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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 a quality hose reel. In this post, I’ll break down why it’s a good idea to invest in a nice hose reel no matter if you are a hobbyist or detailer.

Reels come in a few types, from retractable to hand crank models.

You may need a larger hose reel if you are in the pressure washing business, but I’ll focus on reels ideal for washing vehicles.

Quick tip: In the market, you will find plastic and metal hose reels with hand cranks or some that are self-winding. I recommend metal for most people…because they won’t break if you drive over them.  You also need to consider if you want to mount your reel for convenience.

I’ll start with a few of the best hose reels out there, and from there, cover the differences in consumer-grade and commercial models.

 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

Washing a vehicle with consumer grade hose reels

plastic hose reel for washing car

If you don’t normally wash vehicles with a pressure washer, a simple hose reel will work just fine. Some consumer grade hose reels you can wind are made of metal (which I recommend). They’re a bit difficult to find in stores, but the way to go.

Many cheap rolling hose reels are great for gardening, but you ideally want a reel that retracts easily, includes brass fittings, and won’t crack.

Here are a couple options for the average joe.

My Top Picks: Consumer-Grade Hose Reels

Eley 1041

What I like

The ‘web’s highest-rated garden hose reel’ according to Eley, made in America.

eley 1041 hose reel

As listed in the chart above, I really like the Eley series of reels. These are made of aluminum, and are probably the most durable consumer-grade option if you don’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).

General Pump D30002

What I like

An affordable, solid steel hose reel that you can mount.

Need a quality reel for less than $100? You can go wrong with this General Pump D30002 on Amazon. If you’re looking to extend the range of your power washer for detailing…you’ll need a reel suitable for high pressure.

While these are a notch below a unit by Coxreel (for example) they’re a pretty good value for car enthusiasts who wash once a week. Both of these units I would classify as mid-grade units, but a step up from what you will find at most bog box stores.

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

What I like

A trusted brand and built to last.

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

What I like

Tension can be added to the spool. Made in USA.

Reelcraft CA33112L Detailing 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

What I like

Perfect for a garage setup

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

What I like

Another trusted brand, lock-ratchet system for setting hose length.

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.

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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