When shopping for a new floor scrubber you will want to know if the machine you are looking at is self-propelled or not. These machines are called traction-drive units. These machines will usually have drive wheels or tires that move the scrubber along for you so that you don't have to push the machine. Traction-drive scrubbers will have have a speed control function that will allow you to adjust the speed of movement allowing slow movement in some areas and faster speeds in others.
Brush-Drive or Pad-Assist machines use the brush or the pad driver to pull the machine along. The brush is angled slightly so that the turning of the brush helps pull the machine forward. With a push to get them going the brush-drive machines allow you to walk behind the scrubber with little effort. However, they will not assist you going in reverse. With the brush lifted up they will free roll on the wheels very easily to transport the machine.
Usually machines above 20" are all traction-drive. Many of the entry priced 20" floor scrubbers you will see are brush-drive. Here's why: Traction-drive machines require a control device, usually a small computer board, a motor, and a transaxle. This adds cost.
However, there are some benefits to a traction-drive. One is more productivity. You will find that traction-drive machines will cover more floor than brush-drive machines. They are also easier to load if you need to drive them up a ramp into a trailer or van. Traction-drive machines will also help with operator fatigue. They are more comfortable to use and require less effort to operate. Many choose the brush drive scrubber when it is not needed to transport the machine often and the space to clean is relatively small.