Nowadays, the best TIG welder for aluminum is not just a necessity for construction facilities. A lot of people have a trusty welder in their garage since it has become one of the essential household tools.
If you are looking for the good quality TIG welding machine to invest in, then you probably have come across a handful of machines online or offline.
However, professional welders and hobbyist-type of welders are completely different. With all the different brands and types of welders sold on the market these days, it can be difficult to determine which machine is best.
Additionally, if you don’t have the knowledge of TIG welding, you might make the mistake of purchasing the wrong welder.
Comparison Table of TIG Welder
|AHP Alpha-TIG 200X|
|Miller Electric Maxstar|
|Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG|
|Blue Demon BLUEARC|
But don’t be discouraged, this article will help you better understand the basics of TIG welding. Moreover, below is the rundown of topics that will be covered in this article:
- Product Reviews
- TIG Welding Overview
- TIG Welder Buying Guide
10 Best TIG Welder Review & Buying Guide
In case you already have in-depth knowledge about TIG welding and you are on the look for the right welder to purchase, here is a rundown of the products, their specifications, and evaluation.
01. AHP Alpha-TIG 200X Welder – Top User-Friendly Welder
This 2018 model TIG welder is a robust 200-amp machine, which comes with a stick function. It is suitable for both personal and professional use as it allows a diverse range of welding functionalities.
It features PWM (Power with Modulation) alongside the IGBT (Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistor) to ensure high-reliability and prolonged power supply.
This machine offers optimum performance on both 110v (150-amp max output) and the 220v output. Additionally, it includes pulse features with full range and cleaning regulation for AC.
This machine’s TIG torch consumables are used in a WP17 flexible hose torch and come with a separate TIG switch, which is a great added feature for those who prefer a trigger switch to the torch.
The AHP Alpha-TIG welder also includes a premium-quality premium pedal for superior control and convenience.
02. EVERLAST PowerARC 140 Lift Start TIG/Stick Welder – Power-Saving TIG Welder
This welding machine features DINSE 25mm-style connectors to allow quick and easy connection. It offers a smooth and stable DC arc paired with a CC IGBT inverter for more energy-efficient use. It is also a portable machine, which includes an Automatic Hot Start function to reduce electrode sticking.
This user-friendly welding machine includes a digital display to allow convenient current setting and repetition. This Lift Start TIG welder is suitable for stainless and steel welding. Its gas valve is located in the torch handle and is manually operated.
This 140-amp welder also features dual voltage of 120/240v with a 100-amp maximum output on the 120v. Furthermore, this welder also offers a reasonable duty cycle limit of about 35% at rated Amperes.
03. Lotos LTPDC2000D 3 in 1 Welding Machine – Best Multi-Use Welding Machine
This welding machine comes with 3 main functionalities: Plasma cutter, TIG welder, and a Stick Welder.
Pilot Arc Plasma Cutter
The non-touch Arc torch powerfully cuts through painted, rough, and corroded surfaces and produces minimal debris. This powerful plasma cutter allows you to cut through metals without having to touch the tip.
This plasma offers a maximum ideal cut for metals with 1/2″ thickness and a maximum severance with 3/4″ thickness.
This DC TIG welder has a current output of 15-200 Amp. It can be used to weld on stainless and steel metals and offers excellent welding precision for materials with a thinner gauge.
It also includes a hand torch with an HF arc start and an accurate welding heat control through a foot pedal (foot pedal is not included in the set).
This DC stick welder has a current output of 15-200 Amp. It offers easy Arc start for more stable welding. Its hot-striking Arc electric current is highly adjustable, which is great in helping improve its arc-starting capacity.
The whole welding machine can be set up in less than a minute. It comes with a pre-installed standard D plug and an air filter control, which allows easy connection to the air compressor.
Furthermore, the whole set also comes with an argon regulator, power supply, MMA/Stick Clamp, ground clamp, consumables, owner’s manual, etc.
04. PrimeWeld 3in1 Welder Combo – Budget Multi-Use Welder
This welding machine features multi-purpose functionalities, which include plasma cutting, TIG, and Stick welding. The plasma cutter can cut through different types of metal with a maximum thickness of 1/2″. This machine can also be used for TIG and stick DC welding personally or professionally.
