Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.
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  1. #1
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    Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    There has been a lot of talk lately about the inexpensive, Chinese brand welders available. These welders are often very similar, likely based on the same design with different cases and brands.

    The features vary slightly, and more advanced digital ones are becoming available as well. In my opinion, they always seemed like they were cheap junk, probably not worth the money. I questioned the quality and performance you could possibly get for the price, and the specs often seemed impossible, or at least very optimistic. So keep in mind, I came into this a bit biased.

    But I don't like to make assumptions, and when people ask questions I don't like to give opinions based on assumptions.

    So I decided to find out for myself. I ordered an Amico TIG-225 from Amazon. It is a 220 amp TIG and stick welder with a built in gas solenoid and high frequency start for TIG. The Amico welders seem to be a good representative of this type of welder. Chinese company that claims to have been around making top quality welders for decades, specs that seem exaggerated (60% duty cycle at 220 amps in a tiny, 16 lb. welder), and glowing reviews on Amazon.

    The welder showed up yesterday and I had a chance to unbox it this evening. I will be making a full review including a video review. I'll also be doing some testing to check output and duty cycle. But I figured I'd share a few things from taking it out of the box just now.

    It stinks, lol. It might sound a bit nit-picky, but I started opening it in the living room and had to take it out to the garage once I had the box cut open because the chemical smell was super strong. Not a real problem, but it was a lot of stank. At one point I held it close to my face to peer through the air vents and had to hold my breath because it was really strong.

    The first thing I noticed, other than the smell, was a card right on top of the welder as soon as I opened the box. It has big lettering telling me to read this before anything else. I read it and it is just a bunch of crap begging me to go and give it good ratings and reviews. It says to give them a five star rating right away. That's the kind of thing that rubs me the wrong way. Either way, that's included.

    The gas fitting on the back of the welder is not a usable fitting. It is just a threaded coupler. It is not a tapered thread NPT and there is no tapered seat. It is just straight threads right through. An NPT fitting would probably seal with some teflon tape (assuming the threads are correct), but there isn't one included and the included gas hose has the standard tapered-seat fittings that all the other welders I've used have had. The hose fitting threads into the fitting on the welder, but bottomed out the seat isn't tight and it doesn't even remotely seal. The included torch is a gas-through fitting, so to use the welder as designed and to use the included torch I'll have to get fittings and make something work. I'm almost tempted to just use one of my other torches for testing, but I wouldn't have the torch switch.

    The overall feel and impression is quite cheap. It makes sense that there would be concessions for the price, but even for the price it's a bit chintzy feeling. It is very small and very light, which is actually nice if it works well, but it doesn't inspire confidence for a supposed 220A welder. For comparison, it is a bit over half the size and less than half the weight of my Maxstar 210. I think it is a fair comparison, only in as much as the fact that they are supposedly rated at the same duty cycle at max output, but the Amico is actually is rated at a slightly higher output. Despite the higher rated output and same duty cycle, the Amico has a much smaller fan than the Maxstar. It has an 80mm fan that could have been lifted straight from an old PC power supply. Looking through the vents it appears to have vastly less heat-sinking than the Maxstar. I have very low expectations of it meeting it's max output with any kind of reliability or duty cycle.

    These are just some first impressions and things I've noticed. I'll leave final judgement until I actually get some use on it and do some testing. I'll also open it up and see what there is to see.

    Hopefully I'll get a chance to put it through its paces this weekend.
    Last edited by BigTB; 04-04-2018 at 09:39 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Well the benefit of Amazon is you have a month to kill it and return it.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by soutthpaw View Post
    Well the benefit of Amazon is you have a month to kill it and return it.
    I specifically chose a model that was sold by and shipped by Amazon in case it gives up the ghost early. That way, as you say, I have a month that I won't have to go through Amico if it pops.

    I'm not one to buy with the plan to return. But if the specs don't remotely live up to the claims, or if it smokes under normal use I want the option to return it.

