In this guide, I will explain the difference between HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) and LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) spray guns which professional painters use for their work in daily day-to-day projects.
I will describe each and everything which you need to know before buying any one of these so that you don’t regret later on your choice.
This guide will be very helpful to newbies who don’t know the basics of both of these spray guns.
When it comes to finishing with Airspray, two types of guns are used: The high-pressure versions and the low-pressure air spray guns.
As the name suggests, the high-pressure air guns have higher pressure than low-pressure air spray guns.
Today, we’ll look at the similarities and differences between an HVLP vs LVLP spray gun and what they are best used for.
We’ll look at their similarities and differences, which includes the use of both air and paint volume as well as their uses.
The HVLP vs LVLP spray gun debate has been going on for years. In this blog, we’ll look at whether there is even a debate to be had.
- 1 Format of HVLP spray gun
- 2 The turbine of the HVLP spray gun
- 3 Pneumatic HVLP spray guns
- 4 Transfer efficiency of HVLP spray guns
- 5 Job size of HVLP spray guns
- 6 Compressor Requirement of HVLP spray gun
- 7 Operating Pressure HVLP paint sprayers
- 8 Paint Mediums of HVLP sprayers
- 9 HVLP from price point of view
- 10 Who should use HVLP vs LVLP spray gun?
- 11 LVLP Format
- 12 Transfer efficiency of LVLP spray gun
- 13 Job size of LVLP spray guns
- 14 Compressor Requirement for LVLP spray gun
- 15 Operating pressure for LVLP sprayers
- 16 Paint Mediums of LVLP sprayers
- 17 LVLP from price point of view
- 18 Who should use an LVLP vs HVLP spray gun?
- 19 FAQ’s
- 20 Summary of HVLP vs LVLP spray gun
Format of HVLP spray gun
The HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) spray guns can be either turbine or pneumatically driven units as compared to LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) spray guns that are compressor-powered.
Actually, it’s the spraying pressure and the volume of the air that accelerates the paint particles.
This is an important factor to decide the caliber of the spray gun, because the larger and heavier the paint particles, the smaller the spray gun caliber needs to be.
This ensures that the spray gun is capable of accelerating the paint particles properly. The caliber of the spray gun makes it even easier to create a thin, even coat.
The turbine of the HVLP spray gun
HVLP turbines are the best power-tools for DIY work. They are popular worldwide and greatly facilitate paint jobs.
The turbines operate straight out of the box and require very little maintenance and cleaning. HVLP turbines are ideal for large-scale work such as weatherproofing fencing, decking, and upscaling furniture, among a plethora of more affordable options!
Pneumatic HVLP spray guns
Pneumatic air guns are perfect for anyone who works with high volume as well as anyone who wants a little bit more control over the thickness of their coatings.
This tool doesn’t require gas, so it’s pleasant to work with and very easy to maintain.
However, pneumatic guns require an external source of power – a compressor — so it’s important that you choose a reliable gun that can use common compressors already in your shop.
You’ll save some cash on paint with this option too.
Air guns have one major downside: unlike HVLP turbines, they don’t provide continuous airflow, requiring the use of separate machines that can hog up shop space.
Transfer efficiency of HVLP spray guns
Lifting paint performance is the next frontier in paint gun technology. But how do you lift the performance of a paint gun directly?
Well, you might hear about an HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) turbine unit or a pneumatic pump sprayer that offer a certain percent of TE (transfer efficiency rating).
This will tell you just how much of the paint actually makes it onto your work surface and not end up as fumes. As it turns out, 65 percent is the accepted level for a true “high-velocity, low pressure” tool.
And for those looking for higher levels of transfer – such as spraying multiple layers with less shrinkage between coats.
There are systems aimed toward automotive painters and industrial coatings experts alike that offer up to 68 percent TE.
Transfer efficiency is the ratio of paint that is deposited on the surface to the amount of paint that leaves the spray gun.
The higher the transfer efficiency, the more paint that is deposited on the surface. A good tool will have a transfer efficiency of at least 60-65%.
There are many factors that affect the transfer efficiency of a tool, including the quality and type of coating, the color of the surface, and the material and texture of the surface.
These can all affect the amount of paint that is applied and the amount of overspray.
Therefore, it is important to know what type of environment you are using the tool in, and that you are using the right tool for the job.
Job size of HVLP spray guns
If you have a small to midsize project — say an outdoor wall, decking a garden shed, or fiddly cabinet painting — then an HVLP sprayer may be for you.
They’re also great for industrial applications as well. But if you’re going to make a habit of completing commercial projects, you may find that the prosumer airless sprayer.
Which keeps things moving quickly—is what’s best for your toolbox. Of course, a sea strip premium pro sprayer from Graco can handle those larger undertakings with ease.
