Home » HVLP Guides & Tips » Air Compressors for HVLP

Power tools are awesome, and they make our work less cumbersome and our efforts more productive. So when using a HVLP spray gun with an air compressor for painting will get you better results, although there are some models that have a built-in turbine compressor.

Air Compressor for HVLP Sprayers

What exactly is an air compressor and why use one? Let’s take a quick glance. What simply happens is in the air compressor, atmospheric air is compacted (or pressed) to a given pressure.

This air is usually stored in a pressurized vessel usually made of galvanized steel, and as the air expands it creates volume and speed which can be used to atomize paint or power air tools. Used in conjunction with a high volume low pressure sprayer gun you now have an air compressor paint sprayer.

How Do I Choose the Right Air Compressor for an HVLP Spray Gun?

There are a few considerations to be aware of when choosing the correct hvlp compressor. Let’s now take a good look at the list.

When spraying the choice of compressor will depend on the amount of air used and the Spray Gun’s requirements as rated by the manufacturer. Also to be considered is how many spray guns are being used by the compressor.

You must be aware that If the compressor is too small for the type of gun you are using, it will affect the quality of the finish on the surface. In retrospect a too large of a compressor will be a waste of your money.

Here are a Few Compressor Choices

Your first choice will be between a direct drive compressor and a belt driven one. These two units are mainly used for mainly hobby (less demanding tasks) and the latter is more for workshop type projects. You match up what your use is with the type you need to look for.

The direct drive compressors are normally single stage and therefore the atmospheric air is compressed once. These units are inexpensive to buy and operate efficiently at lower pressures. So these are your cheaper choice.

Belt driven compressors will produce compressed air without working as hard as a direct driven compressor. These units are much more efficient, while delivering a greater amount of air for the power consumed and because they are two staged they run at cooler temps.

The last very important point to be made here is that your application or job that you are performing could make a large difference in the type of compressor you decide on.

As an example: intermittent use such as spray painting a kitchen cupboard or an outside fence a direct drive would work well. But be aware any much larger job both in hours to complete and even days of usage would be better served by a belt driven, stronger two stage compressor.

Should Your Compressor be Portable or Stationery?

It is necessary that the “portability” of the compressor be taken into account. If the unit is to be used primarily for spraying or spray painting garden fences, or other chores such as inflating car or bike tires or maybe use of the compression tanks to power pneumatic tools, please take into considerations how easily you may be able to move about.

A unit on wheels would fit the bill for you here. Be aware of smaller air compressors generating a lot of heat to do the job. This may create problems with the finished look being damaged because of the paints reaction with the warmer surface. So it is important to have the right compressor to get your specific job done to it’s finest quality.

Time to Learn About the HVLP Turbine

The hvlp sprayers are generally powered by either a compressor, which we have just discussed or a turbine system. The turbine system is a motor/fan assembly unit where the air compression to power the sprayer is generated.

The air compression from a turbine is created by fans within the turbine unit. The units are always rated by stages. A stage 2 has 2 fans, Stage 1 has 1, etc. A stage 4 is the most powerful unit with 4 fans in operation.

The more stages, the higher the airflow and the higher the air pressure is at the spray gun. One and two-stage units are best for thin finishes. A three-stage turbine, however, can handle most stains, varnishes and water-based finishes, although you will find that latex will have to be thinned.

A Word of Warning

If you know anything about this type of equipment, then you are aware of just how noisy the turbines can get while they are working. In fact that is probably the largest single reason people will not buy a hvlp sprayer/turbine unit. The noise level is very hard on your hearing.

In fact hearing loss may occur if you do not wear safety ear protection ear muffs. A standard turbine sounds like a very loud vacuum cleaner. The noise level of a standard turbine can become annoying. Many woodworkers use ear protection so the standard noisy turbine is not a problem for them.

One of the greatest complaints we have heard users have was their annoying vacuum cleaner whine.

In Summation

You must keep in mine that you will need to plan out your job, and what you are trying to accomplish. As you do this, please always keep in mind the following things.

  • How long will I be using the spray gun? The longer you are using it, you are going to need a more powerful unit because of overheating and effectiveness of your equipment.
  • Smaller job calls for a smaller turbine unity or a smaller compressor. A larger job needs a more powerful, a stage 4 turbine unit or a belt driven compressor.
  • Large consideration for job size, job length, Safety equipment (ears muffs)required and cost of your equipment purchase.
  • The sprayer you need to the job must always match up will the PSI measurements of either your compressor or turbine unit.