Deciding an Engine-Driven Welding Generator for a Service Truck

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As is known to many, engine-driven welders are generally used when electric power is unavailable for arc welding when outdoors. Engine-drive welders are also used for indoor applications when it is not feasible to supply power to plug-in arc welders. These indoor situations can range from minor repair jobs to major plant shutdowns.

Engine-driven welding generators generally go with service trucks. Selecting the right engine drive for your truck is important if you are not to run into trouble when some sudden repairs crops up. The basic considerations when choosing an engine-driven welder are: Application, Engine Type, Portability and AC Generator Power.

Selecting the right welding machine has much to do with the type of welding and consumables needed to do the job. One of the most common welding is stick welding. The key factor for stick welding is the electrode diameter. A 1/8-inch electrode welds at about 145 amps while a 5/32-in. rod provides optimal performance at 180 amps. It is good to know that an engine drive with a 40-percent duty cycle at 250 amps offers more than enough welding power to fill most stick welding needs.

Flux cored welding is also done often in the field. Flux cored electrodes however contain a flux within the electrode that provides atmospheric shielding and other process benefits. An engine drive with constant voltage output provides excellent wire welding performance over a constant current machine. Amperage requirements vary based on the type and diameter of wire used, but a 250- to 300-amp machine is sufficient for most applications.

It is a fact that engine drives offer power generation capabilities ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 watts. Choosing the right one for your truck depends on the type of tools you may use and if you need to simultaneously weld and run other tools. Knowing the wattage needed to run tools like grinders, cut-off saws and air compressors will help you pick the right unit. There are some engine drives that have two generators - one for welding and one dedicated to running other tools.

It is also true that the size and weight restrictions of your truck play a role in determining the type of engine drive you choose. Smaller units have a very small footprint and can weigh as little as 345 lbs but still offering 6,500 watts of generator power. Larger units even combine an air compressor with the welder and generator. This saves space but such units can weigh up to 2,000 lbs. Some units are designed especially to direct airflow out the top of the machine, eliminating the chance of airflow being blocked when the unit is truck mounted. Know the weight, size and mounting restrictions so that you can make an informed choice.

As regards fuel, engine drives are available in gasoline, diesel and even LP. Gas engines offer a lower product cost, reduced weight and a smaller size while diesel engines use 20 to 35 percent less fuel, have longer engine lives and are preferred on some sites. A diesel engine offers better fuel economy than a gasoline engine, and diesel fuel does not ignite as easily as gasoline. Gasoline engines are sometimes preferred in cold weather climates because they start more easily without extra starting aids. LPG is much less common, but becomes an important alternative choice when diesel and gasoline exhaust emissions are not permitted for indoor applications. Choose whichever fuel option that best suits your needs and work environment.