Compressor Requirement of HVLP spray gun
For HVLP turbine sprayers, you needn’t worry about a compressor. So, when it comes to finding the perfect device for your project, don’t let the lack or presence of a compressor stop you from going for something interesting.
If you’re doing pneumatic turbine painting, on the other hand, proper pressure is key. With too little pressure and flow your painting might come out as more of a disappointing dribble than something respectable.
Compressors are usually measured in two parameters: air pressure in pounds per square inch (psi) and air flow in cubic feet per minute (cfm). The psi needed for an HVLP pneumatic paint gun will be right within most home uses’ capabilities.
It’s crucial that the CFM figure is high though; I find that 8-15 cfm is certainly needed to achieve professional results with this type of tool.
You also don’t need as high a pressure or as many cfm’s (cubic feet per minute) of air flow like you would if you were using a regular compressor and pneumatic spray gun.
It might still seem complicated, but when it comes down to what will give you the best results spraying your finish project.
The important thing is finding the correct combination of air pressure and air flow so that you can achieve the right finish on whatever type of material you’re wanting to spray with this particular machine.
It is a type of airless spray gun in which the paint is propelled out of the spray gun by air pressure. The air pressure is lower than that produced by a conventional air compressor.
This gun is popular among seasoned painters because it is easier to clean and maintain than conventional spray gun. It is also lightweight and can provide a top-quality finish to the workpiece.
The gun uses a piston pump, which keeps the amount of overspray to a minimum and produces a finer finish than conventional spray guns. There is no pressure regulator needed to achieve the correct air pressure.
A person should check the gun owner’s manual to determine the minimum air compressor requirements.
Operating Pressure HVLP paint sprayers
Typically, a point of confusion for spraying newbies. We find that this is most often the case with HVLP turbine fanatics and we want to explain some things here. For starters, life is simple when you have an HVLP gun.
Depending on the machine one has, operating at around 10 PSI is typical for HVLP turbine guns.
Confusion arises again in pneumatic HVLP guns where there’s a mixup about mixing the output pressure with the functioning pressure of the compressor.
This may look like a lot of pressure for an HVLP gun, however it is not! 80-90 psi is standard and most commonly used by DIYers and professionals alike.
The output of an HVLP gun depends on two different factors, the ability to cool sprayed material as it passes through the gun and tip size.
You can think of it this way: while painting, you have your compressor set at around 80 psi (compressed air).
The same amount that goes into your gun has to get shot out through the spray tip. A fine spray tip will require less compressed air to get pushed out because some of the air our meeting other forces in the line.
Paint Mediums of HVLP sprayers
Turbine HVLP sprayers, like some Wagner Paint Ready models, are renowned for their ability to spray a plethora of mediums: acrylic and enamel paints, primer, stain and even latex paints.
Similarly, the majority of pneumatic HVLP guns can usually spray a great deal more than just paint.
Other options include but may not be limited to primers, stains and varnishes – depending on your budget it may be worth investing in such an application tool as well.
One of the most crucial considerations is whether or not the gun you choose has 2K technology or is multi-coating compatible.
For example, you will need at least a 1.6mm tip if you plan to use this to apply any kind of latex paint.
Many HVLP gun manufacturers offer nozzles galore (cue The More Masks by Kenny Rogers) so that the user can choose from tip sizes that vary from 0.3mm up to 5 mm.
So it’s easy for said user to propels streams and coats of varying thicknesses too.
HVLP from price point of view
HVLP turbine fans once again have proven themselves the most affordable paint sprayers on the market. Not only are they cost-effective to buy, but they also don’t require a compressor.
Additionally, there are no labor fees as one might face when using other types of air pumps. Lest we forget that HVLPs also don’t require experience or skill.
These machines take the fear out of painting. This makes these lovable little monsters ideal for DIY enthusiasts and painting virgins alike.
While HVLPs do require more set-up than traditional guns, it’s worth it in the long run if you’re saving money on costly power tools like compressors.
Not to mention all the time it saves from having to sand down your newly painted projects after you complete them.
Who should use HVLP vs LVLP spray gun?
HVLP turbines have a reputation for being easier, faster and creating less of a mess when painting than conventional guns.
They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and designs to suit individuals looking for the more casual DIYer experience.
But plenty of them are also suitable for use by more advanced home improvers and serious householders too.
For the novice, painting is additive fun – you can buy pre-packaged sprays, or create your own concoctions.
Along with these recipes will come suggestions on how each one should be prepared to ensure optimal results; dilution ratios; as well as spray settings (also often variable depending on what you’re painting).
Unlike traditional HVLP guns, which come in both turbine and pneumatic versions, LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) guns are exclusively powered by air compressors.
So, if you don’t already own one of these units specifically for powering other tools you work with like impact wrenches, power drills, or nail guns.
