Hose Reels 101 for Detailers or Car Guys [Commercial & Consumer]

If you recently read my last post on Water Hoses 101 for Detailers, a follow-up product to that is quality hose reel. In this post, I’ll break down why it’s a good idea to invest in a nice hose reel if you are going to be a full time detailer, and break down a few types, from retractable to hand crank models. If you are just a car enthusiast, I’ll list a few budget options as well that should do the trick.

With hose reels, keep in mind that if you are in the pressure washing business in addition to detailing, you may need a larger hose reel but this post will mainly focus on reels suitable for washing vehicles. If you are just a car enthusiast, there are some great hose reel options I will cover that you can even mount in your garage if you would like. For others, I’ll break down a few of the more affordable garden hose reels that I thought were great choices.

With that said, here are a few of the most common hose reels that I have seen detailers use in the past, broken down by grade, wind method, and a link to Amazon if you want to check out each one.

 Reelworks L815153HA NorthStar 55788
Reelworks L815153HA icon
Quality Grade: Consumer

Wind Method: Spring Rewind

Fits: 3/8” Hose

Max Pressure: 300 PSI

Quality Grade: Consumer

Wind Method: Hand Crank

Fits: 3/8” Pressure Washer Hose

Max Pressure: 5,000 PSI

 Reelcraft CA33112 L Coxreels EZ-MPL
Reelcraft CA3112L
Quality Grade: Commercial

Wind Method: Hand Crank

Fits: 3/8” Pressure Washer Hose

Max Pressure: 1,000 PSI

Quality Grade: Commercial

Wind Method: Spring Rewind

Fits: Various Sizes

Max Pressure: 3,000 PSI

Coxreels 1125Reelcraft PW7650
Coxreels 1125
Quality Grade: Commercial

Wind Method: Hand Crank

Fits: Various Sizes

Max Pressure: 3,000 PSI

Quality Grade: Commercial

Wind Method: Spring Rewind

Fits: 1/2” Pressure Washer Hose

Max Pressure: 5,000 PSI

What to Know: Consumer Grade Hose Reels

plastic hose reel for washing car

If you don’t normally wash vehicles with a pressure washer, a good quality consumer-grade hose reel will work just fine. While you can always pick up a standard plastic hand-crank reel (with wheels), they’re prone to leaking and are usually pretty difficult to reel.

If you do have the ability to mount a hose reel, it’s not a bad idea, because in my experience bending over to wind these things can take a toll on your back. These cheap rolling reels are great for gardening, but for washing your car on Saturday, you really want something that retracts easily and comfortable to use.

If you are a detailer, while I have seen plastic hand crank reels used (and mounted to skids before), you really want to invest in at least an entry-level commercial grade hose reel if you can afford it. Every consumer-grade plastic hose reel will eventually crack based on my experience, and since you will likely detail dozens of cars per week, it’s probably likely to happen sooner rather than later.

My Top Picks: Consumer-Grade Hose Reels

Eley 1041

eley 1041 hose reel

As listed in the chart above, I really like the Eley series of reels. These are made of aluminum, and probably the most durable consumer-grade option if you’re just a car enthusiast that doesn’t plan to use a power washer. While the build materials and components aren’t quite as nice as higher-end commercial reels, Eley makes a nice line that you can either mount to a wall, flat surface, or move around (as some of these units have wheels).

Key mind that consumer-grade reels do not contain hoses/fittings suitable to be used with power washers at high pressures.

North Star 55788

northstar hose reel

For any car guy or detailer with a standard 3/8” hose and pressure washer, this is probably your most affordable option. This one looks nearly identical to the General Pump D30002 on Amazon, which is probably the most affordable reel I’ve seen with a PSI rating suitable for high pressure.

While these are more prone to leaking than a Coxreel (for example) they’re a pretty good value for most car enthusiasts who wash once a week. Both of these units I would classify as mid-grade units, definitely a step up than what you will find at a hardware store.