The whole welding machine weighs at about 32lbs at hand-carry, which makes it highly portable and reliable. Moreover, it offers a duty cycle of about 60% at the maximum rated Amps for all its processes.
05. EVERLAST PowerArc TIG/Stick Welder – Great Compact 2in1 Welder
This welding machine combines the functionality of a TIG and Stick DC welder. The whole machine comes with a strap for shoulder carrying, which makes it portable and easy to carry around places.
It features the IGBT inverter technology for low-power consumption and a significant duty cycle limit of about 35% at 160 Amp. Its quick “hot start” feature reduces the sticking of electrodes for a more convenient welding activity.
The machine also offers an automated regulation for the Arc force. The ideal HF and Lift Start TIG come with a digital display to ensure an accurate current setting. Its DINSE-style connectors also allow quick and easy connection.
The whole kit comes with a standard package, which is foot pedal compatible (foot pedal not included). Furthermore, it also features a highly-modifiable post flow regulation for TIG.
“On the other hand, this welder is not compatible with 6010 welding rods.”
06. Miller Electric Maxstar 150 STL, TIG Welder – Lightweight and Portable Welder
This DC type welder offers 3 welding processes, including stick and TIG. It operates with an input voltage of 115/230 VAC. This welding machine features a DC inverter paired with lift Arc functions to ensure low-power consumption. This welder can be used on steel materials with a 0.020″ to 3/4″ thickness.
07. PRIMEWELD TIG/Stick Welder – Great Value Welding Machine
This 225 Amps TIG and Stick welder features a Pulse Function, which works excellently on materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and thin metals.
It has a pulse type of both AC and DC, which makes it great for various welding processes. The set comes with a TIG torch, head, and hose. It also includes a USA-made DINSE connector for easy connection.
This welder operates on a pulse frequency and AC frequency of 200HZ, which is great for welding 3/8″ steel and 1/4″ aluminum. It also operates at a current output of 110/220v, which is ideal for 7018 and 6013 welding rods.
It includes a hand torch control for the HF start and a foot pedal for a precise welding heat regulation. Moreover, the Advanced IGBT Inverter Technology paired with PWM ensures-efficient welding activities.
08. Hobart 500551 EZ-TIG 165i TIG Welder – Smart Features TIG Welding Machine
This premium-quality TIG welder offers a user-friendly interface, which allows the user to simply turn on the machine and select the welded material and the material’s thickness.
Its “Fan-On-Demand” feature ensures the fan only runs whenever it is needed, which is helpful in keeping a low-power consumption. Additionally, the fan-on-demand function also ensures there are minimal dust and slag drawn to the machine.
Both AC and DC pulse is able to weld materials with a 22 GA up to 3/16″ thickness. Its no-touch Arc HF start helps reduce the risk of material and tungsten contamination.
Furthermore, this welder allows Absolute Amperage Regulation to provide broader operation range with optimum control.
09. EVERLAST TIG/Stick Welder – Optimum Quality Welding Machine
This TIG/Stick welder offers a smooth and stable DC Arc, which works great for welding stainless and mild steel materials. The set also comes with a designated E6010 connector port for excellent cellulose and E6010 rod performance.
This welding machine also comes with an automatically regulated Arc Force regulation for optimum Arc performance, especially for short Arc scenarios. It also features a digital display to ensure accurate current settings.
Its automatically adaptive hot start feature ensures minimal rod sticking during the initial process. Lastly, this welder also comes with the IGBT inverter technology to promote low-power consumption.
Although this welder is mainly built for professional use, it can also be easily utilized for personal or hobby purposes.
10. Blue Demon BLUEARC-90STI TIG and Stick Welding Machine – Best Economical Inverter-Based Welder
This Stick/TIG welding machine features the 115V inverter technology, which promotes energy efficiency for every welding process.
This inverter-based welder allows increased current output for smaller transformers, thus making the whole set an extremely lightweight and easy to carry-around product.
