutes. That's 5 hours! Not my idea of fast. But what does go quickly is the battery life. You can clean your bike and garden furniture for up to ten minutes. Even the most unathletic of people have more endurance than that. However, I was aware of the disappointing performance right from the start, as Kärcher isn't making a secret of it. I could live with ten minutes of runtime if the charging process was in proportion.
How much pressure does it exert?
A good two hours later, the battery was full and I headed out into the garden with a soothed mind. The pressure washer was ready to go in a matter of seconds. I simply had to connect the hose and turn on the tap. The tool sits comfortably in the hand and it's light enough that my arm can easily endure ten minutes of cleaning. With one finger on the button, I aimed at my bike. First, I tried out the flat spray nozzle. Surface dirt disappeared in seconds, but the dried stuff proved a somewhat tougher task for the KHB 5. This is where it became clear that it wasn't a high pressure washer. Next up was a plastic garden chair. I changed the nozzle this time. I used the rotor nozzle to effortlessly remove cobwebs and dirt, which had accumulated in the cellar over the winter.
Kärcher admits that the KHB 5 builds up a maximum pressure of 24 bar. I wanted to know what that really meant, so I had a go on my stone slabs, even though it's not designed for it. I would clearly see whether they were clean or not from the colour difference (if any). From a normal distance, nothing much happened, but as soon as I got closer to the slabs, they were spotless. The little pressure washer has more power than I thought.
Who is the KHB 5 designed for?
The Kärcher works perfectly, but I have a problem. I don't know who the actual target group for the product is. Battery power is all well and good, but I still have to connect it to the garden hose. That's me out already. My flat doesn't have a connection and I'm sure that's the case for a lot of other tenants. Is it for homeowners like my parents? No, they can't see the use of this tool either. They have a high pressure washer for all their cleaning jobs around the house. They can clean their bikes by spraying their garden hose. They don't need a separate mobile version. What about tenants of new builds with large patios? They often have their own garden hose connection. Maybe this is the most likely niche for the KHB 5.
The KHB 5 keeps its promise. It cleans bikes and garden furniture efficiently and keeps to its ten-minute battery life. The pressure washer sits comfortably in the hand and is child's play to put together. On the other hand, there's the extremely long charging period and – most troublingly – the unclear use. For me, there's no gap in the market that the KHB 5 is trying to fill. You can spray your bike or garden chair with the garden hose and then finish off with a sponge. And if you don't have a hose connection, you can't use it anyway. Like me. As a result, I won't be buying the Kärcher KHB 5. Nevertheless, I wouldn't discourage you from getting it. If you can see a use for it, it's a technically flawless tool.