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Comparing multi process MIG, TIG and Stick units for the best buy.

Comparing multi-process MIG welders can be confusing because of overlapping/similar functions and features.   But comparing what each function offers as far as ease of use and connection is important.   Many of these welders offer TIG as a second function, with gas-valve torches, and inconvenient connections.  And some don’t offer foot pedals either so you are basically limited to scratch start TIG or lift start DC TIG without amp control at the foot. 

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.

Can a 120V MIG be of benefit to me? Part 2

Body shops, muffler shops, and hobbyists make up most of the 140 amp, 120V MIG market. But can anyone else benefit from a 140A, 120V MIG?  It’s likely that they can, especially if it is an inverter MIG like the Power i-MIG 140E.  These new inverter MIGs deliver more power at a lower amperage input than do transformer MIGs.  They also offer better duty cycle.

Can a 120V MIG be of benefit to me? Part 1

120 Volt MIG welders have been around for some time.  The market remains quite hot for these entry level MIG units.   A lot of them are bought primarily to do flux-core welding, instead of true MIG welding.   And, a lot of them are bought as flux core-only welders.  Both MIG and flux-core wire welders  are portable and convenient types of MIG welders.

Welding with an auto-darkening welding helmet Part 10

If you are going to need to wear corrective glasses or plain safety glasses under your helmet, make sure it fits comfortably around the frames.  One thing that is really worth mentioning for the older and sight challenged customer is that magnifying lenses can be installed in many helmets eliminating the challenge of seeing through spectacles while welding.  Now keep in mind, not every helmet will accept a “cheater” lens.   Manufacturers may make some that will accept them and some that won’t.

Welding with an auto-darkening welding helmet Part 9

When you are selecting an auto-darkening welding helmet, be sure to keep in mind it’s primary uses.  If you are going to be welding TIG, you’ll probably need an upscale helmet with 3 or more sensors.  Two sensor design are not usually sensitive enough to work with low amp TIG due to the sensor placement, but 3 and 4 sensor helmets can sense the TIG arc at almost any angle.

Welding with an auto-darkening welding helmet Part 8

One of the most important issues when selecting an auto darkening welding helmet is the battery type.   Auto darkening welding helmets offer 4 different solutions for batteries.   Each one with its advantages and disadvantages.   The first is simply a solar powered welding helmet.   These are usually the cheapest versions and slowest in reaction time.   The solar power operates the darkening feature completely.

Welding with an auto-darkening welding helmet Part 7

A lot of people who have never used an auto-darkening welding helmet have concerns about eye protection during the arc strike.   There was originally some concern that lens reaction time was too long and would cause eye damage over time.  Modern auto darkening helmets have largely corrected this, and you’ll rarely find a helmet that does not darken within 1/25,000 of a second of arc initiation or faster.  In most cases your eyes won’t be able to detect any flash at all.

Welding with an auto darkening welding helmet Part 6

A quality welding helmet that offers an adjustable shade feature will also have at least two more adjustments that help tailor the unit to the welding situation.   Both of these adjustments improve usefulness in less than ideal work environments, where other welders may be present, or where working out in the bright sun where the sensors over-react to the sun light.  The first is a sensitivity adjustment.  Sometimes this adjustment is expressed merely as a number from 1-10.

Welding with an auto-darkening welding helmet part 5

Keep in mind that many welding helmets support both auto darkening and non auto darkening lenses, especially the older, established brands.  So if you have a helmet already that is comfy and broken in that you can’t bear to part with, you may be able to swap out the lens and retain your existing helmet.   In some cases, though this may not be possible.  When you are evaluating a new helmet or filter, look at the ease of adjustment.  Is the shade adjustable without having to dismount your helmet? If it is, there will usually be an external knob on the side of the helmet, near the temple area


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