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Choosing the Best Air Compressor for HVLP

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Using a paint sprayer to for any kind of painting or finishing job is much easier and faster. Having the best air compressor for hvlp possible is important in making the job go smoothly.

Which machine is the best air compressor for hvlp though?

First, understanding what hvlp is and how it is different than using a standard spray gun will help understand why the air compressor you use is so important.

Standard Spray Gun Vs HVLP

Both a standard spray gun and an hvlp sprayer produce the same end results.

The difference is in how it is done and how efficiently it is achieved.

A standard spray gun uses high air pressure to spray paint or lacquer in a fine mist, most of which (about 70%) goes into the air and not on the item it is being sprayed on. The result is less efficient and the project costs more than necessary.

An hvlp sprayer, on the other hand, uses high volume low pressure (hvlp) air to disperse the paint or lacquer. Paint or lacquer is not sprayed in a fine mist so most of it covers what it is intended to cover. 

Because hvlp sprayers need a lower air pressure, the air compressor you use has to be able to provide the necessary lower PSI (Pressure per square inch).

To help you find out which air compressor best suits your needs, we have compared three of the top air compressors.

These machines include California Air Tools 5510SE Air Compressor, Dewalt D55146 Hand Carry Compressor with Wheels and Rolair VT25BIG Wheeled Air Compressor.

California Air Tools CAT-5510SE Air Compressor

Main Features

We have reviewed this compressor and others from California Air Tools before but we are reviewing it again specifically with hvlp in mind.

If you want a compressor that needs less maintenance, this model is a good choice as it is oil-free.

The air compressor operates quite well to provide clean, clear air. Able to hold up to 5.5 gallons of air, this steel tank can provide enough air for your hvlp tools.

The 1.0 HP motor in this compressor can deliver up to 120PSI and the increased duty cycle allows the machine to run continuously for a long time.

The compressor delivers 3.10 CFM at 40PSI while a delivery of 2.20 CFM is seen at 90PSI. You can be sure that this compressor will produce the right pressure for a top notch paint job.

Spray painting with an air compressor takes a while even though it is a relatively fast way to paint.

Because of the amount of time you will spend using the compressor, you need to consider the noise the machine makes. The quieter, the better. The California Air Tools 5510SE runs ultra quiet so you can keep it running longer without taking a break for your ears.


  • One of the best things about the California Air Tools 5510SE Air Compressor is its quiet operation. The noise level is only about 60 decibels. Below are some other pros to this machine.
  • This machine includes a thermal overload protector.
  • It has a maintenance free pump.
  • Has a longer runtime due to its increased duty cycle.
  • Smooth operation due to large tanks.
  • It is very affordable.


The only problem some people have stated having with the California Air Tools 5510SE is a bit of slow leakage.

The California Air Tools 5510SE can be found on Amazon at:

Would We Recommend the California Air Tools CAT-5510SE Air Compressor?

When you need an air compressor for painting, you want one you can rely on to run quietly for long periods while still providing enough air pressure to get the job done.

This machine fills the bill for you at a price that is reasonable at about $250. This helps to make it one of the best options for price as well as performance.

Dewalt D55146 Hand Carry Compressor with Wheels

Main Features

This model of Dewalt air compressor is well suited for painting, though it also powers other professional air tools as well. With a 4 ½ gallon tank and a PSI of up to 225, you can use this compressor for other project requiring higher PSI.

The PSI level of this air compressor makes it possible to easily use just about 80% of the air it generates. At 90PSI, this compressor is capable of 5CFM. This means it is able to run longer and has a fairly quick recovery time. This PSI also means that you can accomplish your painting project easier and more quickly.

Moving the compressor from place to place while you are painting is easy due to the 10 inch foam anti-flat tires. Your ears will also have an easier time when you use this compressor as the decibel level it produces during operation is just 78 decibels.


  • At 78 decibels, the compressor is easier on the ears than most machines used on the job.
  • The handles, along with the vertical design, make it easy to move the machine around the job site.
  • It is oil free for low maintenance and to provide the clean air necessary for paint guns.
  • At about $349, it won’t break the bank.


Cheap materials seem to have been used to make some of the accessories, which compromises their durability.

What is Our Verdict on the Dewalt 55146 Air Compressor?

Dewalt has made one of the best air compressors for hvlp and at a decent price. It is our opinion that this compressor is one that is well worth using.

Rolair VT25BIG Wheeled Air Compressor

Main Features

The capacity of the tank on this highly rated air compressor is 5.3 gallons. With a 2.5 HP motor, this air compressor delivers 6.5 CFM at 90PSI. This capability makes the compressor very reliable.

Reliability and durability are features you want an air compressor to have and the cast iron cylinder and the splash lubrication make this unit just that kind of machine. Maneuvering the unit easily is made possible by the foam in the wheelbase.


  • The air compressor has a longer life because of the splash lubrication. The motor and pump are low maintenance with a longer life as well.
  • Between the foam filled wheelbase and the easy to grip handle, the machine can be moved with ease.
  • The easy to understand interface makes operating the air compressor simple.
  • The air compressor contains an overload protector and a manual reset.


  • At 100 pounds, this air compressor is a bit on the heavy side.
  • At 86 decibels, this air compressor is rather loud.
  • Though not outrageous, the $592 price tag is higher than many comparable compressors.

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What is Our Opinion on the Rolair VT25BIG Air Compressor?

This machine is highly rated enough to make it one of the best air compressor for hvlp options available. The price is a bit higher but if you do quite a few painting jobs, it could well be worth the price.

Best Air Compressor For HVLP: Which of the Three is Our Pick?

All three air compressors fit being billed as the best air compressor for hvlp and each has strong reasons for being a good choice.

Be that as it may, the California Air Tools 5510SE Air Compressor may just edge out the other two. It isn’t the least or the most expensive of the three but it is the quietest. 

No matter what our decision is on which is the best, in the end, you should be the final judge on which will perform best for your needs.

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