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HVLP vs. LVLP Spray gun

While there are plenty of spray gun models available on the market nowadays, the vast majority of inexperienced people can’t tell the difference between an HVLP and LVLP gun as they look quite similar to each other. The subtle differences aren’t easy to spot which consequently leads to people buying tools that aren’t the appropriate ones for particular applications.

In case you don’t quite see the difference, take a moment and read this article as it is designed to point out the essential differences between these two tools. On top of that, you should always double check and make sure you’re investing in the right thing in order to avoid unpleasant scenarios.

What is an HVLP Spray Gun?

HVLP stands for High-Volume-Low-Pressure. In other words, it utilizes low pressure to atomize the material while outputting high volume. Most HVLP turbine motors produce about 100 CFM at 3-8 PSI. This concept results in easier to control sprays which is ideal for high finish quality and great material savings. The energy costs are slightly increased in comparison to LVLP spray guns because it uses more compressed air.

The HVLP units are great for DIY projects and inexperienced individuals. They aren’t ideal for professional purposes because they tend to be slower than LVLP and also use much larger compressors and can struggle with thicker paints.

The high volume of these units allows for material saving and also ensures that the paint ends up on the surface instead of being wasted in the atmosphere. In fact, many professionals who do use HVLP units are obligated to do so by the government because paint waste is detrimental to the environment.

HVLP guns are the most commonly used ones on the market which means training and support are widely available. On top of that, these tools offer a great finish thus are ideal for demanding projects.

Wall painting with HVLP Spray gun

What is an LVLP Spray Gun?

LVLP stands for Low-Volume-Low-Pressure. Therefore, if you’re looking for a premium all-in-one solution for your next project, this is the tool you should be looking into. It features superb transfer efficiency which means low waste, superior finishes, and it can be used for waterborne paints. On top of that, it requires only about 10 PSI at the nozzle meaning one can use any air compressor within the proper margin.

The vast majority of air compressors that are available on the market will fulfill the necessary requirements, even the cheaper ones. However, it’s highly recommended that you avoid buying a particularly cheap compressor as it is one of the vital elements for optimal performance. In other words, don’t invest in cheap things because it will ultimately end up being more expensive than a reasonably priced compressor.

As far as the supported materials go, LVLP works best with thinned paints. Therefore, if you’re planning on spraying metallic paint or materials of higher viscosity, it would be better to opt for higher volume.

The design of both of these spray gun types is virtually the same. There can be small and subtle differences, but they are quite easy to spot, especially for the untrained eye. The same thing applies to ergonomics as well, the vast majority of these guns are designed with ergonomics in mind so that the fatigue levels are brought to a bare minimum.

Car painting LVLP Spray gun

Advantages and disadvantages

As you can imagine, both of these spray gun types have advantages and shortcomings. It’s important to distinguish them in order to find the best possible solution for your future endeavors.

  • HVLP spray gun advantages

The first thing you should keep in mind is that these guns offer a high-quality finish with minimal material waste. They are also ideal for metallic paints, unlike the LVLP. On top of that, it is recognized by EPA meaning it’s authentic and recognized by the government.

Since there is more air and less pressure in these tools, a larger amount of paint hits the surface you’re painting meaning there is less waste as well as overspray.

  • HVLP spray gun disadvantages

Even though there isn’t much to talk about here, some things should be pointed out. First of all, the size of the fan pattern and the working speed are somewhat inferior in comparison to LVLP. However, if you choose this type for the appropriate application, this particular disadvantage should be more or less irrelevant.

Air compressor requirement is what makes it fundamentally different from the other types. These spray guns require much more powerful compressors than the other ones. The price of a high-quality compressor that is capable of yielding sufficient pressure for HVLP is one of the main reasons why people decide against buying it.

  • LVLP advantages

Lower air consumption coupled with a superb finish are the two biggest advantages of this type. In other words, one doesn’t have to have a pro-level compressor in order to utilize these. On top of that, LVLP guns are well-known for being an all-in-one solution for many individuals, especially the less experienced ones.

This is also the most appropriate tool for clear coats and low air consumption.

  • LVLP disadvantages

The 8”-10” fan pattern range is considered small. While that isn’t a deal-breaking thing, it’s still worth pointing out so that you know what to expect. The time needed to paint a particular surface largely depends on the size of the fan pattern. On top of that, the quality of the finishing coat is also sometimes dictated by the size of the fan pattern. The application speed is somewhat slow, which is the rule for HVLP as well.

LVLP advantages

The verdict

Neither one of these is better than the other. It all comes down to your own preferences as well as requirements. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, the LVLP seems like a better choice. However, if you’re looking for a tool that specializes in specific applications, HVLP might be a better choice. The important thing here is to do your own research and see which one of these suits your needs better.