Karcher SC3 vs SC4 Steam Cleaner: What’s the Difference?

If you’re in the market for a compact and cost-effective steam cleaner then you’ll be familiar with the Karcher SC EasyFix range. The SC3 and SC4 are two of the most popular models and there is quite big a price gap between them, but what are the actual differences?

In this article I’ll be directly comparing the Karcher SC3 and SC4 Steam Cleaners so you can figure out which is the best machine for you.

The Karcher SC3 is cheaper, smaller and lighter compared to the SC4. Both the SC3 and SC4 can be refilled without having to cool down the steamer, and they have the same maximum steam pressure. The SC3 has a faster heating time but smaller capacity compared to the SC4.

Comparing Specifications

Before we jump into the details, here is a quick table comparing all the main features of the Karcher SC3 and SC4.

SpecificationKarcher SC3 EasyFixKarcher SC4 EasyFix
Cleaning Performance/ Tank75 m2100 m2
Heating Output1900 W2000 W
Max Steam Pressure3.5 bar3.5 bar
Mains Cable Length4 m4 m
Hose Length2 m2 m
Heating Time30 seconds4 minutes
Number of Tanks12
Tank1.0 L0.5 L/ 0.8 L
Constant SteamingYesYes
Descaler CartridgeYesNo
Weight3.1 kg4.1 kg
Dimensions36 cm x 24 cm x 25 cm38 cm x 25 cm x 27 cm
Karcher SC3 vs SC4 Steam Cleaner

Heating Time

The Karcher SC3 EasyFix has a heating time of 30 seconds, which is faster than the Karcher SC4 which has a heating time of 5 minutes. In my opinion, 5 minutes is not too long to wait and as long as you set it up before you start any other cleaning task, you won’t even notice the extra waiting period.

Water Tank and Refilling

The Karcher SC3 has a single built-in tank. The Karcher SC4 has a separate boiler and tank, so the water tank can be removed to refill it.

Unlike the less expensive Karcher SC2 model, the SC3 and SC4 both have constant steaming. This means that you do not need to wait for the machine to depressurise before filling it with more water, so you can continue to clean without stopping.

With the SC4 you simply remove the water tank to refill it, and with the SC3 you can just pour more water into the built-in tank even when the machine is still hot.

Overall, the SC4 has a higher capacity compared to the SC3 so allows you to clean for longer before refilling the tank.

Cleaning Power and Performance

Both the Karcher SC3 and SC4 have the same maximum steam pressure of 3.5 bar and offer the same level of performance in a practical setting.

Both machines have been tested and kill 99.99% of bacteria, however this is after spot cleaning at the maximum steam level with direct contact for 30 seconds which would damage a lot of surfaces.

Steam cleaners when used more practically still have antimicrobial properties, but won’t achieve a 99.99% reduction in the amount of bacteria on the surface.

Descaler Cartridge

Only the SC3 Steam Cleaner has a descaler cartridge. The SC4 does not come with a descaler cartridge.

The descaler cartridge on the SC3 removes limescale from the water so it doesn’t affect the machine. The cartridge will need to be replaced every 6 months if using the steamer weekly. This does add some extra running cost to this SC3.

In order to descale a Karcher SC4, you need to remove the boiler tank head (using the extension poles) and fill it with the Karcher Descaling Solution. The solution should be left in the boiler for 8 hours and then rinsed out. The SC4 should be descaled every 6 months if using it weekly. This works out cheaper than having to replace the cartridges in the SC3.

Accessories Included

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

Accessories included with both the SC3 and SC4:

  • 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

The Karcher SC3 EasyFix is slightly smaller and lighter than the SC4 making it a bit easier to store and carry.The Karcher SC4 is about 2 cm larger in terms of the width, height and length, and is roughly 30% heavier compared to the SC3. Both these steamers are pretty light and compact.

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

Dimension (metric)Karcher SC3Karcher SC4
Length36.0 cm38.0 cm
Width23.6 cm25.1 cm
Height25.3 cm27.3 cm
Weight3.1 kg4.1 kg
Dimension (imperial)Karcher SC3Karcher SC4
Length14.2″15.0″
Width9.3″9.9″
Height10.0″10.7″
Weight6.8 lbs9.0 lbs

Similarities

  • 3.5 bar maximum pressure
  • Both the SC3 and SC4 have a steam-flow regulator on the handle
  • Both machines have an integrated funnel
  • Both machines have the same accessories except for the descaler cartridge on the SC3
  • Same 2 meter nozzle and 4 meter mains cable
  • Both machines have integrated storage for the cable and accessories
  • Both have a childproof safety lock and safety valve

Price Comparison

At the time of writing, the Karcher SC3 unit has an RRP of only 8% less than the SC4 model. However, the SC3 unit is frequently on sale so works out significantly cheaper (up to 33% less) than the SC4.

Which Should You Get?

In my opinion, the Karcher SC3 offers better value for money than the Karcher SC4, especially if you can find a discounted SC3 like I could. I do not think the features on the SC4 really justify the price difference so I personally would go with the SC3 out of the two.

Check out my comparison between the Karcher SC2 and SC3

Check out my comparison between the Karcher SC4 and SC5

Heather

Heather

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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