Earlex Spray Station 5500 Review

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Review by NewEnglandsWoodWorks posted 08-29-2012 12:53 AM 19074 views 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Earlex Spray Station 5500 Review Earlex Spray Station 5500 Review Earlex Spray Station 5500 Review Click the pictures to enlarge them

If you are looking into getting started in the world of HVLP this is where you want to begin. At a fairly low entry price compared to other HVLP units this unit is a performer too.

I ordered the unit from Highland WoodWorking and they shipped me out to it in about 3 business days. The total package cost $325 dollars including sipping. The sprayer comes with a 2.0mm needle and tip and I would recommend buying the additonal 1.5 mm needle and tip.

The Earlex 5500 comes with the base, air hose, cord, the gun itself, a spanner to change needles, a small brush for cleaning and a viscosity cup. Also the 1.5 mm needle came with my unit because of a deal Highland WoodWorking has right now. If you are going to buy this unit I would recommend buying either 1.5mm or 1.0mm needle. I believe that the 2.0mm needle is just too big for most finishes.

The base unit stores the cord, air hose and gun, a very convenient feature. The gun itself comes with the 2.0mm needle as mention before. The gun also features a nozzle that can be used to change the spray pattern from horizontal to vertical and circular.

In my tests I sprayed varnish, wood stain and polyurethane. All of the finishes turned out flawless with no flaws at all. The spray system can spray almost anything from stains, oil based top coats, water based finish and even paint. I believe this system would perform flawlessly no matter what your spraying.

The Earlex 5500 has very little over spray and produces a fine finish on all your wood projects. If you are just getting into the world of HVLP this is the system I would recommend.

Pro’s: Low Price Little Over Spray Great Gun In general

Con’s: Viscosity cup is too big in my opinion and should be smaller and rated for a shorter time (makes things faster) *Needle that the gun comes with (2.0) MM is too big and should come with the 1.5mm instead

My total rating is 5/5

For the full review go to my website at

-- Brett

View NewEnglandsWoodWorks's profile


117 posts in 3375 days

18 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17877 posts in 3962 days

#1 posted 08-29-2012 08:07 AM

I have this and love it, the only con I can think of is a little more room for the hose to wrap up on the bottom. The gun is of high quality. I have used it on many projects!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 3194 days

#2 posted 08-29-2012 08:28 PM

I may have to take the plunge and buy it now knowing it comes with the small nozzle. Is the 1.5 good for most finishes? I was thinking of grabbing a 2.5 nozzle as well to spray thinned latex paint perhaps. Any reason I shouldn’t get one for the home shop hobbyist type?

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3859 days

#3 posted 08-29-2012 09:13 PM

Just remember that this gun is a bleeder type. I used a bleeder gun and did not like it at all. I prefer the non bleeder guns.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View Lance's profile


428 posts in 3299 days

#4 posted 08-29-2012 09:34 PM

It makes finishing fun and easy!!! Waterborne finish’s alloys you to apply multiple coats over a period of time and makes clean up a easy as well!!

Highly Recommend this kit, and the 1.0 MM needle.

-- Lance, Hook'em HORNS! ""V""

View JohnW's profile


7 posts in 4547 days

#5 posted 08-29-2012 11:11 PM

Thanks for the review, these generally get consistently positive feedback. I’ve gone back and forth on taking the plunge, the hang up for me is ability to spray paint (latex water based). Anyone have actual experience (good or bad) with spraying interior type latex through this unit?

-- For those that understand, no explanation is necessary. For those that don't understand, no explanation is possible.

View mnguy's profile


303 posts in 4172 days

#6 posted 08-30-2012 12:54 PM

I don’t have experience with any of the Earlex units, but they seem great for typical woodworking finishes. In general, 2 stage units like the 5500 do not spray ‘house paints’ well, even with the larger tips/needles; they just don’t produce adequate pressure to siphon and atomize these paints that are made for brushing/rolling. That said, I’m sure some Jocks have great experience with this unit spraying latex; just talking general trends.

I agree with OldTimer – non-bleeder guns are better; no constant flow of air through the tip. But, non-bleeder systems are at least 2x the Earlex.

