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Hope this is the correct place to ask these questions. On a tight budget. I've read articles about the performance of turbo paint sprayers such as Earlex(?), Rockler, Harbor Freight, etc… (1) If you were in the market, which one would serve you best, and (2) If you have one of these under $150 sprayers does it perform to your expectations?
 

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The current issue of Fine Woodworking (Oct 2014) has a nice review of 14 HVLP turbines. They rated the Earlex 5500 as best value, rated the Rockler poorly, and didn't review the Harbor Freight.

I purchased the Earlex 5500 a few months ago and used it for the first time last week to finish a dresser (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/104649) I have no comparison to other systems (it's my first time spraying finish), but I thought it worked very well.

For $300, I was impressed. Easy to set up and clean. Learning curve pretty reasonable.

Edit: I missed your price point, I now assume you're asking about the Earlex 3500 model. Sorry, no experience there. Not sure if the 5500 translates.
 

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Don,
About a year ago I had a commission client that ordered a 3 piece set, 2 chests and a Bistro styled Bar. There were a total of 36 drawers (I hate MDF but that's what the customer insisted on). The drawers were finished with Lowe's Valspar tint-able primer and paint with a coat of waterborne poly. Time constraints didn't allow time for all those coats to be brushed on. I had never used an HVLP Sprayer System before and wasn't real fond of the compressor powered spray paint clouds filling my shop. I had seen several reviews and debates here on LJ's Site so it really wasn't much of a quandary as to the unit I bought.
I caught the Earlex 5500 on sale with a 1.5 mm needle free and free shipping, $299.00 + $21.00 tax = $320.00 for the whole package. I was expecting a greater learning curve than what I experienced. I was spraying latex primer within an hour from opening the box, with great results.

I would recommend this unit to anyone who wants to get started with an HVLP System for a low start up cost.

Best Regards. - Len
Work Safely and have Fun.
 

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I use the Wagner Control Spray Max ($120). Once you get the air pressure tweaked to your liking, it sprays beautifully and cleans up easily (at least with water-based dyes and finishes). I'm just a hobbyist and only use it a handful of times a year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you gentlemen. I appreciate the time you guys took to make the comments and your take on the individual sprayers. I have to stay below $150 so it limits my choices for the interim period. I believe the HF and Rockler sprayers are the same animal, at least the manual's schematics lead you to believe they are.

GrandpaLen: I can relate to the comments on MDF. Almost need a HazMat suit if you're routing that stuff.
 

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Look into Graco. I would stay away from Wagner in my experience. Also, make sure that it can spray paint and polyurethane. You'll run into the need in the future even if you don't think you will. Boy do the sprayers save on the volume of finish you use.
 

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Thanks Mr Earlex (Sam). I read the comments and just might be swayed.

Mike: My wife used to work at a place that sold Wagners and they had more coming back than going out.
GrandpaLen: Your grandfather sounds like my kind of teacher. Do him proud.
Again, thank you gentlemen for your comments.
 

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Obviously whatever choice you make doesn't impact me, but everyone immediately knocks Wagner because of the old crappy power painters. The Control Spray Max is totally different. Don't take my word for it, 4.5 stars on Amazon.
 
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