Best TIG Welders of 2017 – Reviews & Top Picks
- Our Top 5 TIG Welder Picks
- Factors to Consider When Buying a TIG Welder
In order to understand the TIG welder, let’s first take a look at what it stands for. TIG refers to Tungsten Inert Gas welding which is an arc welding process. This process involves the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode in order to produce the weld. This type of welder can be used on most metals such as stainless steel and non-ferrous metals like aluminum.
The fact that the best TIG welder can be used on more metals than any other process makes it a very useful tool to have around. Welds are clean and high quality with no sparks or spatter and no smoke or fumes. Finally, a TIG welder allows for a great deal of control and accuracy which makes it easy to use in all sorts of positions and situations.
Our Top 5 TIG Welder Picks
|Model||Amp||Duty Cycle||User Rating||Price|
|AHP AlphaTIG 200X||10-200A||60% @ 200A||4.6/5||$$$
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|Miller Electric Maxstar 150 STL||5-150A||35% @ 150A, 100% @ 100A||4.9/5||$$$$$
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|Hobart 500551 EZ TIG||10-165A||20% @ 150A, 100% @ 100A||4.3/5||$$$$
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|Everlast PowerArc 140ST||5-250A||60% @ 250A, 100% @ 200A||4.6/5||$
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|Lotos CT520D||15-200A||60% @ 200A||4.2/5||$$
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At this point, you may well be unsure as to which TIG welder is best for your welding needs and budget. For this reason, you’ll surely appreciate our TIG welder reviews which cover some of the best products on the market today. And if you need further information regarding the advantages of this tool and features to look for, continue to our informative TIG welder buying guide.
1. AHP AlphaTIG 200X – Our Top Pick
With plenty of features to make your welding experience better, the AHP AlphaTIG is the best TIG welder on the market. Capable of cutting up to 1/4-inch aluminum and 3/8-inch mild steel, it has more than enough power thanks to the 200 amp provided. Having this power makes control all the more important. One of the very best features of this excellent plasma cutter is the included foot pedal though opinions are split as to how good this actually is. This helps provide the necessary level of control so that you can produce higher quality work.
It may not look like the most portable TIG welder around, but the AHP AlphaTIG 200X still only weighs 38 lbs. There is also a handle which makes moving it around much easier. The product comes with a 3-year warranty though you should be aware that the customer service provided is known to be quite poor. Overall, this is an impressive product that is available at a highly competitive price. With it, you can produce excellent quality welds without much difficulty. Features such as the foot pedal make this a user-friendly TIG welder with a lot to offer. For these reasons, we highly recommend it!
- Offers excellent quality welds for the price
- Foot pedal allows for greater control
- 3-year warranty covers potential problems
- Customer service can be quite poor
2. Miller Electric Maxstar 150 STL – The Runner-up
For a welder with multiple functionalities, take a look at the Miller Electric Maxstar 150 STL. Most people are impressed by this TIG welder’s versatility since it can be used on a wide range of metals. It has dual functionality and switching between stick and TIG applications is easy. One thing some will appreciate is that it’s a very portable TIG welder, particularly due to the DC inverter technology. It weighs just 13.7 lbs so it can be used in various locations and easily transported and stored when required. A shoulder strap makes moving the unit even easier!
There are a number of other features that make this particular TIG welder our runner-up. Thermal overload protection adds to the durability of the product while the fan reduces the consumption of power. Speaking of power, dual voltages of 115V and 230V allow for flexibility, depending on the particular application. As you can see, there are so many great features on this product but unfortunately, it doesn’t have a foot pedal. This can be useful to have when you want greater control when working. Despite the lack of this feature, this is still an excellent TIG welder for you to consider.
- Very lightweight and portable and includes a shoulder strap
- Multi-functional as it can be used for tig and stick welding
- Lots of good features including thermal overload protection
- Doesn’t include a foot pedal which would offer better control
3. Hobart 500551 EZ TIG
A TIG welder that is quick and easy to use, the Hobart 500551 EZ TIG may well be the product for you. The unique single knob control on the easy-to-use interface makes selections quick and convenient. This 230V TIG welder offers excellent performance and can tackle aluminum with the AC output and mild and stainless steel with the DC output. Infinite amperage control means you can perform a variety of applications without a problem. It’s definitely worth mentioning that this product is actually designed and manufactured in the USA. This may be reflected in the lofty price but at least you know you’re getting a high-quality product!
This isn’t the lightest TIG welder on the market yet it’s only 50 lbs which still makes it relatively portable. It has a number of impressive features though you’d perhaps expect some of these from a more expensive TIG welder as this. For example, automatic high-temperature shutdown ensures the longevity of the product while remote amperage control via a foot pedal allows for greater control and precision. If you don’t mind splashing out in order to have this product, you’ll likely be very happy with the welding you’re able to do.
