Mobile detailing is a little different than mobile car washing in that you are spending a lot more time on each automobile, and you are making a lot more money on each car you clean. In mobile car washing you might end up doing 5-10 cars per hour with a crew of 2-3, whereas, with mobile auto detailing you might work alone, no employees (an added benefit) and spend 1.5 or more hours cleaning a single automobile. Let’s talk.
You see, not long ago an individual asked me about equipment, as they wanted to start this business and do it part time, but didn’t want to invest very much money in the equipment to get started. They had some equipment, a portable generator, vacuum, and very small water tank, about 35-gallons. They were concerned about what type of pump to purchase for the washing part of their auto detailing;
“I was looking at a pump called Delavan PowerFlo 12Volt. Would this size pump work for the size tank I have? It’s a small utility pump I found. Not sure how well it would do. Once I get going I wouldn’t mind getting a bigger tank and upgrading my setup to optimize for the customers once I get established.”
Small pumps like the one they mentioned may not be the best choice due to the low-volume, plus low pressure. This particular brand of pump is fine, and decent quality, and perfect for some uses, but perhaps not for washing a number of cars and doing it quickly. Why you might wonder?
Well, if you have low-volume you’ll need higher pressure. If you have higher volume you can get away with lower pressure but you will deplete your tank too quickly, see that problem. It might be better to find a plastic 55-gallon drum and hook it to a Walmart electric pressure washer or one you find at Home Depot since you already have a generator. Generators put out 110, not 12-volts you see.
If you have a generator, why bother going with a 12-volt system which you’d have to run off the vehicle battery? You could start out small as you suggest, however, for the price of a 12-volt pump you could probably buy a cheapo Chinese made pressure washer and then when you upgrade later you could get a full-blown 5hp Honda pressure washer with a 1500 PSI pump and get a 100-gallon loaf tank.
Even if you start out on a shoe string which is perfectly acceptable while you are just getting your feet wet, you still need to strategically think ahead and leave your options open. Please consider all this and think on it.