Karcher SC4 vs SC5: Which Steam Cleaner is Best?

If you’re looking for a powerful but still affordable steam cleaner, then these two top-of-the-line domestic options from Karcher are well worth considering. In this article I’ll be directly comparing the Karcher SC4 and SC5 steam cleaners so you can figure out which is the best option for you.

The Karcher SC5 has a longer mains cable, longer hose, larger water tank and higher maximum steam pressure compared to the SC4. Both the SC4 and SC5 have continuous steaming, a removable water tank, integrated cable and accessory storage and come with the same accessories.

Comparing Specifications

Let’s start with a comparison of the specifications of these two steam cleaners.

SpecificationKarcher SC4 EasyFixKarcher SC5 EasyFix
Cleaning Performance/ Tank100 m2150m2
Heating Output2000 W2200 W
Max Steam Pressure3.5 bar4.2 bar
Mains Cable Length4 m6 m
Hose Length2 m2.3 m
Heating Time4 minutes3 minutes
Number of Tanks22
Tank0.5 L/ 0.8 L0.5 L/ 1.5 L
VapoHydro FunctionNoYes
Steam Adjust Dial on UnitNoYes
Plug for IroningNoYes
Weight4.1 kg6.0 kg
Dimensions38 cm x 25 cm x 27 cm44 cm x 30 cm x 30.5 cm
Karcher SC4 vs SC5 Steam Cleaner

Cleaning Power and Performance

The Karcher SC5 offers better performance compared to the SC4 because it has a higher maximum steam pressure (20% more). This makes it a more efficient machine, however you can still clean similar items to the same level using the SC4, it’ll just take longer.

The SC5 also has the “VapoHydro” feature (unlike the SC4) which allows you to add hot water in with the steam to remove stubborn dirt and rinse it away giving it better cleaning power. However, this is not safe for all surfaces as it will saturate the surface with water.

Tank Size and Heating

The Karcher SC5 has a larger water tank and heats up faster compared to the SC4.

  • The SC5 has a 1.5 litre tank and the SC4 has a 0.8 litre tank
  • The SC5 takes 3 minutes to heat up whereas the SC4 takes 4 minutes

The difference between the heating times is very minimal and you’re highly unlikely to notice it in a practical setting. However, the larger tank on the SC5 is very handy as it means you don’t have to refill it as frequently.

Cable and Hose Length

The Karcher SC5 has a longer mains cable and hose length compared to the SC4.

  • The SC4 has a 4 meter mains cable whereas the SC5 has a 6 meter mains cable (50% longer)
  • The SC4 has a 2 meter hose whereas the SC5 has a 2.3 hose (15% longer)

In my opinion, the extra hose length on the SC5 isn’t that advantageous, but the extra mains cable length is, as it means you can get around a car (if you position it correctly) without having to use an extension cable provided there is a socket close enough. With the SC4, you’ll almost always need to use an extension cable.

Additional Features

The Karcher SC5 comes with a couple of additional features that are not found on the SC4:

  • The SC5 has a “VapoHydro” function which allows you to add hot water in with the steam to remove stubborn dirt and rinse it away giving it better cleaning power.
  • The SC5 is the only model in the Karcher domestic steam cleaner range that allows you to adjust the steam level on the unit itself (rather than just using the nozzle) which is useful for the floor attachment.
  • The SC5 also has a plug for an iron.

Accessories Included

Accessories included with both the Karcher SC4 and SC5:

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

On a lot of SC5 packages, you also get some descaling powder to clean the machine. This needs doing every 6 months (if the machine is used weekly), so it’s handy to have some included so you don’t need to purchase it separately.

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 SC5 is roughly 50% heavier compared to the SC4 which is very light. The SC5 is around 5 cm longer and wider than the SC4, and 3 cm taller which makes it tricker to store.

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

Dimension (metric)Karcher SC4Karcher SC5
Length38.0 cm43.9 cm
Width25.1 cm30.1 cm
Height27.3 cm30.5 cm
Weight4.1 kg6.0 kg
Dimension (imperial)Karcher SC4Karcher SC5
Length15.0″17.3″
Width9.9″11.9″
Height10.7″4.2″
Weight9.0 lbs13.2 lbs

Similarities

Despite their numerous differences, the SC4 and SC5 do share quite a few features. Here’s a list of key similarities between these two steam cleaners:

  • Separate boiler and tank so the water can be refilled at any time
  • Steam-flow regulator on the handle
  • Integrated funnel
  • Integrated storage for the cable and accessories
  • Childproof safety lock and safety valve
  • Both machines have the same accessories

Price Comparison

At the time of writing, the Karcher SC5 is 66% more expensive compared to the SC4 and is a very considerable investment.

Which Should You Get?

Although the Karcher SC5 comes with some useful features and packs more of a punch, the price difference between this and the SC4 model is too much to justify in my opinion.

For most situations, the SC4 offers a good level of performance and just requires some more persistence and time to get good results on very stubborn grime. Yes, the extra mains cable length and larger tank are handy, but I just don’t think it’s worth the extra money.

Check out this comparison between the Karcher SC3 and SC4

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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