Welcome to Pressure Washer Fittings 101: Spray Nozzles! We're going to dive in deep and help you understand everything you need to know about spray nozzles and how to choose the right one for your machine.
There are three main specifications on all nozzles:
1. Fan Spread, described in degrees.
2. Nozzle Orifice Size, described in a single digit followed by a decimal and another digit.
3. Connection type, threaded or 1/4 QD plug.
You can have 0°, 15°, 25°, and 40° nozzles in a 4.0 size.
You can also have 0°, 15°, 25°, and 40° in a 2.0 size, or a 6.0 size, etc.
The numbers are stamped on the side of the nozzle like so. The first two digits are the fan spread, the last two digits are the orifice size:
The nozzle above has a 1/4 plug style connection that fits into the 1/4 coupler on a sprayer or wand. Some nozzles however are a fixed style that have 1/8" male NPT threads that fix directly into a wand or nozzle assembly.
When selecting the correct nozzle for your pressure washer, water flow is the main number you need to be looking at. A pressure washer does not build pressure so to speak, it merely pushes through a certain amount of water. The nozzle which restricts that flow of water is what build up the pressure. Because of this, the nozzle you're using has a huge impact on pressure washer performance. Too large of a nozzle and you won't have enough pressure. Too small of nozzle and pressure may build up too high and flow will be too restricted. While balance is good, we try to shoot for between 1000-1200PSI and as much flow as we can muster out of a particular pressure washer. This is ideal for washing vehicles.
To help with selection, here's a quick little chart that may help, based on MTM Hydro's calculator. First, start with the rated GPM of your machine, and then find your desired pressure. Where those two intersect is the nozzle size you should go with. Now, this isn't totally dead set and foolproof. There are times when a slightly larger or smaller nozzle works better with a particular machine, even if the chart should say otherwise. Keep in mind that you should NEVER shoot for a PSI rating higher than the rated work PSI of your machine.