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7 Best Air Compressors for HVLP Painting

Finding a good air compressor that you can also use for other tasks is a monumental challenge. It does not matter whether you are an amateur or a professional at HVLP painting if you do not have an air compressor, you would shabbily do the task. Air compressors will ensure that the airflow of the paint is consistent and the air pressure is accurate. If you want to achieve the desired results, you need an air compressor to fit your needs.

This guide will help you pick one best suited to you based on our exhaustive research into up-and-coming air compressor options. We will also give you a detailed pros and cons list to aid your decisions and answer some common questions about different air compressors used for HVLP painting.

Our top recommendation is the all-in-one Craftsman Pancake Compressor. Read on to find out why.

Read more: Best Quiet Air Compressors

Here are the best air compressors for HVLP painting (our picks)

Powermate Vx PLA4708065

Powermate Vx PLA4708065

With a steel body and a large capacity 8-gallon tank, Powermate Vx’s compressor is a sturdy and long-lasting choice. The compressor has a 240 V motor with 4.7 horsepower. It comes with an attractive cast iron crankcase and has a built-in pressure gauge. The controls are easy to use with a simple on/off switch and a belt guard.

But, there is a con to this model. The compressor’s pump requires a lot of upkeep and is on the high maintenance side. You will need to lubricate the pump every few weeks.

It is also not portable because there are no wheels to it.

Price: Unavailable

Key Specifications:

  • Large 80-gallon tank
  • CFM 14 and 16.1, PSI 40
  • Maximum pressure: 155 PSI
  • Power source: Corded Electric


  • Huge capacity with the tank
  • Durable as it is cast with one-piece cast iron
  • Comes with a wired belt guard


  • Not portable
  • Requires regular lubrication and is a hassle to keep up

California Air Tools 5510SE Air-Compressor

California Air Tools 5510SE Air-Compressor

The CAT 5510SE model works at a soft 60 dB. It comes with an oil-free pump and very easy-to-use starting mechanisms. The motor starts up at 1680 RPM. However, there are some cons to this model. As a product marketed to be a light model, it is heavy at 50 lbs. There are frequent complaints about leakage, which causes rust.

Price: From $214.37

Key Specifications:

  • Power Source: Corded Electric
  • 8-gallon tank
  • Wheel Kit and Air Filters
  • 110 V motor, 1.0 hp
  • Maximum pressure: 120 PSI


  • Thermal Overload Protection
  • Quick recovery time between 90 to 120 PSI
  • Fast tank fill up time: 120 seconds


  • No hose included
  • Low CFM rating
  • Complaints of leakage
  • Too heavy to be considered a light model

Makita MAC2400: HVLP Spray Gun Air Compressor

Makita MAC2400

Makita is a Japanese brand with over 100 years of credibility in the industry. Their MAC2400 is a robustly built air compressor. It has a decent amount of storage with 4.2 gallons. The construction is cast-iron and twin stacked to make it last longer. The pump is an oil-lubricated one, with a large filter that ensures more air intake. 

Also, Read – Best air compressor for framing crew

Other unique features are packed in this model, such as an oil-drain valve, an oil-visible glass, and in-built heat dissipation. It comes with a factory-built roll bar handle that you can use to protect the machine further. Perhaps, the most exciting addition to this array of specifications is the eco-saving mode that ensures that you can produce a lot of air without using too much power.

Price: From $319.00

Key Specifications:

  • Cast-iron pump
  • Big Bore cylinder
  • Quick recovery time
  • 2.5 HP, 4-Pole motor
  • 4.2 CFM at PSI 90
  • Maximum PSI: 130
  • Roll-cage construction
  • Oil lubricated pump
  • 79 dB sound


  • Removable to easily clean
  • Oil lubricated pump minimizes wear and tear
  • Durable with the cast-iron cylinder and build
  • Low AMP draw
  • A bore cylinder


  • There are no wheels for easy movement
  • Needs timely oil maintenance

DEWALT D55146 4.5-Gallon 200-PSI Hand Carry Compressor with Wheels

DEWALT D55146 4.5-Gallon 200-PSI Hand Carry Compressor with Wheels

DEWALT is known for its air purifiers that are perfect for heavy-duty work.

You can also use it along with smaller projects like painting. It comes with 4.5-gallon storage, making it suitable for big tasks. It also has a quick recovery time and, overall, fits the ideal for both small and large-scale uses of air compressors.

You will find it easy to use, especially in paint jobs, because of its high-pressure capacity. It is also a competitor for the new range of quiet air compressors. It produces only 78 decibels of sound while fully operational.

Its oil-free pump is perfect for use in all conditions and requires low upkeep. Lastly, it comes with a handy set of tires to ease mobility.

Price: From $350

Key Specifications:

  • CFM 5.0 at 90 PSI
  • Maximum PSI: 200
  • 4.5 gallon capacity
  • 1.6 HP motor
  • 78 dB sound


  • Wheels for easy mobility
  • Good for both heavy-duty and small projects
  • Oil-free pump
  • Quick recovery time


  • Is difficult to find replacements in the market

Porter-Cable Pancake Air Compressor

Porter-Cable Pancake Air Compressor

The Porter-Cable Pancake compressor is an ideal model for any type of use. It comes with a water rain valve and a compact ‘pancake’ design. It is unique because it offers two installed air couplers in  a compact unit. It is the best value for money product. 

But, the amount of noise it makes can be reworked, based on the better competitors in the market now.

