Turbine Versus Compressor

Which is better with an HVLP gun? March 28, 2012

I know that this has been asked before, but what is the better way to go - turbine hvlp or compressor hvlp? I currently use a turbine, and have for three years but have been wondering what is better.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
Do you need your system to be portable? Do you do on site work? A turbine is easy to carry about or do you have a big enough compressor? You need to check the CFM output of the compressor and also the gun. Compressed air will give you more flexibility.

From contributor L:
Everyone has a different opinion on this, and here is mine for what itís worth. I started with a turbine 15 years ago, and liked the quality of the finish, but didnít like the noise of the turbine, and the bulkiness of the hose.

About five years ago my turbine died, so I switched to compressor driven hvlp conversion guns. I have five different guns, because I was never happy with the previous guns results, I just kept trying different brands to see what I would like.
The best overall gun for me in this category was the Accuspray 10 gun, but even though it sprays fairly well it still never seems to atomize as nicely as my old turbine did. This gun is normally used with a turbine, but it came with a special regulator that works with the compressor.

About six months ago, I needed to spray a job at a customerís home and decided that I would try an hvlp turbine system again. I am glad I did, because I could now again have that real nicely atomized finish that I used to get with my old turbine system. I can use either the new gun that came with the turbine, or my Accuspray which I just take off the regulator when I use it with the turbine. This is now my go-to setup even though I have the compressor with all the other guns.

Itís nice having the Accuspray gun that can be used either way, in case I run into a problem with my turbine in the future it could get me out of a jam in the middle of a job. I think unless you really canít handle the noise or the bulkier hose, you really canít go wrong with the turbine system.

From the original questioner:
Now to add another level to this thread - what about the AAA spray systems? I see that you can get a completely self-contained system that is portable. I just donít know a lot about how they work. Does anyone have one?

From contributor D:
I have all three and depending on the situation they all get use in my shop and on site finishing. The AAA puts out lots of product and produces an excellent finish. If you spray lots of one particular product it is a great setup. You are also going to need a compressor to supply air to it though so that is an added expense above and beyond the high purchase price of the AAA unit itself. Then you need to look at cleaning and upkeep. Make sure you have a good supply of tip cleaning needles if you are spraying anything but lacquer through it and when parts need replacing be prepared to pay the price for them.

A compressor with cup guns - by far the most versatile way to go. You can always add a pressure pot if you need more product. There are a plethora of inexpensive guns on the market that can be combined with the 3M PPS cups that will allow you to spray the gun in any position and also change colors quickly and easily.

The drawback is you need to have enough compressor to give you the air you need to run the gun on a constant basis. This is fine when you have a stationary shop but if you want to go to a job site you will be limited by the size of the compressor you have. Too big and you won't want to move it, too small and it won't keep up.

The Turbine is a great portable unit and I run an Accuspray 10GP gun with it and it does give an outstanding finish with little overspray that is perfect for on-site finishing. The drawback is the price of the guns which really limits the way you will spray if you are doing things like spraying toners, glazes, clears, stains, etc. You will either have a large chunk of change in different guns, spend a lot of time cleaning and changing over, or limited to only doing a few select things with it.

From contributor H:
I had a Graco 3900 turbine and I never used it once I went to air. I find compressor driven guns/pots much better. Graco really gouges you with replacement parts. You can buy a nice air powered cup gun for what they would charge for a couple replacement parts.