This welding machine works great on all kinds of carbon steel, cast iron, stainless steel, and hard surfaces. Furthermore, since this is a DC only type of welder, it is not recommended to be used in aluminum materials.
TIG Welding Basics
This TIG welding guide will give you a highlight of the basics, various terminologies, and the advantages of this welding process. Furthermore, having in-depth knowledge about TIG welding will also help you select the best product to purchase.
TIG Welding Overview
TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas; this welding process is basically an Arc welding method that utilizes non-consumable tungsten electrodes.
The welding area is protected against atmospheric contamination through a filler metal and a covering gas (mostly argon). However, for certain welds such as autogenous welds, this process is not necessary.
The TIG welding process involves an uninterrupted power source, which supplies energy conducted into the Arc through a line of metal vapors and ionized gas known as plasma.
TIG welding is commonly used to weld alloy steel, stainless steel, and non-rigid materials such as copper alloys, magnesium, and aluminum. On the other hand, below is a list of common TIG welding terms and their meanings.
01. AC and DC
Basically, there are two different modes of TIG welding and that is AC and DC. DC or direct current TIG welding mode is used for all types of metals except magnesium alloys and aluminum.
AC or alternating current, on the other hand, is used for magnesium alloys and aluminum materials only.
02. Arc Starting Styles
In the case of TIG welding, the Arc starting is a vital consideration. Below are the three Arc start styles:
Lift Start: This Arc start needs an inverter-based welding tool. The tungsten carefully conjuncts on the job, the control circuit detects the conjunction, and the tungsten is removed off the job. Then, it ignites the welding arc.
Scratch Start: This is a more traditional style of Arc start and is typically associated with a transformer-based welding machine. The scratch style Arc start is not as common nowadays since most machines are already inverter type.
HF Start: This start works even when the tungsten does not meet the job. This type of start can be extremely vital especially if tungsten contamination on the job is a major issue, just like in pressure vessel welding, for example.
03. Gas Delivery
In TIG welding, the insertion of a gas shielding is required as well as the method of gas connection and introducing it to the weld. Certain high-end welding machines include a built-in gas valve in which the welder will automatically turn on whenever the torch trigger is pushed.
These types of welding machines usually have some added features of pre-gas and post-gas wherein the user sets a time for adding gas to absolve the weld areas before the welding process is started.
Additionally, the gas will then continue to flow in order to prevent the oxygen from contaminating the pool and allow it to cool at the end of the welding process.
On the other hand, some lower-end welders do not have a built-in gas valve and require a torch with a built-in manual valve.
04. Duty Cycle
A welder machine’s duty cycle indicates the machine’s operation ability for an extended time. The duty cycle is determined based on the time a welding machine is able to operate at a given maximum output at a 40°C ambiance within a 10-minute cycle.
Most welding machines sold on the market will indicate its max duty cycle; it will help you determine whether a certain welder suits your welding activities or not.
05. AC Welding
An AC welder utilizes high power in order to produce an AC weld output. AC frequency typically varies from 30Hz to 150Hz. AC with high-frequency can be used in focusing the Arc, which is necessary on tight corners and thin materials.
TIG Welder Buying Considerations
With all the welding machines available on the market these days, it can be extremely challenging to narrow down the best TIG welder to invest in. However, if you know the basics of selecting the right welder, you should be able to land on the right product.
Below is a rundown of the basic factors you need to consider when shopping for a TIG welder.
Consider The Type of Welding Process to be Done
When shopping for TIG welders, one of the first things you need to consider is the job at hand. Professional and hobby-type welding is completely different, not only for the price but also for the machine functionalities.
Furthermore, do also consider the future jobs you may possibly need a welder with. Will the features of a basic TIG welder suffice your needs, or is it better to invest in a higher-end machine with much better offers?
Choose from AC or DC
If you are going to weld not only stainless steel or mild steel materials, choosing a welder that has both AC and DC functions is the way to go.
DC only machines are only able to weld copper and steel materials. AC, on the other hand, is used for welding soft metals such as aluminum and Magnesium.
In the case of AC, the cycle alternates between the positive and negative fractions. Aluminum welding requires cleaning the oxides with the positive half of the cycle while the negative half then manages the penetration of the base metal. So, basically, the job of the half positive is cleaning and the half negative is for the welding process.