Then you’ll need to go out and buy a separate compressor before being able to use your LVLP gun sprayer.
Interestingly enough, LVLP guns manage to trickle out a pressure on par with HVLP models even though they often use half the volume of liquid needed by their more machinery-intensive brethren.
The most interesting aspect about this is that LVLP guns are compatible with just about any diaphragm compressor commonly seen in the home improvement market, unlike HVLP units which require special compressors in order to create enough cfm at high enough pressures.
Transfer efficiency of LVLP spray gun
To call a gun or machine HVLP you need a TE of 60%. There is no such requirement for LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) units as technically speaking they are HVLPs.
Just with slightly lower air demands and hence an LVLP sprayer will also have a minimum TE of 60%.
A typical low-volume low-pressure sprayer will have a transfer efficiency in the 70-78% range, but some remarkable examples.
Astro EVOT14 for example, have over 80% TE. LVLPs create less wastage, save more money and are more suited to the environmentally-conscious user versus their HVLP counterparts.
Job size of LVLP spray guns
Decorating with a sprayer for the first time can be challenging and often the number one thing people worry about is proper spraying technique.
That’s why we love portable airless sprayers like the Graco Magnum X5 — they are great for smaller jobs and allow you to experiment until you get it just right.
It may take some practice, but keep in mind that many professional decorators will tell you that practice makes perfect. LVLP spray guns, like this Graco X4 Airless Spray System, are also a great solution if you have a small or midsize project to tackle.
You should know too that these sprayers deliver thinner coats at a much higher volume than HVLP sprayers; they’re better suited for small projects and painting at higher elevations (if needed).
The sprayers are designed to operate under certain amount of air, which is then mixed with the spray paint to produce the best coat on the surface.
This process is typically used for light coatings, but they can also be used for finishing or trim kits.
The device usually consists of an air regulator which allows user to select the amount of air. The air regulator then mixes the air with the spray paint inside the device, which is then sprayed out.
It also has an air cap to control the spray pattern and finish. The good thing about the LVLP spray guns is that it does not require a lot of experience to operate.
Which is why it is best for home use. And since it is not too heavy, it is easy to move from place to place.
Compressor Requirement for LVLP spray gun
As we’ve said before, for airbrushes to work correctly, you need a compressor for LVLP spray gun.
And not any kind of compressor will do — it must be able to provide at least 15 psi of pressure at a flow rate that isn’t more than 35 psi.
LVLP models require even less pressure and fewer flow rate due to the lower volume of its passageways, hence they’re small compressors can make them one type of cheaper alternative.
The benefit is further extended by their smaller size and the pressure lower requirements allows the unit to still handle other tasks such as providing air power cup inflating cycle or blowing dust out of the shop.
Compressor Requirement of LVLP spray gun: The general recommendation is that a compressor should be capable of producing at least two times the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of the rated gun output. However, most do-it-yourself procedures recommend at least three times the gun output.
The decision of which to try should be based on the actual air flow and not on the compressor’s horse power.
Operating pressure for LVLP sprayers
If you’re in the market for a spraying machine, you’ll come across two main varieties: LPH and LVLP. Both have the same operating pressure – around 10 psi. The difference is that an LVLP machine has a lower airflow demand.
Paint Mediums of LVLP sprayers
Most LVLP sprayers are compatible with a multitude of paints, from latex to acrylic, just as many other home improvements and crafting products are.
But often the most common question is whether or not a specific paint you’ve picked out for your project can be used with an LVLP sprayer.
With so many different brands on the market it gets hard to know which paints would be best suited — but fortunately I’ve done the research so I can clear that up for you in my guide to compatible paints.
LVLP from price point of view
There are many different models and options within each type of paint sprayer on the market, so as you would expect there is a large range with regard to price.
Certain brands and types come in at more affordable prices than others – but they do require a compressor which can be another added expense and requirement.
Low volume, low pressure machines that can be powered by your average home-style rubber band pneumatic power unit make for an overall better performing machine that always delivers a smooth finish without any bubbling or spraying issues.
Making them great for those looking for a more cost-effective price point compared to high-volume high-pressure models designed for use with an air compressor.
Who should use an LVLP vs HVLP spray gun?
While countless professionals have discovered the benefits of using LVLP paint sprayers, many people are still in search of the right machine to cater to their home painting needs.
Not everyone has a large compressor available, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the same great results at home.
There are options out there for everyone – and it’s important that you find what works best for your lifestyle as a do-it-yourselfer.
Summary of HVLP vs LVLP spray gun
As you can see, it’s not possible to identify a winner in this face-off as it comes down to your unique spraying requirements.
If you have any questions about HVLP and LVLP spray guns, please contact us anytime in comments section and we will answer your query at priority basis.
We hope you enjoyed learning about everything you can achieve with a spray gun.