Weld My World - Welding News

What You Need in a TIG Welder

When you need to create high quality welds or join two pieces of thin metal together, a TIG welder is often your best choice. TIG welders can be quite pricey, with smaller units starting out at $1,200 and the more powerful units hitting the $5,000 range. A TIG welder clearly is an important investment. Here are some tips about what to look for in a TIG welder so that you get the best welder for your money:

Image Source: Baker’s Gas and Welding, the best-selling Miller Diversion 185 TIG Welder

Pulse Welding for TIG

The pulse feature allows you to control the amount of heat used during the welding process. Too much heat can ruin the weld, especially if the metal is thin, such as aluminum. By limiting the arc size through pulsing, you can weld faster and limit the amount of material you add to the weld. This makes it possible to create a cleaner weld that doesn’t require any extra grinding.

TIG Welder Weight

Smaller TIG welders can weigh about 20-40 pounds, making it easy to move them from one job site to another. Larger units can weigh up to 100 pounds, and you’ll need a cart to move them around in your shop. Weight is one of the major factors to consider with TIG welders, as heavier welders provide more features.

Arc Control

One of the main reasons why you should consider purchasing a name brand TIG welder (eg. Miller, Lincoln, ESAB, and Hobart) is the quality of the arc. Some cheaper units have been reported to have arc stability issues, which can ruin the quality of your weld. TIG welders are typically chosen because they create an attractive weld, so this may help you rule out the bargain welders on the market.

Air-Cooled vs. Water-Cooled Torch

Most TIG welders come with air-cooled torches, but some welders choose to upgrade to a water-cooled torch that has a smaller head that is better suited for fine welding work. Water-cooled torches keep the torch much cooler, and many reviewers have noted that an air-cooled torch becomes quite hot while working on certain projects.

High Frequency Settings

The higher your frequency, the easier it becomes to control your arc. If you opt for a less expensive TIG welder, you’ll be a bit more limited in your settings and power options.

Simple Controls

Many of the top TIG welders offer similar features, and therefore the choice you make may come down to something as basic as which welder offers the best control panel. While all control panels should be simple and intuitive, some welders offer a wider range of settings or make it easier to lock your settings into place so that you don’t have to worry about accidentally bumping into them while working on a project. This is a small difference, but such a feature could make a difference if you’re working in a tight shop.

Cooling Fan

The last thing you want is for your welder to overheat. Make sure your TIG welder has an effective cooling fan that will keep your unit at an optimal operating temperature.

Basic Features for Any Welder

As with any other welder, you’ll want to pick up a TIG unit with a duty cycle that allows you to weld long enough on your projects, but keep in mind that a longer duty cycle will raise the price. Welders will also offer various ranges of power, with some operating only at 115V, others providing 230V, and still others offering both. The latter provides more options, but you’ll have to pay a little extra for it.

AC and DC power are musts for TIG welders, especially since TIG is often used for welding aluminum on AC power. DC is more commonly used for metals other than aluminum.

Unique Features for a TIG Welder

TIG welders also offer some unique features that you can’t find in other types of welding units. Some of the nicer units offer stick welding and plasma cutting capabilities that can truly transform your home welding shop into an all-purpose operation. With those extra features you won’t have very many limitations when it’s time to start welding.

Learn More about TIG Welding

Ed C.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.