Check the Amperage Capacity
When choosing a TIG welder, the amperage capacity is a vital factor to look at. Generally, it is better to choose a machine that offers a wide range of amperage.
A TIG welder that offers a narrow amperage capacity will typically limit the materials to be welded. On the other hand, a TIG welder that offers 5 and 230 Amps allows you to weld thin materials such as aluminum with 1/4″ thickness or 24-gauge steel.
If your welder does not reach the minimum 200 Amps, the possible welded material’s thickness will be limited especially for aluminum, from 1/8″ to 3/16″. In other words, wider amperage capacity means more possible applications for the wielder.
Select from a TIG only or a Combo Type of Welder
Nowadays, a lot of welding machines offer multi-processes in which you can get multiple welding functions such as TIG, Stick, or MIG. Many people choose to invest in a combo-type welder since it caters to various welding processes and is a better value for money.
However, if you are certain to only focus on TIG welding, sticking to a TIG-only welding machine is more practical.
Look for the Machine’s Welded Material Thickness Capacity
Say you are going to weld a very thin material at 3 Amps, you must select a welding machine that goes to a lower amperage, which is enough to accommodate the necessary welding requirements.
Furthermore, you can also see the welder’s welded material thickness capacity in its product specifications.
Take Note of the Machine’s Portability
If you know you’ll be moving the welder around your workshop, selecting a portable machine is a better choice. Especially if you are someone who is always on the go and works out and about with your welding machine, portability is a must.
However, if you are mostly to use your TIG welder indoors, a portable machine is not as necessary since you can just rely on a welder trolley to help you move around the machine easily.
Pay Close Attention to the Machine’s Duty Cycle
A welding power supply’s duty cycle is the amount of time the machine can be used at a given output without having to worry about burning out the power supply or overheating.
Typically, hobby-type TIG welders have a duty cycle of about 20%. On the other hand, an automatic TIG set up may require up to 100% duty cycle due to possible prolonged weld times.
Welding machines with about 40% – 60% are often considered adequate for most handheld TIG welding activities in the construction industry.
Get One with a Pulsed TIG Welder
For most electronic products, including TIG welders, proper heat regulation is extremely important. A great method to regulate weld’s heat without reducing the weld penetration is the pulsed weld.
In pulsed TIG welding, the machine alternates between lower and higher currents; this process helps in preserving the Arc and letting the welded joints to cool down at the same time.
Basically, a pulse TIG welder allows the user to easily lower down the overall weld current. Top-quality TIG welders often come with an additional TIG pulse to provide excellent heat control.
Opt for an Inverter-Based TIG Welder
Transformer-based TIG welders were very popular until 2005 but were later on replaced by innovative inverter-based welders.
An inverter-based welder uses the high-frequency in an inverted AC wave. The magnetic flux is then reduced, which results in the shrinking of the transformer from an inverter machine. Thus, the whole welding machine is much lighter compared to traditional transformer-based ones.
Know Your Budget
TIG welders’ price ranges between a hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the equipment, the brand, and set inclusions.
For professional use, TIG welders, which cost somewhere around the $1000 mark, are the recommended ones. For personal or hobby-type usage, you can find good ones under $500.
Pick a Reliable Seller
Whether you choose to buy from a physical welder store or online, being meticulous enough is extremely important. Since buying online is considered to be riskier compared to buying in-store, you should do thorough research on reputable online welder stores first before deciding to buy.
Seek recommendations or read reviews to know which online sellers are trustworthy and which ones are not. Moreover, you must also look into the online store’s shipping time and return/refund policy.
Also, select a store that offers satisfactory warranty policy to ensure you’ll be compensated in cases of product defects.
TIG Welding Frequently Asked Questions
Got a few questions in mind? These TIG welding FAQs might provide answers to your questions.
What does TIG stand for?
TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas.
What are the benefits of TIG welding?
TIG welding is suitable for welding a wider range of metals compared to the other types of welding. It is also renowned for producing clean welds with optimum strength.