What to Know: Commercial Grade Hose Reels

car wash business man

With commercial-grade hose reels, one noticeable difference is that these pretty much always have powder-coated steel frames. With commercial-grade reels, they also have better couplings typically made from brass, and can tolerate heavy wear and tear involved with being used every day. If you are also going to be mounting one to your trailer or van, you need a good quality reel that won’t rust or move around.

My Top Picks: Hand Crank Hose Reels

Coxreels 1125 Series

coxreels 1125 hose reel

This one is great if you are building a mobile detailing skid unit on a budget. While retractable hose reels are great, they are also pretty extensive. This model by Coxreels I like because it comes with brass components, is easy to attach a hose to, has lubricated bearings, and can be mounted pretty easily to a flat surface. It also has a 3,000 PSI rating, which makes this one probably my favorite on the list based on it’s versatility.

If you are looking a quality hand-crank reel, this industry-standard brand can be purchased to fit just about any length hose depending on the diameter (see specs).

If you want ultimate convenience, this same model is also available with an electric motor. Just pick up a switch while you’re at it and you’re good to go.

Reelcraft CA33112 L

Reelcraft H18006 Pressure Washer Hose Reel

This is another good option very similar to the Coxreels unit and another pretty heavy-duty hand crank option. Reelcraft and Coxreels are both solid choices. This model is fairly expensive, but Reelcraft also makes a medium-duty hand crank reel for slightly less. It is made with powder-coated components to avoid corrosion and comes with a mounting bracket. You also can purchase adapters to fit the size hose you need.

My Top Picks: Retractable Hose Reels

Reelcraft PW7650

Reelcraft PW7650 pressure washer retractable hose reel

Keep in mind that many times if you purchase a Kranzle or other pressure washer skid unit, many times these will come with cheaper built-in reels, but really the cream of the crop in terms of reels is a retractable unit like this one by Reelcraft.

These are significantly more expensive, but ideal for adding convenience to your detailing operation since it is spring-loaded which makes it retractable. These can also be purchased without the hose, but the complete package is probably the best option for most people.

Coxreels EZ-MPL-450

Coxreels EZ-MPL-450 retractabe pressure washer hose

This is another springloaded hose reel, and probably my favorite retractable hose reel on this list for detailers. Coxreels is a great company, with everything made in the U.S. This one, in particular, accepts a 1/2” hose (you will need to purchase separately), and is rated up to 2,500 PSI.

Coxreels makes numerous hoses for oil, gas, air, and water, so just be sure that you purchase one intended for water.

One Last Note

Before purchasing a reel, be sure that whatever size hose you intend to use will fit on the reel itself. Since many pressure washers use a 3/8” diameter hose, this is something to check. Usually, the manufacturer will list this specification on the reel itself. It’s also not a bad idea to pick up a couple of quick connect nozzles while you’re at it if you will be using a customer’s water source.

Hose Reel Pressure Ratings

No matter the hose you outfit many of these reels with, make sure the maximum pressure rating (PSI) will be suitable for your needs. If you’re washing from home without a pressure washer, around 75 PSI is the maximum amount of pressure that can be generated from a standard tap, so any of these reels would work.

On the other hand, if you plan to use a pressure washer, make sure you select a hose reel (and hose) that can handle at least 1,200 – 1900 PSI. Anything over this range is overkill, since you don’t want to risk damaging the paint.

Make the Hose You Use Will Fit

Some of the reels made by Reelcraft or Coxreels can be purchased with the hose (based on the size you want), but I’ve also seen people purchase these without the hose (to purchase separately), which you can certainly do sometimes a bit cheaper.

Gallons per minute (GPM) also factors into the equation when deciding what reel and hose to purchase. For example, if you tend to wash fleets or larger vehicles, a larger hose (like a 1/2” diameter) will be able to disperse more water and clean slightly faster than your standard 3/8” pressure washer hose. However for most people washing cars, it’s not really necessary.

If you are considering building a pressure washer skid mount, be sure to check out this post I wrote for a few ideas.

Have any recommendations or comments on what to look for? Leave a comment below.

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