Looking for TIG for home shop

I'm wanting to get a TIG welder for my home shop, I'm wanting to practice mostly aluminum but also some sheet steel auto body work. I have an old
Miller 330A/BP that works but it is too heavy to move around like I need to do.
My recommendations from rec.crafts.metalworking is to find a syncrowave 250 and I would like to do that to replace the 330A/BP but it's not exactly portable either.
Here's some machines I've ran across:
Everlast inverter TIG 250A unit with lots of bells and whistles for $1500. http://chicago.craigslist.org/nch/tls/1865873343.html I'm concerned about their durability, they come with a 5 year warranty but I'm afraid I'll have to ship broken welders to them every year and wait for them to send me a replacement. If it would hold up, it looks like a good welder for the money. I've seen some having problems with early models of the Everlast welders, not sure they have the bugs worked out yet. I like that it's only around 55lbs but it's minimum AC current is 20A.
Miller and Hobart has the 165A welders that output 10-165A for $1299 locally, they look the same spec wise and pictures but the Hobart comes with the foot pedal, it's sold separately on the Miller. These are around 50lbs too.
The Miller Diversion TIG 180 is of interest too. The only problem I have with the 2 small Millers and the Hobart is that they are rated to weld a minimum of 22 Gauge sheet metal, some other welders claim to be able to weld much thinner.
Lincoln has a square wave TIG 175 for a reasonable price but it's 185lbs. The weight would be OK but if I could find a 50lb welder to do the job under $2k or so it would be nice.
What about the Lincoln Precision TIG 225? It weighs a lot more than the others but I could still move it to the work a lot easier than the old 800+ pound miller I have now. This is getting to the price range where I could get syncrowave 200 or it's easy to find a syncrowave 250 in the $2000 price range for a good used welder.
Are there any AC/DC sub $2K TIG welders that weigh ~50lbs that will weld thinner than 22 gauge that would be recommended?
Or is there a recommended welder I could find used that would be more portable than the syncrowave 250?
I would like to get a light weight welder now and later find a Syncrowave 250 to replace my 330A/BP. Any recommendations?
Thanks!
RogerN
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I had a Miller Thunderbolt that I liked for small TIG work. I did a lot of stainless for an ice cream plant. It was scratch start, but for the small stuff, it would go down to low amperage. BUT, it might not go down low enough for the really thin stuff you want to do.
Why don't you just spring for the time proven 250 and be done with it? You may find a cheaper off brand, but service, consumables, and spare parts may be spendy or nonexistent.
Get the 250, and never look back. You'll grow into it, not out of it, like you will with some of the smaller welders you mentioned. Then, later, if you want to upgrade, you will take a pounding financially on the first one you buy.
Steve
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wrote

I'm planning on getting a Syncrowave 250 as soon as I can find one for a reasonable price in the area but there is going to be problems. I will have to put up the welder in one place, a utility room that's getting crowded with other stuff, and everytime I want to weld I will have to move the welder out to the car port (3 sides enclosed), I might get by without moving it if I have the torch with 25' leads. Also, I have a 240V 30A circuit available, if I 'm going to use more than that I will have to run another circuit from the East end of my house to the West end of my house, that should be a couple hundred for just the wire.
A smaller TIG welder would work on my existing circuit, fit better in my existing space, and be easier to get out to operate. For right now I have to move a welder every time I weld, it's a mater of moving a 50lb welder or a 400lb welder. There are other solutions though such as making a place to weld and a place for the welder, perhaps a small storage shelter to keep welding stuff in and run some power to it. Right now, plugging a smaller welder in and welding, then putting it up when I'm done, is the quickest and easiest solution. Of course if I find a syncrowave before then I'll start building on a little welding shop area.
RogerN
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wrote