- Easy to use thanks to the single knob control
- High-quality product made in the USA
- Many features including automatic high-temperature shutdown
- It isn’t the lightest of TIG welders so portability is reduced
- Quite an expensive product compared to others on this list
4. Everlast PowerArc 140ST – Best for the Money
As a budget TIG welder, the Everlast PowerArc 140ST is really an entry-level product, making it ideal for beginners. Despite its small size and relatively low weight of 24.8 lbs, it offers solid power delivery for the price. It is capable of running on 120V and 240V power supplies and can even be powered by a clean power generator. A notably good feature of this product is the excellent arc control. This is partly down to the auto arc force control. There’s also an automatic hot start feature that means you’ll have fewer problems with the rod sticking.
Another reason why this is a great TIG welder for beginners is the easy setup. What’s more, it’s easy to start with its consistent performance being a real plus. For light-duty jobs, this is more than capable. Throw in the various accessories that come with the welding machine and you’ll quickly be ready to go! One thing that is missing is a foot pedal. Also, because there is no DC output, the PowerArc 140ST is unable to TIG weld aluminum but it can stick weld it this particular metal. In our opinion, this is the best TIG welder for the money.
- Excellent arc control
- Very quick and easy setup
- A reliable and consistent performer
- No foot pedal
- DC output is not an option
5. Lotos CT520D
The Lotos CT520D is a 3 in 1 combo welding machine. With it, you can use the 50 amp air plasma cutter, 200 amp TIG welder and 200 amp stick welder. Switching between these is quick and easy, leaving you with more time to get work done! Having these 3 features in the same unit is the main selling point of this product. It’s extremely convenient and means you don’t have to keep chopping and changing. There’s also dual voltage of 110V and 220V. As such, you’ve got a great degree of versatility with this TIG welder.
Able to cut different types of metals of up to 1/2-inch, the Lotos CT520D is more than capable of completing most light and some medium-duty tasks. One minor disadvantage is that there isn’t a foot pedal which is something that more expensive TIG welders often have. There’s a lack of features in general with regard to this product but some people may find this to be a plus since it makes things simpler. We would only advise you buy this TIG welder if you’re very confident that it’s right for you since it only comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
- Flexible 3 in 1 with air plasma cutter, tig welder, and stick welder
- Quite easy to use, particularly when switching functions
- Top-handle makes the unit very portable
- Only comes with a 1-year limited warranty
- There is no foot pedal
Factors to Consider When Buying a TIG Welder
Now it’s time for us to look beyond some of the products on the market and look at specific advantages of TIG welding, important features and more. We hope that by combining this with our reviews, you’ll get a well-rounded perspective on TIG welders and which one best serves your purpose.
Firstly, let’s take a brief look at each of the 4 main welding processes in order to ensure that TIG welding is right for you:
- TIG Welding
Arguably the most difficult type of welding to learn, TIG welding is most often used to weld alloy steel, stainless steel, aluminum, magnesium and copper alloys. With it, a user can produce very precise welds of the highest quality once they have developed the necessary level of experience. The reason for this is that you’re given greater control over the weld with this particular process though keep in mind that the process is much slower. Finally, the weld beads produced by TIG welding can even look aesthetically pleasing.
- Precise, high-quality welds
- Great deal of control
- Difficult to learn
- Slow process
- MIG Welding
Of all the welding types, MIG welding is the easiest to learn. Welds produced are of high-strength. What’s more, there’s little need for cleaning because there’s no slag. While it can be used on thicker plate metals, MIG welding offers better control on thinner metals. Another advantage is that because it’s easy to do, high welding speeds are a real possibility. However, you are limited to the positions in which you can do MIG welding. Also, it’s not really suitable for the outdoors since the wind can interfere with the gases used. However, you will need to buy a great MIG welder to do proper MIG welding.
- No need for cleaning
- Easy to learn
- Allows for high-speed welding
- Limited positions
- Not suitable for outdoors
- Stick Welding
Stick welding is one of the most popular types of welding available, particularly when it comes to home workshop projects. One of the main reasons for this is that it’s the most economical option. It’s most effective when it comes to welding alloys and joints. What’s more, it can be done indoors or outdoors and wind and drafts don’t have a negative impact. Aside from working well on thicker materials, Stick welding can also be used on rusty or dirty metals. Unfortunately, it’s not the quickest of welding processes and cleaning is required.
