air filtration for compressors

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Forum topic by rg33 posted 10-26-2015 12:55 AM 1040 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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83 posts in 2482 days

10-26-2015 12:55 AM

Hello All,

I finally decided to upgrade my 6 gallon oil-less pancake compressor with a stationary 60 gal. one. I primarily did it for the increased capabilities and because I’d like to use it for spraying finish with an HVLP as well.

Im in the process of buying the filter/regulator, plumbing etc for it and am turning to the experts around here for advice. The outlet from the compressor is a 1/2 NPT. It seems logical to buy the filter / water separator in this size as well to not limit the air flow to the users downstream, but I have noticed that as pipe size goes up so does cost.

My main questions are as follows:
1. For those who spray with a compressor around here, what kind of filtration, air dryers (if any) do you use? I am currently considering either a piggyback filter regulator like this one with a 10 micron filter:

but not sure if something like this would be more necessary to really remove water for spraying and having better filtration down to .3 micron:

as you can see the price difference is substantial

2. Im planning to move fairly soon so on the short term plumbing = 3/8 hose, given this is the case and that HVLP’s that ive seen like the popular HF have a 1/4NPT fitting is it really worth it to go with the regulators/filters above in the 1/2NPT size or can I get by with the 3/8NPT or even the 1/4NPT and save some money for other air tools.

Besides this, my other uses for the compressor really come down to nail guns, occasional use of a plasma cutter and some cut off tools and possibly a die grinder for light use on metal.

thanks in advance for any advice

5 replies so far

View rg33's profile


83 posts in 2482 days

#1 posted 10-26-2015 11:37 PM


View ohtimberwolf's profile


934 posts in 2832 days

#2 posted 10-26-2015 11:49 PM

I would help you if I could but I have no idea. There have been over 100 views and no help so I figure they are just as inexperienced as I am on the subject. Hang in there, someone will help you out. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1440 posts in 3329 days

#3 posted 10-27-2015 12:41 AM


I’m no where near 60 gallon, so I’ll share my bit of experience from my 11 gal CH which has this filter on it. I’ve never had to drain anything out of the bowl or really noticed anything at the end of the hose in my little HF HVLP gun, (I do have an auto drain on the tank). For a recently finished project I bought a bigger gun and got decent results but it did put much more load on the compressor, which for the money vs effort, made me decide to return the bigger gun and wait for a sensible deal for a Fuji system. For your plumbing I believe that the larger systems are needed for high demand apps and the smaller ones are fine for a hobbyist like myself. I have a 50’ 3/8” Goodyear hose that I use now because the PVC ones were a royal PITA when they were cold, but have been looking at the 1/4” flexzilla hoses, because the roofers that just did my roof were using them and for the size and working around the workplace they seemed to be super easy to deal with. I have no idea what the CFM needs are for a plasma cutter, but for the others my opinion for what it’s worth roll with the 3/8 and keep it simple.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View wdwrkr's profile


26 posts in 3481 days

#4 posted 11-02-2015 12:36 PM

Congrats on being able to upgrade to a larger compressor. What a difference it’ll make!

I run 35CFM at 175psi with 120 gallon storage, with a refrigerated line drier. Air is piped from one end of shop to other (about 70lf in total) where it terminates at a hose reel using 50’ of 3/8 hose. So piping is about 120’ total.

I come off the tank at 1/2” for about 20’, then drop to 3/8 for the rest of the run including the hose reel.
The regulator, filters, etc. are all 3/8” and are plumbed in just before the hose reel.

I use the air for spraying mostly (11CFM air caps), and running all manner of air tools (die grinders, shears, impacts, blast cabinet, plasma cutter, etc.). I have never had a supply issue. In fact, the hose reel at one time used 1/4” hose – also with no supply issues. I changed out the 1/4” polyurethane hose because of the incredible tripping hazard it presents. That blasted hose would NEVER lie down.

I think the most important addition to your plumbing, if you are going to use water-based (WB) finishes is to add a “toilet paper” filter. Motor Guard makes one that works brilliantly. Without one, and with a spin-down type filter only, oil residue will make its way to your table top on the last coat.

I only use the line drier if I am spraying solvent-based finishes (very rarely). With WB, which I shoot a lot, any water vapor is absorbed into the finish. I have never had a paint defect shooting WB without the line drier (after I installed the Motor Guard). Now, an important point is the Motor Guard will also filter water, but the filter media will not last long doing so. That’s why it’s important to have the spin down or some other type type to remove water. Of course, a line drier at -40F dewpoint will also work.

What I find amazing is the debris that will periodically collect in the first filter (Motor Guard is last). It definitely does its job with that. The filter media in the Motor Guard has held up quite well. Mine has been in service since Aug 2014, is used daily, and still has the same filter media as when I installed it.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 2994 days

#5 posted 11-02-2015 12:51 PM

I have a 5HP (peak) with a 30 gallon tank. My main uses are spraying HVLP at 40PSI, nail and staple guns, sandblasting, and some compressed air cleaning. (Very little)

I have a simple HF regulator, followed by a HF filter that is similar to the first one you listed.

With the plasma cutter, you may want to go where wdwrkr is, especially if you also spray water based finishes. I only use lacquer and occasionally polyurethane, and I find that the filter system I have works fine. I did put on an extra outlet before all this that goes to a separate hose for the sandblaster and to do things around the house, like filling tires and such. No need to filter that air, in my mind. The rest of the system with the regulator and filter goes to a second air hose rack, and I do not have a piping system in my shop, with its small size. The way I am set up, with two hose racks, I am not resetting a regulator when I want to sandblast or fill a tire. I do have to reset the regulator when I use an air tool, but still not as bad. My hoses are all 3/8”.

So far, my only complaint about the cheaper HF unit is sometimes it squeals when it is bleeding off water and such. Other than that, no complaints on finishes at all and my nail guns seem to be much cleaner and stay that way since I added the filter system.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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