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How to start water fed pole window cleaning on a budget

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Whether you have decided to make the switch from trad to water fed pole or you are just starting out as a window cleaner, few people have large budgets to invest in equipment. There are great premade systems out there that just bolt into a van, but many people want to go the DIY route and put the system together themselves. Here is our guide on how to get started water fed pole window cleaning on a budget.

Every water fed pole window cleaning system needs the same basic elements

No matter how big or small, every system needs the same 5 basic parts to work as a cleaning system. I made a video about this that you can watch here:

The five main parts are:

A reservoir – to carry the pure water. This could be anything from a 25 litre barrel to a custom-built 1000 litre tank.

A pump – to move the water from the reservoir to the windows. This should be 12v and around 100 psi.

A pump controller – to cut off the pump when you stop the flow, and to control the speed of the pump

A power source – to power the pump. This is usually a 12v leisure battery.

A water delivery system – such as a hose to deliver the water to the windows.

Keep this in mind because everything comes back to these 5 main elements.

The most basic setup – a backpack

If you are just trying out window cleaning, or perhaps you are trad and just looking to do the difficult windows with a water-fed pole, then a backpack may be perfect for you.

To source your water you can keep it simple by buying it. You may have a spotless water station near to you, or you can ask other local window cleaners. Many would be happy to help out and sell you water at a reasonable price.

You can fill up 25 litre barrels like these with pure water and you can usually work out of your car when starting out. You may prefer to buy a small wyedale baffled tank to hold 120 litres of water and make filling easier.

Once your water is sorted you simply need a backpack. These are usually cheap. A backpack isn’t worn on your back, it’s best to leave it on the floor while you clean the windows. You could even strap it to a sacktruck to make it easier to transport around.

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You could buy something like this starter kit from the window cleaning warehouse.

It comes with the popular Big Boy Backpack and an 18 ft Full Carbon Phantom Pole! It also includes a DI vessel and resin to get you cleaning if you live in a soft water area.

Moving on – a trolley system

Trolleys usually have a higher capacity than backpacks and are pre-mounted on a sacktruck to make it easier to move around a job site.

The only other thing you need to buy is a pole (which will usually include a brush). Check out our pole reviews to find one that will be good for you.

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For example, you could buy Xline’s mid-range package for £1155 +vat which includes the trolley, 25ft pole, 25 litre drums and an ro filter. It would have everything you need to get started.

To make it even better Xline are giving a 5% discount when you use the voucher code TCG5 at the checkout!

For example, you could buy Xline’s mid-range package for £1155 +vat which includes the trolley, 25ft pole, 25 litre drums and an ro filter. It would have everything you need to get started.

If you are new, practice on your own windows. Take your time. Do good quality work and with time you will increase your speed and gain a good reputation.

A DIY van setup

Working from a car with a backpack or a trolley is brilliant to give you a taste of water fed pole window cleaning, but it can be tough lifting the heavy water in and out of the boot, carrying a heavy backpack around the property, and having to keep refilling it. It’s time for a DIY van setup!

Reservoir – you can buy a baffled tank. It is important to get a baffled tank because it stops the water from moving about too much as you travel. 1 litre of water weighs 1kg, so be careful that you do not exceed the payload on your van when it is full of water.

Safety is important so you need to secure your tank in place. Imagine that you had a crash with half a tonne of water unsecured in the back of the van! I recommend a frame that fits around the tank and is bolted to the floor of the van to secure the water. It is also possible to secure your tank with ratchet straps, but be aware that the tie-down points in the van are not designed to secure a very heavy load in place.

Pump – the standard pump for window cleaners is the shurflo.

Pump Controller – there are lots of advantages to go for a spring v16 controller. There are many types available from the basic all the way to controllers that automate your filtration.

Power source – though it may be tempting to use your existing van battery, it is not a good idea. A van battery is designed to give a large amount of energy for a short time, but for window cleaning, we want a small amount of energy over an extended time. Using your van battery is a false economy as it will shorten its life and can discharge your battery making your van unstartable.

For this, we need a leisure battery.

You can get by with a 70ah battery, but a 110ah or larger battery will be better. Be sure to fuse it and include a cut-off switch.

Water delivery system – You can buy a basic hose reel. When starting out on a budget you don’t need to get powered reels that run on bearings. You will likely need to have 100m of hose, plus pole hose.

Once you have a van, you can have a budget DIY van set up. Follow along with TCG to see how our DIY van build goes. A setup like this will last you for years and will make you thousands of pounds.

Choose your best option

The best option for you may depend on your budget, the work you already have, whether you see yourself doing residential or commercial work, and what the houses are like in your are with regards to parking, access and height.

Backpacks, trolleys and van mounted systems are the three basic types of systems. There will be lots more information to come on TCG regarding each of these.

Starting up is usually the hardest point. You are spending money without having immediate returns. By being committed and reliable you can grow a good window cleaning business that will offer great returns on your initial investment.

2 thoughts on “How to start water fed pole window cleaning on a budget”

  1. That’s a fine summary of a start up process in window cleaning. This is going to help a lot of people.
    Do you have any tips as to what to look out for when buying someone’s round or their already set up window cleaning van?

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