Want to choose the best TIG welder under $500 without compromising quality? This is the right place for you. In this article you’ll find relevant information about TIG welding, how to choose the right one and reviews of the best on the market considering your budget.
Also known as Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding is one of the many processes of welding which produces welding with a non-consumable tungsten electrode.
How did TIG welding come about?
Somewhere in the 1940s, a welder who worked for Northrop Aircraft Corporation in Southern California created TIG welding. He went by the name Russell Meredith and the reason why he created TIG welding was that the methods used to weld aluminium and magnesium were not very effective.
It was successful and gave the American industry the capacity to build aircraft and ships faster as there was pressure to build more and faster due to World War II.
The first aluminium and magnesium parts of an aircraft were manufactured at Northrop.
Factors to consider before buying a TIG welder under $500
Apart from the price, there are other factors that come to play once you decide to purchase a TIG welder. Here are some factors to consider;
Quality and design
Being on a budget should not hinder you from purchasing a high-quality welder.
You should consider the materials used in manufacturing the unit and how long it will last. You should also consider the quality of the weld you will get after using it. Also, your budget should not prevent you from purchasing a unit that is sleekly designed.
If you’re going to weld a range of metals, then it’s best you get a unit with an AC/DC combination.
AC for aluminium and magnesium while you use DC for welding steel. However, if you’re never going to weld aluminium or magnesium, a unit with DC only will be fine.
If you’re going to move the unit from one place to another, you should get a unit which is portable. If you’re considering a multi-purpose unit, you might just have to forget about portability.
It might be difficult to get a unit which has extra accessories because of your budget. However, some units do come with extra accessories like a foot pedal, face masks, and clamps among others.
Space and size
Before you make the purchase, make sure you have enough space in your workshop that can accommodate not just the unit but all the accessories that come with it.
If you have not got enough space, you can purchase a cart which can accommodate the unit and its accessories. This will help keep your workspace tidy.
You should consider purchasing a unit that has a good level of power especially if you’re going to weld aluminium. You should also check if the unit allows you to adjust amperage.
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Reviews of the best TIG welders under $500 2022
SUNGOLDPOWER 200 Amp
This is an affordable and portable unit which comes with a handle that makes it easier to carry around.
It comes with an LED display which lets you know the amperage while you’re working. It has an in-built fan which prevents overheating.
You can use it without bothering about damage to the unit due to voltage fluctuations because it comes with over-voltage and under-voltage protection systems.
It has a high-frequency start which improves tungsten life and can be used for MMA and DC TIG welding. It has good penetration capacity with little to no splatter.
To increase its performance, it has an advanced control module IGBT with 110/220 volts. This will help you to tackle different projects with ease.
The user has the opportunity to adjust its amperage to as low as 20amps. Its duty cycle is 60% when set to maximum amperage.
PrimeWeld 3-in-1 CT-520D
This is a multipurpose unit which can be used for welding aluminium, steel and many other metals.
It comes with a plasma cutter which can cut metals with a thickness of up to half an inch. It is power efficient and saves up to 85% of the power. It weighs only 32 pounds making it very portable that it can be around.
When set to maximum power, it has a 60% duty cycle. It can be used to weld aluminium and magnesium with its 200 Amp TIG torch. It comes with a wide range of accessories including gas pipes, clamps, a ground clamp, and a filter among others.
It has a current dial which allows you to adjust amperage to suit the work you’re doing. It comes with an LED display which allows you to view current while you’re working.
Amico TIG-225/220 Amp
This is a durable and strong TIG welder which can be used for heavy-duty operations. It is sleekly designed and uses IGBT inverter technology for stability.
It has automatic amperage and temperature controls. It has a high-frequency start and an LCD display which enables the user to view amperage even while working.
There is little to no splatter when using this unit. You can use this unit without worrying about damage due to voltage fluctuations because it comes with over-voltage and under-voltage protection.
It is versatile, offering 115 volts DC and 230 volts AC outlets. It comes with extra accessories including a professional TIG torch, work clamp, electrode holder, gas hose, voltage pier cord and adapter. It is portable and lightweight so DIYer and professionals love it.
Everlast PowerArc 160STH
This is a versatile welder with 120/220V outlets and can be used for Arc and TIG welding. It is portable, lightweight and easy to set up.