Price: From $119.29

Key Specifications:

  • 6-gallon tank
  • Maximum PSI: 150
  • 120 V motor
  • Two couplers
  • 2.6 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Power Source: Corded Electric


  • Includes a lot of protection such as cord wrap, shroud, handle, console
  • Durable
  • Oil-free pump for long life
  • Quick recovery time
  • Light-weight and portable


  • With 82 dB, the sound it makes is more than its competitors

WEN 2289T air compressor

WEN 2289T air compressor

The WEN 2289T air compressor is ideal for home or personal use. These are popular for use in garages, workshops, etc.

The compressor has a draining valve and a quarter-inch coupler. This mechanism makes it easy to record the tank pressure and easy-to-read gauges. It has a 1.5 HP motor and is very quiet, working with 68 decibels. The tank is made of reinforced steel and 10-gallons. 

Since this is an oil-free compressor, you do not need to maintain it as regularly as it will not clog up or need lubrication. It has an impressive auto-shutdown feature too.

Price: from $262.17

Key Specifications:

  • 4.0 or 5.0 CFM and 90 or 40 PSI
  • Oil-free pump
  • 10-gallon tank with reinforced steel
  • Can handle pressure up to 150 PSI
  • Power source: Corded Electric


  • Generous storage
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Ideal for use with spray guns
  • Quiet with noise up to only 68 decibels


  • Some customers claim to have received damaged or faulty pieces

The California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor

The California Air Tools 10020C Air Compressor

The California Air Tools compressor or CAT, is one of the best options available in the market due to its hardiness and conveniently built design. It is rugged, durable, and peaceful, making it a dream to work with. This model is our best and glowing recommendation.

The CAT compressor runs on a 2.0 HP motor and boasts of an oil-free dual-piston pump which will last you for 3,000 hours at the very least. Compared to the other compressors, it is a desirable number that hardly gives out 500 hours or even less. A significant advantage is using this pump in cold temperatures since there is no fear of the oil freezing up. 

It is very soft and works at an astonishing 70 decibels of sound while the motor runs for 1680 RPM. 

Price: From $435.99

  • 6.40 CFM at 40 PSI and 5.30 CFM at 90 PSI
  • Air stored in a 10-gallon tank
  • 2.0 HP motor that runs at 1680 RPM, 110 V
  • Power source: Corded Electric


  • Very quiet, running on 70 decibels
  • Long-lasting life
  • Steel air tank
  • Smart features such as different drain systems


  • Customer service can be improved

What to Look for In An Air Compressor for HVLP Painting?

1. Pressure

HVLP itself stands for High Volume Low Pressure. When picking a compressor, check whether it is compatible with the HVLP spray gun.

2. Types of Compressors

There are multiple compressors to look out for when determining the right one for you. Some popular compressor styles are as follows.

3. Pancake air compressors

Pancake air compressors look like pancakes with their rounded design. They are light and can be moved around depending on the job. These are perfect for smaller projects because they are small-sized and stable in performance. They are not that strong, so you cannot use these for heavy-duty tasks.

4. Hot dog air compressors

Hot dog air compressors resemble a hot dog in shape. They are a little bigger on the tank size aspect. These are heavy and cannot be transported easily like pancake compressors. A pro of using hot dog compressors is that they will last you longer and better.

5. Pontoon air compressors

Pontoon compressors are a combination of pancake and hot dog compressors. They are named after pontoon boats. They specialize in a higher PSI output than their competitors. They can store a large volume of air, but the downside to pontoons is that they are too heavy to be carried around. 

6. CFM and PSI ratings

Different air compressors will offer different readings of CFM and PSI. CFM or Cubic Feet Per Minute is the amount of airflow from the compressor, and the PSI is the amount of pressure your compressor can take.

The CFM and PSI decide how well your compressor can function. 

Since you will be using a spray gun for the HVLP painting, the first step is to check what CFM your spray gun is and make up your mind accordingly. Once you determine that, you need to check that your air compressor should produce more CFM than the spray gun.

Also, Read – Best Air Compressor for Spray Painting

Keep in mind not to buy one with the same CFM as the spray gun. This is very important, as any mistakes here will mess up your job.

7. Tank Size

Paint Sprayers used in HVLP painting need continuous air flowing into the air compressor. This means that your air compressor will use up more air. For this purpose, you need one with a large tank size. Large tank sizes should mean large enough not to interrupt your work again and again while you paint. Even if you have a small tank, ensure a quick recovery time.

8. Portability and Weight

The product’s portability is tied with its weight. If a compressor is heavy, then you cannot transport it easily. If you are undertaking a project that requires a lot of moving around, you will have to take your compressor everywhere. 

Getting a compressor with easy portability or less weight is a prerogative.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use an HVLP gun with an air compressor?

HVLP guns usually come with a specified air pressure cap. The air pressure will allow you to maintain the efficiency needed for an HVLP painting job. This is why using an air compressor is vital in achieving good results. Any of the products mentioned above will do just the thing for you.

How much air does an HVLP gun need?

An HVLP Spray Gun will need a lot of air, so the more air there is, the easier your job will be. You will need the lowest CFM at least 8 CFM, for the lowest consuming air volume gun. 

Wrapping Up

While picking a compressor, you will need to focus on the specifications of the compressor, as well as the air tools you use and the CFM and PSI ratings of your chosen model. As mentioned earlier, our top pick for an HVLP painting air compressor is the California Air Tools 20020 compressor. Selecting a proper air compressor for your needs is challenging, but we hope that our guide gave you some answers and clarity.