Okay. I'm going the TIG route and want to get the best bang for my
buck. My question is this...How do you determine whether 185 amps or
200 amps or 300 amps is enough or more than enough?
I'm pretty sure that 185 amps (ThermalArc) would do it for me, but I
find myself wondering what you get for spending more money and getting
a 200, 250, or 300 amp machine. I don't plan on welding aluminum much
if at all. That being said, how do determine the right power source
for your needs without shooting too low and growing out of your
machine too fast?
: Okay. I'm going the TIG route and want to get the best bang for my
: buck. My question is this...How do you determine whether 185 amps or
: 200 amps or 300 amps is enough or more than enough?
: I'm pretty sure that 185 amps (ThermalArc) would do it for me, but I
: find myself wondering what you get for spending more money and getting
: a 200, 250, or 300 amp machine. I don't plan on welding aluminum much
: if at all. That being said, how do determine the right power source
: for your needs without shooting too low and growing out of your
: machine too fast?
Keep an eye on the duty cycle. If you go with the larger machine, you will
have a higher duty cycle at the normal welding currents you will use.
Most people make the same error you are making.
Assuming that you will buy only one welding machine in your lifetime,
For one thing you really won't know what machine best suites your needs
until you have been welding for a while.
I took a different route.
I rented machines for years.
I bought a Hobart Handler 120 about 11 years ago.
Great little machine, but not very powerfulk.
As needs arose I simply rented larger MIGs, TIGs or plasma cutters.
I would buy all of my materiels, prep them, and then rent the machine
over a weekend for a 1 day rental rate.
It gave me a chance to try out everybodies machines, and figure out
exactly what I needed in a machine.
After 11 years, I now own a Hobart Handler 120, Hobart Betamig 250,
Miller Syncrowave 250DX, Miller Maxstar 200DX, and a Thermal Dynamics
Pak38XL plasma cutter.
The Syncrowave and the Maxstar are both upgrades from previous machines.
My point is that if you feel you have to buy a machine right now, you
should try to buy a machine that suites your needs NOW, and after a
while you will have a better idea of what other machines you might
You can always resell your welder and get at least 60% of it's value.
That's fine if you can write off the cost against income from welding.
For the hobbyist/home-shop welder, welders are bought with tax paid
dollars and generate no income. Indeed, they do provide useful work
which pays back the cost over the long term and they also provide a
great deal of enjoyment but "upgrading" my 250 GTSW is just not on
Yes but you bought a large enough machine that it had some headroom.
You chose a very good machine that cost a big chunk of cash at the time.
Most hobbiests start smaller and work their way up.
I just don't see the point in people stressing out about having to pick
out the PERFECT welding machine, that will suite their needs now and
forever, when they have little experince at welding so far and have no
idea where it will take them.
I would rather see people start by buying small, and rent larger
machines to try them out before finally upgrading or expanding there
Well, I would have to say I am a hobby/home-shop type welder. I didn't
start welding thinking I would be making any money at it. But neighbors
and friends and co-workers find out you know how to put two pieces of
metal together, you soon find yourself working on projects for others
and a few dollars start coming your way. My first real welder (bought
new) has paid for itself and its next replacement. I have gone thru 3
welders (from arc to mig to now tig). Each was a learning experience on
the pros and cons. None owe me a dime for the freedom each has given me.
Along the way I somehow taught 2 of my co-workers to lay down a good
bead and they are now happy building whatever. I guess the moral of this
rant would be " I started welding as a hobby and somehow found a skill "
Now that was unexpected :)
I have to agree. And, I'm lucky enough to have gotten hooked up with
a welding shop in the area doing computer work and web site stuff for
them. I get a little bit of money in my pocket, plus access to
ThermalArc TIG machines and all the tools of the shop.
The reason I want my own machine is that because the welding shop is a
business, I don't get as much time on the machines as I would like and
I have to drive 20 minutes if I want to weld something or try
And, I don't want to spend $4000 on a machine when a $1500 machine
will do anything I want to do. If I start needing a bigger machine
then I can upgrade, like you said. I think that's definitely the way
to go for me.
Just my $0.02.
I originally bought a Miller 180SD. If I had not needed to weld aluminum, I
could have been happy with that machine for a long time - and I am doing
welding for hire. For steel, I never needed any of the features of my
current machine. A good, basic TIG machine seems to be about all you need.
Aluminum is a different animal, though.
Keep in mind that any TIG machine can also do stick welding. The majority of
your work will probably be material 3/16" and under with most of it probably
under 1/8", unless you're doing structural work. You can easily tig 1/4"
plate with a 185A machine (assuming a reasonable duty cycle) but it will be
slow, slow, slow. The thing to do at that point is switch to using stick.
The only difficulty is that stick is a very different skill than TIG. Try to
write your name by holding the far end of a 14" long pen, and you'll get the
idea. But at least you'll have a machine that will put out smooth DC, and
that helps a lot (I started with an AC "buzzbox" which I now recognize as
about the most evil and difficult to use welder on Earth).
I now have a Miller Dynasty 200DX, Miller Millermatic 175 MIG, and a
Hypertherm 600 plasma cutter. These machines are getting close to having
paid for themselves, the only one I don't use as often as I'd like is the
plasma cutter. Even so, there are still times - rare, but they happen - when
the stick electrodes come out. A 6010 will blow through rust and paint where
MIG would make a weak, porous weld.
Sometimes you either can't get the metal as clean as you want, or you don't
have time to do the cleaning you'd like to do. If you keep a pound or so of
_quality_ stick electrodes (6010, 6013, and 7018) handy, you can weld dirty
or thick metal when you need to. Another thing I learned the hard way: good
electrodes are worth the cost, don't buy them at the home center, get good
rod and keep it sealed in an airtight container. A ziplock bag is not good
enough. I made my own rod holders from 2" PVC pipe. The 7018 is particularly
sensitive to moisture.
With a minimal additional investment, you can get a carbon-arc gouging gun
for your welder, which will allow you to gouge cracks and bevel plate. 185A
is a bit light for that, but it will work a lot faster than a grinder, if
you have much work to do. Makes a hell of a mess, though. Bottom line, a
185A tig machine is actually pretty versatile, if you don't think of it as
only a TIG machine.
At the time I bought my machine, I already knew that I would want to be
able to weld at least common steels, stainless and aluminum up to at
least 1/4" thickness. I don't have the space (nor the desire) to hang
on to several welding machines so, if I were to upgrade, how much would
a 10 year old TIG welder be worth, either for private sale or on trade
in? It strikes me that stepping up over two or three (or more) machines
would greatly increase the long term total cost.
As far as I know, nobody in town rents TIG machines - at least I have
never seen a TIG outfit at the better equipment rental place in town nor
at the local welding shop. So, quite aside from the inconvenience,
renting was not and is not a viable option.
I also doubt that there is much of a local market for used TIGs but
I would not recommend getting a carbon-arc gouging gun to use with a
TIG welder. Carbon-arc gouging generates some healthy voltage spikes
and a TIG machine has a fair amount of relatively sensitive circuitry
in it. If in doubt ask the welder manufacturer.
I agree that not all areas have rentable welding machines.
2.5 years ago when I did that Las Vegas railing I first called every
shop in Vegas to find a rentable Inverter TIG.
I ended up buying my Maxstar 200DX and taking on the plane as checked