I almost bought the Lincoln 175, then they went down rapidly in price. I suspected something, and sure enough, the 185 came out. I like that one. I know how it is with limited space or money. The 185's can be gotten reasonably, particularly in today's down economy. That is what I'd personally do. It might be a little light for stick, but finding a machine in that price range that does everything is going to be hard to do.
Ernie, chime in here, cause I know you were partial to a particular one that was very dependable. Perhaps you can search Google and find Ernie's suggestion. IIRC, it had 185 in it, too, but I wouldn't bet any money on it with my memory.
Steve
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Oh ...sorry... is it my turn?
Everybody seemed to be having such a rousing discussion I hated to butt in.
Machine choice on TIG is tricky today. You have a raft of BIG industrial machines for cheap at auction, a horde of used machines from Craigslist, Miller and Hobart playing paint color games (they are the same company guys), Thermadyne and Lincoln buying what they can from Japan and Europe, and of course Everlast from China.
My opinions are based on 26 years of TIG experience, and an almost compulsive obsession with following the welding machine market like my own personal soap opera.
The basics.
DC TIG has changed very little in 60 years. You can DC TIG off of any buzz-box ever made and get almost the same TIG arc you get from a brand new inverter. Sure you get bells and whistles today like High Freq, and pulsers and sequencers, but the basic arc is still the same.
AC TIG on the other hand has seen steady technological improvements every few years. A new Inverter TIG running an AC arc is almost a completely different experience than your old 330AB/P.
Inverters give you the ability to play with your output wave frequency, Allowing you to break away from the 60 hz that every transformer TIG is stuck with. This means you can shape the AC arc to act more like a DC arc by increasing that frequency up to 200 hz.
And the term "square wave", which has been the standard of AC TIG since the 70's, doesn't really even apply to what an AC Inverter TIG is puting out.
The best for portability and versatility in an AC DC TIG is the Miller Dynasty 200 DX. The Miller Dynasty 200DX and Maxstar 200DX are unique in their ability to run on any input voltage from 80 to 500 volts, single or 3 phase, 50 or 60 hz.
Over the last 10 years I have taken my Maxstar 200 DX everywhere imaginable and welded, either with stick or TIG.
The Dynasty just adds AC TIG output, which I haven't really needed enough to justify the upgrade, since I already own a Syncrowave 250DX.
The Diversion 165 and 180 are Miller's attempt to get back to what they started with the Econotig 16 years ago. (I bought one of those back then and it was my first TIG) A small portable AFFORDABLE AC DC TIG machine for hobbyists and small fab shops.
I love Miller TIG machines. I feel they just get "it" better than the rest. Thermadyne's Thermal Arc Arcmaster 185 and 200 are good machines, made by Sanrex in Japan.
Lincoln's Invertec 205 is made in Italy by Selco, and is also a good machine but...
... the Miller machines are better.

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Ernie Leimkuhler wrote:

So, the conclusion - for a home TIG machine (not one to bring to job sites), would you spend the $$$ on the Dynasty, or would you pickup a used Syncrowave for much less?
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For location work, from multiple voltages.... Dynasty 200DX For shop work, and 100 more amps output... Syncrowave 250DX
They are in the same price range.
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Thanks for the info. My most immediate need is for portability (and hopefully affordability) since I'll have to drag the machine out every time I want to use it. To me this seems undesirable for a 330A/BP or a syncrowave 250. I thought about getting something portable for now and use the 330A/BP for heavier stuff and later finding a syncrowave 250 and getting rid of the 330A/BP.
An alternative to the portability for me would be to put a syncrowave 250 where I need to use it and put it in some sort of shelter, might look like an outhouse! :-) But at least I would have the welder located where I can use it without moving it.
RogerN
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RogerN wrote:

My S250 has the wheel kit and is plenty easy to move around.
Key thing to remember - the physical size of a welder does not determine it's power requirements. A transformer type welder and an inverter type welder will both require about the same input current for the same output current. This means you'll need to drag the same heavy power cord around to your work location for either type of machine unless you are only working on thin stuff, in which case you need to drag the same light power cord to work work location for either type of machine.
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What's that Lassie? You say that Pete C. fell down the old sci.engr.joining.welding mine and will die if we don't mount a rescue by Tue, 03 Aug 2010 11:54:16 -0500:

On the Miller site: http://www.millerwelds.com They state in an article that the inverter welders don't use as much input current as the older transformer welders. See: http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/articles/welding-inverter-power-efficiency/
--

Dan H.
northshore MA.
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http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/articles/welding-inverter-power-efficiency/
I'm guessing that one of the reasons for less input current is power factor. I have an inverter drive on my CNC mill, while idling the motor I had 13 amps going to the motor but the current going into the drive was only 5 amps. I figure that's why they have power factor accessory options for some of the welders.
RogerN
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RogerN wrote:

Yes, and power factor correction is an option for the Syncrowave as well. Power factor is also pretty irrelevant for a one welder home shop. The article is rather distorted to try to promote selling new machines, vs. installing the power factor correction option in the existing machines.
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Very true, however the manufacturers can use this to make it appear that the old style transformer is more inefficient than it actually is. For example I could claim my motor draws 13A without an inverter and 5A with the inverter, but the inverter drive has more loss than a contactor it might replace. So it can lessen the load on your breakers and wires but not actually save you any money on electricity. If an inverter welder draws 25A at 150A welding current and an inductive welder draws 35A at the same current, the inverter looks more efficient even though both welders could be using the same wattage.
RogerN
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On 08/04/2010 03:51 AM, RogerN wrote:

Check out the idle input current on a transformer machine with the power factor correction, it's nuts. If I remember right, on the Synchrowave 250's, the input idle current (arc off) is 75 amps or so. The power factor correction is just a couple of caps across the ac line to offset the phase shift in the current caused by the inductance in the transformer. When the arc is lit, it might make sense. When I weld, I spend more time setting up a weld, messing with clamps and such with the arc off than actual arc on time.
I think that the inverter machines are more efficient than the 60hz transformer machines. Go to the Miller web site and look in the owners manuals for a Dynasty and a Synchrowave and compare the input currents at similar output currents.
I am not down on the transformer machines, I have a Synchrowave 250 and like it a lot. I also think that the inverter machines are worth looking at. I really wanted the 250 - 300 amp capability but I could not justify $6000 for a machine that is not required to make a living for me.
BobH
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Inverters probably are more efficient, if they work like motor inverters, they rectify the AC incoming and charge capacitors to a DC bus voltage somewhere around 1.414 X the RMS voltage. Then high powered transistors (Maybe MOSFET's or IGBT's) are fired as needed to get output to the welding leads. There is probably an inductor and rectifier in line somewhere, it stores power in a magnetic field to keep the output smooth while the transistors fire on and off.
In my shop I generate 3 phase by using a 3 phase 10HP motor idling on 240 single phase. I have to use a small single phase motor to spin it up, then I flip on the breaker and have 3 phase. This would trip smaller breakers with the motor just idling. I bought some large motor run capacitors and wired between the phases with the highest voltage reading and got it balanced better and the idle current went way down, no more tripped breakers.
RogerN
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What's that Lassie? You say that Ernie Leimkuhler fell down the old sci.engr.joining.welding mine and will die if we don't mount a rescue by Mon, 02 Aug 2010 23:32:02 -0700:

One point I'd like to make:
The TIG welder will hold a more constant current than a stick welder. The Dynastys have a setting to adjust how 'stiff' the arc is in stick mode. Miller calls it "DIG".
You can still TIG weld with a stick welder, but your arc length will effect the current.
--

Dan H.
northshore MA.
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RogerN wrote:

A Syncrowave 250 will happily run on a 30A 240V circuit if you don't run the output over about 175A or so (I know I ran mine that way for a year before I upgraded shop power). There isn't any magic about a 100A 240V circuit vs. a 30A 240V circuit, they both supply 240V up until you exceed their current capacity and then the breaker trips.
The current on the input side of the welder is proportional to the current on the output side of the welder, so for thinner materials you'll never get anywhere near needing the full 100A input. Also note, that if this is a *dedicated* welder circuit, the NEC (art. 630) allows you to undersize the wire based on the duty cycle rating of the welder.
For a Syncrowave 250 with a 40% duty cycle rating (at 250A output), the duty cycle multiplier is .63. The supply conductor ampacity is not allowed to be more than 200A of the conductors normal ampacity. Basically, as long as it is a *dedicated* welder circuit, you can take your existing 30A circuit and change out the circuit breaker from a 30A 2pole breaker to a 60A 2pole breaker (presumes 10ga wire with 30A ampacity) which will allow you to operate at a lot higher output on the welder for thicker materials.
25' leads are pretty normal on a TIG torch, and with a reasonable power supply cord and wheel kit on the S250 it's easy to roll it out to a more convenient location.
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What Steve said.
i
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On 08/02/2010 03:50 AM, RogerN wrote:

Look at the Thermal Arc Arcmaster 185. I think that is one that Ernie has recommended and several other people that I know have spoken well of them. It is the same company that makes Thermal Dynamics Plasma cutters, so they know a few things about inverter power supplies.
BobH
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Thanks, Bob. That's the one I was trying to remember.
Steve
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