    I don't plan to abuse it with the intention of breaking it. I simply want to see if it can do what it claims. I will admit right now, I doubt it can. I will be measuring output and testing duty cycle, and I won't exceed the rated duty cycle time. Honestly, 60% at 220 amps would be as much a test of the air cooled torch as of the welder. Maybe that is how they can get away rating it at 60% duty cycle: nobody is likely to get near that with an air cooled torch. Probably easier to hit that % stick welding.

    I will try to be fair and objective in all of my review. I want people to know, as best as I can determine, what they are getting for their money. Good or bad.
    Last edited by BigTB; 04-04-2018 at 10:56 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Spoiler alert for the upcoming review: It's not going to be very good.

    An NPT fitting doesn't work in the gas inlet, so I'll likely have to rig something to take advantage of the internal gas solenoid. But it's more than that. The included torch has a gas valve (for no reason), but it gets the welding current through the gas fitting, so I can't just connect the included torch to the regulator and not used the built in gas valve. To see if it will even work I'd probably just use a torch I have with an internal gas valve, but I'd have to rig something up to use the contactor switch as well.

    The more I look it over the more little jewels I find. There is no data tag at all. The absence is notable because the photos on the net show a tag with ETL listing, which the actual welder does not have (on the welder or anywhere on the box). Also, the power input cord connection at the welder is loose and flops around, so I'll have to open the welder up and verify all is well before I feel comfortable even plugging it in.

  5. #5
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTB View Post
    Spoiler alert for the upcoming review: It's not going to be very good.

    An NPT fitting doesn't work in the gas inlet, so I'll likely have to rig something to take advantage of the internal gas solenoid. But it's more than that. The included torch has a gas valve (for no reason), but it gets the welding current through the gas fitting, so I can't just connect the included torch to the regulator and not used the built in gas valve. To see if it will even work I'd probably just use a torch I have with an internal gas valve, but I'd have to rig something up to use the contactor switch as well.

    The more I look it over the more little jewels I find. There is no data tag at all. The absence is notable because the photos on the net show a tag with ETL listing, which the actual welder does not have (on the welder or anywhere on the box). Also, the power input cord connection at the welder is loose and flops around, so I'll have to open the welder up and verify all is well before I feel comfortable even plugging it in.
    I turns out it does have a data tag/label. It's on the bottom of the welder, not the back. It does show the ETL label. So there is that.

  6. #6
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    If it is true etl, there should be a number that is printed next to it and is searchable on etl site. If it has no number and it isn't listed on ETL's site then it is bogus.
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by lugweld View Post
    If it is true etl, there should be a number that is printed next to it and is searchable on etl site. If it has no number and it isn't listed on ETL's site then it is bogus.
    I had planned to check that but keep forgetting. Thanks for the reminder. I really wonder if it is legitamate.

    Edit: I checked and the welder does show up on the list on the ETL site.
    Last edited by BigTB; 04-08-2018 at 10:56 AM.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTB View Post

    An NPT fitting doesn't work in the gas inlet.... The included torch has a gas valve (for no reason), but it gets the welding current through the gas fitting.....
    I shortened your quote to what I'm responding to:

    I'd expect metric rather than npt, you can probably buy an adapter to get to npt or a barb with the right thread.

    When I was shopping, I looked over that unit and noticed that knob in the pictures. I asked a question about that seemingly useless knob on the 165 version on amazon q&a. I got two different answers - neither made much sense, which was enough to make me knock that one off my candidate list.
    Last edited by fj5gtx; 04-09-2018 at 06:14 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by fj5gtx View Post
    I shortened your quote to what I'm responding to:

    I'd expect metric rather than npt, you can probably buy an adapter to get to npt or a barb with the right thread.

    When I was shopping, I looked over that unit and noticed that knob in the pictures. I asked a question about that seemingly useless knob on the 165 version on amazon q&a. I got two different answers - neither made much sense, which was enough to make me knock that one off my candidate list.
    The fitting is the correct thread for the gas hose fitting, it threads in perfectly. But the threads bottom out and the hose inside the fitting is still loose because there is no seat in the fitting. If you know of a metric tapered thread available at any hardware store let me know, but I don't. And the threads in the fitting itself are not tapered. I've looked and found nothing locally that works with that fitting. Anything that threads in simply bottoms out and doesn't seal. I made something work for now, but it it would be nice if it was the correct fitting to begin with.

