Comparing multi-process MIG TIG and Stick units for the best buy. Part 1
The popularity of combination, multi-process MIG, TIG, and Stick units has soared in the last couple of years. There’s good reason for that. These are compact inverter units with combined capability that will allow a user to have almost all the tools they need to weld at their fingertips in a single unit. While they won’t weld everything, specifically aluminum, these give the user a great range of choices for welding and reduce the foot print in the shop.
There is a confusing array of knobs and switches and even features that are offered by all the major competitors. But in general, if you are trying to compare the models there are a few things to seriously take stock of.
The first, is if the welder is primarily sold as a MIG with TIG and stick functions added as an afterthought. While no company will admit this as the case, it is easy to see the units that are like this. First check out how the TIG and stick functions connect and if they come as part of the package. Some models require you to open the door on the MIG compartment to access TIG and stick connections. Obviously they aren’t ready for serious use in TIG or stick.
The next thing to compare is if the units have a built in gas valve for TIG. Many brands don’t use a dedicated gas connection for TIG, and you have to use a gas valve torch to control gas flow. These too would seem to indicate that TIG is a secondary function. Units like the Everlast Power MTS 211Si and 251Si both have dedicated gas and power connections on the front panel for TIG and have planned purposefully for TIG operation.