I lucked out on Craigslist and picked up an older 4 stage Wagner unit with a pressure pot, cart, paint hose, etc. for $275. I highly recommend HVLP; once you get the hang of spraying, it is fantastic.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4058 days

#7 posted 08-30-2012 01:11 PM

I bought an Apolo HVLP system many years ago and was very dissapointed in the gun. Loved the concept of HVLP, since I was spraying with a conventional compressor and gun. I was afraid to try an HVLP again and didn’t want to spend $350 for a good gun, so went back to conventional compressor and gun. A fellow lumberjock told me about the his Earlex and how much he liked it. He even let me bring it to my shop and use it to finish a project.
I will have to admit, I was quite impressed with the price and performance. I bought one and now use it on all my finihing. I spray mostly pre-cat lacquers, but have sprayed some oil base paint with mine. I believe Earlex offers both tips as a package deal now thru most companies. I use the 1.5 for my lacquers and the 2.0 had worked for the oil base. Can’t say too much about latex house paint, I’ve never used that on furniture or cabinets and I believe the Earlex is designed more for finishing furniture and cabinets type projects.

-- John @

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 3464 days

#8 posted 08-30-2012 02:42 PM

Latex paint sprays great through the 5500, but it needs to be thinned about 10%. I would also suggest using a mixer on a drill to stir latex as it’s molecules are different from any other finish you might spray. Expensive airless systems have a shearing blade in them to chop up the latex so it sprays better, you can accomplish this with a $5 mixer in a drill.
If you’re painting/finishing a wall, fence or deck, use the 2.0, if you are painting/finishing furniture, cabinetry or trim, use the 1.5. It does not matter what the material is that you are spraying.
Thin latex with water, but adding some flow agent to latex for finer finishes works well also.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3859 days

#9 posted 08-30-2012 06:04 PM

Personally, I would never use a HVLP sprayer to spray latex paint. They are not designed for this perpose. The best sprayer for Latex is a airless sprayer. Thinning latex paint leads to many problems with the product. Drying time is impared and gloss is effected by thinning. The cure time is also a factor with excessive thinning of the product. If you want to spray color, use pigmented lacquor (water base) and have it colored to your liking. It will be much more durable then latex paint.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3460 days

#10 posted 08-30-2012 07:59 PM

I have one, and have sprayed a few entertainment centers now with it, LOVE it. I agree, more room to wrap the hose would be nice.

View GuyK's profile


356 posts in 4853 days

#11 posted 09-01-2012 09:58 AM

I purchased a Earlex 5500 just a couple of months ago and it has changed the way I finish. Spraying is something I should have done years ago but was always leary of how it would come out. The 5500 has changed all that for me. It is easy to learn and works beautiful. Also one of the nice things we have going for us hear on LJ’s is that we have Sam Hamory, the Earlex Tech as a member. His knowledge and expertise was a great help to me when I first started using the 5500. Listen to what he has to say and your spraying experience will be something you are proud of.

-- Guy Kroll

View 1504ktk's profile


6 posts in 2867 days

#12 posted 09-02-2012 12:06 AM

I’m having problems with my ability to spray lacquer. I am using a 1.5 needle but I have not thinned out the lacquer. My problem is that I am getting poor results as the finish doesn’t come out smooth, instead it is going on almost pitted. What am I doing wrong?

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2884 days

#13 posted 09-02-2012 04:00 PM

I have the Earlex 5000, which is the earlier model. It sprays lacquer very well. Last summer I was hired to spray some cast iron lawn furniture. I contacted Earlex and was told to use the 1.5 needle and to thin the Rustoleum. The furniture turned out great.

I don’t really like the bleeder feature. Running the system when not spraying only causes the compressor to heat up and if you accidently let the spray gun point at the object being finished the air can cause the finish to move. I solved the first by adding a remote power switch (long ranger) so I can switch off the compressor.

I hate the spanner wench needed to change tips! I lost one and had to buy a replacement. I wish Earlex would switch to a nozzle that could be removed with a regular wench.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View 1504ktk's profile


6 posts in 2867 days

#14 posted 09-02-2012 06:33 PM

Thanks Jesse, i will have to try thin out the lacquer and give it another go.

keith, Regina Saskatchewan Canada

View Sawdust's profile


128 posts in 5181 days

#15 posted 12-14-2012 02:32 AM

I have one and love it. I have not had trouble spraying anything, including paint. I used it recently to spray Cabinet Coat brand latex paint over existing stained kitchen cabinets and the finish turned out near perfect. I was very pleased. Sprayed the product straight from the can with no thinning.

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