    I'm sure the gas valve on the torch is simply because that torch is available cheap and they use it for welders that don't have solenoids as well. Cheaper to only source one part. That is my guess.

    I did try the welder breifly tonight and so far, I have to admit that it works better than I expected. Arc starts are a bit weak. Sometimes it starts fine, sometimes the electrode has to be virtually touching the work piece for the arc to start. I may try adjusting the points.

    I do hate the torch. It is too bulky, the button is too far from then end of the torch and has too stiff of a spring. You also have to push the button slightly past the detent "click" before anything happens. This means that if your pressure on the button lets up at all, the arc goes out, even if the button hasn't moved out at all yet. Just not at all what I'm used to. But the arc seemed smooth enough. And while I didn't test duty cycle yet, it does give over 220 amps of max output in tig mode. The amp setting is pretty far off from actual output, and it isn't consistent, but that isn't too surprising.

    I also ran a few beads of 3/32" 7018 and 8-10 sticks of 1/8" 7018 (Excalibur), and it ran pretty good. Again, the amp setting being off is a bit annoying, but isn't a huge issue. Have to try a few settings before finding the sweet spot.
    Last edited by BigTB; 04-09-2018 at 07:39 PM.

  10. #10
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Google is my friend... I think this sounds like your barb npt problem:

    "Thus an NPT male will fit into a BSPT fitting or vice versa but they will not seal. This is a popular fitting in China and Japan but is very rarely used in North America unless the equipment to which it is attached was imported. Thread sealant is needed to seal the male and female fitting together. Ralston Instruments has adapters to both male BSPT adapters and female BSPT adapters."

    https://www.ralstoninst.com/news/sto...and-bspt-seals

  11. #11
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by fj5gtx View Post
    Google is my friend... I think this sounds like your barb npt problem:

    "Thus an NPT male will fit into a BSPT fitting or vice versa but they will not seal. This is a popular fitting in China and Japan but is very rarely used in North America unless the equipment to which it is attached was imported. Thread sealant is needed to seal the male and female fitting together. Ralston Instruments has adapters to both male BSPT adapters and female BSPT adapters."

    https://www.ralstoninst.com/news/sto...and-bspt-seals
    No male npt fitting will fit. 3/8" will not thread in at all (a hair too big), and 1/4" is way too small.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Perhaps its that BSPP (the other possibility on that link I provided), that requires a sealing ring (no taper). You could ask on Amazon to get the seller to confirm thread type, I assume the manual isn't indicating. I learned a bit about foreign pipe threading tonight.

    How are you identifying that the amp setting is off?

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by fj5gtx View Post
    Perhaps its that BSPP (the other possibility on that link I provided), that requires a sealing ring (no taper). You could ask on Amazon to get the seller to confirm thread type, I assume the manual isn't indicating. I learned a bit about foreign pipe threading tonight.

    How are you identifying that the amp setting is off?
    With a clamp on ammeter on the welding lead. It is different in TIG vs. stick too.

    In TIG mode the display maxes out at 213 (highest number it will show with the knob maxed) but it gives around 225 amps at that setting. When set at 160 it gave 170. When set at 100 it gave 125. When set at 50 it gave around 65. Set at 3 amps it was giving 18 amps. So it goes fairly low in TIG. Set any lower and the arc couldn't stay lit. That was all the TIG testing I've done so far. Probably not even a full minute of arc time yet (well, maybe a couple minutes, now that I think about it). Just checked to see how high and how low it would go and checked a few amperages in between.

    In stick mode I set it where 3/32" 7018 was running well and the display setting was 78 amps, but my meter read 87. With 1/8" 7018 running well the setting was 115 and actual output was 128.

    So output was consistantly higher than the reading on the display, but not a consistant amount off.

