I am often asked the question, which machine should I buy? This is a tough question.
One thing that is narrowing the choice of the buyer is the fact that top brand name machines are extremely expensive today. I was amazed at the recent prices that some of the name brand companies were charging for their equipment.
It seems that the metal trades industry has jumped into the stratosphere lately with the increase in demand for metal products and the people that work in those fields.
I purchased a Lincoln 185 (single phase transformer) multipurpose machine three years ago that still had two years left on the original warranty when I bought it for $1500. Today this machine is still running like it did when I bought it. It is an inverter single phase machine that runs off a 50 amp breaker that uses a three prong 220 volt receptacle and is AC/DC Stick/TIG/Aluminum.
The replacement machine that was out there today is either a 160 amp or a 225/205 amp stick/mig combo. They don’t make the 185 anymore and come to find out you can’t get the 225 by itself, you have to go up to the 275. Why I don’t know. You can buy a 225 combo Stick/MIG in that range for more money. The 160 in my opinion is a bit low if you are a serious welder. The 225/275 is more than enough for the average individual even in most shop or industrial settings.
To my amazement, the 275 amp machine by the same company mentioned above is anywhere from $2500 and up depending when and where you buy. Wow!! That hurts. This is leading me to my point of people having no choice but to get away from the big name brand companies.
There are names popping up in the market place that would not even have been a thought when it came to purchasing a reliable machine in times past but that has changed. For the common man these off brand machines are the risk most will have to take due to the price crunch in our economy.
So let’s just mention some of these off brand machines. Please understand that The Welders Lens does not promote equipment and this is just an article to expose what was already covered with an insight to where you could go for help in these very hard times.
Here are some names you might try when looking for an inverter machine. Please understand again, I am not promoting any of these brands or their products, this is simply researched information that might serve as a starting point for someone looking for help in this area: Arcon, Lincoln, Miller, Thermal Dynamics, Workhorse, Northern Industrial,Fronius,Kemppi, Migatronic,ESAB, EWM, just to name a few.
Now let me just finish this article by giving an unconventional means to an end. If you are not in need of inverter technology and work with single phase transformer (which is fine for even the serious welder) you may consider trying this method that worked from old and will surely work still today.
You can buy a good reliable name brand machine that is dependable that comes with a 3 year warranty like Lincoln or Miller and use it for TIG as well as Stick if you don’t need the aluminum aspect of a TIG combo unit. You don’t have to have a fancy foot pedal if you can weld with scratch TIG on one heat setting too.
You can buy a less expensive stick rod machine and use it for TIG. The thing these days with the push for inverter technology and TIG designed machines is the mentality of using less energy and becoming light weight as well as giving a more stable arc upon start. Stick machines worked just fine when I was welding and passed many an x-ray with those big bulky machines.
When welding TIG all you have to do is buy a gas block with an ear for placing the jaws of a electrode holder on the gas block for your current and run the conventional TIG rig. The argon hose plugs into the gas block and the jaws clamp on the gas block and away you go. Just don’t forget you will need a machine that you can either swap the leads over either by moving the cable connectors or a switch on the machine. Just something to consider.
A good name brand stick machine goes for about $650. Much easier on the pocket. Now if you need square-wave for aluminum, that is a different story. Anyway, I hope this might help someone gain a foothold on this seemingly ever growing economical question.
What machine would I purchase? I personally would stick with the name brand if possible, check all reviews and comments on non name brand, and get the best warranty available if you do buy an off brand product. Warranty work is not something we ever plan on, but what if? Take care for now and thanks for your time.