When you’re TIG welding there’s only so much that a top brand welding glove can do for you if your torch heats up and you can’t cool it down fast enough. The longer you weld, the hotter your torch will get, and you’ll need to cool it off with either an air cooling or water cooling system. Which is better?
While welders who work on TIG machines all day will tell you there’s no competition between the two cooling options (they’ll pick water cooled every time), here’s a look at the options you can consider, including circumstances when air-cooled may be ideal:
Torch Size for TIG Welders
There are small and large torch sizes to consider first. A larger torch with a lot of power will need to be water cooled if you want to weld for any length of time, while a smaller torch can be air or water cooled.
Large torches are typical for operations that weld a lot of aluminum, but otherwise it’s typical for welders, especially hobby/home welders to opt for the precision of a small torch. The rest of this post will assume that you’re considering a small torch.
Welding Outside with an Air-Cooled TIG Torch
If you’re welding in a remote location, outside, or in a place where you won’t have access to water, it’s ideal to use an air-cooled torch. Besides saving you a good bit of money on the cooling set up, air-cooled torches provide the flexibility you need to work in multiple locations and enable welders to travel light from one job location to another.
Welding Short Beads with an Air-Cooled TIG Torch
The main limitation with an air-cooled torch comes when you’re working on a large project and your torch becomes too hot to hold. You’ll need to take a break in order for the air to cool it off sufficiently before resuming your welding work.
Water-cooled torches enable welders to generally work without stopping. This can prove especially important when you’re working on a small, precise weld bead that needs to be continuous. If your torch heats up, you’ll either have a hard time keeping your hand steady or you may need to stop too soon.
Long Beads at High Amperages with a Water-Cooled TIG Torch
Water-cooled torches really shine when you’re working for long stretches of time, running beads continuously. Professional welders note that they can work at higher temperatures, faster paces, and for longer stretches of time with a water-cooled torch.
If your goal is to weld professionally in a shop using a TIG welder, then you’ll definitely want to invest in a water-cooled torch set up. Your welds will be steady and comfortable no matter how long your welding bead needs to be.
One Last Point on TIG Welding Torches
If you choose to go with an air-cooled torch, you may notice that some torches have a letter listed in the product description. This typically means that there’s a gas valve that helps with scratch starts and lift arcs. If there’s a letter on your torch, that means your torch is a flex head torch an option that could be useful in certain applications but isn’t usually recommended since it’s not durable.
Learn More About TIG Welders at Baker’s Gas and Welding
Baker’s Gas and Welding’s online store offers the best prices on TIG welders and provides free ground shipping for most orders in the lower 48 states. You can order your new welder, torches, consumables, safety gear, and welding gloves all in one visit.