    Also, the display doesn't change during welding, so it isn't measuring and showing amps during welding, just shows the setting.

    As for the fitting, there is no good sealing face for a washer on the outside either. It is just a defect. The fitting should have a tapered seat for the hose fitting, but it doesn't. They are standard 5/8"-18 threads.
    Last edited by BigTB; 04-09-2018 at 09:44 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Ahhh, my fault - just looked at the accessories - did not realize they actually supplied the gas hose with crimped fittings! You shouldn't be having any issues with that connection, the manufacturer dropped the ball.

    Sounds like the current display might need to be calibrated; wondering how they do that. To be fair, for my use, I'm usually just wanting to have consistently the same output when I dial a number in that worked for similar conditions. That is why I thought a digital display would be better than candidates with knob with hash marks, really hard to get repeatable with small physical dial ranges with large output ranges.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    It's official. I hate the torch. It is so much more awkward and bulky in use than I could have imagined. I was trying to get use and arc shots for the video review and eventually stopped cleaning the metal and stopped trying to get welds that looked like anything better than crap because I couldn't get done with the TIG testing fast enough. The torch is terrible. It is way too bulky, heavy, long and has a poor angle. Also, the button has to be pressed to weld, but it is like 5 inches from the end of the torch, partly because of the useless valve. The button is also very stiff and must be pressed a bit beyond the detent, so it's all too easy to have your pressure ease up slightly and have the arc go out when you get into anything other than a perfect position. For some of the welding I was choking up on the torch for better control and actually squeezing the button with the base of my palm. Really the worst.

    Honestly, the welder works ok so far, it's just the accessories and ancillary stuff that lets it down.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    How about a replacement 17 torch head for $13? Eastwood sells their switches that just zip tie onto the body for $10. If they have a fitting in the torch, looks like an easy switch. USAWeld sells replacements that look compatible for 84 std, 109 flex.

    https://www.amazon.com/WP-17F-Weldin..._&dpSrc=detail

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by fj5gtx View Post
    How about a replacement 17 torch head for $13? Eastwood sells their switches that just zip tie onto the body for $10. If they have a fitting in the torch, looks like an easy switch. USAWeld sells replacements that look compatible for 84 std, 109 flex.

    https://www.amazon.com/WP-17F-Weldin..._&dpSrc=detail
    I do have ideas for a replacement torch and it wouldn't be very difficult, but if I was going to do anything I'd replace the whole thing. I wouldn't spend money for a replacement head to attach to the gigantic body of the included torch.

    I just wish the included torch wasn't so terrible. The whole point of a welder like this is that is it cheap. If I have to spend $50-$100+ putting a decent torch on the thing it eats into the value.

    I understand that it technically works and it is cheap, so deal with it. But a big part of success TIG welding is getting comfortable and a big advantage of TIG is the precision and control it affords. The torch is so awkward that it makes precision, control and comfort almost impossible for me. I know I'm spoiled by superflex cables and 9 and 17 size torches, but this torch makes me wish I was stick welding, and I love TIG.

    There are a lot of versions of this welder out there, and if it is out there I think a 160 amp, lift start version with no gas solenoid would be ideal. Pair it with a 9 style torch with gas valve and done. That way you have control over pre and post flow (welder has no pre flow and a fixed 2.5 second post flow, regardless of amps and the tungsten gets oxydized at higher amps because it is still too hot when the gas stops). You wouldn't have to worry about a crappy torch switch or defective gas fittings, and 160 amps is more reasonable for the low cost accessories (full output on this machine was melting the ground cable insulation within a couple minutes in a 40*F garage). Without the cost of HF start they could throw in a regulator and it would be a more complete package. The HF start works, but isn't very consistant anyway, and lift start isn't that bad.

    I just think this welder threw on nice sounding features (HF start, gas solenoid) to make it seem like a better value, but then didn't execute them very well. So why not leave them off and have a more consistant, complete package. Just my opinion.

  18. #18
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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Yikes, 2.5 second post flow is a game killer. Whoever made that choice didn't know much about TIG. I think I'd have that machine back in the box for return - like now.

