Karcher SC2 vs SC3: Best Affordable Steam Cleaner?

If you’re looking for an affordable steam cleaner, whether it’s for car detailing or for your home, then the the SC2 and SC3 EasyFix units by Karcher are two of the most popular to consider. But what is the difference between them, and is the SC3 worth the extra?

The main difference between the Karcher SC2 and SC3 steam cleaners, is that the SC2 must be depressurised and cooled before refilling the water tank unlike the SC3 which can be filled when in-use. Both the SC2 and SC3 have the same pressure, and are roughly the same size and weight.

Comparing Specifications

First off, let’s start with a comparison of the specifications of these two domestic steam cleaners.

SpecificationKarcher SC2 EasyFixKarcher SC3 EasyFix
Cleaning Performance/ Tank75 m275 m2
Heating Output1500 W1900 W
Max Steam Pressure3.5 bar3.5 bar
Mains Cable Length4 m4 m
Hose Length2 m2 m
Heating Time6.5 minutes30 seconds
Tank1.0 L1.0 L
Constant SteamingNoYes
Descaler CartridgeNoYes
Weight2.9 kg3.1 kg
Dimensions38 x 25 x 26 cm36 x 24 x 25 cm
Karcher SC3 vs SC4 Steam Cleaner

Heating Time

The first notable difference difference between these two steam cleaners, is how long they take to heat up before they can be used:

  • The SC2 takes 6.5 minutes to heat up
  • The SC3 takes 30 seconds to heat up

This is a big difference and does make the SC2 less convenient, especially when considering the next difference…

Water Tank and Refilling

Although both the SC2 and SC3 both have a 1 litre water tank capacity, only the SC3’s tank can refilled when the machine is still in-use. Instead, with the SC2, you must wait for it to depressurise and cool before you can refill the tank.

This is because the SC3 has a descaling cartridge which means you can pour water into it when using the machine.

The SC2 on the other hand has a safety valve feature which means you have to pull the trigger for around 30 seconds until the steam stops and then leave the machine to cool down (for about 10 minutes) before removing the steam cap and refilling.

If you are only using the SC2 for small jobs, then it won’t bother you, but if you are cleaning a very dirty car or multiple rooms then you will probably find it quite annoying waiting for it to cool and then heat up again (this takes about 17 minutes).

Cleaning Power and Performance

Both the Karcher SC2 and SC3 steam cleaners have the same maximum steam pressure (3.5 bar) and come with the same attachments which means the performance is the same.

They’re great for interior detailing and cleaning the home, although stubborn grime may require some more persistence with these two models compared to the more expensive SC5 which has a max pressure of 4.2 bar (the SC4 also has a max pressure of 3.5 bar).

Descaler Cartridge

Only the SC3 Steam Cleaner has a descaler cartridge. The SC2 does not come with a descaler cartridge.

The descaler cartridge removes limescale from the water to keep it running properly, however you can still descale the SC2 by using the Karcher Descaling Powder.

It actually works out cheaper to use the powder rather than having to replace the descaler cartridge on the SC3.

In either case, you’ll need to do this roughly every 6 months if the machine is used weekly, or annually if used less frequently.

Accessories Included

Apart from the descaler cartridge, the remaining accessories included are the same for both steam cleaners.

Accessories included with both the SC2 and SC3:

  • Microfiber floor cloth
  • Microfiber cover for manual nozzle
  • Detail nozzle
  • Hand tool
  • Floor tool
  • Round brush
  • 2 x 0.5 meter extension tubes

Note: make sure you always check what accessories are included in the package you are buying. Some retailers offer different accessories in certain packages.

Dimensions and Weight

These two steam cleaners are very similar in terms of size and weight and both are very light and compact making them easy to store and transport. The SC2 actually has marginally larger dimensions compared to the SC3, but the latter is a touch heavier.

Here is a comparison of the dimensions and weight of these two steam cleaners.

Dimension (metric)Karcher SC2Karcher SC3
Length38.0 cm36.0 cm
Width25.4 cm23.6 cm
Height26.0 cm25.3 cm
Weight2.9 kg3.1 kg
Dimension (imperial)Karcher SC2Karcher SC3
Weight6.4 lbs6.8 lbs


Here is a list of features that the SC2 and SC3 share:

  • 3.5 bar maximum pressure
  • Steam-flow regulator on the handle
  • Integrated funnel
  • 1 litre water tank capacity
  • Same accessories except for the descaler cartridge on the SC3
  • Same 2 meter nozzle and 4 meter mains cable
  • Integrated storage for the cable and accessories
  • Childproof safety lock and safety valve

Price Comparison

At the time of writing the SC3 is roughly 25% more expensive than the SC2.

Which Should You Get?

In my opinion, the Karcher SC3 is a better option compared to the SC2.

The main reason being that the water tank on the SC3 can be refilled without having to depressurise and cool the machine down which takes around 15-20 minutes with the SC2. This makes the SC3 much more convenient when steam cleaning larger areas and worth the additional cost to me.

Check out this comparison between the Karcher SC3 and SC4



Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on autocarehq.com and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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