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Low Volume Low Pressure (LVLP) Spray Guns

Research into all aspects of automotive painting and repair equipment continues steadily, if not always predictably, over time, and the inventors of the high volume low pressure (HVLP) spray gun were not content to rest on their laurels and collect their royalties – or, if they were, others were standing by, reading and eager to take up the banner of spray gun development. The story of spray gun improvements did not end with the development of HVLP – further advances include the creation of Low Volume Low Pressure (LVLP) spray guns as well.

The LVLP spray gun offers something that the HVLP cannot – good painting performance with a small, light-duty compressor. A compressor of 2 to 3 horsepower, putting out 7 cubic feet per minute at a pressure of 40 psi, is all that is needed to keep the LVLP gun spraying for hours – a one-third saving in the amount of psi over the HVLP model, which can mean a difference of many hundreds of dollars in the cost of the generator that you must buy to power the painting device. LVLP is also excellent for outdoor spraying, meaning that it gives you more mobility and more painting possibilities.

HVLP spray guns cut the amount of overspray dramatically over the traditional siphon types, but LVLP guns go even further. The quantity of overspray drops by up to another 5%. This drop is not enough to be noticed over the course of a single paint job, but it lessens the amount of potentially toxic paint in the atmosphere around you, reduces the demands on your air cleaning system proportionally, and means that another 5% less paint is finding its way into the environment as a pollutant. The typical LVLP gun, in short, transfers about 70% of the paint to the car’s surface.

There is generally a price to be paid for each advantage gained – for example, urethane paints perform far better in nearly every way than the older enamels and lacquers, yet this superior performance comes at the cost of potentially lethal vapor byproducts that are released in such quantities that a fresh air hood with a compressor supplying breathable air is indispensable to anyone who wants to survive the painting process unscathed.

LVLP spray guns are no exception to this rule. The price that you must pay for using one of these painting implements is that it is quite a bit slower than either an HVLP or a siphon feed spray gun would be. The lesser volume and lesser pressure translate into a considerably slower painting rate, as might be logically expected. For those whose painting jobs are not especially urgent, and who can take their time painting at a modest though adequate pace, then LVLP is a good way to circumvent the need for a large, powerful compressor and still achieve excellent results with lessened overspray. For those who need to work fast or in large quantities, there is still no substitute for a good HVLP gun.


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