- Fairly cheap
- Can be done indoors or outdoors
- Works well on rusty and dirty metals
- Quite a slow process
- Cleaning is required
- Flux-Cored Welding
Much like with Stick welding, Flux-Cored welding works well on rusty and dirty materials. It’s particularly effective outdoors, even in windy conditions. This makes it a particularly popular choice when it comes to construction sites. It’s a fairly portable option and, as such, can be used in various positions which can prove useful on certain projects. Caution is advised when using Flux-Cored welding indoors since it produces fumes and smoke. Also, it’s not the cheapest welding type due to the consumables.
- Works well on rusty and dirty materials
- Suitable for outdoor, windy conditions
- Can be used in different positions
- Produces fumes and smoke
- More expensive due to consumables
Top TIG Welder Features to Consider
Your budget may well define the amperage you can get in your TIG welder. After all, the more powerful a product, the more expensive it typically is. The wider the amperage of a TIG welder, the more metals it can weld. We recommend that you get the product with the most amperage that you can realistically afford because it will be able to do more jobs in the long-run. Some of the products listed above have 200 amp which is more than enough for most of your welding needs.
- AC and DC Welding
If you can find a product that is compatible with both AC and DC welding operations. The reason for this is that it’s hard to say which one you’ll need depending on the task. Generally, AC welding is best used with thin aluminum metals while DC welding works well with steel sheets.
- Duty Cycle
The duty cycle of a TIG welder refers to how much load it can handle over a specific time span. This time span is usually 10 minutes. If a machine goes beyond its capabilities, it will need to cool down before starting up again. For example, if a TIG welder has a 50% duty cycle, it can weld for 5 of 10 minutes before it needs to cool down. To give you an idea of what to look for, a duty cycle of 50-60% is quite reasonable. If you’re able to purchase a high-end machine then you can expect the duty cycle to be as high as 80-90%. The higher the duty cycle, the greater your productivity!
In some cases, portability may not be that important. This is especially the case when you’re working from your home workshop and simply don’t need to take your TIG welder elsewhere. But if you’re moving around from job to job, you’re probably going to want a unit with a handle. Thankfully, most TIG welding products come with a handle for easier transportation. When portability is a factor, you may want to look at more lightweight products. The problem with this is that such TIG welders tend to be less powerful unless you’re willing to pay good money for a top of the range unit.
- Heat Control
No matter the thickness of metal that you’re working with, heat control is another important thing to consider. The heat needs to be controlled otherwise it can damage metals, particularly thing metals such as aluminum and magnesium. This causes warp and burns which can obviously ruin a project. Therefore, it’s important to find a TIG welder that has a reliable heat control system to avoid such issues.
- Cooling System
Not only do you want heat to be controlled, you also want your TIG welding equipment to be cooled! A cooling fan (or similar) can stop your TIG welder from overheating which can prevent problems that will require you to start rummaging around for that warranty! TIG welders with good cooling systems tend to be a little more expensive but we think it’s worth paying a little bit more for some additional protection.
Top 10 TIG Welding Tips
Now that we have learned about the different types of welding and the various features to look for in TIG welders, let us finally provide you with our top 10 TIG welding tips!
- In order to prepare a joint for welding, you should take the time to clean it. Removing grease, oil, dirt, and paint reduces the chance of arc instability and contaminated welds.
- If your workpiece is in any way unstable, why not use a clamp? Doing so can provide much-needed stability for not only your own safety but your comfort as well.
- In order to avoid distractions and interruptions, keep all of your welding pieces close at hand, already cleaned. This will boost your productivity in a big way.
- When you’re learning how to TIG weld, opt for larger diameter rods. This will help since the bigger the rod, the easier it is to feed.
- If you’re welding aluminum, you may need to turn up the heat! Because different metals require different levels of heat, be sure to research in advance to find out the optimum temperature.
- The angle at which you direct your torch can have a big impact on the penetration you get when welding.
- You may need to change your tungsten depending on the material on which you’re working. Green is typically used for aluminum and red for steel.
- AC offers more cleaning properties which makes it better for aluminum. This helps it break through the oxide layer which DC cannot.
- If the tungsten tip touches the weld puddle then it has been contaminated. For this reason, you should take the time to re-grind your tungsten again.
- For your first project, stick to something simple. You could practice on old sheet metal until you become more confident in your welding abilities.
Choosing a TIG welder can be quite a complicated process. After all, there are so many products on the market from so many different brands. On the plus side, at least you know that there are TIG welders available to meet your budget. By exploring the pros and cons and the included features, you should be able to find a great product.
Our hope is that our reviews of TIG welders and buying guide save you some time and energy. With all of this information, it should be much easier for you to reach a decision and, with any luck, you’ll soon be TIG welding on all sorts of metal materials. Good luck!