So you are looking to get a paint sprayer, but do you need an air compressor for a paint sprayer? Is this something else that is going to add to the cost, or do you simply not need one? Below I will explain all the different types of paint sprayers and use my knowledge gained from extensive paint sprayer use to answer that question once and for all.

Different Types Of Paint Sprayers

There are lots of different types and variations of paint sprayers, in fact, it is something I talk about extensively in my HVLP Spray Gun Vs Conventional Spray Gun article, so check that out if you want to learn more.

Some of the main types of spray guns are the Conventional spray gun, HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure), and finally airless spray guns. Now, these all differ in how they work and some require a compressor and others don’t, so let’s find out which needs compressors.

Do You Need An Air Compressor For A Paint Sprayer?

Conventional spray guns usually rely on a compressor to create the air pressure required to work, whereas electric paint sprayers don’t normally need a separate compressor. So, do you need an air compressor for a paint sprayer? Well, it depends on what type of paint sprayer you plan on buying.

If you are buying just a literal spray gun, like the image below, then you will need a compressor to help fire the paint through it.

A Conventional Spray Gun
A Conventional Spray Gun

You can see here that all you get with one of these conventional spray guns is just that, a spray gun and a hopper to hold the paint.

The gun itself has a quick disconnect adapter at the bottom of it which is where it connects to a high-pressure hose which then connects to an air compressor.

Electric Spray Guns

These are by the far the more common style of spray gun these days and are what you will find in most hardware stores. They are available in all different shapes and sizes but crucially with this type of spray gun you do not need a compressor. There is already something that does the compressor’s job built in, that is why these units, even if handheld, are a lot bulkier than conventional spray guns.

Looking Much Cleaner
A Wagner Spray Gun

Now with something like this you do not need a compressor, it is an all-in-one unit. You simply plug it into a wall outlet, add some paint to the hopper, and away you go.

There are also bigger electric units available that have a separate base unit and a hose leading to a handheld spray gun, these are still all-in-one units and you do not need a compressor with these either.


Do Airless Sprayers Need An Air Compressor?

No, as the name suggests airless sprayers do not use air to force the paint out of the sprayer so they do not need a compressor. They are an all-in-one unit that will contain everything they need to work correctly without the need for an external air compressor.

Do You Need An Air Compressor For A HVLP Sprayer?

This depends on the HVLP sprayer, there are different styles of HVLP spray guns, some require an external compressor and some are all-in-one units that do not require a compressor.

What Does HVLP Stand For?

HVLP stands for High Volume Low Pressure and describes the way the paint sprayer works. It emits a lot of paint at lower pressures than a conventional paint sprayer. This means more paint hits the target so there is less wastage but they generally don’t achieve as nice of a finish.

Wrapping Up

So to answer the question, do you need a compressor for a paint sprayer? The answer is simple, it depends on the type of spray gun. Conventional spray guns require a compressor but modern electric spray guns, whether handheld or with a base unit, do not need a compressor.