It uses IGBT inverter technology and has a 35% duty cycle for heavy duty operations. The user has the opportunity to choose between High-Frequency start or a Lift start. It’s best to use the latter when using the unit without a pedal.
Use the former when it’s windy or the weather condition is unfavourable. It can be used right out of the box as it comes with essential accessories including a foot pedal, face mask, power cord, clamp, floor clamps and all the cables that are used along with them.
It comes with a whooping 5-year warranty and a 30-days money back guarantee. With the PowerArc 160STH you are assured of the smoothest, precise and fine quality finish
YesWelder 205 TIG/arc/stick welder
This is a professional grade portable welder which can be used for commercial and domestic projects.
It is s way to use, has a good amperage range of 15 to 200 amps and has a duty cycle of 60%. It has automatic temperature control and uses IGBT inverter technology.
It has a high frequency start and can weld any metal leaving a quality, fine finish. Use it and forget about damage to it due to voltage fluctuations.
It comes with over-voltage and under-voltage protection to prevent your unit from getting damaged by voltage fluctuations. You can easily adjust amperage with it’s amperage control settings and its user-friendly control knobs are easy to use as well. It has a dual output of 120 volts and 240 volts.
The TIG welding process
Select the electrode you want to use
Most of the time, your TIG will already have the right electrode in it. You should use a pure electrode if you’re going to weld aluminum.
There are some tungsten electrodes which are made for welding particular alloys-you can choose any of them depending on what you’re going to weld.
Grind the electrode
If you’re using DC for welding, it is recommended that you get an electrode with a pointed tip.
However, for AC welding it is recommended that you get a balled tip electrode so you have to find the tungsten electrode to get either of these points.
Some rods come with already grinded tips so the one you get from purchase determines if you’ll grind or not.
Fix the electrode into its holder
If your electrode comes ready, then skip this step. If not, insert the rod into its holder after unscrewing the back of the holder.
Don’t place the tip of the holder more than quarter of an inch close to the protective sheath.
Depending on the metal you’re going to weld, you choose the suitable setting. The different settings are;
- For AC, which is the most suitable for welding aluminum, there is cleaning or penetration. This allows you to change how deep the welder will go by modifying the positive/negative ratio of the AC. Penetration is however deeper than cleaning.
- For stick welding or making the tip of the tungsten ball, DCEP (DC, Electrode positive) is used.
- For welding steel, DCEN (DC, Electrode Negative) is used.
The direction in which electricity flows is the difference between the two DC settings. It leads to a difference in the width and depth of the weld and how much heat the metal absorbs.
If the option is available, set it to “air on” for about 5 seconds.
Now, set to the maximum amps you need for your project.
Turn on the gas
The gas will keep the metal from corroding. If the metal reaches a high temperature, which is bound to happen in welding, it will quickly rust or oxidize in the case of aluminum.
A mixture of argon and carbon dioxide is needed for welding steel while pure argon is needed for welding aluminum.
Get your welding table and metal ready
You need a wide metallic area to weld on and this is where a welding table comes in.
You can substitute it with a large piece of sheet metal if you don’t have one. Make sure you clean the surface of the metal you’re going to weld to get the perfect finish.
It’s best to use a degreaser or a clean wire brush.
To keep your metal in place as you weld, clamp it down.
In your dominant hand, hold the electrode and make sure it can move freely. Do not let the electrode touch the metal unless you want to remove it and grind it down again.
You have to start a weld pool and by heating the metal quickly so step on the foot pedal to pump more heat onto the metal. Now, you can release the pedal to control the amount of heat supplied to the metal.
You need to change sides while welding to even it out because welds shrink when they cool. If you weld at one side, you’ll end up with an uneven weld.
Always make sure you put on protective clothing before welding. TIG welding emits sparks which could burn your skin or even make you go blind. Some of these protective clothing include face shields, welding gloves, leather jackets or long sleeves and boots.
Do I need protective clothing for TIG welding?
Yes, it is highly essential. Welding requires the use of heat and that could cause sunburns meaning you need to protect your whole body. Also, you may damage your eyes if you don’t protect them against splatter with a face mask.
Can I TIG weld without gas?
No, TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas so gas is an essential factor. You’ll disintegrate the weld without gas and that will be a total waste of time.
It is not easy to find a TIG welder on a budget which is below $500. There are a whole lot of other factors you need to consider to get an affordable TIG welder of high quality. We hope this article has been of great help.
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