TIG welding typically produces no spatter, no sparks, no smoke, no debris, and no fumes; in case it does, you probably used a low-quality metal. Additionally, TIG welding is highly beneficial especially if you are working with overhead areas as you won’t get showered with debris and sparks.
What are the various types of tungsten colors and when to use them?
There are 5 main colors/types of tungsten:
- Green – it is the color that identifies a pure tungsten electrode. Green tungsten generally has the lowest melting point while the other colors have higher melting points. It also has a better arc starting and sustaining features, lower risk for weld contamination, and a longer lifespan. However, green tungstens are also expensive due to the rare elements added to it.
- Red (thoriated) – it features an easy arc starting. It is durable and stable. It has a low chance of weld contamination and high-power carrying capacity at low amperages.
- Orange/Gray (Ceriated) – excellent at starting arcs, welding at low amps, and works great at AC or DC. However, in the case of high amperage settings, it will start to break down.
- Gold (Lanthanated) – it is durable and stable. It suits both AC and DC welding.
- Brown (Zinconiated) – it provides an extremely stable arc, which makes it excellent to use for welding with little to no contamination. However, brown tungstens are not suitable for DC welding.
What gas is used in TIG welding?
Argon is often used for almost all TIG welding processes. Helium, on the other hand, is sometimes used in cases where better penetration is necessary or for welding with higher speed and hotter arc.
When to use AC and DC?
For stainless steel, mild steel, and iron alloys, DC welding and negative polarity are required. Magnesium and aluminum, on the other hand, are welded with AC.
Why does tungsten contaminate welds?
There are two probable scenarios that result in tungsten contamination. First, the tungsten has melted in the weld pool due to the use of an electrode that is extremely small in diameter.
Second, you are holding the torch very nearly and the electrode ended up dipped into the puddle, which caused the contamination.
How to clean contaminated tungsten?
The best thing you can do to fix a contaminated tungsten tip is to regrind it. Basically, contaminated tungsten will have a few small splotches and a ball on the tip where it was dipped in the weld puddle. Regrinding will help eliminate contamination in the affected areas.
Why do I go through my tungsten so rapidly?
Tungsten is consumable, but if you think you are going through it too rapidly, here are a few possible reasons:
- Your welder has an electrode positive setting.
- Incorrect diameter tungsten for the current
- Insufficient gas flow
- Overheating tungsten
- Wrong gas is being used
- The gas doesn’t shield after the Arc.
How to prepare the tungsten tip properly?
The tungsten tip needs grinding for it to be formed in a shape identical to a lead pencil. This can be done by simply using a bench grinder or a belt sander.
If possible, use a dedicated sander or grinder for the sole purpose of grinding your tungsten to avoid contamination.
Is it possible to TIG weld cast iron?
Cast iron may be TIG welded. However, the process is slightly different; you need to initially heat up the part and then weld it while it is still hot.
This process will involve putting the part to be welded in a shop oven (don’t use your regular kitchen oven) or pre-heating that part with a torch.
What is the proper flow rate for the shielding gas?
The coverage for shielding gas is extremely essential for TIG welding, and you need to ensure you have the right settings on your bottle in order to have clean welds and not go through an entire bottle of Argon within a few hours.
It is recommended to start at a baseline setting of 15-20 CFH and gradually adjust up whenever it is necessary.
What does pre gas/post gas flow mean?
Pre-flow refers to the gas that comes out from the torch a few portions of a second before the welder triggers an arc.
It cleans out dirt in the torch and ensures the weld joint is guarded as soon as the melting of metal starts.
Post-flow refers to the protection of the weld soon after you stopped welding and while the weld is still soft and molten.
In the case of aluminum welding, the post-flow should be increased since it is exposed after the welding process is stopped.
Is it okay to TIG on 110v?
Generally, TIG welding is excellent at higher currents (220V), however, 110V is recommended only for smaller welding jobs.
Now that you are already familiar with the basics of TIG welding, it’s time to choose the best TIG welder to invest in.
If you are still having a hard time finding a good selection of TIG welders, consider the list of products and their reviews included in this article.
Furthermore, since you now have the knack of the ins and outs of TIG welding, you should be able to land on the right machine in no time.