    For those meager features you want, the candidate list is long. I looked at the everlast lineup, might be something good there for you. I'd rather have the regulator and HF though, and Everlast has a 160STH with those features.

    I chose the unitweld TIG200P, which has a fully programmable waveform, from preflow to post and includes pulse. It has a somewhat bulky 17 torch with integrated switch, but its not as bad as the amico (from your description) and doesn't have a useless gas knob.

    I had been looking at the 9 torch on amazon for $10, I also found switches (pair for $7). The 9 is more suitable for the low amp sheet steel welding that I plan as primary use for this machine. The $17 upgrade sounds pretty reasonable, I'll probably do it if I decide this machine is a keeper for me.

    I should update my tig thread, as I've had some time to test drive the machine a bit now.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by fj5gtx View Post
    Yikes, 2.5 second post flow is a game killer. Whoever made that choice didn't know much about TIG. I think I'd have that machine back in the box for return - like now.

    For those meager features you want, the candidate list is long. I looked at the everlast lineup, might be something good there for you. I'd rather have the regulator and HF though, and Everlast has a 160STH with those features.

    I chose the unitweld TIG200P, which has a fully programmable waveform, from preflow to post and includes pulse. It has a somewhat bulky 17 torch with integrated switch, but its not as bad as the amico (from your description) and doesn't have a useless gas knob.

    I had been looking at the 9 torch on amazon for $10, I also found switches (pair for $7). The 9 is more suitable for the low amp sheet steel welding that I plan as primary use for this machine. The $17 upgrade sounds pretty reasonable, I'll probably do it if I decide this machine is a keeper for me.

    I should update my tig thread, as I've had some time to test drive the machine a bit now.
    As for the features I listed, it's not really for me. I'm thinking more as a recommendation to anyone who is thinking of getting one of these welders.

    I looked at the photos of the torch that comes with your machine and it looks much better. Less bulky, shorter (at least it appears that way) and the switch seems to be much further forward. Hard to tell from a picture, but it looks like it would be worlds better than the torch that came with the Amico.

    I'll check your thread. I almost posted in there this morning to see how it was going.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    I put a pic of the torch up on my UnitWeld thread, with a tape measure for comparison. Also used my suspect clamp meter to grab 10 points of reference for voltage settings. I don't have access to equipment to validate the meter, so its just observation - can't really say for sure that is the output.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    So, both parts of the video review are up.




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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    You keeping it?

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by fj5gtx View Post
    You keeping it?
    Long term, I doubt it. I'll probably either give it away or sell it, depending on the situation.

    But for now, Amico is sending me a replacement gas fitting. So when I get that I'll use it if it's correct, or get something else to replace it if not. I also might get a torch I don't loath connected so I can get some more TIG use on it and then give an update. Might do a comparison with better options or something too. Don't know exactly yet.

    But after that I'll likely get rid of it. I really don't need it.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Fitting from Amico is out for delivery, so I should know soon if what they sent me will work.

    In the mean time I hooked up a much better torch I already had. Still a 26 size, CK torch with superflex cable. I removed the button wires from the included torch and strapped a small switch I had on hand (not for anything to do with welding) and wired it up. I decided to test the control while also testing the low end of the welder. I fired it up (still with my rigged gas fitting for now), and welded some box cutter/utility knife blades. The arc start is a bit hot and will blow away the edge of the blades. But if I start up just off the blade I can move to the blade once the arc is started and can weld across the blade without much trouble. It does nip the very points, but otherwise, not bad. So it has a decent low end.

    It is way nicer to use in TIG mode with this torch. All the difference in the world. I also think it starts a bit nicer with a 1/16" tungsten. It could have been that, or the fact that I was holding the tungsten really close, but I didn't notice an issue with the HF arc starting.

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    Re: Amico Power TIG-225, Review, Etc.

    Well, I received the fitting from Amico, and it's the same, unusable fitting already on the machine. Now that I have a spare fitting I'll be able to show what's going on better in an update video.

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